Saturday, April 12, 2008
Maybe The Rains Should Have Kept On Coming
From the very moments Sohna and I left our house in Alexandria, Virginia--the overcast skies started to build on our way to attend the 11AM Washington Dream Foundation Press Conference. Throughout this media get together announcing their Neighborhood Initiatives and New Nationals Park "Wall of Dreams" Press Conference--the clouds became grey and darker. And just moments after the presser ended--the downpours began--continuing off and on for nearly three hours. Maybe those rains should have kept on coming, because the eventual game between Our Washington Nationals and The Atlanta Braves was ugly--from the get go.
But there was a bright spot today--the universal belief by all our friends in The Stars & Stripes Club. No better place to be during a rain delay than Club Level. The African Queen and I were having a great time--hosting Frank & his Dad Nick from Brooklyn. Loyal Nats320 Readers that were visiting New Nationals Park for the very first time. We gave them the Grand Tour--sat at The Homestead Grays Bar--directly behind our seats in Section 218--downed a few--and shared some laughter, the fun following Our Washington Nationals and memorable baseball moments. Really--this was enjoyable.
Who needed the game? At least today?
Because once this affair finally began--John Lannan had little in the tank. Did The Atlanta Braves ever jump all over him!! And, the biggest Free Swinger in the Major Leagues--torched Our Number 31. Jeff Francouer--who would probably swing at a pitch bouncing six times to the plate--slammed Lannan for his first homer of the day--down the left field line. Four Atlanta Runs in the first. Six total charged to John before he was sent to the showers.
Only to see Jason Bergmann come on and get hammered by--who else--Jeff Francouer (a two run shot), followed immediately by Brian McCann lofting another Home Run over the right field fence. Our Number 57 didn't have it again this afternoon--for the second time in one week--leaving after two innings and four runs charged against him.
Then that hammer truly struck down on this New Jersey Native. Mere moments after this 10-2 romp by The Atlanta Braves ended--Our General Manager Jim Bowden announced Jason Bergmann was being sent down to AAA Columbus as Our Washington Nationals reinstated Chad Cordero to The 25 Man Roster. Now--who would have thought--just two weeks ago--that Bergmann would be the first pitcher sent down to the minors in 2008? I would suspect--no one. For during Spring Training in Viera this pre-season--Jason was one of Our Washington Nationals better starting pitchers. Easily--Washington began this year expecting John Patterson, Shawn Hill & Jason Bergmann to anchor their Starting Staff while Our Youngsters learned the ropes in the minors. Yet, not a single one of those players is currently with the team. How quickly times change following an ever developing team--looking to find its way.
Sohna and I feel badly for Jason Bergmann--he is quite the likable guy--but this is the part of game--that many times is uncomfortable. We only wish him the best and hope he returns another day to The Big Club.
And as we return to this awful game--a big Atlanta Lead with Sure Fire Hall of Famer John Smoltz on the mound for The Braves was not going to be turned around. Smoltz--like Tim Hudson last night and Tommy Glavine tomorrow--are quality starters. Professionals who know how to keep a lead--no matter how big or small. Their Number 29 cruised through an efficient six innings of one run ball--then handed this laugher over to his bullpen. There was no way--The Atlanta Braves were losing this Saturday Afternoon.
Our Washington Nationals 9th Straight Defeat--was not even close. Maybe those rain showers were a warning--from The Baseball Gods stating--No This Is Not Your Day--But You Are Going To Play--and You Better Get Your Act In Order--Soon!
In the meantime--we will be hanging out in The Stars & Stripes Club--awaiting the reversal of fortune.
Game Notes & Highlights
In the top of the 5th inning--with Jason Bergmann on the mound--Atlanta's Matt Diaz lined a pitch into centerfield. A drive that saw Our Centerfielder Lastings Milledge loaf on the play. An unprofessional move that saw Diaz instantly recognizing opportunity--chugging into second base with an easy double. Lastings--Buddy--that type of play is UNACCEPTIBLE--and I don't care how good you think you may be. More than a few sitting around us--wished Our Manager Manny Acta had set an example with you--and immediately pulled your Number 44 from the game. You deserved no less--because Our Fans only deserve your best. Like your No Slide at Citizens Bank Park during the first week of the season--please learn from this incident--also.
He had not done much this early season--but when Willie Harris got a hold a John Smoltz fastball with two out in the bottom of the fourth--a liner over Mark Kotsay's head in centerfield--who on hand DID NOT BELIEVE--Our Number 1 was going to circle the bases for an Inside The Park Home Run. That man can fly!! As well as Bernie Castro or Nook Logan ever did. Too bad--Harris was stranded at third--when Rob Mackowiak swung at Smoltz's very first offering--pinch hitting for Lannan--and meekly flew out to Kotsay.
"The Guz" had three more hits this afternoon, turned over a nice 4-6-3 Double Play and made an EXCELLENT throw from the hole in the top of the third to retire Matt Diaz. A Strong Toss that I don't recall seeing so far this early in the season and The Defensive Play of This Game. Cristian Guzman surprised me with that catch and throw--after some weak tosses to Nick Johnson in the first 12 Games.
On Geico Car Flag Day--an EXCELLENT TURNOUT. 32,532 Fans and you better believe the concession folks must have been extremely happy. DeWayne Herndon from Noah's Pretzel telling Sohna and I that the longer the rains came--the deeper the purchase line became. Ben's Chili Bowl formed a zig-zagging line--that if straightened out--might have run the entire Main Concourse from left field to home plate. Clearly--folks came to have a good time--enjoy the park--whether Our Washington Nationals actually ended up playing or not.
Our Friend Jim (it's amazing the number of folks we know in Club Level named Jim) from Section 218 was so excited over the picture of his wife Kay & himself appearing with their Curly "W" Tattoos on last night's post--he was kind enough to buy us a round of drinks at The Homestead Grays Bar during the rain delay. We very much appreciated the thought.
This afternoon also was Visiting Our Friends Day--including seeing Ms. Zimmy & Shawn from Old Section 320 sitting down below us in Section 127. Noticing her "ZIMMY" Jersey from above--we waited for the right time for her to turn around--to spot each other. Sohna and I spent the 7th & 8th Innings visiting with them in The Field Box Seats. Having not seen them since the very last games at RFK Stadium--The African Queen and I enjoyed the reunion. Do notice the "Zimmy" jersey shot with Ryan Zimmerman at the plate. And COME ON!! ZIMMY!! was happily shouted--in all its well known chorus--hi tones, low tones and meek tones. You may well have to have sat in Section 320 at RFK to understand that joke.
Finally--Yes, Sohna and I did attend the entire Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Press Conference late this morning. The event announcing two new partnerships--the third and final cornerstone project for The Foundation--Neighborhood Initiatives. The First Partnership with The Earth Conservation Corps and the Second Partnership with The Hopkins Branch of The Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington. These programs dedicated to supporting small, non profit organizations in the area surrounding New Nationals Park.
Also unveiled--The New Nationals Park "Wall Of Dreams" A fund raising venture where fans may purchase a baseball displaying their name, up to two lines of inscription to be displayed in The Center Field Plaza adjacent to The Kids Strike Zone. Four price packages are available--beginning at $250 and running up to over $5000.
We have plenty more coming on this initiative. The Press Conference itself, and interviews with Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Chair--Marla Lerner Tannenbaum, Team President Stan Kasten, Darius Stanton from The Boys & Girls Club, Glen O'Gilvie from The Earth Conservation Corp and Frank Cumberland--the first fan to purchase a baseball for the "Wall of Dreams".
We have a lot more coming over the next day or two on The Washington Dream Foundation Neighborhood Initiatives--we just need time to transcribe all the interviews. Stay Tuned.
Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Haraz N. Ghanbari
All other photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved