Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Father's Day Blue(s)

Having stopped to wish many friends at Nationals Park Happy Father's Day before Our Washington Nationals took on The Toronto Blue Jays in the series finale this Sunday, The African Queen and I arrived late to our seats in Section 218 as the final out was recorded in the top of the very first inning. Rod Barajas flied out to Adam Dunn in left.

OK, Great!! Then while clapping, we look up at the scoreboard: "Hey, were behind by four!!" I said to Sohna.

"How'd that happen?" she exclaimed.

As it turns out--because of Shairon Martis. Our 23 Year Old Young Starter didn't have it today from the get-go. Unable to consistently control his pitches, Our Number 39 ended up laying in line drive after line drive to Toronto's Lineup--dispersed between two walks. Solid over each of his past three starts, Martis found The Father's Day Blues--as in The Blue Jays. A Dad's Day Gifted and Wrapped to a veteran Toronto lineup that's not going to miss many mistakes thrown their way.

Honestly, this one was over early and when Lyle Overbay took Martis deep into the second level of the right field bleachers--near The Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk--Section 238--for The Blue Jays 6th run over the first three innings--this game was certainly all but over.

Maybe the thrill of the past four solid victories in New York & Washington had finally taken its toll. A letdown was in the works.

Maybe Toronto's Lefthander Starter, Ricky Romero, is better than many in DC ever thought. This 24-Year Old Rookie from Cal-State Fullerton (Chad Cordero's Alma Mater) pitched well enough to win--although not great.

Maybe Washington's Hitters just couldn't find the right combination or sustain any rallies to force a comeback--despite 12 hits and three walks from their batters.

Or Maybe, this game was just not to be--victorious.

Throughout this entire affair, there was never the feeling Our Washington Nationals were ever in it. Not once did we say to each other--"This Is Our Chance." Every game usually has one--but nothing stood out today as "Yeah, that was it."

But one thing certainly noticed was the bookend efforts performed by Washington's Pitchers. Shairon Martis took 38 pitches to get out of that very first four run inning. Joel Hanrahan needed 36 of his own to finally end The Blue Jays' 9th--after allowing three additional runs. Two innings, 74 pitches, seven runs allowed. Few teams can fight back from that type of deficit.

Even a brief last moment spirited effort, a bottom of the 9th rally sustained by DC's Team wasn't anywhere near enough--not even close. Although to those still left watching among the 26,210 officially--they rose and did keep cheering--against all odds. The final out coming after two DC runs scored and a Toronto pitching change finally quelled any lingering thoughts of victory. Elijah Dukes Pinch Hitting and flying out to Vernon Wells in centerfield to end this game.

Only a miracle wish on Father's Day to The Baseball Gods was going to put another Curly "W" into the books. This Sunday Series Finale was simply another loss--Number 47 after 67 games. Final Score from Nationals Park where Summer arrived for 2009 and saw fit to provide a comfortable, low humidity day on South Capitol Street--The Toronto Blue Jays 9 and Our Washington Nationals 4. A delightful afternoon of beautiful weather overshadowed by The Father's Day Blue(s)--as in The Jays--from Toronto. That's in Canada Folks!! (Just Kidding)

Bring On The Boston Red Sox!! Only when The New York Yankees invaded RFK Stadium in 2006, has the anticipation been higher for any series. Too bad Our Washington Nationals don't have a better record because that 3-Game Set against The Bronx Bombers at The Old Ballyard On East Capitol Street was The Best Series played in DC since Baseball Returned To Washington. The excitement was palpable. RFK was rocking all weekend long. And you can expect that same fervor when Red Sox Nation presents its passports at Nationals Park's Entrance Ways this coming Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday Nights.

Hopefully, with Our Washington Nationals rising to the occasion--This Three Game Set Can Be As Special!!

Game Notes & Highlights

Mark it down as a learning experience. When Shairon Martis tries to get too fine--he serves up hit after hit--always hard line drives or deep home runs over the outfield walls. Not wanting to walk anyone, not completely trusting his god given abilities--Our Number 38 hurts himself when things start going wrong. The experienced pitchers can work around trouble, minimize damage. Shairon Martis hasn't figured that out just yet. But he will, and when he does mature--he's going to be dangerous, continuously, out there on the mound. He had an awful line score today--five innings pitched, six runs allowed, eight hits and two walks. Now carrying a personal record of 5-2 this season, Martis also saw his ERA balloon to 5.19.

There comes a time when you have to wonder whether Joel Hanrahan is Out Of Time. You can't pitch wonderful one day and poorly over the next three or four games and keep a Major League Roster Spot. With the ability to throw his fastball past virtually every hitter in the game--Our Number 38 doesn't have the confidence to do so. And his slider is simply not getting the job done.

Josh Bard with three hits today and two rbi's for Washington. Cristian Guzman, Nick Johnson and Adam Dunn with two hits apiece. The Z-Man really struggling of late. Another hitless day at the plate, Zero for Five, now with a sinking batting average down to .293. Ryan Zimmerman is swinging at too many pitcher's pitches and watches those one to hit--go right past him. No one expected Our Number 11 to stay as hot as his 30-Game Hitting Streak performed earlier this season, slumps always occur. Ryan just needs to get his confidence back and everything will be alright with him. But you could see the frustration on his face after striking out twice today. He's not happy with his latest work which is actually a good sign--that he cares.

Loved it when Manny Acta came out to protest a Strike Out called by Home Plate Umpire C.B Bucknor on Adam Dunn in the first inning. Usually, any manager is immediately ejected for arguing balls and strikes, but Manny wanted C.B. to appeal the call to 3rd Base Umpire James Hoye. Bucknor thought it unnecessary. Dunn and Acta thought he fouled off the baseball. Bucknor won the argument.

The Toronto Blue Jays need to get that Black Color out of their uniform sets. It's really ugly. They used to wear these really nice powder blues and royal blues with White & The Canadian Maple Leaf. Sohna and I really don't like these more modern combinations. And their black batting practice and alternate jerseys are downright hideous--so is their redesigned Blue Jay Logo. They deserve better.

To give you an idea--here is a retro uniform The Jays wear today. With a button down front jersey--this is a much nicer design--in our opinion.

The New Kosher Grill opened today at Nationals Park. Located behind Section 143 on the main concourse, near centerfield plaza and across from Teddy's Barbecue--Max's of Silver Spring, Maryland is the provider. Those fans we talked with today were thrilled with the offerings and especially liked the Kosher Hot Dog and Kosher Knish. Although one person mentioned they went to get a Knish in the 3rd inning and The Kosher Grill had run out. The Inaugural Season 2008 Kosher Grill at Nationals Park was not especially liked for its food offerings and closed before the end of last season. Many fans have awaited this return--from a different vendor.

Having been ejected last night during the 4th Inning Presidents Race by those Two Canadian Umpires sitting behind Home Plate in Presidents Club on Friday & Saturday Nights, George served a one race suspension today and sat in Section 102 above the Visitors Bullpen while today's race took place. A three man run for the finish line that was shortened to two when Tom stumbled coming out of the rightfield corner--Teddy in the lead. But Abe turned on the afterburners and won going away taking his 16th checkered flag of 2009.

For Father's Day 2009, the first 10,000 Fans received Blue With Red & White Trim "Washington" Script Gym Bags. They were actually pretty nice. Mesh end pockets, a wet clothing or shoe storage area. Nicely done, and sponsored by GEICO.

In the spirit of the day, Special Father's Day announcements were shown on the HDTV Scoreboard. Children of Our Players--thanking their Dads; Our Players thanking Their Dads; and Our Players remembering their favorite moments with Their Children.

After Kids Ran The Bases--a staple of every Sunday Home Game at Nationals Park--Our Washington Nationals started a new tradition in honor of The 100th Anniversary of Father's Day. Fathers and their Sons, who signed up to participate (and a few Mothers & Daughters as well) were allowed to head down to the grass outfield at Nationals Park--TO PLAY CATCH. A nice gesture and certainly a thrill for any baseball loving family.

Finally, Sohna decided to take one of our two NatsTown Blue Curly "W" Beach Towels from this past Friday Night's Giveaway and place it on the railing in front of us in Section 218. Being in the front row with a glass partition before us, the NatsTown part of the towel actually looks pretty cool on display. This has started The African Queen's Own Tradition.

Today's InGame Photos--Charles Dharapak (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


Stephen said...


One thing about today's game, I though Bucknor's strike zone was horribly inconsistent today. Players on both teams looked confused about a lot of calls.

Also, how can I sign up for the Father's Day catch next year? I looked around the park and on line and found nothing -- was it for full season ticket holders only?

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the huge crowds for the Red Sox and a lot of fun coming up!

Screech's Best Friend said...

Stephen: Here is the press release from the team about Father's Day Catch:

"The Washington Nationals have invited approximately 150 people to take part in a Father’s Day Catch on the field at Nationals Park following Sunday’s 1:35pm game vs. the Toronto Blue Jays.
Nationals Season Ticket Holders, community partners, foundation supporters and corporate partners were given the opportunity to participate in the outfield catch and create a Father’s Day
memory unlike any other. The 30-minute catch will take place following Kids Run the Bases. Fans may enter to win the opportunity to take part in the catch at Nationals Park during Friday & Saturday’s games vs. Toronto at entry boxes located on the Main Concourse – behind Section 102, at the Ticket Sales Kiosk in the Center Field Plaza, next to the Team Store located behind home plate, and near the Ticket Services Window down the first baseline – and on the 300 level behind Section 312."

janet said...

Manny's discussion with the umpire about the call on Dunnreminded me of how my dad once explained umpiring to me.

Three umpires got together. The newest one said "I call them as they are". The more experienced one said "I call them as I see them". The senior umpire said "They are as I call them."

Jeremy said...

I would actually disagree with you on the Blue Jays uni's. Although one person's Picasso is another person's junk. I think the jerseys are a nice modern spin and are actually quite sharp looking with the black, silver, pewter, and blue.

Will you and Sohna be heading up to Baltimore at all this weekend? I always love catching the Nats games up at Camden Yards.

natsfan1a said...

Very cool that they offered the post-game catch. Would be nice if they opened it up to other fans as well next year, as with kids running the bases. Though I suspect that such an event would present logistic challenges that running the bases doesn't.

Stephen said...


Thanks, now I understand, you had to sign up Friday or Saturday -- makes sense, thanks! I read the release too quickly.