Thursday, April 19, 2007
"Rocky" K.O.'s Our Washington Nationals
What was left of the thinned out crowd was on its feet, Roaring. For the first time today, in their final at-bats, Our Washington Nationals were alive, in the midst of a FURIOUS RALLY against The Philadelphia Phillies. Already, two runs were in, but down 4, they needed two more. Ryan Church was on second base, Austin Kearns on third, Two Outs, Chris Snelling at the plate, against Phillie Closer Tom Gordon. You could not ask for a more exciting moment. Then, Out of NOWHERE, over The P.A. SYSTEM comes THE "ROCKY" Theme Song. THE ROCKY THEME SONG!!! There is no tune in modern times more related to Philadelphia than "ROCKY". Its played at every single SPORTS VENUE in The City of Brotherly Love.
Nationals Fans all over RFK began to SCREAM IN FUROR!! Phillie Fans, for once today, sitting quietly in their seats, fearing a Horrible Collapse by their team, immediately JUMPED UP IN JUBILATION!! You talk about killing the atmosphere, there could not have been a more ill-timed music interlude in this, or any other game. Just a terrible choice. And, as fate would have it, the harbinger of the final outcome. Chris Snelling would take CALLED STRIKE THREE to end this fine comeback effort. Not a single Nats Fans left RFK STADIUM this afternoon, not believing, The "Rocky" Tune was the Ultimate Rally Killer. The African Queen and I just stunned by the turn of events.
Maybe, One of the Dumbest In-Game Entertainment Decisions I have ever seen in Sport. And, its not THE FIRST TIME ITS EVER HAPPENED AT RFK STADIUM. Twice previously, with Our Washington Nationals rallying at RFK, also against the Phillies in 2006, the same tune was played. Really, JUST INCREDIBLE!! Today, a Phillie Fan sitting behind us in Section 320 even admitted he was SHOCKED at hearing the "Rocky" Theme Song at RFK STADIUM, during a Nats Rally. "Why are they playing that song," he stated. "That's a Philadelphia Song!!"
Possibly the Music Coordinator for The Nationals was the ONLY PERSON at RFK that did not realize this mistake. AMAZING!!
Of course, until this thrilling bottom of the 9th inning, today's Phillies/Nats game was the most lackluster affair to date. Possibly drained from two exciting encounters over the past two evenings against The Atlanta Braves and The Phillies, Our Washington Nationals had little life. Philadelphia's Jamie Moyer was setting the Nats hitters down 1-2-3 most every inning. Not one hitting anything hard off one of baseball's premier soft toss, junk pitchers. Jamie Moyer may well never qualify for the Hall of Fame. But, he will go down in The History of The Game as one of the finest left handed pitchers after reaching 35 years of age. Now 44, Moyer became a bonified All Star during his 10 seasons as a Seattle Mariner. Today showing, he's still on top of his game. He was FABULOUS until the 9th inning against Washington.
John Patterson, on the other hand, had nothing. Number 22 labored through his entire appearance. Always in trouble, rarely getting ahead in the count. Few of his pitches reaching the low 90's. Patterson had no zip and less command of his pitches. It was hard to watch. A lead off double by Jimmy Rollins and bloop single to right by Shane Victorino scored Philadelphia's first run, eight pitches into this game. Aaron Rowand would add a solidly hit homer to left in the top of the second off Patterson. And, proceed to knock John out of the game with no outs in the top of the 5th when Victorino doubled, followed by a JP wild pitch, Chase Utley walk, and Pat Burrell walk to load the bases.
Our Manager, Manny Acta had seen enough and slowly walked to the mound to replace Patterson with Levale Speigner. John slowly walked to the Nats 3rd Base Dugout, grimacing, no doubt, disgusted with his performance. And when Speigner got out of the jam by only allowing a Sacrifice Fly by Wes Helms, scoring The Phillies third run of this game, Patterson's official stats for 2007, became even more apparent, Not Good. No Wins, 3 Loses and a 7.00 ERA. Our Staff Ace, has been anything but. Patterson's pitching line today: 4 Innings, 7 Hits, 4 Walks, 1 Wild Pitch, 86 pitches thrown--only 47 for strikes. Whether he is injured or still recovering from his forearm problems from last season, I do not know. But, Our Washington Nationals need to find out--QUICKLY!! John Patterson is not helping. Its hard for me to say this, as The African Queen and I like him, a lot.
When Moyer cruised into the 9th inning, there was nary a sole at RFK Stadium that did not believe Jamie would finish this one out with a Complete Game. As Baseball always does, when you least expect, games change, drastically. And, when Ryan Zimmerman led off the bottom half of the 9th with a screaming double into the gap in left, those Nationals fans remaining rose. This game may well not be over, just yet. Dimitri Young would follow with lacing liner down the third base line into the corner, scoring Ryan, Dimitri motoring into second with an RBI Stand Up Double. 4-1 now. The Crowd alive. The Phillies Bullpen, also. Their closer, Tom Gordon was warming up. Out of the blue, this game was coming down to the wire.
Phillies Manager, Charlie Manuel slowly walked to the mound to relieve Moyer. Jamie, then slowing walking to the first base dugout. To everyone's credit at RFK Stadium, he received a very nice ovation from the fans, both Philadelphia and Washington, alike. He deserved it. Jamie Moyer is a working man's player. You can never say enough about that man's efforts both on and off the field of play. The African Queen and I joining in the appreciation.
But, once Gordon reached the mound, this was all about RALLY TIME!! Austin Kearns was next and was plunked on the second pitch by Gordon, runners now on first and second, still No Outs. Out of all miracles, the game tying run was stepping to the plate in Ryan Church. My Main Man!! has struggled all week at home since his fine game last Sunday at Shea Stadium in New York. No doubt, I was looking for Church to hit the Long Ball. Church battled, reached a 2-2 count, then on the fifth pitch of this At-Bat, lofted a blooper down the left field line. NO ONE could get to the ball, but Dimitri Young could not run on the hit, as he didn't know whether the ball would be caught. With Church safe at first, the bases were know loaded, No Outs-And RFK STADIUM WAS BOISTEROUS with noise. There wasn't a Nats Fans in attendance that DID NOT BELIEVE this game was for the taking.
Pitcher Saul Rivera was the next scheduled hitter. No way he's coming up to hit. Up stepped Robert Fick. And, like two nights ago, Robert worked deep into the count. Tom Gordon still not finding his range on the mound. Eventually, Fick would get fooled, but still pop a medium range fly to left field--Deep enough to score the hard charging Dimitri Young from third for the second run of the inning for Our Washington Nationals. As I said to The African Queen, "Yeah, we scored, but that out looms big." And, it did. Out Number One was costly.
Was that ever true with Brian Schneider pinch hitting for Jesus Flores. Rule V Pick Flores got the start today behind the plate to give Brian a breather after last night's gruelingly long affair. Flores has yet to get his first Major League hit in just six At-Bats. I understand the move, to pinch hit. But, this moment shows how thin the bench is for Our Washington Nationals. Josh Wilson, D'Angelo Jimenez and Schneider were the only choices remaining to hit. Michael Restovich started today and was replaced by Snelling. None of Manny's choices are hitters with bat control. That's a problem, when you are pinch hitting with the game on the line.
Schneider, being patient, would get ahead in the count, 3-0, bases loaded again a possibility. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Brian would take a called strike, then ground the very next pitch to Philadelphia's Greg Dobbs at first for out number two. The runners moved up to 2nd and 3rd, just a single could still tie this game up. But, Number 23 was openly upset with himself, kicking the dirt as he crossed first base after being called out by Umpire Randy Marsh. Our Washington Nationals were down to their last out. The Crowd still behind the effort, standing and roaring waiting for the next hitter, Chris Snelling.
Then, The "ROCKY" Theme Song was played. You can talk about killing momentum all you want. Nothing quite stated that fact than THAT SONG!! The Uproar Began. And, Chris Snelling, probably oblivious to the meaning of the song, took a called strike one, swung and missed strike two, fouled off a third Gordon pitch, all fastballs, before The Phillies Closer completely fooled "YODA" with an off speed pitch over the outside corner. Snelling never lifting his bat of his shoulder. Home Plate Umpire Hunter Wendlestedt emphatically calling out Number 8 to end the game. Snelling would argue for the briefest of moments, to no avail. Gallantly, Our Washington Nationals had come alive and nearly won a game they had NO RIGHT TO WIN. As Sohna stated as we were leaving RFK STADIUM: "If they had, if would have been SWEEEEET!"
"Yes it would have been," I replied, "If only that hadn't played that stupid "ROCKY" song!!
You better believe I have already contacted Our Washington Nationals to make sure That Song Is NEVER PLAYED AGAIN, with The Philadelphia Phillies in town.
Game Notes & Highlights:
In the 4th inning with Philadelphia Catcher Carlos Ruiz on third base, Jamie Moyer on first with one out--John Patterson was in trouble again. The swift Jimmy Rollins was at the plate for The Phillies. On the very first pitch from John, Rollins would swing and ground a hard liner down the first base line. Dimitri Young, overplaying toward the line, would scoop up the ball in his glove hand, touch first base and then fire the ball off his wrong foot to Jesus Flores at the plate in an attempt to throw out the hard charging Ruiz. The throw was slightly up the third base line, but Flores still held his ground, the plate and caught the ball, tagging out Ruiz for an inning ending double play. It was The Defensive Play of This Game. Young received a Standing Ovation and Huge Admiration from his Nationals Teammates.
Although Speigner allowed one inherited runner to score when he entered with the bases loaded and no outs in the 5th, he pitched three decent innings of relief, allowing one earned run on two hits and one walk. Twice, Levale was like a cat in the night, snaring liners back to the box, off to the side, then throwing out the runners at first. For a career Minor Leaguer with only a few Major League Appearances under his belt, there is nothing that would give me pause and attempt to move Speigner off the 25 man roster. He has promise.
Finally, The African Queen and I picked up Our Washington Nationals MP 3 Player today at RFK Stadium. Nicely packaged with 128 MB of memory, the White with Red Curly "W" Player claims to have New Stadium images inside to download. I would imagine the images are the same as those on Nationals.com The MP 3 Player was the gift to Full Season Ticket Holders that paid their Ticket Accounts in full, by a set date last winter. Others may have a varying opinion, but we liked it. This MP3 Player is nice.
Today's In Game Photos--(AP) Nick Wass