Saturday, March 06, 2010
The Mets Must Hate Willie Harris!!
Not 10 minutes into watching our first game of 2010, Charlie Slowes was in mid-season form. With The Boys Of Summer (Charlie & Dave Jageler) in attendance for Our Washington Nationals spring home opener in Viera, Florida (although not broadcasting)--Willie Harris runs to the left field wall at Space Coast Stadium, leaps and snares a sure three run homer away from the bat of The New York Mets' Henry Blanco--for the final out of inning number one. The second time in this first frame that Our Number 22 had made a wonderful outfield catch to save his teammate--John Lannan--pitching on the mound.
As the rather large crowd rises to their feet in appreciation of Willie's fine glove work--Charlie Slowes peeks his head out of the press box and points directly at us. The African Queen and I have seats right in front of the press box. Washington's Radio Broadcaster bellows out: "The Mets Must HATE Willie Harris!! And guess who's here??!!"--in reference to the MASN Commercial which aired in 2009. All of our friends sitting around us in the ballpark are enjoying the moment--understanding the oddity over the now familiar commercial. Many in press row are watching.
"That's getting with the program!!", I bellow back.
Charlie smiles--knowing he had scored the good one!!
Yes, the 2010 Season Officially began today for Agent 99 and I at what appeared to be a nearly sold out Space Coast Stadium (although 5,843 was the official count--2,300 below capacity). But let us tell you--the ballpark was packed with people. A gorgeous 65 degree sunny day that was wonderful to sit in, but not too much fun to watch the final result on the field. Like the first three pre-season games that preceded this fourth affair--pitching for Our Washington Nationals was an issue. Starter John Lannan and pitchers Shawn Estes, Tyler Walker & Sean Burnett who followed--all suffered throwing on the mound. Each had issues getting batters out. Walker & Burnett were whacked all over the field. Lefty Aaron Thompson--acquired last season from The Florida Marlins for Nick Johnson--was the most effective pitcher for D.C's team--going two complete innings and allowing just one hit--no runs.
When you give up 20 hits, walk four and allow 14 Mets' hitters to score--you are just not getting the job done early this spring season. It really didn't matter that Washington scored six runs on 10 hits. It didn't matter that Eric Bruntlett hit a three run homer run of his own and that Mike Morse stroked a wind aided homer to right. Pitching was again the story today and that's what put this game out of reach well before the final out was recorded.
Good thing we were surrounded by a bunch of regulars from Nationals Park to just enjoy the afternoon in a baseball setting. Darlene & Dave sitting to our left, Mr. 10 Millionth Fan & his entourage--Mark Strattner-- sitting in front of us. Nats320 reader Mike and his buddies sitting to our right taking in the affair. All of us taking advantage of the free spring game ticket offer to Full Season Ticket Holders of Our Washington Nationals. Although the game on the field was not the best, the conversation and hilarity that comes from just sitting around talking baseball with like minded folks on a beautiful day--can't be beat.
The baseball season had began anew for The African Queen and I. It was almost like we hadn't lost a step. There is nothing like sitting in the stands at any ballpark and chatting with the folks around you. The ebb and flow of the game allows for chatter between pitches. And even when the game gets out of hand--there are stories to tell and share.
Like the sight of this guy sitting five rows in front of us. Now remember, it's 65 degrees outside. The sun hot and high in the sky. "Nanook Of The North" here, apparently, didn't get the email his fur hat wasn't needed. The number of folks taking cell phone pictures of the guy was hilarious. And this fellow didn't seem to notice the attention he'd drawn.
Yes, Our Washington Nationals lost their fourth consecutive game to begin the spring training season. It wasn't too pretty. But it was nice to share some time with fellows Nats Fans at a professional baseball game for the first time in 2010. Final Score from Space Coast Stadium--where every single time Washington's hitters mounted a comeback--D.C.'s pitchers would give the game right back--The New York Mets 14 and Our Washington Nationals 6. An ugly game down the stretch when The Mets outscored Our Nats 9-0 over the final three frames.
Good thing Mr. Bang!! Zoom!! was on hand--adding his usual color commentary. At least for those in attendance--sitting near the press box.
"The Mets Must Hate Willie Harris!!"
Game Notes & Highlights
If Willie Harris doesn't save John Lannan with that spectacular Defensive Play Of The Game to end the top of the 1st--Our Number 31's numbers would have been even worse. Two innings pitched, two runs scored. Lannan was sharper in the top of the second though, when he got The Mets out in order.
Shawn Estes allowed the first of two home runs to the Mets' top prospect Fernando Martinez. An absolute blast over the right field wall in the 3rd inning. Martinez would also go deep on Tyler Walker in the 7th. Walker was roughed up all over the ballpark in his frame--allowing five earned runs. Sean Burnett was officially charged with four runs.
Aaron Thompson really stood out. He pitched with confidence. He was in control on the mound. And he wasn't rattled at all by The New York Mets. Thompson was impressive.
Ryan Zimmerman, Cristian Guzman and Eric Bruntlett all had two hits apiece. Bruntlett three rbi's on his homer off New York's Mike Pelfry.
Alberto Gonzalez made two spectacular plays at shortstop. One on a double play grounder up the middle that short hopped him. And another ranging far to his left. "The Attorney General" has always had the fielding skills. He just needs to be more consistent at the plate with his bat to make this team.
You know it's a spring game when some of the players numbers are well above 60. Numbers 78, 90 & 91 all were seen on the back of New York Mets players today at Space Coast Stadium. New York came with a decidedly early training camp lineup. Few name players, but that didn't keep their fans away. Plenty of Mets Jerseys & Caps seen today throughout the ballpark.
The new Challenger & Columbia Commemorative Foul Poles were installed before today's game.
On the main landing as you enter Space Coast Stadium, the "Nationals" logo has been replaced with the Curly "W" logo.
At the the entrance was also where NatsTiki was located today--as well as the erasable starting lineup board for the game. Both drew crowds.
We loved the "Natstown" logo in blue (the spring training uniform color) placed on the outfield wall.
Then, there's The Big Bomber, a Space Coast Stadium Special. Why go to the concession stand more often to get beer, when you can order up a 24 oz brew for $10 on the main concourse and take it to your seat? Concessions were packed all game.
Finally--as has become custom after the first home game of camp--Season Ticket Holders and VIP's were invited to a special post-game party at a special tent just outside the ballpark, catered by Carrabbas. A buffet meal with beer & wine which includes a meet & greet with players and coaches of Our Washington Nationals. Special Assistant to The GM, Davey Johnson, an absolute joy to have a conversation with--funny man--knowledgeable too.
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