Friday, June 18, 2010

Taking The Responsibility

Stephen Strasburg can't do it all.

Yet, he apologized tonight for his shortcomings.

He was upset with himself for not getting over to cover first base on a ground ball hit to Adam Dunn off the bat of Juan Pierre leading off the game. A miscue that directly led to The Chicago White Sox first run of the evening moments later on a simple ground out.

Our Number 37 was disappointed when he failed to lay down a bunt attempt in the sixth inning that directly lead to Ian Desmond being picked off first base. A strike-em out, throw-em out double play that ended any chance that frame for Our Washington Nationals to score any runs in a close ball game. First thing tomorrow morning, Strasburg stated in the post-game press conference, he's going to grab Special Instructor Tim Foli to work on his bunting technique.

Stephen Strasburg completed seven solid innings on the mound this evening at Nationals Park. He struck out 10. He set a new Major League Record by recording 32 "K's" in his first three starts to his Big League Career (since 1900). He allowed just four hits, walked no one. That sole run allowed in the top of the first after Omar Vizquel blooped a double into nowhere's land down the right field line--moving Pierre to third. A 2nd and 3rd base with no outs predicament--salvaged--but only after Alex Rios grounded out to Dunn at 1st base to score Juan Pierre.

For the remainder of his six innings on the mound, Stephen Strasburg was basically unhittable. Unfortunately, his Washington Nationals teammates couldn't hit much off Chicago White Sox starter--Gavin Floyd--either. Only a double off the bat of the ever hot hitting Adam Dunn sent Ryan Zimmerman home and tied the score at one apiece in the bottom of the 7th. But not enough to push Strasburg into the lead and the position to garner his third victory in as many starts for D.C.'s team.

Yet, there he was, in the post game press conference, ice packed heavily on the right shoulder and right elbow--taking responsibility for his own actions. Stephen Strasburg didn't blame his teammates for not scoring enough runs. He didn't fret over his buddy, Drew Storen, being directly involved in the loss tonight in the 11th frame. He didn't seem to worry about the very fact--The President Of The United States came to see him pitch--as well as POTUS 44's favorite team--The Chicago White Sox.

Stephen Strasburg said he's capable of better.

How can a 21-Year Old with such talent be so humble?

The Pied Piper of Our Washington Nationals stated he again loved the atmosphere at Nationals Park. Another near sellout crowd of 40,325 came to witness and cheer on his every toss. And as in his debut, he really didn't disappoint. No one in their right mind would say anything less about him. But Stephen Strasburg was upset with himself. His post-game comments suggesting that he's better than shown this evening--remarkable to hear--pretty touching too.

Who wouldn't want that man on their side? He's the perfect teammate because he acts responsibly.

More details coming in the Game Notes & Highlights, but Stephen Strasburg was again the story this evening on South Capitol Street. The Pied Piper packed the house again, was warmly received, and when everything didn't turn out perfectly, amazingly, took the blame--when it really wasn't his fault at all.

That's class.

Final Score from Nationals Park where when it comes to taking responsibility for your affairs, there is probably no one better in the house to learn from than A President Of The United States: The Chicago White Sox 2 and Our Washington Nationals 1 in 11 innings. The baseball record books will show that June 18th, 2010 will go down as the first time in Stephen Strasburg's young career he was not involved in the decision. Many more are likely to come. But with President Barack Obama watching from a suite in The Stars & Stripes Club, Washington's New Ace's accountibility for his own actions showed a maturity beyond his years. D.C.'s Offense didn't score him enough runs against Pale Hose, even though Strasburg pitched more than well enough to win.

Yet he didn't.

And when it was all over, Stephen Strasburg answered for himself this evening by pledging to his teammates in the post-game press conference--he's got their backs. He's there by their sides too--win or lose. When things don't go as planned, Our Number 37 showed wisdom and sophistication tonight. Stephen Strasburg proclaimed he's taking the responsibility for all the action in the game's in which he pitches--and it's no one else's fault.

His and his alone.

Stephen Strasburg incredibly took the blame.

That's someone special. And that's someone you can't wait to see perform for years and years to come in a uniform representing Our Washington Nationals.

Game Notes & Highlights

His numbers speak for themselves, Stephen Strasburg finished his third start for Washington with a 1.86 E.R.A. Our Fans again roared his every strikeout. And he's yet to do anything out on the mound that would have you believe this young man wearing uniform Number 37 is anything but a Number 1 Starter for ANY team in this game.

In his second inning of work, Drew Storen got into trouble right off the bat in the top of the 11th. Mark Kotsay pinch hit for Chicago's J.J. Putz and singled. Juan Pierre advanced him to second base with a sacrifice. Then, after The White Sox Omar Vizquel grounded out to Adam Dunn at 1st base--moving Kotsay to 3rd--the key play of this game unfolded--in excruciatingly exasperating fashion.

With two outs, Alex Rios RIPPED a hard smash down the 3rd base line--really it had already PASSED Ryan Zimmerman. Yet, The Z-Man proved again--no one moves better to their right or left--by diving to his right, and somehow coming up with the baseball. The Defensive Play Of This Game that found Our Number 11 completely laid out on his stomach with Rios hustling to 1st base--Kotsay rushing home. Ryan Zimmerman got to his feet and overhand launched a throw across the diamond. Right on target to 1st base--but SLIGHTLY high. Adam Dunn didn't jump and the baseball deflected off his mitt. Having not seen a replay--not sure if Adam HAD JUMPED and caught the baseball--he would have landed in time to record the out. But the resultant recorded error on Zimmy scored Kotsay with the eventual game winning run.

Really, it was a shame Ryan Zimmerman was given his 8th error of 2010 by the official scorer. He had made a tremendous play and paid dearly for it by giving his all. Few, if anyone, makes that play in baseball today.

Nyjer Morgan also made a beautiful run on Chicago's Gordon Beckham's slicing liner to right center in the top of the 10th with two out. Another scoring drive with The White Sox Brent Lillibridge's standing on second foiled when Morgan swiftly moved to his left and caught the baseball on a dead run. There could not have been many in the park that didn't think that baseball was going to get down. Nyjer made one terrific defensive play and while his teammates greeted him at the dugout steps, Washington's fans greeted him with a standing ovation. Speed and skill had temporarily saved the day.

Gavin Floyd shut down Washington's bats most all evening. He only struck out five over eight innings, but he let his defense record the outs. Adam Dunn touched him for a double off the "Natstown" logo sign in left centerfield in the bottom of the 7th, scoring Ryan Zimmerman who had singled before him. Other than that--pretty silent bats from Washington this evening. Not much offense.

The President Of The United States snuck into Nationals Park around 6PM this evening for a private night at the ballpark. He sat in a Stars & Stripes Club Suite behind Section 208. Sporting a white polo shirt and Chicago White Sox Cap, Barack Obama stayed until the 9th inning. The most time any President has probably spent at a ballpark in ages. There was no fanfare about his appearance. He just came as baseball fan. Pretty cool actually.

And he stood and clapped along with each and every other person in attendance when Our Washington Nationals saluted the returning troops--as is customary during the third inning of every home game at Nationals Park.

Barack Obama also watched Washington's Racing Presidents compete on Segways during the 4th inning Presidents Race. The Chicago White Sox Mascot Southpaw also participated--but on foot. With a former Senator from Illinois, now President of The United States on hand--Abe Lincoln fittingly won the race.

You can't say enough about the crowds that have shown up for each of Stephen Strasburg's starts. Most everyone is rooting for Washington and they are all into the game. Again, most every one of his strikes were cheered robustly. The Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk before tonight's game was absolutely packed. The game atmosphere really has been special. Sights never seen previously in the over two years Nationals Park has existed.

And finally--it looks like Our Washington Nationals and their fans came to an agreement over placing "K" signs at Nationals Park for each of Stephen Strasburg's strikeouts. After security confiscated some handmade signs on June 8th during his debut, the fan signs returned in right centerfield--on the Scoreboard Walk just to the left of The HDTV Scoreboard (if looking from home plate).

Tonight's In-Game Photos--Greg Fiume (Getty Images)
All Other Photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


An Briosca Mor said...

Here's proof that the Washington crowd still has a long, long way to go before becoming real baseball fans. Throughout the eighth inning, with Tyler Clippard pitching in a tight 1-1 game, they were DOING THE WAVE. Not just part of the crowd, the whole fricking stadium, upper and lower decks. Three times around at least before it started to peter out. What's up with that?

Screech's Best Friend said...

It was also disappointing to see the wave going in a close game that didn't really need distractions. Are people there just to watch the game? Or, only Strasburg? Thankfully, some in our Section 218 didn't participate.

paul said...

Notice how adroitly Konerko at 1B for the Sox stepped backward into foul territory to handle a high throw, and poor Dunn, still learning his position, reached awkwardly and muffed Zim's throw.

What do we make of the fact that in the last month and a half, as far as clutch hitting and defense is concerned, we have basically reverted to last year?

Screech's Best Friend said...

That Konerko play was nice. And Dunn's did look mis-timed. But it's true, over the past six weeks ill timed errors and poor clutch hitting has hurt this team. When the game has been on the line, too many times coming up short.

John B. Ramsey said...

What's wrong with The Wave? It was one of the rare times when it really worked because of the full house. Let the fans have some fun! It was no more distracting than Pres. Obama's waving to the crowd during Ryan Zimmerman's at bat. I wish he could have waited for between innings to attract so much attention.

And good for Strasburg for taking responsibility for his two failures which regrettably cost us the game. He's got a great attitude.

One thing that concerned me was how slow Nats Security was to react to the "Boycott AZ" banner hung from the 200s section in the outfield. It was displayed for way too long and will encourage future protesters of whatever cause to do it again. It took a fan in the 100s section to finally pull it down. And this on a night when the Prez was in the house. No security even visited the banner holders in Sec 239 or 237.

paul said...

Do I want the Wave going around me as I'm enjoying watching Tyler Clippard mow down the Sox? No, it's a distraction. But I'm a seamhead. I don't care about the food, the video games, the Nat Pack, the President's Race, T-shirts, etc. etc. But I know I'm in the minority, and I want the fans to enjoy themselves as long as it doesn't freak me out, which the Wave no longer does. And maybe some of the Wavers will start to stay interested in the game after Strasburg leaves. One can hope.

The Prez and the AZ poster? Not nearly as distracting. Maybe upsetting if you're on one side of the aisle. . . .

Speaking of Clippard, he really should have come out for a second inning. He was on fire.

An Briosca Mor said...

What's wrong with The Wave? It was one of the rare times when it really worked because of the full house.

What's wrong with it? WHAT'S WRONG WITH IT? The wave says nothing more than "We don't care about the game that's going on in front of us. Not only are we not paying attention to the game, we're flaunting the fact that we're not paying attention to the game." And in a tight game, at a critical moment, that's criminal. Not to mention that it's incredibly distracting to those of us who ARE watching the game. When the 8th inning ended, and the wave mercifully stopped, I looked down at my scorecard and I only had two outs recorded. Basically, the wave caused me to lose track of one entire at bat.

If the wave must be done, why not do it between innings? Are Clint's antics and the ads on the scoreboards really that compelling that they can't be sacrificed to some other activity that has absolutely nothing to do with the game?

John B. Ramsey said...

I was there in Oakland in the early 80's when Krazy George began the Wave. And that brought so much excitement and fun to the game. I didn't even like the Oakland A's at the time (Giants fan) but my college friends and I all had a blast going to those games. People started going to ball games because it was a fun experience and that is why we have the t-shirt toss, the racing presidents, etc.

So, I disagree with Mr. An Briosca Mor on the Wave. I hate the Wave when it's done lamely and with a small crowd. Yes, I do. But in a full house -- with upper and lower decks all into it? Sure! The layout of Nats Park, with all the separate levels and sections of the ballpark makes it hard to do a good Wave. The RFK-style bowl stadiums made for a much better Wave experience. So, i don't think this "problem" will come up too much in the future.