Friday, May 30, 2008

Being There (Part Two)

As was written yesterday, Our Washington Nationals Chad Cordero is a generous young man. Learning from his Father, Our Number 32 is giving back is his own way now--and Being There for others in need. You well know--not every day any person become a Major League Baseball Player. To be a professional athlete takes a gift and some talent. Skills which many of us never developed or probably never possessed. But that also doesn't mean Big League Players are not human.

"The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" chatted with me recently about his personal efforts to help others in need--in and around his Hometown of Chino, California. For 20 Minutes, Chad and I spoke by phone. Willingly, he gave me some of his private time to talk about his work--outside the game--that is very important to him. No--this conversation was not about baseball. This chat was about making a difference--in lives.

With that--here we go with My Conversation With Chad Cordero.

I was talking with your Dad about all the things you have done for people in and around the community in which you grew up. What really impressed me is that you started to give back—well before you were established in The Major Leagues? (SBF)

“I have always been that way—pretty much right after I first signed (his first professional contract) I donated to my college (Cal-State Fullerton) so they could get a new batting cage for the school. And just recently, I just bought my High School a new Tractor (for the infield grooming) and Scoreboard for their baseball field. And some computers for my aunt’s classrooms.”

“This is a cool thing to be able to do. Many of these folks I am now helping—assisted me in growing up. Now, I have the chance to give back and help them. It’s neat.”

You touched on an important point—your helping of others is not just about sports, but also about education. (SBF)

“Without my education I would not be where I am right now. To be able to go back, talk to some kids in the classrooms, and be able to buy some laptops for the teachers and computers for the classrooms—it’s a BIG DEAL. Because--it helps those that may not have had the opportunity, otherwise, to get a better education. They can now focus a lot more on their studies. When I was in school—computers helped me a lot. To be able to give back like that and know I can make a small difference—is a very nice feeling. Makes me feel good.”

I would image that as much as the kids at these schools are happy to see you—the teachers are very excited to see you too—thanks to your donations? (Chuckling—SBF)

(Laughing back) “Yeah, they are very happy to see me!!”

The first grade teachers that received the laptops from you. I am looking at the picture of them from the newspaper article—what was their reaction? (SBF)

“Excited to say the least and very thankful. These schools are on such a tight budget that sometimes they can’t really afford to pick up those types of things. Whenever anyone comes in and offers to buy stuff like that---they get really excited. No question—they appreciated the offer.”

At your High School in which you graduated—Don Lugo—you donated $62,000 to your alma mater to build a new weight room for sports training. I am very curious—what was that weight room like BEFORE you stepped up to offer this gift? (SBF)

“I don’t even know if you could call it a weight room, basically. It was just an extra room near a shop class with two or three machines and that was about it. It was a really beat up kind of place—something the school had just sort of thrown together—just to say they had a weight room.”

Is Don Lugo a large high school in that district? How many kids attend?

“There might be 3000, I think. It’s a decent size school. Not a giant school, but it’s big enough where they have enough kids there that play sports.”

To make these donations, let’s say to Don Lugo, is this something you walk in on, knew somebody and said: ‘Hey, I want to do this.’ How do these efforts work out for you? (SBF)

“The icebreaker at my high school was my former coach—Joe Marcos. I grew up with him playing baseball together. His brother (Frank) was my pony league coach when I was 13. (Frank Marcos is now Director of The Major League Scouting Bureau and helped Chad in his efforts to reach professional baseball.) So, we have a long relationship with him (Joe). And my parents still talk to him all the time. They (Chad’s parents) still go out to see the high school games—whenever they get a chance. They live right across the street.”

“At other times, things just sort of came up. Some asked if I could do anything and I said ‘Yes—just let me know how much you need (for the project) and I will do it’.”

Have you ever had the chance to speak to the kids about that weight room at Don Lugo? (SBF)

“Unfortunately, not directly with the kids. But, I have had the opportunity to speak with some of the parents from The Booster Club. They were really excited about it because without that (weight room), the kids would not have been able to train properly for athletics. This donation made everything a lot easier for them (The Booster Club). They did not have to do as much fundraising. And they could concentrate now on other projects. They actually could not believe I actually did it.” (Chuckling)

And the baseball coach was mighty thrilled about what you purchased for him? (SBF)

(Laughing) “Yeah, without a doubt. I bought him a brand new pitching machine, scoreboard, and of course the weight room too.”

You seem happy to be able to do these favors for others. I sense that when you were younger—you wished others could do the same for you? (SBF)

“Absolutely. When you are a kid and someone else can help you—or your team out—or in school—it makes you (as a kid) feel good, important. Someone wants you to have the same opportunity that you might not otherwise have. Look at the baseball facility (at Don Lugo)—the kids there can now play in a decent baseball facility. They don’t have to worry about something breaking and going unrepaired. They can just play and learn the game. That makes me feel really good.”

It’s also interesting that you donated funds to purchase items for Ayala High School—another school in your district that you did not attend. And I love that name “AYALA” for obvious reasons. (Both of us busting out laughing). I know that this particular school is named after your mom’s uncle. How much did that have to do with your donation and how much was for need? (SBF)

“The relationship had one thing to do with it. But the head coach at Ayala (Kevin Bowler) was the assistant coach when I was at Don Lugo. He knows my family very well. And my little brother also helped coach the varsity team there. They don’t have a whole lot of money at that school. He was a brand new coach going in there and they needed to fix up the field. So, I offered and bought them uniforms and other things. It made everything on him a lot easier.”

Over the previous winters you have done more than just give donations, you have also given your personal time—Principal For The Day, speaking to kids in classrooms—is this something you seek on your own? (SBF)

“I am always up for anything to do. The Principal of The Day was something my Aunt (Eva Rodriguez) asked if I was interested in doing for her school system. Sure, you know I would do it. She’s a first grade teacher. Then luckily, I was assigned to a particular school where the classrooms were just not numbered but they were named Nationals Park or Shea Stadium or other ballparks like that. Those were the names of the classrooms. It was very cool to go into that environment and see all that happens in there. Given the chance to see how a school operates behind the scenes—you appreciate more what others do in education.”

Was there a classroom named RFK Stadium? And was it rundown and dingy? (Laughing--SBF)

(Laughing) “No, fortunately no.”

I also understand that you coach Winter Ball with your brother, Matthew at Don Lugo. (SBF)

“Of course, I enjoy doing that sort of stuff. For me, it was a lot of fun to go back and hang out with all the kids and try to help them improve. I have done it for a couple of years and it was really a lot of fun.”

What have you been doing with Matthew and The Make-A-Wish Foundation? (SBF)

“My brother is a big part of that organization. I have donated some stuff, and also some money so they could sponsor the kids. Whenever he gets the chance to bring me along, I make myself available. In the past, I have attended some fundraising parties with him. It’s not only fun, but exciting to be apart of something so good.”

“I have no problem donating the money, so this organization can make a kids wish come true. Let’s say a kid wants to go to Disneyland or be a Sheriff For A Day—I help them out. Since they (Make-A-Wish) are a non-profit organization—they don’t have a lot of money. So, they need people like me to donate and support their cause. Whatever I can do to help, I will try.”

Even helping your Sister Ashley hold a fundraiser for Hillview Acres (home for abused children) was something you could not turn your attention away from. (SBF)

“I put on a clinic for her to raise money. And for kids to attend the clinic—they had to bring a toy for admittance. My sister then took all those toys to the home for abused kids. Since The Clinic was held around Christmas—the timing could not have been better—and kids that do not normally get a Christmas—were able to have one—thanks to what my sister was able to do for them—with a little help from me. I believe we had 100 Kids (attend the clinic). So, that’s 100 toys these other youngsters would not have normally received. They experienced the fun of Christmas.”

I find it impressive that you were involved in all these donations and fundraisers, well before you were making the big bucks in The Major Leagues? (SBF)

"It's a part me. The way I was brought up."

Are you working on anything in the near future in community projects? (SBF)

“No, not right now, although I am sure something will come up soon enough. Something always comes up. I am going to be donating some more computers to first grade teachers (at E.J. Marshall Elementary School). Right now—that is the only thing I have going on.”

When you are home and walking around the neighborhood—I would take it that you are pretty popular—and not just because of being a Major League Player? (SBF)

(Laughing) “A little bit. When I go back to my parent’s house, I usually try to make a visit to the old High School—see how things are going there. It’s pretty cool.”

It is amazing how one gift—even a very small item—for you—can be a world of difference for someone else? (SBF)

“Exactly True. It’s why I enjoy doing it.”

“Chino is a middle class neighborhood. Not a really fancy place. At one time it was mainly dairy farms. Over the last couple of years, developers have bought them up. My Godfather grows strawberries. It’s that type of city, lots of cows and that sort of stuff. And people that need some help."

What kind of response do you get from kids at the elementary schools? (SBF)

“Most of the time, it takes them a little bit to realize what’s going on (When Chad shows up to speak with them). But, they get really excited. I go and speak at my aunt’s classroom and they have a video she plays for them. Once they see the video and realize that’s me on the television screen—their faces grow these huge smiles and they begin laughing. They really can’t believe it’s me that’s pitching to Barry Bonds, or someone else.”

She doesn’t play “Hail To The Chief” when you walk into the room, does she? (SBF)

(Laughing) “No.”

With that--My Conversation With Chad Cordero came to an end. For a few minutes longer we talked baseball--but mostly for fun. Nothing like talking to "The Chief". The African Queen and I only wish he was playing right now. We miss him on the field in the 9th inning. Sohna's palpitating heart awaits "The Chief Cardiologist's" return.

Clearly though, Our Number 32 has his priorities in order. Does Chad Cordero HAVE To donate his time and fortune to others? No--he does not. Caring is a human trait. A feeling of belonging. A willingness to be a part of society.

"The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" may not exactly fit into the "EVERYMAN" category--but Chad Cordero has not lost the fact that he can make a difference. No matter your position in society--he well knows--anyone can BE THERE for others--as long as they are willing to try. "The Chief" learned his lessons young and is, thankfully, carrying forward those moral beliefs today.

Sohna and I are very proud he also represents Our Washington Nationals.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Being There (Part One)

“He has been very important in my life. He has always taken me everywhere and been there for me," firmly stated Chad Cordero. "For years, my dad changed his hours at work—by working overnight—just so he could be with us at all our baseball games. When we went on field trips—he was there. Having him around for me and all my brothers and my sister was huge.”

And unquestionably--a big impact on Our Number 32's life.

If you have read The Nats320 Blog for any length of time, you have probably come to realize the action off the field is many times just as important to Sohna and I as the games played on the baseball diamond. Especially the work put in by many of those associated with Our Washington Nationals to help others. No doubt you have read the fine efforts being made by The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Community Initiatives, Our Manager Manny Acta's push forward with his impActa Kids Foundation and Our Franchise Player--Ryan Zimmerman's work with his ziMSfoundation--in honor of his mother, diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis).

All are honorable and great efforts, but I offer that many may not have heard about the PERSONAL TASKS put forth by "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game." No, he doesn't have his own foundation yet. But, since the very first moments Chad Cordero signed his INITIAL PROFESSIONAL CONTRACT, Our Number 32 has been giving back to those in need--throughout his Southern California Community.
Please take note of some of Chad's generosity.

Batting Cage for his college Alma Mater (Cal-State Fullerton);

Pitching Machine, Portable Batting Cage, John Deere Tractor to grade the infield, new baseball uniforms, new scoreboard, among other items donated to his High School--Don Lugo;

Don Lugo also received a brand new sports weight training room--in which Our Number 32 funded the entire amount of $62,000 for it's construction--All 2,300 Square feet.

$25,000 to local rival High School--Senator Reuben S. Ayala--for a new baseball infield--along with new baseball uniforms. (and no--this Ayala is no relation to Luis--although Chad gives Our Number 56 an "Ayala" Baseball shirt each spring--which Luis wears proudly).

And his personal charitable work does not stop at baseball and sports.

Add these to the list.

Computers for a special education class at nearby Glenmeade Elementary (California).

Six laptops, software and training for first grade teachers at Newman Elementary School in Chino--where his Aunt, Eva Rodriguez, is a first grade teacher.

New Laptop Computers for first grade teachers at his former elementary school--E.J. Marshall. A project currently in the works.

Monetary Donations and Personal Appearances for The City of Chino Recreation Youth Fund and The Make-A-Wish Foundation. Chad's brother--Matthew--works closely with The Make-A-Wish Foundation in Southern California.

"Any time you have the chance to help out kids, or anybody actually, it’s something that you just have to do," said Cordero. "Sure, it makes me feel good, but it’s the impact that one little thing, let’s say giving a kid a shirt, or a new pair of shoes, or something along those lines—makes on that person. It makes that kid feel special—a feeling they might not have had, many times in their lives. These kids don’t have a whole lot of money and can’t afford many things. I feel good knowing they now feel good about receiving something they needed.”

And Chad's big-heartedness all started with his family. A close knit one. Raised in Chino, California--Chad Cordero's Mother--Patti and Father--Ed have always supported their children. Along with his two brothers Matthew & Alan and their sister--Ashley--The Cordero Parents taught their children that hard work brings success.

And no one proved that more than Mr. Edward Cordero.
For 20 Years, Ed Cordero drove the late night delivery truck for Wonder Bread--so he could be with Chad and his other children at all their functions. Whether in Elementary, Intermediate, High School or College--The Cordero's were always there for their kids. At one point--Mr. Cordero also headed the booster club at Chad's Elementary School and was named--by the PTA--as Parent of the Year. He evened coached freshman baseball at Chad's High School--Don Lugo in Chino.

Chad and his Father bonded through baseball. And Mr. Cordero used their private time together to teach his son about the lessons in life. Recently stating; [In life}, "you have the ups and the downs. It's the same thing in baseball. You'll have good games and bad games, and you've got to get up the next day." (I love that line--SBF) Later, he personally told me: "You and I also know--we have to get up the next morning and go to work--no matter how we feel."
Unquestionably--Chad Cordero has learned his father's lessons. Whether accepting the role of Principal For A Day, Riding a Float in The Christmas Youth Parade or just stopping by to chat with kids at the local elementary school--Our Number 32 is taking the time to give back and help out those in need--by BEING THERE.

His ever growing list of good deeds also includes helping his sister, Ashley, to raise funds for Hillview Acres--a home for abused children in California and Coaching Winter Ball at Don Lugo alongside his brother Matthew. Believe it or not--Chad Cordero was The CLEANUP HITTER in High School. Matthew batted 3rd in the lineup.
Recently, Chad Cordero was kind enough to give me some private time--so we could chat about his charitable roles within The City of Chino, California and the surrounding area. But before that conversation can be read--it was important to set the stage for the interview that will follow.

Somewhat shy, but quite engaging--"The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" will discuss his volunteer efforts within the community in which he grew up. And why not--because as Chad Cordero said: "My dad was there for me. It's neat to be there for someone else."

Part Two Tomorrow.

PS--So, do you think Mr. Cordero deserves a nice Father's Day Gift This Year? Wow!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Having to get up at O-Dark-30 this morning, there was no way I could watch the entire game last night between Our Washington Nationals and The San Diego Padres from Petco Park. So, no--I didn't see the back to back home runs given up by Charlie Manning and Joel Hanrahan. And I didn't see Our Offense again go silently through the cool San Diego night--an eventual 4-2 loss.

But, I did stay up long enough to witness an amazing performance by Shawn Hill. All over the place with his pitches, throwing 10 straight balls at one point in the crucial bottom of the third inning--Our Number 41's wildness was so uncommon it was agonizing and downright fascinating to watch--during the same span. At times, you didn't know whether to feel sorry for him--or cheer for his competitive nature.

Inning after inning--he could barely find home plate. Frame after frame--he kept Our Team in the game.

Then, the sight of Shawn Hill "LOBBYING" (as Don Sutton called it on MASN) to stay in the game was just great stuff. Despite the fact that Hill was struggling--HE WANTED THE BALL. He did not care about his personal statistics. Not giving up--Our Number 41 wanted to continue the battle.

ANY DAY--I will take that type of attitude on MY TEAM. Always injured, never fully satisfied with his performance (even if he pitches seven shutout innings)--Shawn Hill is a ballplayer. One of those throwback type guys from decades past. The man's got guts. I love that aspect of his game. It's why I appreciate his effort so much and hope he can turn his injury prone career around.


"Gamer" may be an overused term--but no better description for Shawn Hill last night at Petco Park.

Hopefully, his healthy teammates learned a lesson last night--watching this performance.

InGame Photo--(AP) Lenny Ignelzi

Nationals Park Tours To Benefit Dream Foundation

Our Washington Nationals announced this morning that The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation will receive ALL PROCEEDS raised during Private and Public Tours of New Nationals Park. Even before the April 19th start of Public Tours--corporations and special groups were already setting up their own dates for personal looks at the new South Capitol Street Ballpark.

Now--all the dollars raised will be used toward The Washington Nationals Foundation's Cornerstone Projects in and around the Greater Washington, DC area.

Here's the Official Press Release from Our Washington Nationals:


The Washington Nationals today announced that proceeds from private and public tours of Nationals Park will benefit the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation. The funds will support the Dream Foundation’s cornerstone programs, which include the creation of the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy, in partnership with the District government, that will teach the game of baseball and provide after-school educational programs for children in the District; the creation of the Washington Nationals Pediatric Diabetes Care Complex at Children’s National Medical Center, a world-class facility that will provide a multi-disciplinary approach to supporting families of children with diabetes; and the Neighborhood Initiative, benefitting the Earth Conservation Corps and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington – Hopkins Branch, created to support small, non-profit organizations in the area surrounding Nationals Park with grants, in-kind donations and additional resources.

The tour program launched on Saturday, April 19 and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the ballpark. Led by a Nationals Park guide, the one-hour and fifteen minute tour begins at the Center Field Gate and includes many areas of the ballpark the public cannot usually access, including the premium club areas and suites, the Shirley Povich Media Center and the Nationals dugout, batting cages and bullpen. Four tours are offered on most non-gamedays, at 10:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm and 2:30pm. Tour guides lead guests through interactive activities and provide them with ballpark facts and information on the Washington Nationals, the history of baseball in Washington and Nationals Park.

Tickets for Nationals Park Tours are available at the Nationals Park Box Office or online via The cost of the tour is $15 for an adult and $12 for seniors (fifty-five and older), military (with a valid identification), and children under the age of twelve. A group rate of $12 per person is available for groups of fifteen people or more. Private tours are available for groups of twenty-five or more. The Nationals Park Main Box Office is located at the Center Field Plaza on Half and N Streets, SE, and is open from 10:00am until 5:00pm Monday through Friday and Saturday from 10:00am until 3:00pm on non-gamedays.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Considering that Our Bullpen has been over used.

Considering that Our Manager says he can't use Saul Rivera, Luis Ayala & Big Jon Rauch every single game.

Considering that Jason Bergmann was pitching shutout ball through nearly six innings yesterday (almost 20 straight) and was relieved with a runner on second with two outs.

And considering that just about everyone watching in the stands, and at home, feels Our Starting Pitchers should be stretched a little longer in their starts.

Do you think it's not the right time for Manny Acta to considering doing just that?

52 Games into 2008--sure seems like Our Starters are capable.

In fact, the Starting Pitchers for Our Washington Nationals have been a strong point most all season long. Yeah, from time to time--they have laid an egg--it's bound to happen. Mostly though--Tim Redding, Jason Bergmann, John Lannan, Odalis Perez and Shawn Hill have been solid. Even Matt Chico had that one terrific start--before faltering.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Backbone Of Our Team over the past three seasons--since baseball's return to Washington--has stumbled. A once powerful bullpen is no longer. This season, the back portion of Our Relief Corp has been unreliable. A season long injury to "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" has changed many pitcher's roles. Situations--some have been unable to handle effectively. And with Chad Cordero out--Big Jon Rauch has stepped in to become Our Team's most reliable reliever. Three wins, 10 Saves in 12 Opportunities and a 2.45 ERA--proves that point.

But, "The Wookie" along with Luis Ayala and Saul Rivera can't do it all. They are not SUPERMEN. They are only human.

Our Manager Manny Acta should have considered leaving Jason Bergmann in the game yesterday. And after yesterday's disheartening loss--Our Number 14 should considering doing just that--in each and every upcoming ballgame--as long as Our Starting Pitcher is still throwing effectively.

Why not?

If Our Young or Emerging Pitchers are ever going to development under pressure--they must consider themselves capable of retiring every batter--under every situation. Sometimes you can win with your starter. Sometimes you can lose by taking him out too soon.

Consider that!

Monday, May 26, 2008

That Freight Train

As That Freight Train known as Dmitri Young pulled past the second station heading toward the third--it was not a question of whether Engine Number 21 was going to arrive safely or not--more of worry--would it RUN OUT OF STEAM!! Dmitri Young was gasping for air--running as hard as his big frame could carry him. Having scorched a liner off the top of the left centerfield wall into The Red Porch Restaurant Area, Young saw 2nd Base Arbitor Paul Emmel rule SAFE--as the baseball ricochet back on the field--away from The Milwaukee Brewers Centerfielder.

The Race Was Now ON!! Two engines of different horsepower looking to make the right move. The Announced Crowd of 28,552 was now on their feet--ROARING--maybe even laughing. Everyone could see this thriller materializing before their eyes. Not is some time--have thousands stood to watch--a train pass. And what a sight to witness. As the very swift and steady Brewers Mike Cameron fired up his engine to quickly run down the rolling baseball--Dmitri was motoring as fast as his caboose could take him. At times--looking like he was moving in slow motion. But This Engine called Dmitri Young was not letting up--huffing and puffing until he rumbled safely into third base--to a STANDING OVATION!!

If Third Base Conductor Tim Tolman had an oxygen tank in his possession--Our Number 21 may well have refueled.

Then--lo and behold--this unexpected detour became only a temporary station stop. After Our Chief Engineer Manny Acta came out to argue the judged ruling on the field--the Track Operators reversed their call--switched tracks if you will--and awarded Young a round trip ticket covering the final 90 feet of track work. This crushed ball HAD CLEARED THE UPPER WALL before bouncing back onto the field.

Our Number 21 celebrating by clasping hands with Conductor Tolman at third--while revving up his wheels once last time--to coast home and be greeted at the final destination stop. All his teammates saying--Welcome Home!! Unless you were cheering for The Milwaukee Brewers--there was not whole lot not to like about what was just witnessed. The Big Red Engine wearing Number 21 had just brought the house down. Most everyone at this Station Stop--rejoicing in the instant.

A Moment In Time To Be Remembered. What a Run!!

But, little did anyone realize this enjoyable moment would be the final real celebration for Our Washington Nationals in this ballgame.

You see, Dmitri Young's blast had only tied the score at three in the bottom of the 8th. While His Freight Train had nearly run out of steam--Young did make it home. A journey his accompanying Freight Cars never accomplished again this afternoon. Running late and behind schedule--Our Washington Nationals and The Milwaukee Brewers motored on--moving side by side--station to station--until the 11th and final destination stop was reached. Here--a crossroad determined the outcome when The Brewers stoked just enough fuel into their fires--to slowly pull ahead. A two out--first pitch--single up the middle by Pinch Hitter Gabe Kapler--which sent that Big Navy Blue Engine known as Prince Fielder past third and on to home--for the Winning Score--The Final Destination--Home Plate.

Our Washington Nationals never able to re-stoke their steam to pull even again. Washington's one final push into The Destination Station--had fallen short--sadly.

Final Score from Beautifully Warm & Comfortable New Nationals Park this Memorial Day Monday--The Milwaukee Brewers 4 and Our Washington Nationals 3.

But make NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT--No one who witnessed it--will EVER FORGET Dmitri Young's romp around the bases. That was not only GREAT THEATRE IN SPORT--BUT A PRICELESS MEMORY TO CHERISH FOREVER. Even a disappointing loss can not sour the taste of that play.

Game Notes & Highlights
Facing a runner in scoring position (2nd base) and the dangerous Prince Fielder stepping to the plate--Our Manager Manny Acta removed Jason Bergmann from the game in the top of the sixth with two outs. To that point--Our Number 57 had completed 19 2/3rd's scoreless innings since his recall from AAA Columbus. Why? You could tell Jason was not happy with the decision. Either, Our Number 14 felt that Fielder would crush Our Number 57--or Manny felt Bergmann had done enough. Either way--Charlie Manning was called upon to retire Fielder on one pitch and Jason went to The Clubhouse sporting a 2-0 advantage and the continued respect of his teammates, his opponents and Our Fans. Striking out 8 and allowing just four hits--Bergmann retired for the day sporting a more healthy 4.50 ERA. Considering that number was well above 11 before his recall--that's progress my friend. Jason Bergmann becoming more and more--the quality middle of the rotation starter--a position many felt he was capable of holding. Good for him.
Cristian Guzman powered out a Ben Sheets Fastball to the Second Level Mezzanine Facade in the bottom of the first inning. A clubbed shot just in front of Section 241 that had New Nationals Park Rocking. "The Guz" now with 5 Home Runs in 2008 alone. Since joining Washington in 2005--Our Number 15 has only hit six total homers before this season. Later in the key bottom of the 5th--Washington had Willie Harris on first and Jesus Flores on second via singles with two outs. "The Guz" hammered a hard hit grounder that appeared to be on its way to the outfield to score the speedy Harris. The Brewers 2nd Baseman Rickie Weeks knocked it down and kept the smash in the infield--saving a run. A Turnabout Play considering what happened later. Harris would have scored Washington's third run of the day at that point--a run that would have nullified Milwaukee's three run rally later. In fact, this game may not have reached extra innings--expect for Rickie Weeks. Our Washington Nationals might have won in regulation. Aaron Boone popped out with the bases loaded in that bottom of the 5th--killing that potential game deciding rally.

Elijah Dukes continued to show promise this afternoon. In the top of the 2nd inning--Prince Fielder HAMMERED a Jason Bergmann pitch over his head in right field and off the wall. The baseball momentarily being trapped between the seam of the electronic Out of Town Wall Board and The Padded Wall. On his caboose--Our Number 34 deftly retrieved the ball off the carom--then threw a toss to Cristian Guzman at second base--a little off the bag--but a good enough strike to retire the Hefty Fielder for The Defensive Play of This Game. Later, in the bottom of the 2nd--Dukes would blister a Ben Sheets high fastball to the left centerfield gap for a clean double. A fine hit immediately followed by Jesus Flores rapping another double down the left field line--scoring Dukes with the second run of the game for Washington. Flores' 10 RBI in 17 Games. A decent number of runs batted in for such limited duty by Our Number 3.

The Brewers fought back from that early 2-0 deficit thanks to some shoddy play by Our Washington Nationals in the 7th. Corey Hart lead off and singled with two strikes off Charlie Manning. Our Number 36 then uncorked a wild pitch--sending Hart to second and setting up this come from behind inning for Milwaukee. After Manning struck out the free swinging Russell Branyan--Our Number 14 removed him from the game and replaced Manning with Brian Sanches. Our New Number 22--effective during his first outing--was not as good this afternoon. Sanches allowed Hart to steal third--by not keeping him close. Then, he walked J.J. Hardy. And made matters worse when Jason Kendall rapped a hard single to left--scoring Hart. Still having the chance to get out of the inning with a lead--Sanches got Milwaukee Pinch Hitter Joe Dillion to hit a grounder--just to the right of Dmitri Young. Our Number 21 could not bend down to pick up the baseball cleanly. Before an unbelieving crowd--the baseball glanced under Young's glove and into right field. One sure out was loss. One sure and unexpected run by The Brewers was scored. Hardy plating the game tying run.

The Brewers would pull ahead on small ball in the 8th. Joel Hanrahan allowed a leadoff walk to Cameron--who immediately stole second base--moved to third on a fly ball by Ryan Braun and scored on a Sacrifice Fly by Fielder. A 3-2 lead short lived--when Young powered out The Moment of The Day in the bottom of the 8th.

Ryan Zimmerman did not play today--sitting out with a sore left shoulder. Manny mentioned in the post game comments that he never considered placing Ryan in a pinch hitting role late this afternoon. Interesting. He needed to rest--according to Our Manager. Also--Our Number 14 mentioned that he CAN NOT send out Saul Rivera, Luis Ayala and Big Jon Rauch everyday. (THANK YOU!!). But was forced to send Rivera out late--when The Brewers ralled against Manning, Sanches and Hanrahan. Reports are that "The Most Thrilling Closer In The Game" is beginning to throw. Estimated return--Mid June--at the earliest. Chad Cordero is needed in Our Bullpen--if healthy.

Sohna and I were surprised by SCREEEECH!! this afternoon. New Nationals Park is more difficult for My Best Friend!!, The NatPack and The Presidents to move around. So Screech has not visited Our Perch in Section 218 often enough in 2008. Today, thankfully he did--and not only meet up with Old Friends--but made some New Ones.

Finally--Memorial Day Monday--At 3pm Eastern Time--Our Washington Nationals recognized The National Moment of Remembrance--like every single person in America was asked to honor this day. The Baseball Game Stopped and everyone was asked to stand--in thanks for all those who have given their lives for the Freedoms we enjoy each and every day in The United States of America. A Video Tribute was played on the HDTV Scoreboard. A nice touch. No--believe it or not--Memorial Day is not about The Pool Opening, Going to The Beach--Or Cooking Out. Sohna and I visited my uncle--buried at Arlington Cemetery over 43 years ago--this morning. He passed away on D-Day--June 6, 1944.

Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Lawrence Jackson
All Other Photos--Nats320 (All rights reserved)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Growing Pains

He is Young, Big & Strong. And Elijah Dukes is learning to hit on The Major League Level--having struggled all season long since returning from an Opening Night Hamstring Injury. At times, Our Number 34 has shown some flashes of brilliance--the quality talent that many scouts drool over. This afternoon--he displayed why--with two good examples from this ball game against The Milwaukee Brewers . One--which led Our Washington Nationals to victory.

In the top of the 4th inning--Prince Fielder was on first with two outs for The Milwaukee Brewers. Milwaukee's Catcher Mike Rivera blooped a single down the right field line off Tim Redding. A faster runner than the hefty Fielder might have considered scoring--but Elijah charged the baseball and picked it up--just over the right field line. While STILL falling backwards and nearly off his wrong foot--Dukes sent a liner of a toss to Ryan Zimmerman at third. A terrific throw that nearly retired Fielder and had everyone sitting in Section 218 at New Nationals Park murmuring over the quality of his arm. Elijah Dukes threw a laser that had to impress--not only the Fans in the Stands, but Our Washington Nationals Staff and Milwaukee's as well. You just know--The Brewers are going to think twice about sending a runner on Our Number 34 from now on.

Then, with this ball game all tied up in the bottom of the 9th at six apiece--Elijah Dukes was sent to the plate with one out. Carrying a .105 average to the plate--Elijah was just looking to reach base--in any way possible. Most batters under similar pressure would be swinging at everything. Thankfully, Dukes was not. In fact, he was learning--on the job. With the hard throwing Guillermo Mota on the mound for The Brewers--Elijah battled and finished off his BEST AT-BAT OF THE SEASON. A very impressive plate appearance it became.

Down to his final strike after four pitches from Mota--Dukes showed patience. He did not OFFER at The Milwaukee pitcher's tosses off the plate. Two straight fastballs away--two straight takes by Our Number 34. A Professional At-Bat, this was, from a young hitter developing his skills. A resultant six pitch granted walk that now found Elijah Dukes on first base--representing the winning run. Undoubtedly wanting to get a hit to raise his personal average--this young man knew he just needed to become a base runner. Dukes realizing--he DID NOT have to offer at Mota's tosses. When Guillermo Mota DID NOT pitch to Elijah--Our Number 34 DID NOT GET HIMSELF OUT.


Eventually, Dukes would advance to third with nobody out on a pinch hit single grounded to right field by Dmitri Young. A setup that now reached it's zenith when FLop stepped to the plate--looking to be the game decider. As it turned out, Guillermo Mota never gave Felipe Lopez the chance. For whatever reason--Mota was worried about Willie Harris--now standing on first base--running for Young. Knowing the speedy Harris was going to flee to second--Guillermo lost his cool AND THIS GAME when he unleashed a WILD PITCH past his catcher Mike Rivera--as Our Number 1 took off for second base. A HUGE MISTAKE that immediately found the hard charging Elijah Dukes sprinting for home. An uncontested rush to to the plate to score The Winning Run and sending this rather LARGE CROWD of 35,567 into a frenzy!!

Our Number 34 was MOBBED near home plate. Bumping Chests with Lastings Milledge and Wily Mo Pena--Elijah Dukes had shown that--even when slumping at the plate--you can contribute in a winning fashion. Curly "W" Number 22 was an unexpected Barnburner--a near romp lost late--but recovered nicely--thanks to one fine plate appearance from a struggling hitter--setting the stage.

The Bang!! ZOOM!! of The Fireworks representing the maturity that Elijah Dukes is ever so slowly possessing. Hopefully, Our Number 34's Growing Pains can be harnessed to become a quality Major League Player. Today, taking baby steps--even the smallest of ones--represented forward directional movement for Elijah Dukes. A good At-Bat here, can lead to many more Good At-Bats there and eventually--One Fine Major Leaguer. The African Queen and I are rooting for him.

Now--can we possibly move Elijah Dukes to Centerfield--a position he has the arm and the ability to defend?

Game Notes & Highlights
This game should have never reached nail biter status. Tim Redding was tiring in the sixth inning--but led 6-0. Then everything fell apart for Washington. A single by Fielder followed by a 10 pitch At-Bat by Corey Hart should have sent up the warning sign. Hart fouled off three two strike counts and took two balls before HAMMERING Our Number 17's last pitch to him the opposite way--to the right centerfield wall--above The Geico Sign for a Two Run Home Run. A blast that should have led to Redding's removal--especially after Russell Branyan followed with a double to right. But on Tim Redding stayed--past a mound visit by Pitching Coach Randy St. Claire--and the recording of the next two outs in the inning. Just when thought Redding would survive--he was gone--for good. Thanks to a two out--two strike--run scoring--bloop double to left by Pinch Hitter Joe Dillon and a subsequent two strike HIT BY PITCH on Rickie Weeks.

Just like that--Our Number 17 was gone and Saul Rivera came on to pitch--even worse. Overworked and used in most every situational need--Our Number 52 had nothing on his pitches this afternoon. By the time he recorded the final out of this awful top of the sixth--he had allowed a DEEP double to left center to Mike Cameron scoring Dillon and Weeks--and a single to right by Gabe Kapler to score Cameron. Surprisingly--Tim Redding had lost a win, Our Washington Nationals had lost a lead and were now tied. The Boo Birds immediately taking flight over New Nationals Park.

Saul Rivera needs a break. If Brian Sanches and Charlie Manning have been brought on board to relieve an overwork bullpen--then put them in the game. Our Number 52 does not have the stamina to pitch each and every day. No one does--no matter how much they individually believe.

Thankfully, Luis Ayala and Big Jon Rauch combined to pitch three scoreless innings and get this ball game back under control for Washington. "The Wookie" getting the win by working the 9th inning.

Aaron Boone continues to swing a hot bat. Today--his fourth homer of the year--a liner just over the wall in the 5th for a two run shot. And a single and run scored. Our Number Eight a solid contributor in 2008. Maybe the best off season free agent signing by Our Washington Nationals. Healthy and playing regularly for the first time after a few injury plagued years--Aaron Boone is looking more like the All-Star player he was with The Cincinnati Reds. Honestly, he is having a fine season--a key player in a an ever revolving lineup.

Lastings Millege and Wily Mo Pena also provided doubles to knock in three Washington runs this afternoon. Ironically, Cristian Guzman would score Our Washington Nationals first run of the afternoon--in the exact same manner as their last. A wild pitch by The Brewers Manny Parra that found "The Guz" scurrying home for today's first tally.

In the bottom of the 7th--there was one terrific defensive play. With Cristian Guzman batting righthanded against The Milwaukee Brewers Tim Dillard--Our Number 15 HAMMERED a liner down the left field line. A sure double by "The Guz" only to see the Gabe Kapler--Milwaukee's Leftfielder run hard all the way toward the ball--never giving up on it--and finally DIVING FLAT OUT TO THE GROUND AND CATCHING Guzman's Drive. A fabulous catch and easily The Defensive Play of This Game. A one time top prospect and now journeyman--no one can ever take away the fact that Gabe Kapler is a great athlete. He showed those skills on this catch. If you didn't cheer for him on that gloved ball--you could not be a baseball fan. Great Stuff!!

Now compare that effort with one of Lastings Milledge in the bottom of the second inning. Our Number 44 had walked and stolen second base with one out. Wily Mo Pena hit a routine ground ball to Milwaukee's shortstop Craig Counsell. A play developing right in front of Milledge. For WHATEVER reason--Lastings decided to advance to third. Counsell EASILY threw him out. Base Running 101--Lastings--please don't run on a ground ball with the play in front of you--when you are not forced. Amazingly--a fan sitting near us thought this effort showed agressiveness on the part of Milledge. Even The African Queen had to laugh at that statement. A silly out that ended any threat for a score from Our Washington Nationals--that inning.

Later--in the top of the third--Milledge, FLop and "The Guz" all converged on a pop up past second base and into short centerfield by The Brewers Pitcher Manny Parra. No one took control. The ball glanced off Felipe Lopez's glove for a cheap single. Someone needed to call for that ball. And someone NEEDED TO CATCH IT!! Come on Guys!!
So--what's with the HDTV Scoreboard no longer showing previous At-Bats by hitters during the game? This information is no longer provided. Why? To follow the flow of the game--it's important to be reminded what occurred--previously.

Despite the announced crowd on 35,567--there appeared to be few empty seats anywhere in the park--expect for behind home plate. This was a LARGE CROWD--for The Brewers no less. Memorial Day may have something to do with it--but you can't take away the fact that fans came out to support Our Washington Nationals this afternoon. The largest crowd since Opening Night. A good sign with school letting out in a few weeks time.

Finally--today was such a GORGEOUS DAY at the ballpark. During the middle innings--I ventured up to The Gallery Level to take some pictures. The Capitol, the unobstructed views of the game. The atmosphere up there is quite nice. Many of the real baseball fans sit there. It was nice to visit for awhile. I really liked it.
Truth be told, I went upstairs last night too--to compare the difference between night and day. Even visited New Section 320 at New Nationals Park--just to say I went there--for old times sakes from RFK STADIUM.

Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Nick Wass
All Other Photos--Nats320 (All Rights Reserved)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Dear Lastings

Dear Lastings:

As you rounded third base tonight after your Home Run in the bottom of the fifth--your very first at New Nationals Park--you pretended to take a football handoff from Third Base Coach Tim Tolman. Then, after you crossed home plate--and pointed to the sky--you proceeded to move your way to Our Washington Nationals Dugout. Whereupon--you proceeded to FLAP YOUR WINGS IN GREAT JOY.

Now that was a Home Run Trot for the Memory Banks.

But, did you know Our Washington Nationals were still tailing at the time, now 3-1 to The Milwaukee Brewers?

I have to give you credit--your bravado is beyond reproach. But were those antics really that necessary at THAT PARTICULAR POINT IN TONIGHT'S GAME? We were LOSING. We were not ahead, nor did your home run decide this ball game. There were four more innings waiting to be played.

As I mentioned after your first home run in Philadelphia--you can salute, dance and prance all you want. Better than anyone out there--you must realize that very next pitch coming your way--may well be fired right at your head. As long as you are willing to take that chance and understand the risks--that's fine with me.

But, there are times where you really must contain yourself. Your Home Run Trot tonight was really not necessary under the circumstances. Our Washington Nationals were in the middle of a contested game--Our Team, Your Team, was behind and eventually lost to The Milwaukee Brewers 5-2.

Confidence you no doubt have. Please--think about how you handle yourself.

Baseball is a team game. A competition closely associated with individual accomplishments. One goes hand in hand with the other. They are inseparable. Yet, you must learn to control your emotions at times on the field. If you don't--your actions may well come back to haunt you and Our Washington Nationals in the future.

Dear Lastings--there is a time and place for all of that rejoicing in the game. Celebrating a fine effort on the field by one's self is understandable. But let's be clear--your resultant revelry should not have been displayed during THAT Home Run Trot. There is a better time and place for "The Football Handoff" and "Flapping The Wings".

Game Notes & Highlights
This was a very strange game. Each starter and the two subsequent relievers that followed for each team--did not pitch overly well. Only Solomon Torres from Milwaukee and Charlie Manning--making his Major League Debut for Washington--were effective. John Lannan was excellent over the first three innings--but eventually faltered and allowed a two out, one strike, home run to Corey Hart in the 4th. A turn of events that found Our Number 31 leaving this game early--after five innings and 86 pitches and three runs allowed. Relieved by Joel Hanrahan and Jesus Colome--Washington's Bullpen only extended Milwaukee's lead. Each reliever allowing one run apiece. Hanrahan allowing J.J. Hardy to score on a Jason Kendall double into the left field corner. The fourth run of the night for Milwaukee--where you could argue that Wily Mo Pena could have retrieved the ball sooner--in time for Ryan Zimmerman to make a better relay throw to the plate. "The Human Rain Delay" allowed a NO DOUBT HOME RUN to left center to Mike Cameron in the 8th.

Unexpectedly, this affair was extended and ended in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the 9th, when The Brewers Bill Hall committed two errors and threw away a sure GAME ENDING 5-4-3 Double Play grounder off the bat of Wily Mo Pena. New life that brought hope to the Nats Faithful still on hand. A chance to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. Unfortunately, that dream died, rather quickly, when Elijah Dukes struck out swinging and Pinch Hitter Aaron Boone--Struck Out LOOKING to end this ball game. A final out call by Home Plate Umpire Paul Emmel that Our Number 8 DID NOT AGREE WITH. Was Aaron EVER PISSED!!

Washington's only other score also came in the 5th. Elijah Dukes singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a RIPPED liner to right over Corey Hart's head for an RBI Double.

Otherwise--not much special about game Number 50 of the 2008 Season.

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation had their monthly Saturday Night Auction to benefit their Initiatives and Projects. This evening--A Chad Cordero Signed Jersey was available, along with a signed Lastings Milledge Bat, Austin Kearns Opening Night at Nationals Park Cap & Matt Chico signed baseball. Also, for $25, grab bags which consisted of autographed baseballs from members of Our Washington Nationals.

The Milwaukee Racing Sausages again did not post up. And Our Racing Presidents made fun of them.
Tomorrow (Sunday)--Lastings Milledge, Jon Rauch, Jesus Flores and Ryan Langerhans will sign autographs for fans beginning at 12:15 PM--look at the picture provided to see their Section Assignments at New Nationals Park. Signature Sundays--these days are being called by Our Washington Nationals.

Finally--I did ask Usher Coach about what he said to Nick Johnson--and the response he received during last night's playing of "Sweet Caroline" during a Milwaukee Pitching Change. Coach says he looked at Nick Johnson and asked how his torn tendon in his wrist is doing? NJ said GREAT!! That answer apparently led Johnson and Aaron Boone to begin laughing--for some reason. OK.

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

Nats Express From Lot 7 Tonight--May 24th

Just a reminder for those that use the convenient Nats Express from Lot 8 at RFK Stadium. DC United is playing tonight at RFK. So, as has been the case for three previous baseball games involving Our Washington Nationals & Soccer--fans must drive to Lot 7 off East Capitol Street or Oklahoma Avenue & Benning Road NE to access the free shuttle service to New Nationals Park.

Here is the complete Press Release

Nats Express to Operate Out of RFK Lot 7 on Saturday, May 24, 2008

WHAT: Washington Nationals fans choosing to park for free at RFK Stadium and take the Nats Express to Nationals Park may park in Lot 7 on Saturday, May 24, 2008. Due to the D.C. United game, RFK Stadium Lot 8 will not be available to Nationals fans. Lot 7 may be accessed off the Whitney Young Bridge (East Capitol Street) or off of Oklahoma Avenue. The Nats Express begins ninety minutes prior to Nationals home games.

WHO: Washington Nationals Fans choosing to take the free Nats Express

WHEN: Saturday, May 24, 2008

WHERE: RFK Memorial Stadium

Lot 7

Oklahoma Ave & East Capitol Streets, SE

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Routine Play

I guess Wily Mo Pena got the point. When even SBF starts being critical--you better straighten yourself out--or else?!! (and that's a joke and if you can't have fun with it--you just don't get it). Sohna had just finished saying--"You watch, after last night's post, today is the day Wily Mo is going to hit a home run!!" Seconds later--Our Number 26 hit a LASER BEAM over the left field wall--just over the Jackie Robinson #42 Tribute Sign. The First Home Run of the season for one of the strongest men in the game.

The African Queen and I couldn't stop laughing. In fact--we received a funny text message from one of our friends watching at home on television--stating he nearly fell out of his chair when Wily Mo poked Jeff Suppan's pitch over the wall for a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. And it was all my fault.

A long awaited moment in 2008 that became the very last hit The Milwaukee Brewers Starting Pitcher would give up--until one key error--prolonged the sixth inning, and jump started a rally for Our Washington Nationals. A night that found Washington getting just three hits--but receiving some quality pitching all evening long.
A ROUTINE PLAY was the downfall for Milwaukee. With one out and FLop on first base with a walk--Cristian Guzman hit a perfect double play ground ball right at The Brewers Shortstop--J.J. Hardy. Looking to pick up the baseball, step on second and throw to first for an inning ending double play--J.J. instead found himself looking to touch the bag BEFORE he fielded the rolling baseball. Fumbling the grounder badly--his momentum carried past second base--without the ball and his subsequent toss to first--too late for the hard charging "GUZ".

One simple everyday play that J.J Hardy will make 99 out of 100 times would lead to a turnabout in play. Nearly out of the inning-a dejected Suppan sagged his head--over this error by his shortstop. A miscue that became the focal point of this 1-1 game at that time. Rattled, Jeff Suppan now had to face Ryan Zimmerman. Even the announced crowd of 28,007 understood the predicament at hand. Waking up for virtually the first time tonight--the fans in the stands began to make noise. No better clutch hitter for Our Washington Nationals with runners in scoring position.
And "Z" didn't waste any time. As he has performed over his short Major League Career--Our Number 11 took advantage of a situation and looked for a ball to drive. Not surprisingly, Suppan gave it to him. On the very first pitch of this KEY At-Bat, The Milwaukee Starter threw an off speed pitch over the outside corner that Ryan Zimmerman DRILLED into the right centerfield gap. When Zimmerman is hitting well--as he has done of late--many of his extra base hits go the opposite way. This Drive easily scoring Felipe Lopez and moving Cristian Guzman to third base. A double that found the Home Faithful on their feet giving their approval. Washington, unexpectedly ahead 2-1.

RALLYTIME!! was now in full effect--thanks to a gift error. And when Dmitri Young was hit by pitch by the flustered Suppan to load the bases-Our Washington Nationals scored a fourth run when Lastings Milledge meekly grounded out to first base for the second out of the inning--plating Guzman from third. Still--this inning was not over--by a long shot. Thanks to another drive which Our New Starting Catcher stroked in his continuing efforts to remain on The Big League Roster.
Not wanting to be sent down when Paul LoDuca returns from The Disabled List--Jesus Flores has impressed once again--both behind the plate and at the plate. Tonight--he HAMMERED Suppan's very first pitch over the outstretched arms of The Brewers Leftfielder--Ryan Braun. A CRACK OF THE BAT that could be heard throughout New Nationals Park. Our Number 3 got good wood on that smack. A bases clearing double scoring Zimmerman and Aaron Boone (pinch running for Dmitri).

Minutes earlier, The Milwaukee Brewers were on their way to the 7th inning to bat in a tie ballgame. Now they found themselves four run downs--thanks to a bobble of an everyday ground ball. How quickly this game changed. Jeff Suppan would lose his compose and ultimately this game. And to think--he was totally in control--throwing a one hitter before Hardy's lapse. Our Washington Nationals had struck back and taken advantage of an egregious error for a 5-1 lead--which would hold up. How many times have we all seen the same scenario play out with Washington on the bad receiving end of a similar mistake?

Not this time.

The Bang!! Zoom!! of The Fireworks proving tonight that the most Routine Play--botched--can completely turnaround any ball game. A fact The Milwaukee Brewers learned tonight--the hard way. Our Washington Nationals taking advantage for Curly "W" Number 21.

Game Notes & Highlights

Odalis Perez started tonight for Washington and only lasted five innings. He was removed, sort of surprisingly after the fifth inning. Our Number 45 wasn't pitching badly, nor did he seem to be losing his control. Yet, Our Manager Manny Acta replaced him with recently recalled Brian Sanches. Later, it was announced Perez had cut his throwing thumb--tossing a pitch. Our New Number 22 then striking out three of the four Milwaukee Batters he faced in the sixth--only allowing a single to Prince Fielder. A drive by the hefty Brewers first baseman that bounced off the 14 foot wall in right field and was thrown back into the infield--before Fielder could run to second base. He should have been standing on second. Nonetheless--Fielder did not score but Sanches scored BIG TIME!!--when Our Washington Nationals rallied in the bottom of the sixth after Hardy's error. The four run frame that made Sanches the beneficiary and THE WINNER in his 2008 Major League Debut.

Only in baseball--how often stuff like that happens to recently recalled players.

Saul Rivera, Luis Ayala and Big Jon Rauch worked the final three innings--unscored upon--to close this win out.

Elijah Dukes fouled a baseball off his instep early in the game and was removed later with an ankle injury. Today's recall--Ryan Lanagerhans replaced him. If Dukes can not go tomorrow--would it not be better to place Langerhans in Center and Milledge in right? Langerhans the far superior outfielder.

I still can't get over the Wily Mo Pena home run. That shot is EXACTLY why Our General Manager Jim Bowden is so infatuated with him. The only problem is that Our Number 26 has never been consistent enough to establish himself. One decent game--does not a season make.

What more can you say about Jesus Flores. Why in world would Our Washington Nationals want to play ANYONE ELSE for an extended time behind the plate. If 2008 is to find out CORE PLAYERS--Our Number 3 is EXACTLY THAT--keep him in the lineup. Really, does it really matter if LoDuca & Johnny Estrada return? They are not the future. Jesus Flores IS!! He needs to continue to improve. Play Him--as many days as you can--without killing him.
When Prince Fielder hit that long single off Brian Sanches--The African Queen noticed that he and Dmitri Young standing side by side at first base--could pass for twins. Yeah, they could. Both are Big Boys!! We chuckled at the resemblance.

During the key sixth inning when The Milwaukee Brewers Manager Ned Yost finally took out Jeff Suppan--"Sweet Caroline" was played to entertain the crowd. As always Usher Coach stepped onto Our Washington Nationals Dugout to get the crowd going. What was funny was the sight of Nick Johnson getting into the festivities from the dugout--mimicking Coach and eventually yelling something out to him. Coach responded and laughed. Johnson and Aaron Boone Busted Out Laughing from the bench. I am going to find out the scoop tomorrow from Coach.

Of course with The Milwaukee Brewers in town--there was suspense over whether The Brewers Famous Racing Sausages would post up at New Nationals Park this evening? With the anticipation great for the middle of the 4th Presidents Race--The Rushmore ran out--alone. No Sausages to compete with. I have to say--The African Queen and I were very disappointed. We were really expecting them. Of course, Our Presidents showed signs after the race--calling out The Sausages for not showing up.
Later--I went over to the Kids Zone Photo Spot to asked what's going on? All The Racing Presidents could do was shrug their shoulders in dismay. Could this all be a set up for The Sausages showing up sometime over Memorial Day Weekend?

No excuses if they don't come.

Sohna and I also got a kick out of the wall scoreboard in right centerfield proclaiming Bang!! Zoom!! Go The Fireworks!! and another Curly "W" in the books at the conclusion of tonight's win. Radio Broadcaster Charlie Slowes had mentioned this to me last week and this was the very first time we had noticed "another Curly 'W' in the books!!" In such a short period of time, it's pretty impressive how many phrases Charlie has coined that are now a part of Our Washington Nationals Baseball Vernacular. Good for him. Fun for us.
Tonight was also Bang!! Zoom!! Go The Fireworks!! Friday Night at New Nationals Park. The less than 10 minute show above and behind the first base stands. The display is decent and the dimming of the stadium lights sort of eerie. We have always found the fireworks funny at the end of the big sendoff. Just as everybody is getting up to leave--the fireworks that apparently did not go off during the program--are set off--just to clear the firing devices. All making for an odd moment--fans thinking maybe they should not be leaving just yet.

Finally--this evening--many that work within New Nationals Park celebrated the 69th Birthday of Richard Miller. Long time Usher at RFK Stadium and now The South Capitol Street Ballpark. Richard, a good friend to Sohna and I, was honored by his teammates and co-workers when his name was placed on the HDTV Scoreboard during the traditional 5th inning Birthday Greetings. If you were paying attention and at the ballpark--there was quite the ruckus during this point in the game. Handclaps, hugs and kisses for this very nice man. Happy Birthday Richard!! May you have Many, Many, More!!

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