Friday, August 21, 2009
"Any day you introduce a young man like Stephen Strasburg," said MASN Analyst Phil Wood, "And Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman slam out home runs, I am going home happy." We laughed. The African Queen and I ran into Phil and a cousin of mine whom I had actually never met, but Phil--knowing both of us--played matchmaker after tonight's game. An interesting moment that found all of us together enjoying the company--and discussing how ever since signing The 2009 Number 1 Overall Pick in the June Entry Draft--Our Washington Nationals had just lost their fourth straight game.
Not a single win.
Yet, strangely enough, tonight's kickoff of a four game wrap around weekend series with The Milwaukee Brewers didn't seem to matter. A Curly "W" would be nice, but seeing Stephen Strasburg in person far more important.
For this tall, lanky, Californian represented this afternoon and evening the realization that Our Washington Nationals are moving in a positive direction.
No, he's not the savior as Our Newly Appointed Senior VP & General Manager Mike Rizzo has stated more than once this week.
And no--don't expect to see that young man wearing 3rd Base Coach Pat Listach's Number 37 and donning a Nationals Jersey this season--other than the one given to Strasburg this afternoon by Our Franchise Player--Ryan Zimmerman--for the Cameras.
But understand--this late August Friday afternoon represented the future. The hope that Our Washington Nationals are becoming a player in Major League Baseball, both on and off the field of play. For far too long, the media and online community have taken to task every single move Our Team has ever made. Rarely giving credit to the positive, but always emphasizing, sometimes overly, the negative.
No one can say this signing of Stephen Strasburg should go unheralded--as we have read on a few stories: "It's something Washington should have done anyway!" (was written) That's garbage, this is real business.
Today, was a watershed moment that can't be overlooked. Washington signed The Most Heralded Young Player Available In The Game!! You can't shut your eyes to that fact.
Nor, can anyone ignore the importance Mike Rizzo's leadership has brought to the professionality of Our Franchise. Anyone that states: "I can lose without jerks," has to be respected.
Maybe, one of best lines I have ever heard in sport.
You have to realize, there is no question--a new direction has truly been formed for Our Washington Nationals. Picking over someone else's tossed laundry, as has been the working standard these past four years, may still work from time to time when it comes to filling a roster spot. But that reframe will no longer override how DC Baseball is conducted on a day-to-day basis. Substance over style is the new working order.
Which is why this afternoon's introduction of Stephen Strasburg as a member of Our Washington Nationals was so important. Talent always matters, so does make up, and the work ethic needed to reach your highest potential. Remember, College Ball does not necessarily translate to Professional Ball. Major League Hitters can always swing the bat and make contact. Something the transition of a pitcher from amateur ball to the professional ranks does not always translate.
As talented as he may be, Stephen Strasburg will have to re-learn the game he loves. Our New Number 37 will have to understand that as dominate as he may well have been at San Diego State University--he must still make new adjustments. To be successful, he must become an apprentice first.
As of this evening, baseball is no longer just for fun. Big League Ball became a big business for Stephen Strasburg this August 22nd. One in which he has all the tools to succeed, as long as he has the mental makeup to grow, mature and go as far as his God-Given talents can take him.
The readiness in which Our General Manager Mike Rizzo truly believes Stephen Strasburg carries within himself.
Final Score from Nationals Park where Jorge Sosa pitched one terrible 9th inning this evening, but as Phil Wood boldly stated--Our Number 44 & Zimmy did both HOMER IN BIG WAYS (which sent us home happy over the complete days events)--The Milwaukee Brewers 7 and Our Washington Nationals 3. Yeah, Washington lost again tonight, but it really didn't matter because as this 2009 Campaign slowly fades from present to past, the upcoming 2010 Season looks more and more like a future with promise for D.C. Baseball.
Nyjer Morgan, Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Jesus Flores and maybe Elijah Dukes likely to become staples in our everyday lineup alongside Cristian Guzman. And John Lannan joining any of Craig Stammen, Collin Balester, J.D. Martin, Ross Detwiler or Shairon Martis with Stephen Strasburg and a veteran hurler to compose one of the youngest rotations in the game.
Promise was on display today at Nationals Park. Assurance that Our Washington Nationals have a real future. A positive direction worth following. The good times to come for anyone who has stuck with Our Team when things were so down.
Game Notes & Highlights
Odd game tonight at Nationals Park. Too many home runs given up by Washington pitchers of late. J.D. Martin allowing two big ones tonight. The first to the powerful (Cecil--Oops!) Prince Fielder and the second--a total blast to Section 101 just above the bullpen in leftfield at Nationals Park by Casey McGehee. To J.D. Martin's credit, he does fire strikes. He walked ZERO again this evening. But he did allow 8 hits, 4 runs and 2 home runs in recording his third loss in five decisions.
"Jesus Colome, Jr." was far worse. Sent in to keep this game close in the top of the 9th by Interim Manager Jim Riggleman--Jorge Sosa instead blew this affair up by tossing one inning of four hit, one walk and three run ball. He was not good. And settled this game for good by giving The Brewers the necessary distance to close this one out in rather easy style.
Adam Dunn launched his 32nd Home Run of 2009 with a solo shot to Section 238 in rightfield (about five rows from The Scoreboard Walk) in the bottom of the 1st inning. Ryan Zimmerman crushed a Trevor Hoffmann pitch in the bottom of the 9th for his 25th and career best home run to leftfield. Also, his 82nd RBI, six behind Team Leader Dunn--who has plated 88 runs this season.
Loved watching Dave Jageler on the air in the photographer's well on the north side of the Visitor's Dugout during today's Press Conference for Stephen Strasburg. "Jags" and Charlie Slowes were using the spot as their home base for this afternoon's activities. Which included Charlie hosting a rain & lightening shortened NatsTown Hall Meeting with Team President Stan Kasten and GM Mike Rizzo. Sadly, the threatening rain postponed what would have been a very nice session with the fans in attendance.
The sun, heat and humidity was so overwhelming before the rain clouds moved in this afternoon that The African Queen and I sat well back behind the 3rd Base Dugout where The Introduction Program took place--under the shade of the overhang that allowed us to watch the proceedings in comfort. Something virtually impossible in the blazing hot seats sun drenched at Nationals Park.
And finally--what could be more interesting than chatting again with "The Human Rain Delay?" Jesus Colome returned to Nationals Park for the first time since he was designated for assignment by Washington. Wearing the navy blue & gold of The Milwaukee Brewers, he looked pretty strange. But it didn't take long for "Bling!! Bling!!" to make a bee line for The African Queen upon seeing her in the stands down the leftfield line. They have always enjoyed talking with each other and immediately Colome ran over to embrace Sohna and catch up. They talked for some time and to the autograph seeking fans great credit--they gave their respectful distance as the conversation continued. Later, after the game ended, we ran into Jesus Colome again and he made sure to say to The African Queen: "I will see you tomorrow!!"
Tonight's InGame Photos--Charles Dharapak (AP)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved