Sunday, September 21, 2008

This Game Was No Picnic In The Park

As enjoyable at "The Picnic In The Park" sponsored by Our Washington Nationals was this afternoon at New Nationals Park--the game which played out on the field tonight on South Capitol Street was anything but ugly. A shoddily played, error filled, bad affair with little excitement was featured. Even a continuing problem returned with outfielders not being able to track down liners hit to them in left field. A situation that Daniel Murphy of The New York Mets had earlier this past week and Willie Harris of Our Washington Nationals had again tonight for the second game in row.

Yes, this one was truly unsightly. From Emilio Bonifacio over running a fairly routine ground ball to his right over the second base bag. A play that if Our Number 7 had just knocked the ball down--allowing The San Diego Padres Wil Venable to reach first base with two outs--his teammate Nick Hundley would not have scored. To instead witnessing, Bonifacio muffing the catch and allowing the baseball to scoot by him giving San Diego their first run of the evening. An error that rattled John Lannan enough for him to allow a NO DOUBT Two Run Homer to the very next Padres' Hitter--Edgar Martinez--a light hitting shortstop.

A 3-0 lead that eventually moved to 6-0 when San Diego's Starting Pitcher Chris Young Smoked a liner to deep left center for his First Career Home Run in the 7th and Willie Harris lost a liner to left in the lights by Brian Giles off Charlie Manning--leading to a triple. A throwing error on a routine toss to second base by Ryan Zimmerman followed, helping to account for the final two scores of the evening for The Padres.

Add in Wil Nieves getting himself picked off first base and Cristian Guzman booting a grounder to his right made This Game No Picnic In The Park. Final Score, The San Diego Padres 6 and Our Washington Nationals 1. Fortunately, the saving grace was the very nice Season Ticket Holder event held this afternoon from 12 Noon until 3PM. A Get Together of Fans and most every player of Our Washington Nationals. This Picnic In The Park was a winner. Far more so than the 97th Loss of 2008 for Washington.

Game Notes & Highlights

Interesting outing by John Lannan, he pitched a pretty good game. He allowed two home runs--the one to Edgar Gonzalez in the 5th, right after Bonifacio's error extended the inning. And a surprising jolt off the bat of San Diego Starter Chris Young in the 7th. Otherwise, Our Number 31 was quite excellent. Just four hits allowed and five strikeouts. He didn't receive any run support. And because of no help--had no chance of winning. Like None.

The Willie Harris Lost In The Headlights Look was worrisome. In both The 7th and 8th Innings--Our Number 1--a very reliable fielder, misplayed liners hit by Wil Venable and Brian Giles. Hits that Harris claims he could not see with the downward arc of the light standards which rise high above the first base stands. As stated earlier--The Mets had a similar problem earlier in this homestand. Yet, I don't recall this being a problem earlier in the year. Have You? Is this just luck of the draw or something that needs to be addressed? Have the light standards somehow been realigned and moved to another position. Having talked with the construction crews as New Nationals Park was built--the light standards are run totally by a computer program. There is supposedly no margin for error. So--what gives on the misplayed baseballs during this homestand?

Only four hits tonight for Washington against San Diego's Chris Young and two other relievers. DC's only rally in the bottom of the 8th with two outs after Bonifacio had singled, Zimmerman walked and Aaron Boone was robbed of a two run double when his missile to left center bounced over the wall for a Ground Rule Double--scoring Our Number 7, but sending Our Number 11 back to third on a play he certainly would have scored. These Ground Rule Doubles over the bullpen wall in left center have been a common occurrence all season long--killing many a rallies. Is there a possibility those short bullpen fences can be raised for 2009? It only seems fair as these Ground Rule Doubles happen far too often than really necessary--changing the outcome of at least a few games this season.

Now on to the more fun stuff--The Picnic In The Park.

From 12 Noon to 3PM, Season Ticket Holders were allowed to take tours of New Nationals Park--Run The Bases, Sit in The Dugout, Throw a Pitch from The Bullpen, Walk the Warning Tracks--all the while meeting and greeting Players for Our Washington Nationals, Coaches and Team Officials.

Upon entering from The Center Field Gate--each Season Ticket Holder was given a Plastic Washington Nationals License Plate Holder and Program of Events. Nationals Official John Spahn was one of those on hand to greet Ticket Holders.

Throughout the afternoon, Radio Broadcasters Dave Jageler & Charlie Slowes, along with TV Personalities Don Sutton and Bob Carpenter hosted Our Manager Manny Acta, Our General Manager Jim Bowden and a host of players in The Center Field Plaza Addressing the crowd and taking questions--fans were given the opportunity to find out answers to many questions that might be on their minds.

Additionally--Five Autograph Stations were set up around The Main Concourse. Two Players or Coaches apiece at most stations. In 30 Minute Intervals from 12:30PM to 2:30PM--they moved around New Nationals Park and even onto The Catwalk next to The Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk in Right Centerfield.

Below The HDTV Scoreboard, players and coaches sat awaiting fans to take personal pictures. For Sohna and I, this was our favorite part. The backdrop of The Entire Stadium was terrific for picture taking. And Our Players and Coaches were having a good time meeting and greeting Our Fans.

Of course--for us--nothing beat "The Guz" and "The Ballplayer" downright thrilled to see The African Queen again. Both Cristian Guzman and Ronnie Belliard calling her over to stand next to them for pictures.

We absolutely LOVE Our Mafia Shots with Odlais Perez and Ronnie Belliard. The Sunglasses, The Beautiful Day, The Backdrop, The Character of these pictures--nothing short of terrific. And what more can you say about Guzman's Funky Hat. Very cool. Our Number 15 and Our Number 10 very engaging today. They were great!!

For Sohna and I, the personal touch means everything. For 10 Minutes we had a wonderful conversation with Our Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire. We had all met before in Viera--at Spring Training--during the past two seasons. Mr. St.Claire was kind enough to chat with us about some of our young pitchers and the difference with working with those still learning to play the game--compared to those veterans that trust their abilities. Good stuff and Our Number 46 is very funny too.

Not being big autograph collectors, we were able to move around quickly during the course of the three hour picnic--meeting with friends, taking pictures and moving on. The only player we missed out on--due to timing--was Ryan Zimmerman. Hopefully, we will have another opportunity soon. We loved attending The Picnic In The Park and hope Our Washington Nationals will continue with this and other Meet & Greet Events for Fans in 2009 and Beyond.

Later after the picnic concluded--Sohna and I ran into "Ringo Starr" buying merchandise in The Main Team Store when we returned to New Nationals Park for tonight's game. Funny because just before we left The Park after the conclusion of The Picnic In The Park, Sohna and I were in The Team Store behind Home Plate on The Main Concourse--buying stuff with Charlie Slowes there as well. In commemoration of our abilities to run into each other all the time--Agent 99, Charlie and Myself set up for a picture just behind the left field stands while The Padres were taking Batting Practice.

Finally, just before game time--Charlie was shown on The HDTV Scoreboard talking with Garrett Mock about assistance and support Our Number 50 is helping to solicit for victims of Hurricane Ike near his Hometown of Houston, Texas. Mock's family is safe today, but they and others are feeling the hardships of the destruction left in the wake of the vicious hurricane which leveled Galveston, Kemah and destroyed power and water lines throughout Southeast Texas. Garrett doing whatever he can to help others in the time of need.

PS--The Giveaway tonight was A 2008 Team Picture on Hard Card Stock with 2009 Tentative Schedule affixed to the bottom. Nicely done. Usher Supervisor Jimmy Wilson one of the many at the gates handing out the picture when fans entered New Nationals Park tonight for the game.

Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Nats320
All Other Photos--Nats320 (All Rights Reserved)


Dave said...

Good to see you all at the Picnic, SBF! That was my only baseball event of the day--I didn't go to the game last night. Just as well.

Perfect weather, lots of players out and about. I threw a strike in the Nats bullpen, and Stan saw me. (He didn't say anything, though!)

My ticket with the autographs of Screech's Best Friend and the African Queen goes into my shrine of season ticket holder junk! Thanks!

Edward J. Cunningham said...

I'm sorry I missed you and the African Queen at the picnic yesterday, but I had a great time. It was a blast walking around the bases, seeing the dugout and the bullpen. I deliberately avoided the visitors' bullpen and dugout since those are the LAST places I dream about playing in.

One last thing...when you get the time, will you do a blog about our 2009 AAA affiliate Syracuse?

An Briosca Mor said...

Re the lights, I have sat several times lately in the section right behind the ballgirl down the LF line, thanks to the benevolence of a friendly usher who has hooked me. The lights are indeed very bright and shining right in your eyes when you are looking toward the plate from there. They are relatively low, too, not placed on high towers as at many stadiums. I can easily see how with line drives at certain angles a left fielder could lose a ball in the lights virtually from the moment it leaves the bat.

And damn, I wish now I had gone to the picnic. I stayed for all 14 innings Friday night, not getting to bed until 2 am. Figuring that there would be only three or four players at the picnic like the batting-practice events last year, I decided not to drag myself out of bed and down to the ballpark again on Saturday morning. I have to think though that if the entire team was required to be down there even after putting in the late night on Friday it probably was a big factor in their flat play during the game last night. Did they at least let Lannan sleep in yesterday?

Off I go now to the park for a rare appearance at a Sunday game. I usually avoid day games due to the heat and sun, but today was the only day left for me to exchange my unused ticket from an earlier game in my plan. Looks like it will be sunny but not hot, and I think my seat is in the shade. If not, the crowd will be sparse enough that I can move to a shaded area if need be.

Anonymous said...

Haven't had time to read through all the recent posts and comments, so I apologize if you've delved into this already.

Any chance the NATS have lost focus and desire because Bowdin and others seem fixated on getting next year's number one draft pick so they can sign that remarkable olypic piture?