Friday, September 21, 2007


For a while this evening at RFK Stadium, the atmosphere was reminiscent of 2005. A Larger Crowd than seen in some time. Vocal with the lower bowl filled out. The late arriving crowd not settling in until the 4th inning. Really, the final Friday Night game at The Old Ballyard on East Capitol Street brought back alot of memories.

That Inaugural Season was pretty outstanding. No one could possibly disagree that 2005 was NOT A MAGICAL SEASON. There could not have been ANY CITY in America that enjoyed baseball more--just three years ago. From the very first pitch on April 14, 2005--each and every night brought enjoyment to many Washington Fans. Throughout tonight, that's all I could really think about. Nothing brought more joy to my heart than The Return of Baseball to Washington, DC. Sohna knew--THAT MOMENT, THAT YEAR, WAS IMPORTANT TO ME.

Besides--The Game itself was pretty much a stinker this evening. Shawn Hill had his worst outing of the season. No Command on his sinker, consistently leaving the baseball in over the plate. The Philadelphia Phillies were teeing off. First Ryan Howard with an opposite field shot to left in the second inning for a solo homer (Although I must admit--Howard is one impressive player, and a good guy on top of that--which sets him apart from others. The African Queen has ALWAYS got a kick out of his raising of the bat, while setting himself at the plate). Pat Burrell with a two run BLAST to left in the 3rd (So why were not The Phillie Faithful BOOING Him--like they always do at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia?). And, Jimmy Rollins joined the hit parade with a stroked liner to right in the 5th, his 29th Home Run of 2007. What a day it will be, when Our Washington Nationals have FIVE PLAYERS with 20 or more Homers. A Statistic, The Phillies have accomplished this season.

Our Number 41 was even his own worst nemesis tonight-when he threw away a pickoff toss to first base in the 3rd--allowing Rollins to advance to third and eventually score on a Chase Utley single to center. Knowing how critical Shawn Hill is of his own work--even on days he wins--Our Native Canadian must be furious with himself tonight. And, he should be. But, that's the breaks of The Great Game. He'll have better days--Performances that will remind him of how far he's come after tonight. There is no one better starter pitching for Washington regularly in the rotation. There is NO WAY--Our Washington Nationals are giving up on him. Neither should you. Shawn Hill is far too talented to push aside.

Yeah, The Final Score Tonight was Philadelphia 6 and Our Washington Nationals 3--but there were more important things to ponder at RFK Stadium.

You may not understand--but RFK is a Treasure TO ME. Sure, for the 40 and under set--its a crap ballpark. They never attended any events there--when "The Greatest No Frills Park In Sport" was The MECCA of Stadia. Many calling it "The Eighth Wonder of The World." No doubt--those folks will never understand that fact. But, it was true. Yes, it was.

And, more importantly--DC and later renamed RFK Stadium was The Ballpark of My Youth. That can NEVER BE TAKEN AWAY FROM ME!! NEVER. It does not matter how many wish to make fun of me on that fact. For 60 Games, I watched My Washington Senators play there. Over 40 Times, I watched The Washington Redskins Play there. No One could ever tell me that RFK WAS NOT The Most Intimidating Football Stadium in America. The Dallas Cowboys Believed it!! Even The NFL realizes, The Skins have NEVER BEEN THE SAME since moving to Landover. I know, its a little off subject, but Daniel Snyder better get on the ball--and hope DC United moves to Poplar Point--so he can build a New Redskins Field on East Capitol Street. Only then, can The Redskins--playing in The Nation's Capital--truly return to their GLORY DAYS. They are Washington's Team--Not Maryland's. Its an important meaning.

Now, you may not believe this--or even remember, but Washington, DC was the Host of a Fantastically Supported North American Soccer League Team. The Washington Diplomats were, along with The Cosmos (Of New York) with Pele, the Preeminent Professional Soccer Teams in this country in the late 1970's, early 80's. In fact, RFK hosted Soccer Bowl--The Championship Game of NASL one season. A Nationally Televised Broadcast on ABC saw 56,000 Fans Screaming their Heads off at the current Nationals Ballpark. And, I was there.

Yes, RFK Stadium has a RICH HISTORY. A past that should NEVER BE FORGOTTEN.

When you count My Senators Games of my youth--with the counting of 245 attended games at The Old Ballyard over the past three seasons of Washington Nationals Baseball (that includes all three exhibition games)--not many have seen so much baseball at RFK than me--as a fan. I am proud of that fact. Nothing filled my heart with joy more than the return of baseball to my hometown. Nothing has grabbed my attention more than Our Washington Nationals. With the GREAT Support of The African Queen--I have fulfilled a great promise since the day My Washington Senators left town. Each and everyday--together, we have been behind the return of Our Team. My sacret promise--when My Favorite Player Of All TIME!! was taken away from me--to support any new Major League Team to the MAX!! There was NOTHING LIKE BASEBALL IN WASHINGTON, DC with Frank Howard. There is NOTHING LIKE BASEBALL IN WASHINGTON, DC with Our Washington Nationals.

Sohna and I have given our all. Honestly, I am fortunate and lucky to have her support. The Past Three Seasons at RFK STADIUM have been three of the FINEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES. Our Loyalty--uncompromising. Maybe one day--some of you out there--will understand our feelings.

But, make no mistake about it--The Return of Baseball to RFK Stadium has provided closure for a 33 year old hole in my heart. Major League Baseball and Bob Short (The, then, Owner of The Washington Senators) ripped my heart out as a 12 year old in 1971. The Return of Baseball to DC and Our Washington Nationals have repaired that hurt. There was NO WAY, personally, I was going to miss out on ANY OPPORTUNITY to make up for lost time when The Montreal Expos relocated here. That's the reason for ALL MY PASSION. That's the reason why I love Our Washington Nationals. I LOVE THE GAME!! I Missed it as a Washingtonian.

Yes, RFK STADIUM is special to me. As much as I am looking forward to New Nationals Park and A NEW ERA of Nationals Baseball--I will always look back fondly on the past three years. Never did I expect a Major League Baseball Team to return to my Home Town. Never did I expect to be able to fulfill a childhood promise.

Yet, Baseball Returned and I realized my pledge. Our Washington Nationals are here to stay. Nothing in my Adult Life has brought me more joy (outside of The African Queen). NOTHING!!

Long Live RFK STADIUM!! Or at least until The Washington Redskins move back to the location they so richly deserve to play.

Game Notes & Highlights:

What's with Wily Mo Pena and Phillies Starter Mark Eaton? Eaton hit Wily Mo twice tonight. The first time in the very first inning--found both players staring each other down. Home Plate Umpire Larry Poncino standing in front of Pena has he SLOWLY walked to first base. During his next plate appearance-Wily Mo jabbered with Philadelphia catcher Chris Coste over the incident. Finally, Eaton would again hit Our Number 26 with a pitch in the 5th. First ruled a foul swing by Poncino, the call was argued successfully by Our Manager Manny Acta.
A turnaround result that found The Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel jawing away with Poncino for a good five minutes. An argument that had the entire crowd cheering on for its venom. Did they EVER get heated. To Larry Poncino's credit--unlike many of the hot tempered younger Umpires today--this veteran allowed Manuel to have his say--while Larry gave his view right back in his face. Most Umpires would have tossed Charlie. Great Credit to Larry Poncino for understanding the situation at hand--and not over reacting.

There were three fine defensive plays tonight by Our Washington Nationals. In the 8th with Ryan Howard on 1st with a one out single--Aaron Rowand would smash a grounder to third base. Ryan Zimmerman would cleanly pick up the baseball--swirl to his left--toss a strike to Ronnie Belliard at second base--who pivoted nicely, again to Tony Batista at first base to retire the fast moving Rowand. A fine Major League Twin Killing. A putout that Jesus Flores should have been credited for in the 9th, when Abraham Nunez stole second base while Jayson Werth struck out swinging. Our Rule V Draftee threw a PERFECT STRIKE to Ronnie Belliard. The ball landing in Our Number 10's glove, while Nunez slid right into the tag. A sure out--nulifed when Second Base Umpire Gary Darling just blew the call. Replays had Nunez out by a mile.

But, neither play could top Zimmerman's effort in the top of the second. Rowand, again, smashed a grounder to "Z" at third. Our Number 11 with the 'Ole' pickup and hard toss to first baseman Robert Fick for the out. Ryan again--with The Defensive Play of This Game.

Of course--My Main Man!! provided some serious entertainment in the bottom of the 3rd. On first after a one out walk--Ryan Church rushed hard into Philadelphia Second Baseman Chase Utley to break up a potential double play grounder by Austin Kearns. Our Number 19, not only breaking up the inning ending out--but fliping Chase completely over--on his head. The OOOHs!! and AAAH's enjoyable to hear. Ryan Church trotted off the field at RFK to a Standing Ovation for his effort. A good one. Something not seen too often by Washington Runners on the basepaths.

So, yes--I understand that Robert Fick has not been consistently decent all season long. But to give him some credit--he has hit well lately. Manny, My Friend--why pinch hit for Fick in the the 7th with Tony Batista? Yes, I know The Phillies had just brought in J C Romero--a lefthander. At least Our Number 13 has shown some life of late. Quality At-Bats that Batista has none of over the past few weeks. Speaking of which--what's with emptying the bench in the 7th and 8th--leaving Nook Logan to bat--unable to pinch hit for him--in the bottom of the 9th? Is it really necessary to use up so many hitters for one appearance? Just curious--you have limited choices. But, maybe--you could use those choices differently?

And, "The Guz" returned tonight as a late inning defensive replacement. Our Number 15 playing his first game since breaking his thumb against the Cleveland Indians this past June. He did not bat and had no fielding chances while playing shortstop--but it was nice to see Cristian Guzman back on the diamond. Until his freak injury--he was having a fine season. No one was sparking Our Offense more at that time. A Speed Demon on the bases--Guzman was missed over the past three months.

The first logo appeared last night on the first base sidelines. Tonight a 1962 to 2007 Commemorative Logo was painted in foul territory on both the 1st and 3rd baselines. I like that logo. You can bet I have purchased a couple of those patches depicting it--at the 50% off sale at RFK Stadium.

Also tonight--I ventured up to Section 533 to witness and take pictures of the now painted RED Step in Section 533. The landing sight of Ryan Zimmerman's MONSTER BLAST OFF The San Diego Padres David Wells this past June 3rd. His clout in the rain and mist was Fabulous. Vividly, Sohna and I recall Team President Stan Kasten coming out to celebrate with us for a moment in Section 320. Like a proud Papa--he had seen His Boy accomplish the unthinkable. Ryan Zimmerman's Home Run that day rivaling Frank Howard's best into the White Seats of The 500 Level.

Although--this did not occur this evening--there was a moment two nights ago that was PRICELESS. Before the 7th inning stretch on Wednesday Night--Teddy was feeling The LOVE in Section 320 with the "Let Teddy Win!!" Chant. As now accustomed--Teddy got up on the railing in the tunnel to the left of us--to cheer on his fans. As Teddy jumped back down to the walkway--unbeknownst to him--Stan Kasten was standing directly behind him. As the large hulk of Our Racing President bounded down to earth--Our Team President had to scramble out of the way. Mr Kasten's look was PRICELESS. First Hand, he had experienced--"LET TEDDY WIN!!" in Section 320. All of us--chuckled over this--for some time. When I told Teddy about the moment-- something he had not realized--Roosevelt gave the Two THUMBS UP!!! then brushed off his forearms in appreciation!! Really, it was funny and the highlight of the evening.

Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Manuel Balce Ceneta

PS--I have worked a 60 Hour Television Work Schedule this week. Its been a big news week. Business called--and I had to respond. But, I still made it to each home game--every evening, every inning. And, to the best of my abilities attempted to write a story each night for The Nats320 blog. Yeah, I have been working on three hours of sleep over each of the past five days--tiredness which has not settled well with my 48 Year Old Body. In my youth--that would have been no problem. So, I have not been as sharp this week--but I still made the effort--to try.


Jim H said...

No apologies needed, SBF. Your dedication and passion to this team has been evident from day one.

Now I fear that in Shawn Hill, we have another John Patterson. Obviously talented, I wonder if Hill's not hurt. (I know his non-pitching shoulder is in bad shape, but I'm speaking to the "good" arm.) He mentioned in an interview the other day that his elbow and forearm were still bothering him.

Hill has not been healthy for anything resembling a long, consistent stretch.

In the past, when we've seen such declining performances, it's been revealed that injuries were there...but the pitcher was desparate to deny it.

I hope Hill is healthy.

paul said...

SBF, you must have enjoyed Boswell's column on his RFK memories. Here it is for anyone who missed it:

I had to insert page breaks, so take care in cutting and pasting.

NatsVA said...

Thanks for all the writing you've done and pictures you've taken this season, all the effort and dedication you've shown and also for a very nice post. Nats320 should make the Nats appreciate having you, your wife and friends as fans-and you've handled any negative comments directed towards you on your blog with class. I look forward to the game posts next year at the new park, keep up the good work, and enjoy the offseason.

And while you're at it, i hope you don't change the name of the blog when you get into your new seats next year...

Tom said...

Thanks for making this a great year!

mike edgar said...


I wrote the following at the Ballparkguys website, and it's apropos to what you've just written, so I thought I'd share it here, as well:

Like many others here who read and contribute to BPG, I was one of those kids [who missed out on growing up with a baseball team after Bob Short took the Senators away from us]. I turned 10 years old during the summer of 1971, not having any idea that the Senators were never coming back at the end of that season until they actually left. That was the year that I really started to follow professional sports, particularly the Redskins since the Nats had been taken away. I often describe to people the feeling I had in 2005 when the Nationals opened up in Philadelphia was one of finally being invited to join a party that had been going on for the past 33 years, but which I had to observe by peeking in through the window. I tell my nephews, who are just a year or two older than I was when the Senators left, that I envy them in a way that they will probably never truly understand or appreciate. They will grow up with baseball being played in their home town. In a few years, when they're a bit older, they will be able to get together with a couple of buddies on a slow summer night and head on over to the park on S. Capitol Street to watch their beloved Nats play. They won't spend their springs and summers counting the days until the Redskins' first preseason game, just so they'll have a game to watch that involves a team that they care about. I'm thrilled that the Nationals came now, while I'm still young enough to expect to enjoy watching them for another 30 years or more, but I can't say that I'm not still a little sad and bitter about 33 summers that came and went without a baseball team to call my own.

Anonymous said...

FWI for anyone interested.
I was a manager for FMI for the last three years. Found out today after an interview with Centerplate that the main store at the new ballpark will NOT be a Nationals store, but will be a Modells.