Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Birthday--America!!

The Sight And Sounds had not been present for some time. RFK Stadium had erupted in GREAT JOY!! The long lost Sea of Bobbing Heads where bouncing again Mightily along the third base stands. Every Single Washington Nationals Fan feeling Bliss. Dimtiri Young had just HAMMERED out a GRAND SLAM deep over the left field wall, that The Chicago Cubs Alfonso Soriano had NO CHANCE of getting. The Party was ON!! Our Washington Nationals led 6-0 over those Cubbies. This Moment, one of The FINEST MOMENTS of the 2007 Season.

The Old Ballyard on East Capitol Street was Rocking. Washington had a lead-A CONVINCING LEAD. Our Starter In Training, Matt Chico, was pitching his FINEST GAME OF HIS YOUNG MAJOR LEAGUE CAREER. There was not much to dislike about this fabulous Independence Day High Noon Start. Section 320 was in Full Force, and were WE EVER LOUD. Most all our regulars posted up for this one. No one was going home unhappy. Of course, we were accompanied by a THRONG OF NATS FAITHFUL--39,207 in all, on George Washington Racing President Bobblehead Day--the second largest crowd of the season.

Its been a long time since everyone felt so good to be a Washington Nationals Fan. Honestly, when "The Meat Hook" sent that Rich Hill pitch off the left field wall in the bottom of the 5th inning--the noise was just OUTSTANDING. Not since Ryan Zimmerman hit that tremendous last moment Home Run off Chien Ming Wang of The New York Yankees last June, had RFK STADIUM bellowed at such an intensified level. An ear splitting BOOM!! The pandemonium so great--it was impossible to hear The BANG!! ZOOM!! of the Fireworks!! High Fives all around. And, The African Queen giving me a refreshingly happy kiss. That's EUPHORIA my friend.

When Our Washington Nationals become a GOOD TEAM--and win a Championship--How much greater will that feeling be? We all rejoiced today in Section 320. The glee so great, winning it all could only be rapturous. Intoxicating today's game was. The Unexpected Thrill of the Baseball Moment, the reason why I hold tightly this Great Game So Close to My Heart.

Of course--Our Team could not have gotten to that point today without Our Number 47. Time & Time again, Our Manager Manny Acta hands the baseball to Matt Chico, and he steps out of the dugout, goes to work every five days. Some days he stumbles, but mostly--he survives. This afternoon, he not only persevered, but he THRIVED. Today, On The Day we celebrate The Birth Of Our Nation--Matt Chico was Born again as a Major League Pitcher. No longer will Our Opponents look at him as a struggling Rookie. Our Crafty Lefthander arrived and allowed ZERO WALKS and just four measly hits to a powerful Chicago Cubs Hitting Team. Leaving after 7 extremely strong innings--Matt Chico shut out the potent Cubbies on just 99 pitches. Then handed the baseball over to Saul Rivera and Ray King to close out one pleasurable outing.

Not is some time have Our Washington Nationals enjoyed such a NO DOUBT Win. Curly "W" number 34 was a joyous affair. And, couldn't have happened at a better time. Having lost 13 of their last 17 Games--A FEEL GOOD VICTORY takes away some of pain of the past few weeks. Baseball always surprise you, when you least expect it.

The BANG ZOOM OF THE FIREWORKS!!! this afternoon a Fine WARM UP ACT to The National Fireworks this evening in Our Nations Capital. Washington Nationals Fans enjoyed a delightful day--while Section 320 rejoiced in Our Most FESTIVE DAY of this season--in our own friendly confines. Its hard to explain ourselves sometimes. But, trust me--we enjoy each and every one's company. We are family. Today, our Kindred Spirit near an All Time High. Just a great day to enjoy A Nationals Win and The Anniversary of The Birth of Our Nation.

And, How About That NOISE ON DIMITRI YOUNG"S GRAND SLAM!! UNBELIEVABLE!! Only that Zimmerman Homer Last Season against The Yankees and The Washington Redskins winning the NFC Championship (which occurred 4 times at RFK) were louder witnessed events in my lifetime there. Few events could possibly have out blasted today's bedlam at RFK STADIUM--in MY FAVORITE BALLYARD'S HISTORY!. Just a GREAT MOMENT!!

Game Notes & Highlights:

Ryan Zimmerman got the Fireworks Started in the bottom of the first inning by lining a two strike blast right down the left field line and just over the wall for his 13th Home Run. It was also Our Number 11's first RBI since June 17th, a thirteen game drought--his 43rd of the season. Ironically, for the second straight season, Our Washington Nationals July 4th Game Featured a Dramatic Home Run. Last Season, on this very day--Zimmerman pounded out a two out, bottom of the ninth, three run homer off Joe Borowski to defeat The Florida Marlins. Vividly, I remember Radio Broadcaster Charlie Slowes Screaming" "The National Fireworks HAVE ALREADY BEGUN--Five Hours Earlier than Expected." That Ryan Blast coming just a few weeks after his thrilling shot off The Yankees.

There were two Outstanding Defensive Plays during this game. With Two Outs in the top of the sixth and The Cubs Aramis Ramirez on first with a single--Mark DeRosa slapped a fast dropping lined shot off Matt Chico to dead center. Nook Logan, first stepped back--then charged in for the baseball. Appearing as if he had no chance to catch the ball before it hit the grass--Logan lunged toward the baseball, catching it--a few inches from the ground.

Then--in the bottom of the 8th, with Alfonso Soriano on third base after knocking a double off the third base bag (a hit that Zimmerman just stared and laughed at--over the luck of it all) Alfonso then moving to third on a ground out--The Very Dangerous Derrek Lee was at the plate facing Saul Rivera. Lee slapped a HARD GROUNDER toward the hole between first and second base---sure to score Soriano with The Cubs first run. Yet, Ronnie Belliard--who can move towards a hit grounder as well as ANYONE in the game--charged back from the lip of the infield, shading toward the 2nd base bag--to his left, into short rightfield--ACTUALLY GOT HIS BODY IN FRONT OF THE BASEBALL--gathered himself and threw out the hard charging Derrek Lee for the final out of the inning.

Nook Logan had used his god given speed to make a fine play. But, Ronnie Belliard, using veteran savvy, made The Defensive Play of This Ball Game. As RallyTimeRichard mentioned after this great play--"Belliard moves on an angle to where the ball is going--better than anyone." BangTheDrumNatly exclaiming: "I know they are thinking of trading him--but I love that guy." I couldn't agree with them more. Ronnie Belliard is an impressive player. No one plays the game better at second. He may not have all the skills anymore. But, he uses experience to his advantage, better than most everyone else out there. Ronnie Belliard is a BALL PLAYER. Everyone should appreciate that fact.

Belliard also got the key bottom of the fifth inning off to its rousing start. Jesus Flores was on third--following his single, Matt Chico sacrifice bunt and Nook Logan single to left with one out. Ronnie--who whips the bat harder while swinging as well as anyone--drilled a sharp grounder down the left field line into the corner. Alfonso Soriano had trouble picking it up. Flores scored easily with the second run of the game, Belliard running hard, slid safely into second base with a run scoring double. Nook Logan safely at third. Cubs Fans now sitting on the hands. Nats Fans up on their feet--roaring. (Just a note--but the other part of Belliard's game that I love is how after whipping the bat around to stroke a base hit--he then immediately WHIPS THE BAT BACK in the other direction, whence it came--to throw it away while beginning to run. His Style is an ART FORM all its own. Just a joy to watch on the playing field).

With runners now on 2nd & 3rd with one out--Cubs Manager Lou Pinella decided to go with the percentages and intentionally walked Ryan Zimmerman to bring Dimitri Young up with the Bases Loaded. Despite his Home Run today, Ryan has struggled for some time. Would you not rather pitch to him? As Jeff, sitting to my left mentioned: "Thanks Lou--walk Zimmerman to bring up The Hottest Hitter in The GAME!!" Did Our Number 21 EVER MAKE Lou Pinella pay for that decision. Zimmerman's walk set off one of 2007's Finest Nationals Moments.

Dimitri Young went 3 for 4 in this game. A Single, Double and that Fabulous Home Run. Our 2007 All-Star hitting .337 with 8 Homers and 41 RBI. Only Zimmerman has more RBI on the team. Of course, when its your day, its YOUR DAY. Dimitri Young made two fine defensive plays, delighting a shocked crowd. In the very first inning, Derrek Lee popped a blooper foul down the right field line. Belliard had the angle, but backed away as Dimitri stuck his glove up to snare the baseball. He actually lunged his glove up at the ball. He made the catch--to everyone's great approval. Then, in the top of the third, Lee again popped one behind Young in foul territory. Dimitri ranged back, backpeddling and caught the ball, all the while falling and landing on his rear end. The Crowed ERUPTED in high spirits. Dimitri's Smile so wide I am sure those sitting in the upper reaches of RFK could see his pearly whites. When you're hot, YOU'RE HOT!!!

Today, Matt Chico simply deserved his fourth win of the season. Five times in the first three months of 2007, he has walked off the mound with a lead--to see his bullpen lose it for him. You had to be proud of Number 47 this afternoon--his ERA now down to a fairly respectable 4.39. The combined team shutout of The Cubs was Washington's third whitewash of 2007.

Many Thanks to VCUKYLE--a regular Nats320 reader and commenter who stopped by to say hello today to The African Queen and I. Stop by anytime and please spend some time.

Of course what would be a holiday without FESTIVE SPIRIT. The African Queen wore her "Spirit of America" Dress. Hand sewn by her Mother in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks--Sohna has worn this Dress each and July 4th since that terrible day--in Our Country's Honor. She was joined by Colleen's Curly "W", dressed out in Red, White & Blue, Top and Tails. Everywhere these two went this afternoon at RFK Stadium--conversation followed throughout the ballpark.

Even one of Sohna's Boyfriends at RFK--One of Our Favorite Ushers--Richard, had to take a picture with her.

Section 320's Ringleader--Abby--today with just her Mom, Becky, in tow--wore her Independence Day Outfit, also. She and The African Queen, of course, got together for a picture.

What would a Nats Home Game be without SCREECH!!! As Practiced to Precision--Screech came by at First Pitch to Greet His Best Friend. And, you just knew we would take a picture--Screech, pawning his favorite jersey on my back. The Jersey that became an even bigger hit when Clint and The NatPack invited me down to the Nationals 3rd Base Dugout, at the end of the 2nd inning, to promote The Nationals Gift Shops Customized Jerseys sold at the park on the Big Screen in Right Field. Clint wore his customary "44" and "Clint"--while the Natpack Lovelies admired my "320 Screech's Best Friend" Jersey. It was a alot fun. Their willingness to ask me to participate--a nice gesture. And, well appreciated.

Oh yeah--That George Washington Bobblehead. Just Terrific. Great Quality. Well Packaged. The Giveaway is a very nice item. And, of course, GW won today's President's Race on His DAY!!

Although the lines to pick up the figure were WAY TOO LONG. It was explained to me this afternoon that the reason why a voucher is given at the gate, then making every fan stand in line, a RATHER LONG LINE--is due to space limitations at the Entry Gates of RFK Stadium. Well, as a child, I attended 60 Washington Senators Baseball Games in this very same stadium. Many of those dates were giveaway games. Never do I recall space being a problem at the gates. Sure, The Washington Senators did not draw overly well, but if you look at certain dates throughout any season of play from 1962 to 1971, many games had attendance figures above 30,000. I would bet most all of them were Promotion Dates. My point is that No One should first come early to a game--just to get the premium--then miss an inning--just to stand in line to receive the gift.

That's not Right!!

The African Queen and I hope ALL OF YOU have a very SAFE and ENJOYABLE 4th of July!!

Happy Birthday to "Our" United States Of America!! (You well know--on the Nats320 Blog its always "Our"-ALWAYS).

Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Susan Walsh
Sohna with Curly "W"--Jeff Sherman
SBF/Clint/NatPack--Jeff Sherman
Any Other Photo of SBF--(Mrs. MickNats) Mary Wolverton


Anonymous said...

SBF: Just a great day at the ballyard on our Nation's birthday! Couldn't have been better. A great crowd, but many complaints about the bobblehead fiasco. Agree that the bobblehead handout should be secondary to the game. Would it really have been that hard to hand them out at the gates? I saw the lines and went up between innings when the line went down, but still missed some action. Those season ticket holders with the best seats behind home plate had to go all the way to Center Field to get them, and that's not right. Regardless, great game to attend and a great win!

paul said...

I was out of town for Zimmerman's Yankee heroics, so today for me was the most fun since Opening Day of 2005--about 150 games ago for me. The huge crowd, the applause just for a strike--I hope we can have a lot of that next year in the new ballyard. And what a well played game. Even Kearns hit the ball well twice, though unlucky he was. Logan looks lost at the plate, but I'm not letting that bother me. I'm happy for Chico, too. Next to Bergman, he has received the worst run support.

Anonymous said...

Love your take on each game.
Dmitri was fabulous! You couldn't have asked for more, great defensive plays, great pitching and a grand slam.


Anonymous said...

Man, was that game ever fun! First game in along time that's it's just been straight up fun to be at. When they walked Zimmerman we had a nice little "Make Them Sorry" chant going out from our section, and Dimitri sure did. There were two little boys sitting in front of me, and I'm not sure that they even knew what had just happened, but boy they were thrilled with it anyway.

- Sarah ""

Anonymous said...

SBF: Can you do some detective work and find out why the Nats didn't wear their daytime Red jerseys yesterday?

SenatorNat said...

The D.C. Red uniforms may be reserved for Sundays only - cannot recall whether they wear them for week-day day games...Interesting question.

D.C. had Tiger and a former President playing golf at Congressional going on at the same time as a timeless classic ritual of folks walking up to the old ballpark and going to the Nation's Pastime (and you thought it was figuring out a two-sentence order for an 8 oz. cup of something at Starbucks!) on July 4th. And, because we are the Nationals, and play in the National League, we get the Cubs, who embody BEST the good old fashioned "root for the home team; it's a shame if they loose" type of baseball experience. Nationals rule on July 4th, too, and that should become a terrific tradition.

Logan indeed looks lost, but he did contribute in the 5th inning rally, and he had a nice catch: but Alex Escobar (we are ALL praying that he has recently encountered John from Cincinnati) is SCHEDULED to return after the All-Star break.

Who goes on DL or is shipped to Columbus, or (say Tony Batista) is released to make room?

Can these Nats get to 12 under .500 by August 1 with this squad, and have reinforcements at that mark named Shawn Hill, Mike O'Connor, Nick Johnson, Jesus Columbe, and the afore-mentioned Alex Escobar and actually play above .500 ball for the last two months?

This scenario is not inconceivable, since Zimmerman, Lopez, Kearns, and Church are due to collectively hit 20-30 points better between now and the end of the season.

A starting rotation of Hill; Chico, Bergmann, Simontacchi, & O'Connor could be very solid, with Ayala, Rauch, Columbe, Cordero in the pen, to boot.

As the All-Star game approaches, with the AL dominating for what seems like a generation, and the Selig rule now in its fifth year (winner gets home field for WS), I offer the following modification to integrate interleague play and the All-Star Game, and create a new aspect for fan interest: keep a running tally of all inter-league play (AL v. NL) and then have the All-Star game count as an additional 15% of that total. So - if my math is right, I think there are 270 interleague games played: the All-Star Game would be worth 41 games, at the end. That should be enough to make a difference virtually each year. Some years it would not, but that creates an incentive for the final week of interleague play, as fans of one league root for their league to "put it out of play" in terms of the All-Star Game tipping the balance...

Did anyone see a Lerner family member at the July 4th game, or were they busy? They may be unaware that the team plays some week-day games during the day...There is a rumour that they are pleading cash-flow poverty and cannot make the $20 million owed the city when the lease expires at RFK on time. Wonder if this means they have put in for themselves for the $40. seats at the new park?

Trust in Kasten. All Good.

Anonymous said...

SBF you looked like a natural on the Jumbotron from our vantage point in the upper deck. Interesting -- when the image of you came up the guy behind me said "what a fantastic blog" and we started swapping stories about your good work.

What a game and the roar on the Young grand slam was amazing -- how I wish Austin would have taken a pitch there so Meathook could have gotten a curtain call.

I'll be there again tonight. All best.


Screech's Best Friend said...

Buzz: How I wish that Austin had just called time and let the entire scenario play out. He had to realize this was A BIG MOMENT, cut short by his impatience. Dimitri Deserved a Curtain Call. Kearns batting and swinging at the first pitch--cut everything far too short. Too Bad

Thanks for the very nice comments from you and the guy sitting behind you. Its appreciated greatly.

And, from you too Matt.

An Briosca Mor said...

SBF, good seeing you up on the big screen yesterday from my perch up in section 416. (Not my regular seat - that's in 419. But I traded in my Tuesday night ticket to get one for the bobblehead game, and got a great seat looking right down the left field line. Got a good photo from there of Zimm's HR swing which I put up on my blog.) Anyway, not to rain on your parade, but when you came up on the big screen the guy next to me said "Hey, that's one of those guys on!"

I think I lucked out on the whole bobblehead line fiasco. When I came into RFK an hour before game time at the gate by the team store, the lady handing out vouchers said to go left because the line would be shorter. When I came up close to the bobblehead tables, there was indeed a fairly short line that they were letting merge into a HUGE line coming down the ramp from the other way. I got through in about five minutes, and when I turned around and headed back that formerly short line stretched all the way back to the team store. There has to be a better way! But you know they did the voucher thing last year for the Jose Guillen bobbleheads and I don't recall the same problem with lines - although maybe there was and it just happened well into the game rather than before the game like yesterday. Last year it was a Friday night game, and people get there later for those. Anyway, I hope they work something else out before Tom bobblehead night!

Anonymous said...

It sure was a Happy 4th!!!!

D.Young had a great game with the dive attempt, the catch and fall, and then the GRAND SALAMI!!!!!

What a lovely afternoon game @ RFK. I wish more Saturday games this year were day games instead of night games. I just think the feel of a day game is more enjoyable.

To comment on the line for George, it was wasy to long (hopefully it will be better in August) and my cousins and I missed the Marines in CF for pregame festivites.

Thanks for the kind words SBR, it was a pleasure meeting you your wife. My 5yr old cousin made the trek with me to RFK for his first big league game so he was just enjoying the whole ambiance of being at RFK and Zim hitting a HR with him in the stands!!! Will be back at RFK for the Cardinals series!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey, if the weather improves, we're going to try to make it to tonight's game. We'd like to stop by and say hello, but, other knowing you are in section 320, how would we find you?"

A DC Wonk