Friday, April 27, 2007
New York!! New York!!
Bang! Zoom!!! Went The Fireworks, and Just Like That, Our Washington Nationals had scored in the first inning for the First Time during the 2007 Season. It only took them a Near Major League Record 23 Games to do so, but were those runs EVER BIG!! Austin Kearns unloaded on a Two Out, 1-1 Count Fastball by The New York Mets Oliver Perez, jacking the ball to dead centerfield, just over the wall, giving Washington an early 3-0 lead.
That was the beginning of a most enjoyable night of baseball at RFK Stadium. For the first time since Opening Day, the weather cooperated with a comfortable game time temperature of 76 Degrees. A rambunctious Friday Night Crowd was into this affair from the beginning. As every single fan, always is, when a New York Team comes to town. Nothing is better than rooting against ANY NEW YORK TEAM and their following. But, you can't deny the spice and near mayhem their fans bring to each and every baseball game. Whether New York Fans are Loud, Crude, or just downright Rude, its always a great joy to jabber with them at RFK. Especially when you BEAT THEM!! Section 320 in top form tonight with MickNats, Jill, Libby & Steve, Ann, Steve & Mikey, "The Noise Boys" and me. The African Queen, sick at home, sat this one out (Her first missed game of the season). But, what fun we had, shouting down every New Yorker in our presence.
Matt Chico got the nod tonight for Our Nationals against the very potent New York Mets Lineup, and he hung in there, giving up hits in every inning he pitched, getting into trouble severely in the 3rd, 4th and 6th, allowing two runs. Finally, when HIS MAGIC was done for the night--On came Saul Rivera to ABSOLUTELY SHUTDOWN THE NEW YORK METS. For 1 and 2/3rds innings tonight, Rivera pitched as well as he has EVER PERFORMED in the Major Leagues. Number 52 was TERRIFIC, and in many respects, the GAME SAVER. When Saul trotted to the mound in the top of the 6th inning tonight, The Mets had the bases loaded and ONE OUT. Their Faithful on their feet screaming "Lets Go Mets!!", in yet another attempt to HIGHJACK A VISITING BALLPARK. What a GREAT PLEASURE to see Saul Strike Out Oliver Perez and then get Jose Reyes (arguably the most pesky player in the game) to ground out to Ronnie Belliard to end the threat. The Wonderful Sight of New York Fans raising their arms in shear disgust at The Mets Failure, always a SIGHT TO BEHOLD!! Saul Rivera walking to the dugout a HUGE HERO!!!, to a well deserved Standing Ovation. Yet, not a sole attending, did not realize, THIS GAME WAS FAR FROM OVER!! The Score was only 3-2 Nationals. The Mets to bat three more times.
Fortunately, Dimtri Young would power an opposite field blast to right center past the very speedy Carlos Beltran of New York in the bottom of the 6th. A Good Runner would have tripled on this play, a speedy runner possibly a Inside The Park Home Run (Think Nook Logan or Bernie Castro), but this was DIMITRI YOUNG. The Big Guy stopped at second with a double. Where, with two outs, My Main Man!! Ryan Church performed the unusual, for him, lining an opposite field grounder over the third base bag, down the line. Young lumbering all the way towards home, Church reading RBI DOUBLE. Mets Leftfielder Moises Alou was on the ball quickly, with Young moving slowly, Ryan had two bagger on his mind. Alou realizing he may well have Church at second, threw behind Dimitri nailing Ryan Church at second, MERE SECONDS after Dimitri Young crossed home plate for Our Nationals 4th and final run of this evening. Home Plate Umpire Larry Vanover EMPHATICALLY calling Dimitri SAFE AT THE PLATE, before the final out was recorded at second. Vanover POINTING DECIDEDLY at HOME PLATE and then to The OFFICIAL SCORER. RallyTimeRichard and My Hearts DROPPING, believing Young, at first, DID NOT SCORE. We were both about to go after Ryan Church, if Our Washington Nationals did not score on this most crucial run.
A fourth run ever more important when Jon Rauch came on to set up "The Chief" during the 8th inning. "The Wookie" would immediately give up back to back doubles by David Wright and Moises Alou making the score 4-3 Nats. As Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire trotted to the mound for a visit with Rauch, New York's Fans were SHOUTING IT OUT--"LETS GO METS!!" reverberating throughout the stadium. Whatever St.Claire said to Jon, got his juices flowing. With the game DEFINITELY on the line, The TALLEST MAN to ever play this GREAT GAME, fired away--getting the powerful Shawn Green to fly to Church in center. Washington catcher, Brian Schneider walking halfway out to the mound, fist pumping to Number 51 his encouragement and to keep throwing to the dangerous Mets Lineup the same way. Which Rauch did, getting Jose Valentin to fly to Kearns in right, then the only player still playing Major League Baseball today older than me, Julio Franco, (My Hero, 48 years to my 47, as he makes me feel young) proceeded to fly out to Church to kill, yet another Mets Rally.
Once again, Our Washington Nationals had survived the best New York had to offer, still leading 4-3. But, Chad Cordero was coming into the game to close it out. How ANYONE could leave after eight innings is beyond MY BELIEF. Yet, Thousands Did. Definitely, NOT BASEBALL FANS. And, certainly, no understanding of the excitement "The Chief Cardiologist" brings to the mound each and every game.
Our Most Thrilling Closer was TERRIFIC TONIGHT. Despite falling behind to Jose Reyes, Chad fought back, like he always does, getting Jose to pop in foul territory to Ryan Zimmerman for out number one. Paul LoDuca would follow with a drive to left center. Late inning defensive replacement Chris Snelling would snare the ball, running to his left, backhanding the catch. Finally, Chad Cordero would SHUTDOWN THE NEW YORK METS for the final time tonight, jamming the always dangerous Carlos Beltran getting him to pop to Ronnie Belliard to FINISH THE THRILLER!!!! BANG!! ZOOM!! GO THE FIREWORKS!! Curly "W" Number 8 for Our Washington Nationals and Save Number 3 for "The Chief". Make no mistake about it, Cordero was fabulous tonight!! And, there is no greater pleasure than shutting up New Yorkers!! April 27th, 2007 was an enjoyable night at RFK Stadium.
Just a reminder. No doubt, Our Washington Nationals will struggle throughout this season. But, it doesn't take away ANY of the pleasure of attending each and every game at RFK STADIUM. In Section 320, we have fun, no matter WHAT THE FINAL SCORE. You never know what you might see during each and every game. That's a major part of the thrill. And, BEATING NEW YORK, whether its The Yankees or The Mets, is ALWAYS GRATIFYING.
Game Notes & Highlights:
In the top of the second, Ryan Zimmerman reflex snared a SCREAMER by Moises Alou ripped down the left field line. Only cat like instincts make that play. Number 11 made THE DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE GAME.
Mets sidearm reliever, Joe Smith, whom I had never heard of was outstanding in one inning of relief. Throwing in the low 90's, his stuff was filthy. Not one of the three Nationals Batters that faced him, had any chance. His upshoot on his pitches were beautiful to watch. Not graceful as Chad Bradford (he of the knuckles dragging along the mound on each pitch) but very effective. Wow, he was good.
With two out in the Top of the 9th, Carlos Beltran attempted to call TIME OUT with an 0-1 count. Chad Cordero already had begun his windup. Home Plate Umpire Larry Vanover would not give it to him. Beltran, with his bat on his shoulder and one arm up in the air, had no choice but to take called STRIKE TWO. Beltran WAS HOT!!! He and Vanover got into it. Mets Manager Willie Randolph had to come out to calm Carlos down. Actually, Beltran was SO HOT its hard to believe Vanover DID NOT TOSS HIM OUT--As Carlos pushed past Willie Randolph to go after The Home Plate Umpire Again--To GREAT JOY FROM FANS FOR BOTH TEAMS!! Although Vanover did not toss Carlos Beltran, it didn't matter as Chad retired him two pitches later to end the game. But, it was fun to watch. The Moment was SO UNEXPECTED!!
Matt Chico, not only gained his second career Major League Victory tonight, but also rapped out his very first Major League Hit, a grounder up the middle off Oliver Perez in the bottom of the second inning.
For the first time in recent MEMORY, MY BEST FRIEND DID NOT POST UP at customary First Pitch. Could he have known HIS GIRL FRIEND, The African Queen was absent tonight? No Way. When Screech finally showed up in the 7th, "THE NOISE BOYS" took him to task. Many a time, Screech points at his illusionary watch, then to "THE BOYS", chiding them for ALWAYS BEING LATE. Tonight, turnabout was fair play. "THE NOISE BOYS" GAVE IT TO SCREECH!! My Best Friend took it well, but CRIED NONETHELESS--SORRY TO DISAPPOINT. That's OK SCREECH, WE LOVE YOU, ALWAYS. Just Don't MISS FIRST PITCH!!
The first two times The Mets Jose Valentin stepped to the plate, the Big Scoreboard in Right with the color pictures of the players spelled out Jose's last name "VALENTINE". Section 320 just HOWLING IN LAUGHTER. When you attend each and every game like most of us do, you notice even the smallest error. Yet, over the first two plus seasons of Nats Baseball at RFK Stadium we have CONSISTENTLY GRIMACED and CHUCKLED at Our Scoreboard Operator. Never it seems, a night goes by that something does not go wrong on the electronic boards. We look forward to these errors each and every night. Shameless we are, as we LOVE MAKING FUN OF THE TECHNICAL MISTAKES. We can never understand how they are NEVER CAUGHT, CONSISTENTLY!!
Finally, before tonight's game, I headed over to The NEW KIOSK SET UP by Tickets.com to teach Season Ticket Holders how to use their online accounts at Nationals.com, and transfer tickets to anyone, whether to their home computers, and onto a person's cellphone. The Demonstration, near The Red Hot & Blue Eatery was quite fascinating. Every Season Ticket Holder is allowed to have TWO BUDDIES that you can send tickets to all season long FOR FREE. Anyone else you transfer a game ticket to, a $2 service charge is applied to your account.
What's fascinating about this technology, which RFK STADIUM is one of the very first to utilize, is that, say you have the game tickets and are running late-your friend is already at RFK. If you both have Compatible Cell Phones that can handle this service, all you have to do is email a transfer code to your buddies phone. Your friend will receive an email with BAR CODE and Complete Ticket Information. Your friend just needs to show his phone at THE MAIN GATE to RFK Stadium (The only entrance accepting the service right now). The Ticket Attendant scans the bar code right off the phone, then proceeds to give the cell phone user a printed receipt with Game Date, Seat Location and Details.
Really, I thought this is a GREAT USE OF TECHNOLOGY. There are so many ways ticket holders can take advantage of this opportunity. Even selling your seats late, not even 15 minutes before a game begins, yet still getting the seats to the buyer. What a great deal, if you can not attend for whatever reason. And, if you are a COLLECTOR and a SPECIAL GAME is coming up and you VALUE A PERFECT TICKET, you no longer have to carry that game seat to the park with you. Just email the ticket to yourself, leave the ticket at home, scan your phone, get a receipt. What could be finer.
Finally, if you forgot your tickets at home, in the office or the car--NO PROBLEM NOW. Email the seats to yourself via Nationals.com. Life is easy, thanks to A CELL PHONE. And besides, the Ticket.com folks gave out some nice white MLB.com TEE Shirts with Nationals.com logo on the back for those that completed the demonstration.
And, many THANKS to Mick (Not MICKNATS) who was kind enough to stop by tonight, introduce himself and say how much he enjoys The Nats320 Blog. Your effort was well appreciated.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Nick Wass