Saturday, September 01, 2007
What was left of 30,221 were on their feet. "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" was on the mound for Our Washington Nationals. The New All Time Home Run King was at the plate for The San Francisco Giants. Fortunately--Chad Cordero was throwing strikes. The Good Stuff. Already up 4-1, he had retired the first two Giant Hitters in the top of the ninth without a struggle. Since "The Chief" Blew Up last August 24 in Denver while holding a 5-1 lead in the 9th--a Sure Victory turned sour with one bad performance--Our Washington Nationals had yet to win a baseball game since. Yes, seven straight defeats. Much of that sorrow centering on starting pitching being unable to throw strikes--getting ahead in the count.
Having Command of your pitches--a true necessity on The Major League Level.
Something Our Number 32 had this evening as the plowed through The San Francisco Lineup attempting, to record his 29th Save of this season. An effort that now found him facing Bonds, The Polarizing Figure that went yard on Washington to become Baseball's Career Leader in Home Runs. A record that will be questioned for years to come--due to Bonds links to alleged steroid use.
The Giants Number 25 stood mightily at the plate--attention gazed directly at Chad Cordero. "The Chief's" cap slung low as always, just above his eyebrows, showing no fear. Why should he. This was RFK STADIUM, the location of many of his command performances. A Pitcher's Park. Chad reared back and delivered a called strike one. The Home Faithful roaring its approval. As had been the case all night long--each and every At-Bat by Bonds featured THOUSANDS of camera light bulbs flashing as each and every pitch was delivered to him. Making me wonder--how exactly can that not be distracting for Bonds during every night game.
Undaunted though--Barry Bonds stood mightily at the plate--flexing his bat back and forth. While Chad Cordero may well be in command this very moment--Barry Bonds was commanding all the attention--like he always does. And, The Crowd flexing their vocal chords--commanding to be heard. The majority looking for that final out as Cordero looked in for the sign from his catcher Jesus Flores. When both reached an agreement, the next toss was on the way.
A pitch SWUNG ON and DRIVEN to left field. A baseball flight that found the stands jumping. The pitched voices of the crowd sensing a possible Home Run. Those Flashbulbs smattering again throughout The Old Ballyard. The anticipation great as Wily Mo Pena moved quickly back in left field--To The Warning Track--TO THE WALL---TO MAKE THE CATCH FOR THE FINAL OUT!!
Bang!! ZOOM!! Go The FIreworks!!! Curly "W" number 59 was finally in the books. That Seven Game Losing STREAK finally over!!
"The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" had retired baseball's most feared hitter with a commanding performance. Domination also on display tonight by Joel Hanrahan--this evening's starting pitcher for Our Washington Nationals. Showing his best command since his promotion to The Major Leagues last month--Our Number 38 cruised through six strong innings, throwing a no hitter through four complete. A streak brought to an abrupt end in the 5th when The Giants Pedro Feliz went yard to give San Francisco their first and only run of the night. As it turned out--The Boys from the Bay would only record one further base hit throughout this affair. None of which came off the bat of Barry Bonds.
All because Hanrahan was throwing first pitch strikes. Time after Time--hitter after hitter--Joel was on top of his game. How different the game becomes when your pitcher is in control. Guidance not handed to the opposing batter because your man on the mound can't find the plate. A theme played out all night long by Our Manager Manny Acta's Staff. Ray King, Jesus Colome, Big Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero all followed Joel Hanrahan's lead tonight. The San Francisco Giants were humbled. Yes, they were dominated by Our Washington Nationals Hurlers.
A Command Performance Jesus Flores also displayed. A towering line drive Home Run hammered to dead centerfield in the bottom of the 5th off Jonathan Sanchez to tie this ballgame up at one. Then the key, one out, two strike, single up the middle--again off Sanchez in the bottom of the sixth that put Washington ahead to stay. A ripped single by Our Number 3, immediately followed by My Main Man!! Ryan Church, pinch hitting for Hanrahan in a attempt to break this game wide open--flying to deep right field--scoring Pena from third on a sacrifice fly. Jesus Flores BELONGS in The Major Leagues. Manny Acta has used him wisely all season long. Never over exposing him, but more and more--giving Our Rule V Draftee more responsibility. Giving Jesus, command of his own game and direction of his very promising young career.
So, what in world were The New York Mets THINKING when they exposed him in last winter's draft? Command of their own prospects--The Mets must have been blinded by--in an effort to WIN IT ALL RIGHT NOW. What a mistake playing under the bright lights of The Big Apple. In an attempt to please their fans, the media and themselves--New York lost sight of one of their best prospects. Jesus Flores, a huge Washington Gain. But, I digress.
Because tonight was all about command. Barry Bonds commanding attention. Our Washington Pitchers commanding respect. Jesus Flores commanding his game. And, Teddy Roosevelt commanding the LOVE OF THE CROWD!! Yes, tonight was Teddy Roosevelt Bobblehead Giveaway Night. Those 30,221 posted up, to pick up, the keepsake--and nearly everyone in attendance knew the facts. Teddy beginning the evening 0-105 in the history of the Live Race. And, In all three previous Racing President Bobblehead Giveaways--GW, Abe & Tom have all won The Race on their special night. (Faux) Secret Service Escorts providing the cover for each day's winner.
Many expected Our Lovable Loser to FINALLY WIN Tonight. A Tour De Force Performance that had everyone buzzing at the Old Ballyard on East Capitol Street. With "Let Teddy Win!!" being shouted throughout the third base side of RFK as the gate down the right field line opened during the middle of the 4th inning--here came Teddy carried out on a throne by 4 of his Henchman, while Secret Service held back the other Presidents from taking the lead. Then, all HELL BROKE LOOSE. About halfway into the race, Teddy fell off his throne and a mad scramble among the racers and Teddy’s henchman began. Teddy, realizing HIS CHANCE was at hand--SPRINTED TOWARD THE FINISH LINE. Screech and The Geico Gekko waving him on. Only to see POOR TEDDY defeated in a photo finish by George. Amazingly--BOOS began throughout the park. Followed immediately by the chant of "TED-DY!! TED-DY!!" A chorus sung out the entire time The Racing Presidents walked up the aisle into the stands--heading to Diamond Club for Their Photo Opportunity.
While the baseball game had actually resumed following the race, the crowd's attention had now wavered and was split. Teddy was COMMANDING THE LOVE!! Did he ever relish in the moment.
You can believe whatever you want about Our Racing Presidents--but their Popularity and Fandom--much of it because of TEDDY--has now reached "ROCK STAR" Status. What can you say about Four Overblown Paper Mache Puppets that now have a life of their own. Our "Fearsome Foursome's" Daily Event now a Highlight at every single Home Game of Our Washington Nationals. Of course--Teddy stopped in the tunnel--just to the left of Section 320 in the 7th to GREAT APPLAUSE. Boo's that his buddy--George Washington Received for Spoiling Teddy's Moment and Winning on his Bobblehead Night.
So--which Losing Streak Did You Wish To See End--First? Our Washington Nationals Seven Gamer? Or Teddy Roosevelt's 105th? Because Tonight was The Night for Both. It was a rousing night at RFK Stadium. Many in attendance understanding what was at stake--both on and off the field of play. If you were a Washington Fan--you had to leave RFK after this game with a smile. For Our Washington Nationals--had saved face, hopefully turning around a bad stretch--looking to finish the 2007 Championship Season on a High Note.
For Our Lovable Loser--Teddy was fully expected to win by THE FAITHFUL on this night. Something his Racing Rushmore Friends had all completed to date. While Teddy--succeeded at stumbling badly--losing in GRAND STYLE--Once Again--his charm reached a high not seen since the beginning of The Racing Presidents Race. As much as I love yelling out "LET TEDDY WIN!" Its enjoyable to remind myself--"LONG LOSE TEDDY!!, because right now--that's the fun of The "RUSHMORES".
September 1, 2007--A Masterful 4-1 Win over The San Francisco Giants with A Virtuoso Performance by The Racing Presidents.
A Fun Night at The Old Ballyard on East Capitol Street.
Game Notes & Highlights:
In the top of the third--Omar Vizquel of The Giants walked with one out to become San Francisco's first baserunner of the evening. As Giants Starter Jonathan Sanchez struck out in the very next at-bat, Vizquel took off for second base in an attempted steal. Jesus Flores was crossed up on the developing play and lost his balance as he attempted to toss out Omar on a pitch in the dirt. A result that found Jesus falling while throwing and FIRING THE BASEBALL right into his pitcher Joel Hanrahan's left ankle. A ricochet that found the baseball heading toward the first base line. Our Starter--throwing a No Hitter at the time--limping in pain. Fortunately--Our Number 38 was OK. But, you had to just LAUGH at the oddity. Really, its incredible how baseball can continually provide episodes of events and happenings that you have never witnessed before. Can you imagine--GREAT--Our Washington Nationals lose a pitcher with a broken ankle due to their very own catcher--hitting him with an errant throw. Honestly--that's funny.
As Barry Bonds trotted out to left field for the bottom of the 1st inning--a standing ovation from a few hundred fans began along the third base line and carried into the Upper Deck of Left Field. As the applause grew ever louder, a few 1000 folks now stood--applauding The New All Time Home Run King. Reacting to the gesture, Barry Bonds actually stopped--AND DOFFED HIS CAP--to his fans. RFK Stadium Faithful that rarely--if ever, get a tip of the baseball cap from Our Very Own Washington Nationals. Sohna and I laughed at the IRONY of it all. A moment that was recently a topic of discussion on The Nats320 Blog. The African Queen stating: " How come Our Players NEVER DO THAT FOR US!!" She had point, a good one.
Washington's fourth and final run of the game came in the bottom of the 7th when Ryan Zimmerman slammed a double into the gap in left scoring FLop from first base. Zimmerman's 34th Double of 2007 and 79th RBI.
In the bottom of the 8th--Flores lined a Steve Kline pitch to left. A sinking drive that Bonds moved deftly to his right--on his aging knees. Experience he showed as he slid to the ground to snare the baseball out of the air--a split second before the ball hit the turf. Number 25 showed some that defensive skill he was well known for in his early career. A Gold Glove Caliber player, that tonight, made The Defensive Play of This Game.
Just one half inning before tonight's "RUSHMORE" Race--on the scoreboard above Right Field--Our Washington Nationals showed an HILARIOUS VIDEO of Teddy in training. Updated from earlier this season--now depicting The Lovable Loser running the stairs at RFK, using his wide girth to take baseballs in the chest, while standing in Our Nationals Batting Cage. And, a very funny shot of Teddy running past The Groundskeeper's Lawnmover--stopping and returning to the motorized device. An idea sprung in TR's Mind that he could use the gas powered four wheeler to win. JUST GREAT STUFF!! That Spot did not go unnoticed by the over 30,000 at RFK--as some gave the video a Standing Ovation. It was TERRIFIC!!
Interestingly, The Navy Hospitalman that sang tonight's National Anthem--is currently assigned to The USS Teddy Roosevelt.
Finally--speaking of the Bobblehead Giveaway. As I headed to the usual centerfield redemption area on the 300 Concourse Tonight--I noticed a RED ARROW and Sign stating "BOBBLEHEAD GIVEAWAY, THIS WAY". Curious, I followed it. The Path led me to Mezzanine Level--Box M 20 where NO ONE WAS STANDING IN LINE. While the great majority of fans were waiting in a more difficult area with the many thousands more of the masses--The Mezzanine Level provided a less than one minute pass through to pick up The Teddy Roosevelt Bobblehead. What a difference to experience this ease--as compared to the very first George Washington Bobblehead Giveaway. I wonder how many folks actually knew The Mezzanine Level was available for Coupon Redemption? Sohna STUNNED that I returned from my Pick Up Journey in less than 10 Minutes.
Oh yeah, despite still not being 100%, The African Queen still posted up tonight--just for TEDDY!!
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Gerald Herbert
Bonds Popping Up/Flores watching--(Washington Post) Toni L. Sandys