Monday, April 05, 2010

All Our Energy Had Been Zapped

A packed house, Opening Day, The President Of The United States throwing out the very first pitch, Adam Dunn actually cutting down Jimmy Rollins at the plate in the top of the first inning on a throw to Pudge Rodriguez. And Ryan Zimmerman flat out drilling maybe the hardest hit ball all day in the bottom of the 1st--resulting in a run scoring drive to right centerfield putting Our Washington Nationals into the lead, 1-0, over The Defending National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

The energy at Nationals Park could not have been higher at that point--even with Phillies Fan being their usual boorish selves--that ballpark was buzzing!!

Then not five minutes after President Barack Obama had made the cordial visit to the Lerner Family Owner's Suite--followed by his expected media appearances on MASN and ESPN--and the leaving of POTUS from the premises along with his Secret Service detail--The Phillies' Ryan Howard slammed a two run homer off John Lannan that rocketed into the very first row of Section 238 in rightfield--just below the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk.

All that excitement--all that vigor and vitality that was making this wonderful and beautiful Opening Day so special--JUST DIED.

Gone, Just Like That. Zapped.

And unfortunately, those Philadelphia Phillie Fans--then really took over on South Capitol Street. They had started early, of course. Apparently, it wasn't bad enough just to have them boo Ryan Zimmerman officially receiving his Gold Glove & Silver Slugger Awards, they had to take it a big step farther. Philly Fans needed to sneer and jeer not only every single one of our players being introduced--but the clubhouse and training staff with the wonderful word--"SUCKS!!"--after each name was called?

Classless, yet again.

How low can their fans go?

The final result?

An ending not to be cherished.

Howard's homer had led to a five run Philadelphia rally in the top of 4th which dampened Washington's spirits--both on the field and in the stands--before The 1st Official Presidents Race of 2010 was even run. Then, after some poor relief pitching in the 6th & 7th frames, Philadelphia's Placido Polanco socked a grand slam off Jason Bergmann in the top of the 7th that virtually put out the lights--even though the sun was still shining high in the afternoon sky. Yes, The Philadelphia Phillies and their potent lineup had lit up John Lannan and Washington's Bullpen once again. What was early--a competitive game--was now OVER.

Our Washington Nationals had lost on Opening Day--2010. A sunny day that ended in a downcast mood.

This Season Opener was not pretty.

The Phillies new ace, Roy Halladay went seven strong innings. And the deeper he went in the game, the better he got. Except for Ryan Zimmerman touching Halladay early, little else of consequence from D.C,'s lineup. In fact, no offense and poor pitching from the home side depleted all that zest and zeal that existed during the first three frames played. Lannan got hit hard. His teammates, Miguel Batista and Brian Bruney couldn't find the plate during their turns on the mound either. And D.C.'s hitting lineup, despite nine hits and 12 base runners total, couldn't sustain any rally.

By the time this game ended, only a fraction of the 41,290 in the announced crowd, were still on the premises.

Final score from Nationals Park where a quick start had temporarily held back the Phillie Faithful, but a combination of poor pitching on one side and solid slugging on the other led to one debilitating Opening Day loss--The Philadelphia Phillies 11 and Our Washington Nationals 1. The first defeat of 2010 was difficult to take due to the result on the field of play and because of the abuse Our Team received from the majority in the paid crowd. Phillie Fans can cheer for their team all they want, but being rude and obnoxious during a special award ceremony and the introductions of Washington players and staff in their very own ballpark--totally out of line.

How sad that the energy created by Our Washington Nationals and their fans during the first three innings of play when D.C. had the lead, could not be sustained. Nothing would have pleased us more than to see Philadelphia's Fans leave South Capitol Street with their heads down. Instead, the majority of Washington's supporters had left the building well before the final out was made--leaving only The Phillies to celebrate their Opening Day Victory at Nationals Park--as if they were playing at home.

All of our energy had been zapped.

Game Notes & Highlights

John Lannan really struggled today. Even before The Phillies got to him in the top of the 4th--he wasn't overly sharp--just as many balls thrown as strikes. With Philadelphia's batters lining foul balls just out of play during those first three innings--it just seemed only a matter of time before The Phillies got to him. Ryan Howard made Lannan pay dearly with his two run shot, then Our Number 31 seemed to totally lose focus--attempting to throw to certain spots instead of pitching. Seven batters after Howard's blast--John Lannan was out of this game after allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks in 3.2 innings pitch.

If not for Jesse English, Lannan's stats for this day would have been far worse. The rookie lefty--now wearing uniform number 50 on your scorecard--made his very first Major League appearance in relief of John--to face none other than Ryan Howard with the bases loaded in the top of the fourth. Maybe not calm, but defintely cool under pressure, Jesse threw a swinging 1st pitch strike to the former N.L. MVP, then a ball, before retiring Howard and The Phillies in the pivotal frame of this game on a ground ball hit to second baseman Adam Kennedy. Jesse English would go on to pitch better than anyone wearing the Red Curly "W" today. A 1-2-3 top of the 5th facing Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino was impressive for a young man no one ever expected to make Washington's Opening Day Roster, much less pitch well above AA Ball this season..

Far different than seen from veteran Miguel Batista who--including Saturday's final tune up with The Boston Red Sox at Nationals Park--has been anything but effective. Again this afternoon, Batista couldn't find the plate, walked too many opposing batters, was hit hard and paid dearly when he was replaced by Jason Bergmann in the top of the 7th with two outs and the bases loaded. Jason then serving up that Grand Slam to Polanco--a shot hammered to left--that put this game well out of reach.

Except for English and Sean Burnett (who threw one scoreless frame), pitching was a big problem for Washington today. Brian Bruney pitched the 9th in a mop up roll and he really couldn't find the plate--walking two, allowing a single and loading the bases before finally retiring Ryan Howard on a full count fly ball to centerfield.

Roy Halladay must have thrown about 45 pitches in the first three innings when Washington seemed to have him on the ropes. But after Philadelphia's five run fourth, The Phillies Ace settled down--eventually striking out nine while throwing just 88 pitches over seven complete.

How ironic the Defensive Play Of The Game occurred off the only error recorded today by Washington. Ryan Howard slapped what appeared to be a routine ground ball at Ian Desmond with two outs in the top of the 1st with Jimmy Rollins on second base. Making his first start replacing Cristian Guzman, Desmond booted his very first fielding chance of the season--but still threw the baseball late across the diamond to Adam Dunn at 1st Base. Rollins, always the heads up player, didn't stop running rounding 3rd base and headed toward home when Ian made his late throw. Dunn upon catching the toss, hesitated, and almost froze--before finally realizing he needed to turn and throw the baseball home. Adam Dunn then fired a perfect strike--just up the third base side of home plate where Pudge Rodriguez retrieved the ball and tagged out Jimmy Rollins in one swift move. The Defensive Play Of This Game that had the near capacity crowd on it's feet watching in anticipation of a collision that didn't happen. But it was a very nice relay play by Dunn--caught by Pudge--to end the inning.

Just loved how Nyjer Morgan beat out a slow infield grounder to leadoff the bottom of the 1st--yelled at the crowd down the first base side in excitement over the play--stole second--then trotted home when Ryan Zimmerman slammed a Halladay pitch over the outside corner of the plate to the padded wall in right centerfield--just above the GEICO sign--for what became Washington's only run of the game. The ballpark was rocking at that point. Morgan also had two hits today.

Pudge Rodriguez with two doubles and three total hits for his Washington debut. While catching, he also deftly picked up a Halladay bunt in the top of the 3rd and threw a perfect strike to Ian Desmond at second base to force out Philadelphia's Carlos Ruiz. That throw was a rocket!! At 38 years of age, Pudge still has a cannon for an arm.

Along with his Grand Slam, Placido Polanco drove in six of Philly's 11 runs. Polanco will probably never come close to making the Hall Of Fame--but he's just a very good baseball player for every single team he's ever played for. A professional in every way. Winner.

The President Of The United States did throw out the first pitch today at Nationals Park--carrying on a tradition started 100 years ago by President Howard Taft. Of course, President Obama threw a new twist into the honor by wearing a Nationals Jacket, but pulling out a Chicago White Sox Cap to wear before making the toss to Ryan Zimmerman. We'll give him extra points for the ingenuity of supporting both his hometown team and the city in which he works.

Of course with The President attending, fans were encouraged to come early. The African Queen and I walked into Nationals Park at 10:45AM, picked up the Opening Day Giveaway-- a Red Curly "W" Batting Practice Cap--and proceeded to take in some of the sites while visiting with friends we had not seen so far in 2010.

Teddy again was leading in the President Race, but pulled up lame as he headed for home. As George & Tom came to assist him--Abe ran right past them to take this season's first checkered flag.

We really liked the cover of the new Inside Pitch--the free program given out at every home game. Again for 2010, WTOP has sponsored baseball cards included inside each booklet that is handed out at every entrance to Nationals Park.

Did you notice the electronic ribbon boards on the first and third base sides of the ballpark now include pitch speed?

And finally--in one of their Random Acts of Red during the pre-game ceremonies--Our Washington Nationals honored The Fairfax County, Virginia Fire & Rescue Department for their efforts in earthquake ravaged Haiti and other international disaster areas over the past few years.

1st Obama First Pitch Photo--Martin H. Simon/Getty Images
2nd Obama First Pitch Photo & Zimmerman Running Through Flags--Greg Fiume/Getty Images
Lannan Sitting In Dugout Photo--Evan Vucci/AP
All Other Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


cass said...

SBF, could you please check with your contacts about why the Nats sold tickets to Phillies fans early, allowing them to take all of the tickets before they went on sale to Nats fans?

Google "Phillies Opening Day 2010 Bus Trip", and you will find multiple bus companies selling out dozens of buses to Nats park with tickets to opening say included. All of this was back in January! By the time they went on sale, they were gone in 7 minutes.

I have no problem with selling a few tickets to Phillies fans, but the Nats sold them early to people from Philadelphia before people from Washington had a chance to buy them. IMO, this is pretty much on par or even worse than the Redskins suing season ticket holders, but no one in the media is talking about it.

John B. Ramsey said...

A shame that our Opening Day festivities are spoiled by booing Phillies fans. I hope MLB can find another team for the Nats to play at next year's home opener. Whatever happened to being a good guest? Just the Philly way, I suppose. The sellout is nice, but at what cost in aggravation to loyal Nats fans?

And President Obama should not be doffing a White Sox cap! My goodness -- so he was a Sox fan while living in Chicago the past two decades. As he admitted on MASN, while growing up in Hawaii he rooted for the A's as a kid. Former President Bush once OWNED the Texas Rangers and he didn't feel the need to put on a Rangers cap during these ceremonies!

Lynne Powell said...

Hi, I found your blog after googling philly fan behavior at Nats opening day. I was interested to see what other people had to say about the travesty that was yesterday's game. My husband just about lost it at the fans in our section during the starting lineup. In the end he appealed to those closest to us to think about the fact that we were there with our children, who did not deserve to be treated to such horrible behavior.

My son, who loves baseball (he is 3 and this is his 4th season if you can do that kind of math), was despondent throughout the game, confused as to why people were cheering when mom & dad weren't, and asked me if we could go home, something that he has never done before. In addition, we understand that we have a partial plan and so were not going to get our usual seats, but there were people from bus trips who had better seats than we had. That is completely uncool.

Laurie said...

Just from watching on TV, I was totally disgusted by what I heard over the airwaves. The horrible and rude yelling of the Philly fans during the introductions of the Nationals staff and players. during the game, the best way to shut them up, is to score runs....but its inexcusable to act that way during pregame intros! I think management needs to address this verbal cussing around kids. That is just terrible! The usher's should have lead them out. I also vote for another opponent for opening day. They may bring in fans, but its not worth it.

VCUAlum Kyle said...

Yesterday was awful. The Phillies fans are awful. I was able to buy 8 tix for opening day, 4 in sec 406 4 in sec 417. I sat in 417 and in that section there was 12 Nats fans and atleast over 40 Phillies fans.

Just to show you how rude they are a 7yr old (over weight kid too) was taunting us, repeat a 7yr old. If you ask me the Lerners sold out Natstown to the Phillies for the money. It's sad.

I have always been suportive of the Lerners & Kasten since they took over in the "Paint the town Red" weekend against the Cubs in 2006 but after yesterday, I hope Ted Leonis buys this team. The Lerners are sellouts and don't care.

I was miseralbe yesterday in the stands. I have never left a baseball game (mlb, milb, college, high school, or little league) early in my life and I left after the 7th yesterday to beat traffic.

Concession prices are riduciuls, $8 for a beer, you have to be kidding me. The only good thing about that is I did get the $5 beers before the game and bought my $4 water and refilled the bottle at the water fountains in the 400 level during the game.

This team is not better, our pitching is awful, we were to cheap to pay for Jon Garland and too cheap to poney up the books for Chapman and now hes in the Reds system.

I want the Lerners gone by the end of the year and Stan gone by the All-Star break. Because of these sellouts (Lerners) we are the JOKE of Baseball in a beautiful ballpark paid for by DC taxpayers.

I hope I will enjoy myself more against the Dodgers on April 24th for the Saturday day game but I will be bringing my own food & water into the ballpark so the Lerners don't make a dime off me.

Chris S. said...

I sat in 403 with the other gameday walk ups, which were about 50% Philly and 50% DC fans.

I definitely heard a few guys way above me chanting "sucks" after each locker room staff member (???) was introduced (seriously, who does that?) but the vast majority of people near me were very respectful, cheering for their team rather than against the other team. Of course, the people who came out early probably were among the more serious baseball people in the crowd. (I got there at 5:20 AM and was 10th in line, if anyone was wondering.)

Glorious weather.

As for ballpark food, Kyle, I generally come through chinatown and get a Chipotle burrito, chips, and a bottle of water and bring it with me. I made an exception yesterday, of course. SBF will have to confirm this for this year but in past years Nats policy has been outside food OK and no outside drinks RXCEPT sealed plastic bottles of water.

Jeremy said...

SBF, please use your contacts to investigate why in the world for Opening Day of all games the Nationals would have continued their priority of group tickets over individual sales? I know you don't like to burn the solid bridges that you've built, but you do serve as a fairly credible reporter on the team and I think this is a matter that bears investigation. Two things are pretty clear:

1) It's easy to strike this policy for a single game, especially a ticket as desirable and important to building a hometown fanbase as Opening Day; and

2) The result was unfathomable. I've been a Nats fan since the day Tony Williams proudly announced the arrival of the team (with Linda Cropp in the background). And I was completely shut out of Opening Day tickets. Why? Because I share a season ticket package and Opening Day went to the person who had the first draft pick. And all the remaining tickets that could've gone to Nats fans went to Philly groups. It truly is despicable. And just wrong. I was at the Caps game last night and paid a lot more for my ticket but it's refreshing to see an ownership group that knows how to build loyalty amongst its fans.

The events of yesterday more or less convinced me to drop out of my season ticket group in 2011. I'd rather spend my money on a team that values my fanhood.

Chris S. said...

No disrespect to Ted Leonsis, but did you go to any Caps games a few years ago? I was at a few games in 2008, and right up until the playoff push, the place was either empty or full of opposing fans (at least in the upper level).

I agree that the Caps owners are better than the Nats owners, but owners can only do so much. The Caps atmosphere turned around because they won games. Period.

Andrew Kay said...

It's obviously easier to get a ticket for Opening Day at Nats Park if you are a Phillies fan living in the Philadelphia area than it is if you are a Nationals fan living in the metro DC region. The club is pushing this idea of "Natstown" and "Be a citizen of Natstown" but they care only about early guaranteed sales of blocks of tickets to opposing fans.

Kasten and Lerner should be ashamed of themselves for this slap in the face to Nats fans. The ticket office could easily have held back these blocks of group sales tickets until 48 hours before the game and then released them to these bus companies in Philadelphia after the sales to home fans.

They need to take the blame for the drunken boorish behavior of those so-called fans from Philadelphia - if you went yesterday, you probably won't want to go to any other games for the rest of the year, and I hope Lerners lose money on the season because of this one single act.

Hata Abroad said...

Tell Kasten and Lerner to stop scheduling the Phillies for our home opener. I've had great experiences with Braves, Marlins, and to a lesser extent Mets fans. But if management isn't upset about the travesty that was yesterday's game then they need a wake-up call.


Hata Abroad said...

SBF, tell the powers that be to stop scheduling home openers to the Phillies. The home opener should be a time of celebration for the home team. Even if we get invaded by another fanbase, I want one a little more classy.

Braves, Marlins, even the Mets. BUT STOP SCHEDULING HOME OPENERS TO PHILLY!!!!!

Deez Nats said...

Just wanted to say that I agree with almost every comment that others have made far more eloquently than me. I came away from yesterday's game feeling really down, probably the worst of 5+ years of attending Nats games. It's one thing to lose, but to basically be treated as unwelcome intruders in our own house made for a miserable experience. I felt so bad for Zim when he was booed when presented with his awards. Also, Morgan was serenaded with chants of "a**hole" in the later innings.

I am really regretting renewing my tickets for this year (and I know this was just one game; what has me down is the way were ridiculed in our stadium, not that we lost).

CoverageisLacking said...

Perhaps you should follow up with a question to Mark Lerner about how his "stakeholder" outlook is reflected in the Nationals' Opening Day ticket sales policies.

Sam R said...


I was very saddened by the events of opening day. Even on the club level half of our row and the row in front were full of Philly fans. I can understand the need to sell seats but this totally undermined the ceremony for Zimm and the introductions of our starting lineup. No amount of Kasten/Lerner justification can make it right. This was Nats fans moment to celebrate their team and congratulate the franchise player and cheer. We spent the ceremony screaming our lungs out over the damn philly crowd just to try and drown them out. It was classless by those creeps from the north but any fool could have predicted their rancor. It was unforgivable for Nationals management to have allowed this. A day we've been waiting for since the last home game of 2009 was needlessly spoiled. I just wish once and awhile these Geniuses in the front office would reach out to the fans and ask them what they thought of a potential move. Not to change their decision so much but to help them gage what the impact of a decision they are about to make would be on the fans. This was nothing short of treason against the citizens of Natstown.

Take Me Out To The Ballgame!