Sunday, September 30, 2007
Wily Mo Pena taking that looping pitch from Brett Myers to end the 2007 Season--brought sadness to my heart. And, it had nothing to do with the fact that Our Washington Nationals had lost. Nor, the sight of The Philadelphia Phillies celebrating a National League East Title on the turf at Citizens Bank Park--with BUDWEISER BEER--Not Champagne!! (which is actually funny)
No--at 4:33PM Eastern Time--all the whirlwind watching and enjoying of Our Team that calls The Nation's Capital its home--was OFFICIALLY OVER for this season. No More Major League Baseball for Washington until April, 2008. Disheartening because, since February, 2007--following every single detail of Our Washington Nationals has been nothing short of a way of life for The African Queen and I.
It all started, innocently, in Spring Training at Viera, Florida. We had never visited there together, and really didn't know what to expect. Since Sohna and I were going--we thought it might be nice to report about what we saw each and every day. Little did we realize, how many would respond to those efforts--positively. The Access was good--the players more responsive than I ever expected. That last week of February, 2007 was a GREAT WEEK. Never, had we enjoyed our time just being around baseball--more. Sohna couldn't stop thinking about it. In fact, she became hooked.
And, we didn't stop there. Never, have we let up since. Proud, is the only word that describes our work and effort put forth.
With Sohna's Undying Support--The Nats320 Blog was able to capture the final season of baseball at RFK Stadium in a very unique way. EACH & EVERY GAME-from a Fans Perspective, from Our Perch in Section 320, not only with all Our Friends--but, with a ton of Emotion. Yet, not in our fondest dreams--did we expect to be so diligent, or complete in the coverage. It sorta snowballed--and as readers responded--we didn't want to let anyone down. That's just the type of people we are. We Cared. Hard Work Became My Most Enjoyable Season of Baseball--EVER. Nothing comes close. Despite the many long hours--late nights----some negativity directly pointed at me--and still working a 50 Hour Television Work Week--somehow it all worked out. Really--Somehow.
All the fun of Section 320. My Best Friend Screech!! The "Let Teddy Win!!!" Chant. Tom Davis, Clint and The Nat Pack. Our Team--that played well above expectations. No, they are far from the best--but Our 2007 Washington Nationals were EXCITING. RFK Stadium was an enjoyable venue during its last season as a Major League Ballpark. And, that MOST Charismatic Man--Our Manager Manny Acta made it all happen. Since the very first day he was introduced--Manny has always been positive. Promise, that in the very near future all our Fans can celebrate like The Phillies did this afternoon. What a Day That Will Be!! Yes, Major League Baseball with Our Washington Nationals was worth every minute devoted to them in 2007. We could not have asked for more.
The same holds true for all those hours spent with Our Friends. For the past three seasons--as far as we are concerned--Section 320 was The Nexus of The Nats Universe. A rather large group of individuals that came together over the love of baseball. Few, knowing each other beforehand. BangTheDrumNatly, Mr. & Mrs. MickNats, RallyTimeRichard, SeyHeyKlib, Troy & Julie, SenatorNat, Andy & his Dad Jim, Barbara, her Brother Richard, Mike & Becky--always brought in tow by Little Abby. And, of course--The Fly Boys from Andrews: John, Scott, Kathy & Dave, Lisa & Jeff, Leslie & Tim, Libby & Steve, FlyGirl Karen and Aaron. No Group more fun at RFK Stadium than that Dozen.
And, sitting just to the right of us--at every home game--the fortune of each and every Family Member of Our Washington Nationals. What a great benefit!! Kind and considerate every one of them was to us. Many enjoying the camaraderie that WAS, and hopefully always will be, Section 320--in a Section to be Determined at New Nationals Park.
Section 320 was in attendance at each and every Home Game EVER Played by Our Washington Nationals at The Old Ballyard on East Capitol Street. We were loud, but never rude. And, Were Always Having Fun!!--whether Washington Lost or Not.
As the journey continued we met many more friends--Colleen & Jeff, Iris & Biff, Richard, Charles, Gloria, Janet, Boris, Karen, Tillman and Susan--just to name a few. But, nothing was more appreciated than the many Fans of Our Washington Nationals that made the effort to personally come and meet Sohna and I in Section 320--Thanking us for Our Efforts face to face. There are far too many of you to name here--but a few stand out. Greg, Adam & his son Brian for their Wonderful Banner given to me during last Sunday's Final Game at RFK. An offering Sohna and I will CHERISH FOREVER!! The Best Gift Given to me in a LONG, LONG,TIME!! Jim (Mr. Red Shoes) & Doug. Paul--always fun and interesting. Melissa & Matt (If you were watching closely this afternoon on MASN--Melissa and Matt made a cameo appearance in the 4th inning). Matt famous in Section 320 for wearing his "Trade Clint, Keep Dmitri" Shirt earlier this summer. A Classic. Eddie Cunningham--faithful fan. And, of course--Lou Gehrig. Yes, that's his real name. There were many, MANY More--but far too many to personally single out here.
Although, I must acknowledge some in the contingent of Nats Bloggers--some whom Sohna and I have met over the past year. Miss Chatter, The Three Girls With Heart, Chris Needham (Mr. Capitol Punishment), Brian from Nationals Farm Authority, Brandon from The Curly W and Joe Riley (Nats Power). Its quite amazing the amount of dedication to Our Washington Nationals. We don't all agree on many topics--but the discussions and debate are always worthwhile for me.
So, from the bottom of Our Hearts--Sohna and I Thank ALL OF YOU--So Very Much!!! Your Gratefulness has made EVERYTHING WORTHWHILE. We have been through alot in the past 8 months. But, we wanted EVERYONE to know how much we appreciate everyone's support. And, that The Nats320 Blog will continue--in fact, its keeping its name--although we don't know our Assigned Seats yet for New Nationals Park. Section 320 is the spot were The African Queen and I began Our Love of Our Washington Nationals. We want to Honor that Section of RFK--FOREVER!! Nothing else would feel right. Nothing. Besides--Then I would have to make up a New Customized Jersey? My SBF 320 Jersey is just three months old.
The 2007 Season has now come to a close. Yes, it would have been FINE for Our Washington Nationals to defeat The Philadelphia Phillies this afternoon. But, as The Phillies celebrated right in front of Washington at Citizens Bank Park, Our Players could plainly see that Today's Glory, Was Not Their Time--But, Philadelphia's Time. Someday soon, Our Washington Nationals will revel in The Glory--of Their Own Time!!
THAT WILL BE ONE PROUD DAY!!
Yes, The 2007 Season Ended This Afternoon, sadly so--but Sohna and I raise our heads highly. We are Proud of Our Hard Work. Proud that so many appreciated the effort. Proud that Our Washington Nationals made a nice run this season. And Proud--that The Future Shines Bright as Our Washingon Nationals move to New Nationals Park on South Capital Street.
Game Notes & Highlights:
Despite struggling at the plate mightily during this season ending series--Ryan Zimmmeran still had the guts to make The Defensive Play of this Game. In the bottom of the 8th--mere moments after striking out--"Z" dove, completely outstretched--to snare a sharp grounder to his left from The Phillies Chris Coste. Our Number 11 smooth as can be, when he simply jumped to his feet, and made a perfect toss to Dmitri Young at First Base for the out. There is no one better at fielding the baseball at The Hot Corner than Ryan Zimmerman. No, he did not have a breakout season at the plate--and made 23 errors in the field during his Sophomore Campaign--but there is no better third sacker in the game. Our Franchise Player well deserved of The Gold Glove.
Playoff Games are all about pitching. And Game Number 162 was a defacto post-season game. The Ageless Jamie Moyer came with his "A" Game this afternoon. You would think 21 seasons in The Majors would give anyone the experience to work through the nerves of an ALL or Nothing Battle. The Mind Set that Moyer had on the mound at Citizens Bank Park--convincingly so. The Head that Tommy Glavine, of The New York Mets, did not have on the mound at Shea Stadium at the same time. While Jamie pitched his way through 5.1 innings of effective baseball--Sure to Be Hall of Famer--Glavine only lasted .1 inning. 1/3rd!! and he gave up Seven Runs in the process to The Florida Marlins. An early 7-0 Lead in Queens that sent The Phillies Faithful into Frantic Mode at the start of Our Game.
All Philadelphia needed was a win. All they wanted was, for Washington, to roll over. Yet, Our Team didn't--they simply got beat. Jason Bergmann struggled from the start and only lasted three innings--giving up three earned runs. And, Our Washington Nationals really could not solve Moyer or any of Philadelphia's subsequent three relievers. Once Jimmy Rollins laced a two run triple down the right field line in the 6th to make this game 5-1, all that was left was The Celebration. Which Ryan Howard got started even earlier than expected when he BLASTED OUT a Mike Bascik pitch in the 7th to score the final fun of the regular season for The Phillies. At 6-1 now--its was only a matter of six more outs to conclude the season for Our Washington Nationals.
Washington scored their only run of this game and Final Run of 2007 due to an error. Ronnie Belliard reached on a throwing error by Philadelphia 3rd Baseman Greg Dobbs. A mistake that found Our Number 10 on Second Base after a ground out by Dmitri Young and scoring on a single to left by Austin Kearns. A fast moving liner that Pat Burrell actually picked up nicely and threw a fine toss home. A potential out at the plate that "The Ballplayer", JUST BEAT, on a pop up slide past Philadelphia Catcher Carlos Ruiz. The score at that time in the 4th was only 3-1 Philadelphia. But, Rollins' Triple would be the decisive blow two innings later.
Washington's only other real threat came in the top of the 6th--when Belliard singled to lead off and Young followed with a one out single. A hit that found The Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel replacing Moyer with Tom Gordon. The Veteran Reliever getting Austin Kearns to ground into a inning ending, rally killing--double play. That frame, would yield the final potential comeback of 2007--as Our Washington Nationals did not threaten the rest of the way.
Final 2007 Record for Our Washington Nationals: 73-89, 4th Place, National League East. 9 other Major League Teams have the same or Worse Record than Our Team. No, they were not terrible. In fact--fun to watch most all season long. They came a long way from that awful 1-8 start and 9-25 early season record. Over 162 Games, Our Washington Nationals became a team. Not a championship team, mind you--but enjoyable--nonetheless.
The Sight of all those Phillie Fans waving those White Towels IMPRESSIVE. Personally, I can't wait for a similar day at New Nationals Park. Although Colleen did call me from her seats directly behind Washington's Third Base Dugout this afternoon--to say they were trapped in their seats--after the game--surrounded by celebrating Philadelphia Fans. Some of whom--were dousing she and her husband, Jeff, with Beer. I guess even in victory--class--never describes a Phillies Fan.
Finally, The African Queen and I were expecting to attend the final game of 2007. But, Timing did not work out. We were willing to go. It just did work out.
Look Forward to seeing EVERYBODY at New Nationals Park. No excuses now--about The Crappiness of The Stadium.
Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Tom Mihalek
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Enjoyable is the best description for this afternoon's game between Our Washington Nationals and The Philadelphia Phillies.
Two Teams that continue to play exciting game, after thrilling game. What a rivalry this is becoming!! Before you know it--Washington & Philadelphia will be a well anticipated match up. Most likely never coming close to reaching Yankees/Red Sox or Dodgers/Giants status--stuff like that takes nearly one hundred years to develop. But, certainly a battle that fans from each representative city can look forward to. Antagonists, that makes each subsequent match up coveted.
Today was no exception.
The Phillies needed just ONE win to be GUARANTEED a tie for The National League East Title. Washington did not roll over.
"Our Starter In Training" pitched arguably his finest game as a Major Leaguer. Matt Chico saved his BEST STUFF for his last start.
In a Playoff Atmosphere--Our Washington Nationals manufactured two runs, then took advantage of two Philadelphia Errors to score two more. Post Season Games are most always--closely fought. Washington displayed resiliency this afternoon--the ability to compete under pressure.
And, when it appeared The Phillies were prime for their Comeback--Big Jon Rauch was called on to Slow THIS GAME DOWN. A most effective outing that kept this game, not only under control--but out of the hands of the Frantic Phillie Fans. "The Wookie" killing a Philadelphia Rally--that sucked the wind out of, not only The Phillies, but Citizens Bank Park--as well.
Air--that "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" finally extinguished with a ROBUST 1-2-3 9th Inning. Chad Cordero shutting down The Phillies and shutting up their fans. What a joyous site to see Our Washington Nationals celebrate on the very field Philadelphia was ready to coronate their own Tie of a Division Title. New York and Philadelphia--Teams not well liked by Washingtonians--now both suffering because Our Washington Nationals have Saved Their Best For Last!!--Winners of Five of their last Six Ballgames. As enjoyable a 4-2 Victory witnessed all season long. Our Washington Nationals came to play. Once again--never giving up--when most other teams WOULD NOT CARE about Game Number 161.
Curly "W" Number 73 dealt a serious blow to The Philadelphia Phillies; Clinched a 4th Place Finish for Our Washington Nationals. And, continued to prove--that under Our Manager Manny Acta--quitting is never an option.
Our Number 14 for "Manager Of The Year". Honestly--who Deserves It More? Who, accomplished More, with Less? Like--NO ONE. Manny Acta is The Manager Of The Year--whether The Baseball Writers wish to give him the Hardware, or not. What A Year for Our Rookie Leader!!
Game Notes & Highlights:
Matt Chico deftly worked his way through the minefield that is a Powerful Phillies Lineup. Our Number 47 wiggled out of trouble in giving up 4 hits and three walks in 6 Plus Innings. Only a Towering Home Run given up to Aaron Rowand leading off the 7th blemished his day. But, most importantly--he didn't lose his resolve. At 23 Years of Age--Matt Chico has alot still to learn, but he has established himself as a viable Major League Pitcher in 2007. Chico's 7th Victory of the season also kept him from earning the dubious distinction of being the only Pitcher for Our Washington Nationals to lose 10 Games over the past six months. A record surely, he did not want to establish.
After "Our Starter In Training" was relieved by Saul Rivera in the 7th--it well appeared The Phillies were going to rally. Down 4-1, Our Number 56 came on and wasn't really fooling anybody. A seven pitch At-Bat to Jayson Werth eventually lead to a fly out to center for out number one. But, a 9 pitch At-Bat to Greg Dobbs and walk, set the table for a big inning. Especially when Carlos Ruiz followed with a clean single to left--moving Dobbs to second. Rivera was rushing his tosses. In doing so--he was not only losing his command--but losing control of this ballgame--quickly.
With the Rally Towels being circled throughout Citizens Bank Park, The Phillie Fanatics were on their feet, whopping it up. Philadelphia was seeing their chance. And, Our Manager Manny Acta was seeing enough of Rivera. Responding like most Playoff Managers would--he called on Big Jon Rauch--one inning sooner than normal. All Hands On Deck. Manny was playing for keeps. He knew "The Wookie" would be playing for the win.
6'11" is intimidating enough from the mound--but when Our Number 51 is reaching 95 MPH on his Fastball--alarming is the only way to describe him. Big Jon was on his game and quickly got Shane Victorino to pop to Ryan Zimmerman at third--for an automatic infield fly rule out. Then, with EVERYONE at Citizens Bank Park Standing and Roaring "MVP!!, MVP!!" for Jimmy Rollins--"The Wookie" served in a fastball that the speedy Philadelphia Shortstop swung at--only to see the baseball ground right into Robert Fick's chest at first base. A carom that Fick recovered from and threw to Rauch--to Kill The Phillies BIG CHANCE.
Then, Big Jon returned to finish off Philadelphia in the 8th--despite giving up a Home Run to Ryan Howard--making the score 4-2 Washington. Rauch's fine effort clearing the way for Chad Cordero to prove that he is not done--not just yet. Our Number 32 striking out Jayson Werth, getting Greg Dobbs to fly out to Ryan Langerhans and finally ending this affair--when Carlos Ruiz popped a lazy looper to Ronnie Belliard at second base. "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" was anything but, this afternoon. Even, Chad Cordero saved his Best for Last to record his 37th Save of 2007. A Number most everyone believed he had NO CHANCE of reaching at mid-season. Despite his continued tightrope acts--Chad Cordero has actually put together a rather decent--if unspectacular--year. 113 Saves (out of 133 Chances) in Three Seasons of Baseball for Our Washington Nationals--can not be taken lightly.
Our Washington Nationals not only will not finish last in The National League East--they will also not LOSE 90 Games. I understand 88 or 89 loses is nothing to be overly proud of--but its a step in the right direction. If the 2007 Season was about Team Building--then Our Washington Nationals learned how to play exciting baseball. Team Baseball. Yes, overmatched at times--but never outplayed. A Big Difference. Something to build on in the very near future.
During the first Six Innings this afternoon--Sohna and I listened to this game on the Radio with Charlie & Dave--as we ran the weekend errands. Once we returned home--The TV was turned on (But, the Sound Down--not going to listen to Tim McCarver for a second on Fox) while Charlie & Dave are performing their artistry over the airwaves. What I found interesting on Fox was not recalling seeing ONE SINGLE SHOT of a Washington Fan in attendance at Citizens Bank Park. There had to be more than a few Nationals Faithful there. Yet, Fox chose not to show any of them--while The African Queen and I were watching. Interesting.
Finally, being in television as a profession, and very critical of our product--why is it that the Fox Director continually showed one second cutaway shot after cutaway shot between pitches. To me--building false tension--actually kills the nervousness at hand. I find Baseball on TV far more dramatic when the particulars are shown. The Hitter, The Pitcher and The Catcher. Maybe, the lead runner. I don't need to see the 1,000th Fan that day with all their fingers and toes crossed. Just doesn't build excitement for me. In fact, that type of directing--kills the natural drama. Besides--many times late in this game--there were so many cutaway shots--The Director barely got back to the actual pitch in time before the pitcher tossed it. Just Stupid TV. Please, just let the game play out. It was exciting enough--without the false interjections.
73-88 for Our Washington Nationals. No, far from a Championship Team. But, also far from "The Worst Team of All Time."
Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Rusty Kennedy
Friday, September 28, 2007
Who ever said Our Washington Nationals were not in The Playoffs? Because, Tonight's atmosphere at Citizens Bank Park was EXCEPTIONAL!! Never can you get experience in The Post Season--unless you play in it. Which means, Nothing could be Finer Than Tonight. Our Washington Nationals learned a tremendous amount this evening in South Philadelphia. Baseball was Fun--for a 4th place team--supposedly playing out the schedule.
This One Was Special. Baseball Is The Greatest Game. And, It does not matter that Our Team will not be playing in October. What matters, is that Washington was competing WHEN IT COUNTS THE MOST!!--Giving Their All.
When Austin Kearns grabbed a liner from Ryan Howard in the 4th that was The Signature Play of this ballgame--Our Washington Nationals were playing for KEEPS. Our Number 25 ran into the mesh fence in rightfield to prove a point on--The Defensive Play of This Game. DC's Team was not giving up!!
Can you imagine what New Nationals Park will be like when Our Washington Nationals are IN THE PLAYOFFS!!?? The World Series!!" Those Dates will be LIFETIME EVENTS!! Sometimes, you have to look to the future.
Playoff Games are all about Pitching and Defense. Rarely does Hitting get you to The Promised Land. Sure, a top hitting club can get you to the playoffs--but when it counts the most--its PITCHING, PITCHING & MORE PITCHING. Our General Manager Jim Bowden's well publicized Mantra. Why do think each and every team shortens up their rotation when the post-season begins? Your 4th and 5th starters are rarely trusted. Championship Teams go with their Best. Top Pitching got you there. Top Pitching Gets you to A Championship.
Nothing else really matters. Someone will always get hot with a bat. Many times, someone least expected. Ask Gene Tenace from the 1972 Oakland Athletics. Tenace made a CAREER out of 7 World Series Games. Honestly, he was a Revelation!!--well before many of you were probably born. The Oakland Athletics won their first of three Consecutive World Series Championships that year. The unlikely Gene Tenace was the unlikely hero.
Although, it was not unimaginable that The Phillies Cole Hamels was TERRIFIC tonight--his effort not unexpected . If this game was a World Series Game--Hamels would be remembered Forever!! 13 Strikeouts over 8 EXTREMELY STRONG INNINGS. Their Number 35 was Exceptional!! One of the Top Young Lefthanders in the game--Cole proved this evening--there are fewer top emerging southpaws in the game, better than him. Simply, Cole Hamels threw his BEST GAME OF THE YEAR--and Our Washington Nationals had NO CHANCE.
But, this loss doesn't take away from The Experience. Yes, Our Team is not going to play into The Fall, but the opportunity to participate when it counts the most--can't be overlooked. Difficult it is to play before a Roaring Opposing Crowd. Hard it is to concentrate under the pressure. Never, can you adapt--unless you've been there before. Experience Matters, it how you become confident--no matter what your profession.
Yes, The Final Score at Electric Citizens Bank Park was 6-0 Phillies this evening. But, this loss does not take away from the understanding and seasoning that was cultivated for a later date. Tonight, Our Washington Nationals lost--in hopes of prospering in the near future. Do you think Ryan Zimmerman will strike out three times when Washington makes the playoffs soon? No--its less unlikely. The same with Austin Kearns and Jesus Flores swinging and missing twice each.
Losing was the sidebar story to this night's game. Gaining the opportunity to learn under the most diverse situation-- a lesson learned. An education that will come in handy when Our Washington Nationals are playing with A Division Championship On The Line. Our Manager Manny Acta understands this--hopefully, Our Players appreciate the circumstances.
And, Our Fans--Acknowledge The Big Picture.
Game Notes & Highlights:
Jesus Flores was FABULOUS tonight behind the plate. A throwout of Shane Victorino on a Perfect Throw in the 2nd. Then, an even better toss to throw out Jimmy Rollins with two outs in the 5th. A Sure Inning Ending Out that D'angleo Jimenez simply DID NOT CATCH. Our Number 6 showing tonight why he has rarely been trusted with his fielding. Not only dropping that out--that ended up costing Our Washington Nationals one run--but also missing a routine grounder to his left by Carlos Ruiz. A play that saw Jimenez throw the game away with a silly toss to first base on a routine double play ball in the 6th. An eventual run scoring error--that proves that despite D'angelo's hot September--he is past ready to be a Prime Time Player. Sure, he can hit--at times--but Jimenez is not a good fielder. He proved that tonight.
Tim Redding pitched well off the bat tonight--then began to struggle mightily. By the time Our Number 17 left after five innings--his stats showed: a hammering. His defense didn't help him, though. His Command, also. Tim Redding ends the 2007 Season with a 3-6 record alongside a decent 3.64 ERA. No, his poor Spring Training Start hurt him--but his late season effort was decent, but not spectacular. On a ballclub still looking to find itself--would it be surprising to see Tim Redding Return in 2008? No, Our Washington Nationals are still finding stability. Many more changes are coming--soon.
In the top of the 7th--Flores looped a very soft liner to centerfield. The Most Daring of Outfielders--Aaron Rowand came charging in--slid and caught the baseball with his glove turned nearly inside out. It was a another fine catch from the most Thrilling Centerfielder in the Game!! Baseball, is more than statistics. Sometimes, you just need Ballplayers. The Phillies Number 33 is a Gamer--like no other. He's a Free Agent in three weeks. You can have all your flamboyant players with attitude that you want. I have no problem with Our Washington Nationals making a run for Rowand. No better money will be spent--in the near future. What a fine player!! Better choice than Andruw Jones. Better choice than Torii Hunter. Rowand is a TEAM PLAYER. He will fit in with Our Washington Nationals--if management decides to go in that direction.
Too bad that Dmitri Young has now missed two consecutive weeks of baseball. At a time Our 2007 All Star could have made a late season run for the Batting Title--he has yet to fully recover from his injury. A baseball taken off the head against the Atlanta Braves. Unfortunate--as Young deserved better to end his season.
Justin Maxwell started again tonight and knocked out two hits against Hamels. Becoming more comfortable--looking more like a Major League Ballplayer--Our New Number 16 has not look overmatched--only over anxious--as his Surprising September has continued. I have yet to see his throwing arm--but all signs show that Justin is one fine talent. He just needs some seasoning. What a story from a LOCAL BOY--with strong roots.
One of these days--Our Washington Nationals will have TOP PLAYERS like Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Yeah, they play for Philadelphia--but you can't deny their All Star Talent. Each and every time Howard and Utley stepped to the plate--you have to worry. They are serious threats. Expertise that Washington will hopefully field at New Nationals Park soon.
Finally--No one was more deserving. Our Manager Manny Acta's option was picked up through the 2009 Season. From Day One--Manny has been positive, never negative--always looking to improve. A Manager, that not only gives his all on the field, but off the field to Our Fans, as well. Manny attending every single community event possible. With each and every appearance, carrying that Charismatic Smile I love so much. Manny Acta--The Perfect Manager for Our Washington Nationals at this time.
Thank You Manny--for keeping the faith. You alone--have made 2007 Worthwhile. There is nothing like A Field Manager that Cares--About Our Fans. You Get It!! I Love That!!
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) H. Rumph, Jr.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
First Subject: Last week word spread that Our Washington Nationals and MASN would not retain Bob Carpenter as their lead Play-By-Play TV Announcer. No, I was not surprised. What has become clear under The Lerners and Team President Stan Kasten is the WANTING to put THEIR OWN STAMP on The Franchise. Carpenter was not a hire of Mr. Kasten. Don Sutton was. Its unlikely Bob Carpenter would have been retained for 2007--if not for Major League Baseball giving Carpenter a two year contract in 2006. Its what new management always does--bring in someone they are more comfortable with.
No one can be shocked when A Franchise is Building from Scratch. Every aspect is scrutinized--Even The Radio & TV Personalities.
Fortunately, Charlie Slowes has provided excitement for thousands of Nats Radio Fans since 2005 (He is also immensely popular). And his partner, Dave Jageler, has improved on the quality since joining "Mr. Bang!! Zoom!!" in the broadcast booth a year later. Really, Charlie and Dave are a pleasure to listen to each and every day Our Washington Nationals play a baseball game. Nothing is finer than listening to Washington Nationals Baseball on The Radio. Fans are comfortable with these two. We got it going--luckily so.
Fortune and Compatibility that Sutton and Carpenter do not possess as a team--a situation that must be addressed. And, it has nothing to do with Bob Carpenter personally. I have never met him. Bob Carpenter didn't really seem to understand the game. The MASN Broadcast was, many times, about HIM--not necessarily about Our Team--or the plays at hand. Its important for The Play-By-Play Broadcaster to not only describe the action--but the give me a sense of the excitement, or the dismay. Bob Carpenter always seemed to be talking down to me. I was just his pawn. Baseball fans are sharper than Mr. Carpenter realizes. Never do I like being treated in such a way.
Tell me something I may not know--DESCRIBE to me the action in a THRILLING WAY!! Don't rehash the generic lines. I want to watch the game, be entertained. Never, do I wish to be just a bystander. The Game is not about you. Its about the play on the field.
Hard Work, which Don Sutton has given me with delight. Not one single away game for Our Washington Nationals has gone by where Mr. Sutton did not say something that had me thinking. Never has a broadcast passed, where Don Sutton did not have me saying: I Did Not Know That!!" And, as far a The African Queen is concerned--Don Sutton was a REVELATION. She learned more baseball from Don's Down Home Views, in one baseball season, than ANYONE over the past three years of Our Washington Nationals Baseball. Its because of Don Sutton--she started watching the games more intensely. She could understand him. He wasn't talking down to her. How wonderful has that been for ME!! Probably, for you.
Its an important aspect of a Young Franchise looking to build a Fan Base.
No, I don't know who will replace Bob Carpenter--maybe Don Sutton himself will become The Lead Announcer. I would not be surprised. Its too bad Pete Van Wieren is not available from The Braves. He and Don were perfect partners for 17 years in Atlanta. Van Wieren one of baseball's best kept secrets. But, whatever happens--the result will be another mark put on Our Franchise by Ownership--doing it THEIR WAY--Not Someone Elses Way!!
My good friend Troy--who has sat to the right of Sohna for the past three years in Section 320, mentioned the following to me during the last game played at RFK Stadium. "Why did you not write about the tipping of The Cap last night?"
Yes, how could I forget. For some time now--its been an ongoing conversation, in Section 320, that when a pitcher for Our Washington Nationals actually throws a fine game--and is relieved by Our Manager Manny Acta--said pitcher does not doff his cap to the crowd. Rarely, if ever, has it occurred at RFK Stadium. And, I don't want to hear from the negative folks who constantly berate the fact that NO ONE DESERVES such an ovation. That's a bunch of crap. Because--there have been a handful of times where Our Pitchers well deserved the acclamations. But, they denied Our Fans the pleasure of a response.
At least until this past Saturday Night, when Section 320 went Nuts over Tim Redding--not only doffing his cap--but waving to the crowd. Our Number 17 had pitched a fine game--going deep into the 7th inning--allowing just one run. With respect--the entire third base side of the stands at RFK stood in appreciation. Tim Redding, not only took off his cap in thanks--but waved it to the crowd. Julie, Troy, Sohna and I--couldn't believe it. For the first time, in some time--A Player for Our Washington Nationals acknowledged their Fans!!
How in the world did I forget to write about it? It was a seminal moment at The Old Ballyard. An Event we want to see more often in 2008 from The Players for Our Washington Nationals. Its not alot to ask for a tip to the crowd--for appreciating your GOOD WORK. Not one of us has been more behind you. Not one of us deserves to be slighted. Please, players for Our Washington Nationals, show your appreciation more. Its not much to ask.
So, where are you going to park next year? Six months from now--will it all pan out? Will Metro be the convenient way to New Nationals Park? Tailgating is out. There are no Open Spaces near South Capitol Street. You can say all you want about the dilapidated state of RFK Stadium--but you can't deny it was the most convenient place to get to--and PARK. Most Importantly enjoyable, while sharing time with your friends. Lot 8 should be placed in Our Washington Nationals Hall of Fame. Thousands of Fans are going to miss it. Lot 8 was one happening place. Nothing quite like it.
Finally--who would you like to see as The Fifth Racing President? Although not officially confirmed--more than a few have mentioned to me that GW, Abe, Tom and Lovable Teddy will have a new Partner come 2008. Who should it be??
Just Random Odds & Ends on the final Off Day of The 2007 Season.
By the way--You coming to Citizens Bank Park for The Season Finale on Sunday?
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
"Everybody Clap Your Hands!!"---Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap, Clap.
A Standard Chant at Shea Stadium In Queens.
Tonight, a cheer that only celebrated--Our Washington Nationals.
Down Early 5-0, Washington fought back, like they always do. Never has Our 2007 Version EVER given up. And tonight, they put some serious damage into The New York Mets and their playoff hopes. What a comeback!! Our Team has guts. The Stomach to handle, not only The Mets, but their Fans--in one of the toughest venues to play in American Sport.
And, My Main Man!! got the party started. When Ryan Church is seeing and hitting the baseball well--Our Number 19 is stroking base hits to the opposite field. This evening--a first at-bat single to left. Then, Washington's first scores of the evening when he laser beamed a Philip Humber pitch to right for his 15th Home Run. A Two Run Homer that got Washington back into this game in the 4th. An eventual come from behind victory that Ryan put away, for good, with a blistering two run double to the gap, to left, for the decisive final two runs of this ballgame. Insurance gathered against one of the finest and hardest throwing Closers in the Game--Billy Wagner. Even a flamethrower that can reach 100 MPH on his fastball--has bad nights.
Thinking off the top of my head--My Main Man!! has ALWAYS hit well at Shea Stadium. In fact, I would imagine its his finest hitting venue in any stadium (.400 in 2007). Time and time again--Ryan Church has been the difference in games of Our Washington Nationals played in Queens. As the 2007 Season winds down--Our Number 19 has heated up. Benched, when Wily Mo Pena was acquired on August 17th--Ryan didn't whine about it. Being proud, like most players, I am sure he was hurting inside. Never does ANY BASEBALL PLAYER wish to lose his starting role. Yet, Church completely changed his focus--and over the past six weeks--has played HIS FINEST BASEBALL OF THE SEASON.
Power that has developed into a threat. Since September 1--My Main Main!! has hit at a .384 clip, with 6 doubles, 4 Home Runs and 17 RBI in JUST 39 AT-BATS!! That's producing. That's some serious slugging. For the 2007 campaign--Ryan Church now with 15 Homers and 70 RBI's. Decent numbers for a player that has lost nearly 100 or more At-Bats since Pena arrived in DC. Nook Logan can sit down the rest of the way, as far as I am concerned. Its one thing to make a nice play every once in a while, and providing no offense. Its better when you have a threat at the plate.
At a time many were ready to give up on My Main Man!!--He has turned his season around. Come Sunday--no one can say he's not been productive. Career Highs in Home Runs & RBI's--43 Doubles. Statistics that can't be complained about for a batter with less than 500 At-Bats. Could he have done better, Sure. Could he have not swung at so many pitches in the dirt--Sure. But, as the season has progressed--Ryan Church as shown better plate discipline. He's cutting down on his strikeouts. He's being more selective. Our Number 19 has become a Professional Hitter.
With his back against the wall--and many doubting him--Ryan Church has come back strong. Tantalizing Talent for years, My Main Man!! seems to have finally found his groove.
A resurrection that was significant during Washington's Rousing Victory this evening and now completed three game sweep of The Floundering New York Mets. A 9-6 Win that found Our Team--celebrating as if they had made the playoffs. Although The Post Season has been long lost--Our Washington Nationals have not quit. Our Manager Manny Acta will not let them. They are far from the best team--but they are an exciting team. An interesting team to watch. You never quite know what to expect from them.
Is not that what entertainment is all about?
Yes, Our Washington Nationals are Fun to Watch.
One of these days--They are going to be a Rousing Successful Team.
Its just going to take some more time.
In the meantime--Curly "W" Number 72 was a reminder of how much fun winning can be--when it counts the most. Beating A First Place Team--that is living and dying on each and every victory--or loss. Our Washington Nationals put a serious damper in the Post Season Hopes of The New York Mets the past three days. Tonight--New York lost confidence. Sure, we have nothing at stake--but its quite satisfying to make New Yorkers Suffer.
A feeling I can only hope to re-live this weekend at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Nothing like Sweeping New York. Nothing like Knocking The Phillies out of the playoffs. The Game is STILL ON--with just three games to play. Game Number 159 of 2007 was sweet. Hopefully, Games 160 through 162 will provide just as much delightment.
My Main Man!! Ryan Church led the way tonight on the field. While Our Manager Manny Acta--shepherded Our Team to Unexpected Victory--once again. If Manny Acta does not get serious consideration for Manager Of The Year--Baseball Writers--those very same who claimed Washington would be "Worst Team of All Time"--truly don't know what they are writing about. Because Our Washington Nationals are one of the BETTER STORIES of the Entire 2007 Season.
Everybody Clap Your Hands!! Its only fitting--tonight.
Game Notes and Highlights:
Before tonight's fine comeback--these were my original thoughts. Beliefs which still stand.
Why was Mike Bascik given the start tonight against The New York Mets?
Why, after Our Washington Nationals have OFFICIALLY exceeded all expectations with 71 Wins in 2007?
Why, when everyone knows Washington is still looking to determine Core Players for the future?
Is not September the opportunity to find out what younger players truly possess?
To me, a decision to Start Our Number 37 makes no sense.
Does Mike Bascik have a future with Our Washington Nationals? Probably not.
Does Ross Detwiler have a future with Our Washington Nationals? Definitely.
So, why--with just four games left in the 2007 Baseball Season--does Detwiler not get a start?
Will that hurt his progress? Hamper Him? Destroy his promising future?
No, I don't think so.
So, Why Did Ross Detwiler Get A Call Up to The Parent Club?
2008 and Beyond--belongs to Ross Detwiler. Not to Mike Bascik.
So, Why? Mike Bascik?
Ryan Zimmerman continues to become The Finest Fielding Third Baseman in the Game. Tonight two stops. None better than his effort in the bottom of the second. The Mets Paul LoDuca ripped a grounder down the line--PAST ZIMMERMAN. Yet, using every bit of his 6'4" Frame and a quick first step--Our Number 11 dove and grabbed the baseball--that was behind him. And, still made a clean throw to first base to retire LoDuca. "Z" really is a great player and again proved himself with The Defensive Play of This Game. What will he be like--when Our Washington Nationals become a more rounded team. MVP Candidate--most likely. Birthday Boy turns 23 on Friday. Hard to believe Ryan Zimmerman is that young. Franchise Player for years to come.
During the Key 5 Run 5th Inning--the entire top of the lineup got into the act. After Ryan Langerhans reached on a pinch hit lead off walk (for Joel Hanrahan)--Flop singled, Ronnie Belliard doubled, scoring Langerhans. Zimmerman singled scoring Felipe Lopez with the 4th run. Austin Kearns followed with a single up the middle scoring Belliard and Wily Mo Pena laced a two strike off speed pitch from sidewinding Joe Smith into the gap in left--giving Washington the unlikely 7-6 lead. RALLYTIME!! that found Team Owner Mark Lerner, Our General Manager Jim Bowden and their staffs--rising in unison--to cheer on Our Team. Sitting in the special box to the right of Our Washington Nationals 3rd Base Dugout--Management was whooping it up--while Our Team was Whipping The Mets.
Its nice to see Owners and Top Club Officials sitting among the masses. Most other ballclubs Management Staff sit separated from their fans. Yeah, they claim they are working for you--but that doesn't mean they necessarily want to see or talk to you. Nothing could be farther from the truth with Our Washington Nationals. Even at Shea Stadium--this past Monday Night--I talked with a handful of Team Officials. Never has Our Team shied away from their fans. Accessibility that I find very responsible.
Chris Schroder, Jonathan Abaladejo, Saul Rivera, Big Jon Rauch and Luis Ayala combining for 5 shutout relief innings tonight. Mike Bascik allowed three Home Runs. Nothing Cheap and he was hammered. Joel Hanrahan continued to struggle with command--replacing Our Number 37 in the 3rd inning. Although Hanrahan was awarded the victory--his bullpen teammates efforted this win. There comes a time when any one individual should not be rewarded with a victory in the stat column. Tonight, was one of those evenings. The Five Pitchers that finished this game for Washington--were all more deserving.
Finally, Three Games, 32 Runs--Three Victories. How is it that Our Washington Nationals can beat The New York Mets consistently in New York--but perform so terribly at RFK STADIUM? Whatever it is--its too bad 2008 is The Final Season of Baseball at Shea Stadium. Because Our Washington Nationals need to play there more often--when they are struggling for victories.
More Wins than 2006. 2007 has been a Very Good Year for Our Washington Nationals. A Fine Effort. Thanks to the help of many--Our Team--is a Real Team. Thats why they are fun to watch.
Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Kathy Willens.
Expected to be a Core Player of The Future, Expected to be Top Run Producer in the the middle of the Starting Lineup, Austin Kearns has struggled most of 2007 hitting for Our Washington Nationals. Although his Right Field Defense has been nothing short of EXCELLENT--Our Number 25's Power Numbers have been down. At times--his woes smacking baseballs around the park--have overshadowed any other accomplishments reached. At times, he has hurt his team on offense.
At least until the month of September rolled around. While non-contending teams use the last games of the year to give their young players a look-see at Major League Baseball--Austin Kearns has looked to rejuvenate his ballgame. For not only this season, but for years to come.
Vulnerable to the inside pitch--"Bluegrass" has been handcuffed all season long by many Major League Pitchers. A book being written that Austin can't get around on the hard stuff. A conjecture Interim Batting Coach Lenny Harris has worked to modify in Kearns' Game. Our Number 25 struggles began when it became apparent he could not move his wrists, thus the bat, quickly through the strike zone. A Flaw that Harris has spent hours with Austin over the past few months--working out the kink.
Hard work that--at least over the past three weeks--has shown marked improvement for Kearns. Yeah, he's still hitting just .267 for the month--but his 4 Home Runs and 17 RBI can't be overlooked. For some time--everyone in Section 320--has heard me yell out to "Bluegrass" to start taking a more level swing. His batting style one of my Pet Peeves. Never, have I watched a player with the UPPER CUT Drive that Kearns seems stuck on. A Swing that makes him prone to measly grounders and routine pops.
An odd stance that is slowly working out for the better--of late. No, I don't believe Austin Kearns will ever be a consistent 40 Homer, 120 RBI Guy. But, in the right lineup, sandwiched among other potent bats--Austin Kearns is a very valuable commodity. He could be a RUN PRODUCER. Hitters like Kearns can take advantage of any opposing pitchers' fears about others in the lineup of Our Washington Nationals. They may not throw a baseball over the plate to a Wily Mo Pena--but they will to Kearns--believing they can throw it right past him.
Assumption, that Austin Kearns is working to prove wrong.
Baseball History has consistently proven--Championship Winning Teams are composed of solid fielding, potent bats in their lineups. Players you can win with--whether or not they ever become an All Star. Baseball is a Team Game and Kearns has the tools to play an integral part to any winning team.
A fact, I was not so confident of--a few months ago. No doubt--Austin Kearns can play defense--well above average fielding with a quality arm. Not many right fielders play baseballs hit into the corners better--his angles to baseballs really nice. Now, if only, he can consistently perform at the plate, as he's shown in September--Our Number 25 WILL BECOME one of those Core Players Our General Manager Jim Bowden has spoken so highly of for Our Washington Nationals.
Kearns, Ryan Zimmerman, Brian Schneider, Jesus Flores, My Main Man!! Ryan Church, Cristian Guzman and maybe--Wily Mo Pena: My Core Everyday Players that Our Washington Nationals should definitely keep for the future. Ronnie Belliard has played better than anyone ever expected, both in the field and at the plate. "The Ballplayer" gives his all each and every game. No one can take away from his hustle. For that alone--I was pleased to see Our Number 10 re-signed for 2008. An everyday player that, off the bench--becomes EVER more valuable. Besides--who have you seen all year that turns the Double Play better than Ronnie Belliard?
The same with Dmitri Young. Although--I am still unsure why the rather large two year contract extension for Our 2007 All Star. Young has been a fabulous story this season. He worked hard, resurrected his career and was rewarded. I just don't know where he fits--in the near future for Our Washington Nationals.
An outlook which it appears Nook Logan, FLop, Robert Fick, D'angelo Jimenez and Tony Batista may be on the outside looking in. I would imagine that Jimbo gets creative again this off season--which I would not put past him--to somehow trade up for more quality everyday players. You just know--he wants to make a splash. Bench players are mostly a dime per dozen in the off season. Belliard, Young, Daryle Ward and Marlon Anderson prove that fact. They can be found anytime. If and when, Our General Manager makes a move--its going to be for a centerfielder, possibly a second baseman. The Rest of Our 2008 Washington Nationals Everday Lineup is basically set.
Building The Core--that's what 2007 was all about. A Goal which was accomplished to some extent.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Acela Express Train Number 2171 had arrived at Union Station from New York. The Time was 10PM. Tired, but relaxed--I was now in my car--finally heading home for a good night's sleep. Then, my phone began to ring off the hook. The African Queen was calling--Jesus Colome was GIVING IT UP!! A Lopsided Lead was quickly diminishing against The New York Mets.
9-3 the score before "The Human Rain Delay" began to struggle mightily in the bottom of the 9th. Our Number 43 had continued with his September Struggles. Jose Reyes slamming his second home run of the evening off Colome--this time a three run shot to right--that shrunk the lead of Our Washington Nationals to three. "How come Manny has him in there?" Sohna exclaimed on the phone. "He's been terrible!!!"
All I could do was SMILE!! Because less than three years ago--The African Queen would have little interest in most baseball games. Not, the outcome, not the strategy, certainly not about any of The Players and their personalities. Sure, she attended many Major League Baseball Games around the country with me for nearly 20 previous seasons. But, Sohna had never been A FAN--an interested watcher of the games. How times have changed.
The Inaugural 2005 Season of Our Washington Nationals caught her attention. Expecting her to maybe attend 35 Games or So that first season of Baseball's Return to Washington--she posted up for 48. Alfonso Soriano lit her torch in 2006. A SUPERSTAR PLAYER that she could follow. An All-Star that got her ever more interested in HOW TO PLAY THE GAME. She made 71 Baseball Games last season. During each and every subsequent Nationals Game at RFK Stadium--Sohna asked questions. Not just looking for the answers--but the explanation--The WHY?--in order to understand.
Her Baseball Instructional Class was in Session all the way to the very last game ever played at RFK Stadium this past Sunday. 2007 found The African Queen missing JUST 4 Games!! 4 Games!! I remind you. Not a single regular in Section 320 was not drilled on baseball information and knowledge from The African Queen. You may recall--just last week--The Nats320 story on Baseball 101 Clinic For Women--recently held at The Old Ballyard. Sohna was an active participant. Playing Baseball--something she would NEVER have considered doing before--now High On Her List. How I recall those countless times when someone we know asked how I was doing. And, The African Queen would respond (almost sarcastically): "He's DOING BASEBALL!!" (Just love that phrase).
Well, Sohna's "Doing Baseball" now--and this evening her ever growing passion for The Great Game thrilled me, when she began to question strategy. "What is Manny's thinking right now. Does he not realize that Colome should be taken out!?" She was hanging on pins and needles with Jesus Colome losing his form. Then, her subsequent phone calls became more frantic when "The Chief Cardiologist" was called in, the now, 10-6 Game with One Out in the 9th--AND COULDN'T Retire Anyone. Single to David Wright (that Charlie Slowes called a golf swing off the shoelaces), a walk to Carlos Beltran to load the bases and a smoked opposite field liner, down the right field line, by Moises Alou--scoring all three RUNNERS!! Amazingly, a one time 7 run lead was nearly given away.
"Chief doesn't have it tonight, he's bouncing his fastball," said Sohna. He's bouncing his fastball? The African Queen was intently watching. Chad Cordero had grabbed her attention. She was watching closely. And, couldn't believe it when Our Manager Manny Acta slowly walked to the mound--to remove Our Number 32 from the game. An embarrassment for Chad that found him slamming his baseball glove into the Dugout Seats. Sohna had never recalled "The Chief" being removed from a game--with that game on the line. But, he had--one time this season. A few times--in seasons' past.
Now upset with himself on the bench--Chad Cordero saw his SET UP MAN--Big Jon Rauch--trot to the mound to PUT OUT THIS EVER GROWING FIRE. No, you never want to blow a seven run lead--but, you never, EVER, want to accomplish such an awful feat in NEW YORK--against The METS!! Not much of a worse feeling possible than that.
As this ever longer inning was playing out--I was getting ever so closer to home. Between listening to Charlie & Dave on the radio and The African Queen on the phone--there were alot of worried Fans of Our Washington Nationals out there. Which all made me laugh when at nearly the same time--Charlie Slowes commented on the radio broadcast: "This would be one terrible lost." While Sohna mentioned on my cell phone speaker phone: :I don't think I could sleep if they lost this one so badly."
Cracked me up. Yeah, Our Washington Nationals were hanging on the precipice--but The African Queen's rapt involvement was making this mess--a joy to listen to. Her attention to the smallest details tonight--fabulous.
Concentration which "The Wookie" showed by striking out Carlos Delgado swinging and ENDING The Mets RALLYTIME!! by getting Paul LoDuca to swing at his first pitch offering. A pitcher's pitch that LoDuca popped to right--an easy fly ball that Austin Kearns caught for The Final Out. Sohna relieved over the unexpected tension. Charlie Slowes--showing a serious sign of relief.
While The African Queen used her learned knowledge of the game to express her opinions of the action on the field--Big Jon Rauch entered to school The Mets, and His Teammates--on how to end a Big Rally. "The Wookie"--having seen Jesus Colome and Chad Cordero receive less than satisfactory grades--applied a learning curve--to FINALLY SEND THOSE NEW YORKERS HOME UNHAPPY!! That's a lesson--all of us can learn from.
Curly "W" Number 71 was a Milestone Win. A breakthrough victory giving Our Washington Nationals the same number of wins as 2006--all with a cobbled together 2007 Team that played far better than ANYONE IMAGINED. And, a Landmark Event for The African Queen--as her knowledge of The Game Of Baseball showed the expertise to Officially Declare her: A Graduate of Baseball 101.
Beginning next season at New Nationals Park, Sohna will look to continue her education on The Great Game. Come 2008--The African Queen will be attending Graduate School--on South Capitol Street.
Final Score--in excruciating fashion--Our Washington Nationals 10, The New York Mets 9.
And, I missed that final out. I thought I could make it from the car to the TV, in time, to see LoDuca. The Yelling of "YES!! Its Finally OVER!! AND, ITS ALL JESUS COLOME's Fault!!" From Sohna, as I walked into our house--gave me all the information I needed. Yes, My Wife--has come along way in The Game Of Baseball.
How lucky can I be??
All which left me, on an evening I thought I would get a solid 8 hours sleep, finishing this post off at 1AM. Gotta be up in 5 Hours.
Monday, September 24, 2007
So, Ponder This??--Is that Really SBF with Mr. Met??
My Best Friend Screech!! well knows--whenever my constant travels take me ANYWHERE near a Major League Baseball Stadium, I'm going to visit that ballpark. Never is it a question whether there is something else better to do ANYWHERE. If that Major League City is hosting a game while I am fortunate to be working there--I'm going.
And, Screech knows that I will approach every single one of his Mascot Friends--in EVERY CITY IN AMERICA and ask them if they know SCREEECH!!! And, inform--SBF is Screech's Best Friend. Tonight, was no exception--and the resulting commentary flat out, unexpected, HILARIOUS!!
The last few weeks in September, every year in New York City--is the Opening Fall Session of The United Nations. For over 20 years--one of those weeks has been booked in stone for me--as far as my television news business is concerned. Yes, we are there--when virtually EVERY SINGLE LEADER IN THE WORLD visits The Financial Capital of America. Its quite the site in and around The East Side of Manhattan. Besides--Its NEW YORK!! No, I could never live here--but its a BLAST to come visiting.
During this United Nations Week--The Major League Baseball Season is winding down. On a rotating basis--The New York Yankees and New York Mets alternate playing their six final games. One year--The Yankees finish in NYC. The next--its The Mets. For 20 straight years--I have gone to a baseball game at either Yankee Stadium or Shea Stadium--while on assignment in late September in The Big Apple.
Since 2005--it just so happens The Mets have played Our Washington Nationals Twice. Tonight being that second time. And, I was there. Courtesy of a Good Friend--SBF was treated to Diamond Club, Field Box Seats--8 Rows from the field. The position--right behind HOME PLATE!! A Terrific Seat!! You could yell at the players or make comments all you wanted--everyone was going to hear me.
Our Manager Manny Acta--looking at me in total surprise upon realizing that voice--was mine--yelling out. Our Number 14, pointing, gesturing and giving me That Most Charismatic Smile--I love so much. Pleased to see me--Manny shook his head in amazement. A look Our General Manager Jim Bowden also gave--when I, quite by accident--ran into him on The Main Concourse of Shea Stadium. "You Stalking Me!!" I exclaimed. Jim Bowden, laughed, shook his head and greeted me. Surely, I had to be one of the least expected persons he would think possible to see in New York--at that moment. Laughing all way--as he continued on his way. It was a funny encounter.
A happenstance that occurred when I found myself sitting--right next to a rather large contingent of Tony Batista's Family and Friends. His Mother--two seats to my right. His Brother--on my right shoulder. For the entire nine innings we chatted and enjoyed each others company. Yeah, my Spanish is not the greatest--but we understood and communicated well. They were alot of fun. After the conclusion of the ballgame, we all shook hands--strongly.
Which all brings me to Mr. Met. The Baseball Headed Mascot of New York came into Our Club Section early in the game. As he stood, pointed and took pictures--it became apparent--he was going to be heading directly in my direction. As he approached, I asked one of The Batista Family Members if he could please take a photo of Mr. Met and I. He obliged. As Mr. Met greeted me--I said: "I know Screech REALLY WELL!!" Two Thumbs UP the response from Mr. Met. "But, you may not know--many call me Screech's Best Friend," I continued. Mr. Met--totally freezes. Then, slowly shakes his head up and down in understanding. "No," I thought to myself, "he could not possibly know me by SBF?"
In Classic Screech Style!! Mr. Met directed me to POINT with my finger at the camera. The Classic Screech/SBF Shot that we both love so much!! Mr. Met Did Know that I was Screech's Best Friend. After the picture was taken--he patted me on my back, gave two thumbs up and shook my hand--while his head nodded up and down--in recognition.
Wow!! Now that's an unexpected STUNNER!! It didn't matter that I was running on fumes with little sleep over the past three days. Mr. Met had me JACKED--to sit down and watch Our WASHINGTON NATIONAL FLATOUT CRUSH!! The New York Mets.
A 13-4 Laugher that found me chuckling over New Yorkers spewing venom. Not at Our Team--but their very own. Yes, The Mets were getting BLASTED by the hometown folks. A Blistering Tirade that only got worse as the runs mounted on the DC side of the scoreboard. Heckling that got SO BAD--Three Mets Fans were thrown out of their Own Park giving grief to the very significant Washington Minority in attendance. Fools.
Even that "Lets Go Mets!!" chant--so well heard at RFK Stadium over the past three years--was pretty much silent tonight. Just like those notorious Phillies Fans treat their players--never are you good enough. Never are you any better than your last At-Bat, last Pitch, last Fielding Play, or Last Catch in The Big Apple. An unforgiving market--New York. Any player needs to have some serious mental makeup to survive here.
NO--I am not going to relive the play-by-play. This one got out of hand early and was hardly tested. Besides--someday--I am going to have to get a full eight hours of sleep. Of course--my good friend, Iris--has proclaimed. The Very Moment she finds out I am doing so (Getting 8 Hours of Sleep), she is immediately going to call me--just to wake me up!!
Curly "W" Number 70 was an unexpected laughter against a New York team--playing its worst ball--at the most important time of the season. 13 RUNS!!, Against The Mets!! At Shea!! Shutting UP THEIR FANS!! A GREAT NIGHT IN QUEENS!!
Thanks to the wonderful generosity of a Fine Man--while keeping tradition in form--I was able to attend a 20th Consecutive Major League Baseball Game in New York City during the final Weeks of September. And, Mr Met had me pondering--How Exactly Does He Know About Me? Screech and I are going to have to talk. Soon.
PS--Taking the Number 7 Subway Train from Times Square--I jumped on the Express Version at 6:25PM. Walked into Shea at 6:53PM for the 7:05 start. Each and every trip on The New York Subway System is an adventure all its own. But, once you figure it out--its a cherished way to get around NYC. $2 total from Mid-Town to Flushing Meadows at Rush Hour!! And, another $2 Express Number 7 Train, taking me back into Manhattan--at my convenience--after the conclusion of this game.
You Can't Beat That--not in this day and age.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
The Booing had begun in earnest. The Festive crowd dismayed. Not a single person at RFK STADIUM had not been standing for The Must See Event of the Day. And, Baseball was not the subject of everyone's rapt attention. The 120th and LAST Running of The Presidents Race at The Old Ballyard on East Capitol Street had finished. Not only had Our Lovable Loser not won in the most anticipated running of the event--EVER--since its inception--but Teddy Roosevelt was NOT EVEN IN THE BALLPARK!!
Teddy was shown on the Big Screen in right field--waving on everybody to come join him at New Nationals Park!! An outcome many in the announced attendance of 40,519 DID NOT LIKE. When George won The Three Man Race--the jeers moved to "We Want Teddy!!! We Want Teddy!!" And eventually, to "TED-DY!!, TED-DY!!"--as GW, Abe & Tom made their way to the 300 Level Concourse.
A Melancholy unexpected ending that typified the emotional highs and lows of The Final Major League Baseball Game in "The Greatest No Frills Park in Sport." Yes, there was A Heart Thumping Ending orchestrated by "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game". Really, could Chad Cordero have finished off The Philadelphia Phlllies any other way this GORGEOUS SUNDAY? No, not possible--Our Washington Nationals have teased their fans countless times, raising and lowering of their respective blood pressures through 242 previously scheduled and played ball games in DC. Living Dangerously--Just Hanging On--The Farewell Finale on East Capitol Street was a typical Washington Barn-burner.
The only satisfying way RFK Stadium should close out its Final Farewell to Major League Baseball.
Obviously--for me--September 23rd was A BIG DAY. Long Anticipated, yet never wishing to actually see. Yes, I am looking forward to Our Washington Nationals move to South Capitol Street. A New Era Begins. The Transformation from A Rebuilding Franchise to A Contending Franchise--dependent on New Nationals Park's Revenues. But, I could have sat in Section 320, Row 4, Seat 15 for the rest of my life. No seat at ANY SPORTING EVENT has given me so much joy. No Single Sports Team has ever held me in rapture more.
Knowing how lucky Sohna and I have been over the past three seasons of baseball at RFK Stadium--The African Queen knew--this would be a sad day for me this afternoon. Today, was the very last day that Section 320 would enjoy each others company in the Our Friendly Confines--Under The Overhang--behind Our Washington Nationals Third Base Dugout--Within Shouting Distance of each and every player. Its here--that so many individuals--folks that mostly did not know each other on April 14, 2005--bonded to form one of the most cohesive fun loving groups of baseball fans imaginable.
In Section 320--We are Family. And, even if only for a short winter's break--saying goodbye was difficult. The uncertainty of a New Ballpark and new seating--making this last day at RFK an uncomfortable one. Never is it easy to face the unknown.
That Unexpected turn that came this afternoon--when Sohna and I were treated to The Most Unexpected Gift of Thanks from Three Huge Fans of Our Washington Nationals. Gregg, Adam and Adam's Son--Brian, are big supporters of The Nats320 Blog. Before today--I had never really met them. Honestly--didn't really know their name. At times--they have shouted thanks to me and Sohna, in passing, for our efforts. Although, never did I realize how much MY passion affected them. At the conclusion of the bottom of the 3rd--these fine folks unfurled a Bed Sheet Banner with Pictures and paraded in front of Section 320. The Very Large Display read--"RFK--Senators--Redskins--Nationals--SBF + Screech = PRICELESS. A Baseball on the banner read "MY MAIN MAN!! Holding back the tears--not possible. The African Queen knowing right away--THIS WAS SPECIAL. And, it was. Good thing--I was wearing my sunglasses.
Greg and Adam and Brian telling me how much joy The Nats320 blog has added to their very own Washington Nationals Baseball Experience. Our passion, Our willingness to try, to be positive--all the while--having fun. As I have said before--Fun is what Our Washington Nationals are all about. If you can't enjoy THE GREAT GAME--why follow it?
Wow!! What a shocker!! Sohna and I couldn't thank them enough for their kindness. EVERYONE IN SECTION 320 STUNNED!! Barbara--sitting two seats in front of me saying: "That Impressive!!" For the remainder of the afternoon--never could I get their offering out of my mind. Greg, Adam and Brian presented us with their thoughtful Gift as appreciation for all that is The Nats320 Blog. "Those Three just made EVERYTHING WORTH ALL THE EFFORT!!," The African Queen, exclaimed--knowing how many hours its taken to keep things fresh. Many, long, long hours.
We were sincerely and emotionally touched. And, never before today, had we realized how much we stirred others through the writings in The Nats320 Blog. The Closing Of RFK Stadium was bringing me tears of sadness. Greg, Adam and Brian were giving me tears of joy. Honestly--I still can't believe it. Sohna and I WILL NEVER, EVER, FORGET THEM. It was very warming to realize that others cared and shared OUR PASSION.
From this point forward--the final game at RFK Stadium, for me, became a little fuzzy. Many more friends and colleagues stopped by to give thanks, drop notes--share email and phone numbers. "What is this The Post Office," said Troy--sitting to Sohna's right. My Best Friend!! Screech!!! stopped by to say his Season's Farewell to his Girlfriend--The African Queen and I. Racing President Abe Lincoln stopped by in the 7th to personally deliver "Pledge Your Allegiance" Tee Shirts to Sohna and I. Then, Teddy briefly appeared on the railing to the left of Section 320 for his VERY LAST "FEELING OF THE LOVE" at RFK. The "LET TEDDY WIN!!" Chant reaching fever pitch. Few were actually watching the play on the field--at this time. Teddy had won over everyone's heart. Boy, did THOUSANDS EVER WISH TO SEE HIM WIN!! Even The Players--For BOTH TEAMS were watching.
And, Sohna and I took the opportunity to thank Team President Stan Kasten for his kindness to us during this 2007 Season of Our Washington Nationals.
Except for The Racing Presidents in the 4th and Chad Cordero in the 9th--my mind became filled with many, many thoughts and memories. Such as, The DC & RFK Stadium Days, of my youth, watching My Washington Senators play on these very grounds. Personally, witnessing THE GLORY YEARS of The Washington Redskins--Were The Skins EVER A GREAT TEAM AT RFK!! Nearly UNBEATABLE. No Stadium in History of Sport shook like The Old Ballyard during an NFL GAME. No Ballpark in America provided the Home Field Advantage quite like RFK. Its why The Redskins have never been the same, since moving to Landover.
Of course--there was that Magical First Pitch by Livan Hernandez on April 14, 2005--after baseball went in The Nation's Capital after 1971.. The 10 Game Winning Streak. Our Washington Nationals in FIRST PLACE at the 2005 All Star Break. Having gone without Major League Baseball for over 33 years--THE PLAYOFFS were a possibility. Tell me about ANYONE in DC that was not STOKED about that!! Frank Robinson BERATING The Angels Manager Mike Sciocia in Anaheim--while Jose Guillen called Sciosia a "PIECE OF GARBAGE!!" (Arguably THE HIGH POINT of that Magical Inaugural Season.)
Alfonso Soriano busting out at RFK in 2006. Nick Johnson--the consummate team player and professional. The Rookie--Ryan Zimmerman having a FABULOUS FIRST SEASON. In a short period of time--Our Number 11 a TREASURE at 22 years old. Arguably, the finest fielding third baseman in the game. Ramon Ortiz's near No Hitter on Labor Day, 2006. When he hit that Home Run in the 8th--Ramon was so jacked--you just knew he had lost focus--and eventually--His No Hitter. Frank Robinson crying his eyes out when Hugh and I started the "We Love Frank!!" Chant--that reverberated around the stadium--on the penultimate night of Our Number 20 managing Our Washington Nationals--for the last time.
Dmitri Young & Jesus Flores having enjoyable seasons in 2007. Jason Bergmann's near no hitter against Atlanta. "The Most Thrilling Closer in The Game" raising the level of a save to a near ART FORM. Chad Cordero is never boring. And, neither were Our 2007 So-Called "Worst Team Of All Time" Washington Nationals. A piece meal team that far exceeded expectations. All the while--The Owners began the necessary rebuilding of a long ago ruined Farm System. On and On--the reciting could go--but you get the point.
RFK has provided a magical venue with some of the finest sightlines in sport. Soon after New Nationals Park opens--I would bet--some will say--Baseball on East Capitol Street was more PURE--than the game now being played on South Capitol Street. The Intimacy--can't be beat. And, when RFK Rocked--it shook. Never again will that wonderful site of a packed house on the third base side be seen bouncing up and down on those portable seats. An RFK Stadium Exclusive--that thousands loved watching and being a part of .
May "The Greatest No Frills Park In Sport" live long in my memories. May My Flame of Passion for Our Washington Nationals never be extinguished. May New Nationals Park provide half the Thrills & Chills that RFK Stadium has done for me over the past 41 years of my life. Yes, today was a sad day for me--but joyful in the realized fact--that so many actually enjoy the efforts put forth of The Nats320 Blog--with the uncompromising support of The African Queen.
So many helped make this Farewell To RFK Stadium Special for me. Greg, Adam & Brian made it UNFORGETTABLE!!!
Curly "W" Number 69 was significant--not just for another victory in the win column--or for its importance to keep The Florida Marlins in the National League East Cellar. Important because--Our Washington Nationals are taking The Next Big Step. No longer a lost Franchise. No Longer a Team without a City. No Longer a Franchise in disrepair.
Our Washington Nationals are Moving Up, and Moving On. And, so must I.
Farewell RFK Stadium--The Ballpark of My Youth. Thank You--so very much--for providing me excessive Joy over the first 48 years of my life. Only through The Acts of The Baseball Gods, did you receive the Deserved Respect--to Retire With Honors--as a Baseball Venue. As the Sun Sets this Sunday Evening and you become Dark, tomorrow--we both shall rise, content in our hearts--knowing we can now both Rest In Peace. Goodbye, My Friend.
Game Notes & Highlights:
Now--about the game itself. Leading 5-2 entering the top of the ninth. Facing the heart of The Phillies Lineup, "The Chief Cardiologist" made it VERY INTERESTING. The worry was on--a Philadelphia rally seemed certain. Yeah, never can Our Washington Nationals seem to get any win--easily. Lead off ground rule double by Chase Utley to left. A one out walk to the always Dangerous Ryan Howard. Then, a two strike looped liner to left by Aaron Rowand--scoring Utley with the third run of the game for Philadelphia.
Our Number 32 was now--OFFICIALLY-- in trouble. No one wanted to witness this Farewell Game end so tragically. After Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire visited the mound--Chad Cordero must have got the message. He went right after Pinch Hitter Wes Helms. Firing away--Helms would strike out on just four pitches. Then, with EVERY NATS FANS on their feet in GREAT ANTICIPATION--"The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" responded with a passion of his own--and struck out Jayson Worth SWINGING!! to end--not only this game--but The Final Game EVER at RFK STADIUM. The Roar was LOUD!!! The Celebration Began.
The Bang!! Zoom!! of The Fireworks signifying THE END OF AN ERA. The Welcoming of Major League Baseball back to DC--offically over. RFK Stadium as a Baseball Facility--officially over. And Fans, of Our Washington Nationals having to put up with any more Phillie Fans--Officially, and Thankfully, Over With--as well. As least for 2007--in The Nation's Capital.
D'angelo Jimenez continued his torrid pace to end his season on a high note. After providing nearly ZERO help throughout most of 2007--Our Number 6 today with two more hits--including a laced double down the right field line--while scoring two runs. D'angelo now at .242 for the season. Yeah, not much--but far better than the .161 of just three weeks ago.
"Bluegrass" looking to find some respect at the plate to get himself over a poor hitting season. Still, limited power numbers--But Austin Kearns had three hits, resulting in two keys RBI and scored a run. And, Brian Schneider--in the game after Jesus Flores got plunked on his elbow hitting--set a nice Sacrifice Fly Ball to right for an RBI Single in the 8th. Still, Our Washington Nationals continue to leave runner after runner on base. In clutch--not a trademark of many Washington Hitters.
With everyone standing for the much anticipated running of The Presidents Race in the middle of The 4th--GW, Abe and Tom were held back from running by The Bullpen Members of Our Washington Nationals. The Entire Contingent blocked the path out of the tunnel down the right field line. A Barricade that many believed would set the tone for Teddy Getting his First Curly "W". Unfortunately--as we all learned--Today, once again--was not to be Teddy's Day.
Come 2005--its my understanding that a FIFTH Racing President will be added to mix. Although that is not confirmed and no word yet on which Former President will be running. Interesting though.
As The African Queen and I entered GATE A this morning for the final time--My Main Man!! was standing right in front of us. Obviously--he knows us. A Correspondent covering the team was watching as players for Our Washington Nationals were handing out commemorative T-Shirts to Fans entering the stadium. "You picked the right entrance," the reporter said smiling. Yeah, we had. "How YOU GUYS DOING!!"--called out Ryan Church. We all laughed--chatted briefly. Sohna and then headed off to see what other players might be handing out the shirts.
Austin Kearns, Ryan Langerhans and Ronnie Belliard at the south side of The Main Gate. Dmitri Young, Ross Detweiler and Justin Maxwell at the north side. Big Jon Rauch, Matt Chico and Jason Bergmann at Gate F. As it turned out--the players were working in groups--that switched out every 10 Minutes or so.
Because of this--we found Chad Cordero later at The Main Gate. As you can imagine--EVERYONE wanted a picture with "The Chief". As the throng got ever worse--Security was pushing and protecting Our Number 32--in an attempt to get him safely to the lower bowels of RFK. While moving through--Chad Cordero spotted The African Queen. Willingly, wantingly--he stopped and took a picture with her.
Sohna was thrilled with his kindness.
The Pregame Ceremony included the introductions of eight former Washington Senators. But, no one got a larger, and more deserved Standing Ovation than Frank Howard. My Favorite Player of All TIme!! was escorted out onto the playing field by Ryan Zimmerman. There, they stood at third base--were "Hondo" began an animated discussion with Our Franchise Player. Our Number 11 listening intently to each and every word. No doubt--"The Capital Punisher" was giving Ryan his "A" Game--in baseball story telling. Nothing like Frank Howard.
"Hondo" was led directly past Section 320 to get to this Ceremony. As he walked past--I stepped down to the walkway to say hello. Frank Howard greeted me warmly and we shook hands. "Nice to see you again," said Big Frank. Yes, it was--like its always been for me.
Longtime Washington Senators Teammate--Dick Bosman threw out The Ceremonial First Pitch.
The Farewell Festivities concluded with the awarding of the Player's "Shirts Off Their Backs" to those lucky fans who paid $10 per ticket to get into the lottery. Our Good Friend, Janet--won Ryan Langerhans Number 4 Jersey--personally autographed. Then, Home Plate was dug up after Screech Zip Lined down from the roof above right field. The RFK Stadium Home Plate will be relocated to New Nationals Park.
Finally--twice during this afternoon's game--a fitting reminder of what use to be The Home of My Washington Senators. On that fateful night of September 30, 1971--angry fans unfurled two long bedsheet banners in left field that stated "Short Stinks". A commentary to the horrible owner of The Washington Senators at that time--Bob Short. Fans this afternoon unfurled "Short Still Stinks!!" Banners in virtually the exact same spot. For any long lost fan of The Washington Senators--you had to appreciate the humor. After 36 years--RFK Stadium had received a proper sendoff--an Ending that resulted in NO ONE LOSING THEIR TEAM.