Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Rhythm Of The Season

This same scenario plays out over the course of every long hot summer. On any given night, up to 15 different Major League Baseball Games are played throughout The United States and Canada. Most every one of those evenings--Our Team, Our Washington Nationals are out on that playing field, representing Our Nation's Capital. Since 2005, The Rhythm of The Season --The Baseball Season--has been Upon Us.

If Our Washington Nationals Home Game begins at 7:05PM, Our Nats begin batting practice around 4:30PM, well before a single one of their fans ever enter RFK Stadium. Players jogging, hitting, throwing, and sometimes just having fun. Its all apart of the daily routine of being a Professional Baseball Player. Then, approximately 90 Minutes before Game Time, The Visiting Team begins taking their whacks at The Upper Deck of The Old Ballyard on East Capitol. And, Our Home Team--returns to their Friendly Confines-The Clubhouse-to relax, play cards, talk to The Media--maybe watch some video of their upcoming opponent. Our Players Pre-Game Rhythm to their Season, a well practiced stage show.

During that time--while that visiting team swings away, the very first throng of tonight's attendees merrily move into the Stadium. Among the sounds of "Programs!!, Get your PROOOOGRAMS!!" and "Hot Dog!! HOT DOG!!!" Fans of all ages--from 2 to 92--move their way toward the field. Those first on the scene--almost always head down toward the dugouts-and the very first rows--whether they actually have tickets for those seats or not. Their Goal--Universal. Meet a player, sometimes Any Player. Occasionally, a STAR PLAYER. For the briefest of moments--baseball, like no other American Sport, can be personable. Whether you meet Micah Bowie, Nook Logan, Felipe Lopez, Dimitri Young, Chad Cordero or even Ryan Zimmerman--many times it does not matter. Sometimes its even an opposing player. What's important, is to get close, be a part of the action, maybe get an autograph--But ultimately, Feel The Rhythm of The Game.

Once Batting Practice ends--The Grounds Crew begins preparing the field for this summer night's game. And, the crowds--sometimes swelling--begin to accustom themselves to their surroundings. RFK Stadium settles in to a Rhythm of its Very Own. The Sounds of Music, Chatter, Camaraderie among Friends, The Announcing of The Starting Lineups, The Presentation of The Colors. And, of course--The Singing of The National Anthem. Although, If you sit in Section 320, no Nats Game begins without the customary yelling out of SCREEEECH!! My Best Friend!! making his appointed rounds.

Many Fans on hand are regulars, some are not. But, what matters the most to many--is the Perfect Geometric Symmetry that Baseball provides. That Sight, Boldly Shining in front of every fan. There's nothing like getting that first peak of a Professional Field--in all its GREEN GLORY. Even The Baseball Diamond Played on by Our Washington Nationals. Nothing Compares. The Baseball Field is American Splendor, at its FINEST.

Once the call of "PLAY BALL!!" is heard--those wonderful Sounds of The Season begin--this time for real. The Crack of The Bat. The Whack of The Ball. And, The Thud of a fast moving baseball hitting a Leather Mitt. Measured Tunes that bring happiness to my heart. Almost always followed, by the roar and cheers of a participatory crowd. Baseball, can not only grab your heart--but also your tongue. Whether Our Washington Nationals Hammer a pitch over the deep fences for a Home Run. Or, line a shot into gap, putting runners in motion--The Roaring Rhythmic Sounds of RFK Stadium--a comforting feeling.

A Harmony that brings GREAT JOY to, not only me, but Thousands of like minded individuals. The Rhythm of Baseball, like no other sport.

Where else can you enjoy being outdoors, during summer, watching a great game, in a picture perfect setting--all the while--you converse with your friends and neighbors. Yet, still not miss anything happening on the playing field in front of you.

The Ebb & Flow of BASEBALL is invigorating to me. Its Many Sounds delightful to my Soul.

This--The Greatest Game, provides not only The Rhythm to My Baseball Season. But also, The Rhythm to My Life.

I Love Baseball. And, will Forever.

Even on a sweltering evening like tonight, when Our Washington Nationals lost, in rather lackluster fashion, 4-2 to The Houston Astros at RFK STADIUM.

Game Notes & Highlights:

The 90 Degree Humid Start to play this evening must have, not only affected the crowd on hand--but the players themselves. I got the feeling everyone was suffering "The Dog Days Of Summer". Little emotion from the crowd. Less action on the field. Yeah, there were Four Homers--but nothing to get overly excited about. Maybe, the most Pedestrian Home Game of the Year.

Stunned I was to see Ronnie Belliard--JUST--jack out a Chris Sampson pitch to left center in the bottom of the first. Never did I think Our Number 10 would Homer anywhere but down the line in left at RFK. Just goes to show you--Baseball always provides a surprise, when you least expect it.

A wonder it was not to see Ryan Zimmerman also lace a Sampson pitch to left--Line Drive--over the wall for his 15th Home Run of 2007. Zimmerman now on a 10 game hitting streak. His average up to .259 with 49 RBI. More & More---"Z" is beginning to look like the player everyone witnessed last season.

Tim Redding actually pitched well. He got beat on The Gopher Ball, though. Allowing a two run shot to the very dangerous Carlos Lee and another to Astros Rookie Sensation Hunter Pence in the 5th (his 12th). Redding actually lasted 7 strong innings, his longest outing since May 3, 2005 while pitching for San Diego against Colorado. Our Number 17 did OK, but his lost location on the two Homer Throws, killed him this evening.

A havoc which Luis Ayala brought on himself in the 8th with his most inconsistent inning since his return from The Disabled List. A hit batsman, two walks and a sacrifice fly--gave Houston their 4th insurance run tonight. Our Number 56 simply DID NOT HAVE IT. He couldn't find the plate. Only 6 strikes thrown in 18 total pitches.

As always, Our Washington Nationals couldn't plate runners in scoring position. Both Ryan Church and Dimitri Young left stranded--after reaching 2nd base with one out or less. That hurts even more on a night not many runs are scored.

In the top of the 7th inning--Chris Burke was on first base after singling with one out. Brian Schneider called for a pitchout to Tim Redding. They guessed correctly. Burke was running and Schneider threw him out at second base. Ronnie Belliard making the tag, for The Defensive Play of This Game.

Just three days ago--Houston Astros Starter Roy Oswalt pitched into the 6th inning in a start against The Chicago Cubs. Tonight, his Manager, Phil Garner sent Oswalt out in a relief role in the 7th. Odd. Not sure why. But, it provided some good conversation in Section 320.

Of course, Oswalt hit Brian Schneider with a pitch right on his right (throwing) elbow that inning. Schneider went down in great pain. He continued to play, but Our Manager Manny Acta replaced him with Jesus Flores in the 8th. How much more agony can this guy take? All season long--Our Number 23 has been a punching bag for his pitchers and opposing hitters behind the plate. He deserves so much more credit than given, publicly--for hanging in there.

Astros Centerfielder Pence--One Good Looking Young Player. He has size, speed, can hit, hit with power, field and throw. What more can you want? A Five Tool Player, who just needs to fill out his body and gain experience. Hunter Pence is a terrific prospect. I can't wait for the day Our Washington Nationals have such a talent patrolling centerfield.

There was a HUGE OVATION from the Announced Crowd of 22,362 when the large scoreboard in right noted that Dimitri Young is currently leading The National League in hitting. After knocking a double and single during this game--Young now batting a robust .341.

And finally, when Our Number 21 stroked his double to left in the 4th inning. A play that The Astros Lee dove and missed--the sight of Dimitri lumbering around first heading to second--brought a huge smile to The African Queen's Face. She loves Young and appreciates his efforts on the base paths, more than most. He is quite the sight--running.

Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Manuel Balce Ceneta


SenatorNat said...

Beautifully expressed sentimental and timeless piece. Yes - Washington has settled into having a major league baseball team. No longer is the hanging question whether the Nationals will remain here pending the stadium controversy or just plain old uneasiness that some political quisling would undermine the team's ability to remain here.

Recall that the situation was still very much unsettled just one year ago. And, believe me, there were powerful forces, including one in Baltimore, rooting for that stadium to be delayed creating a firestorm...

I remember the illustrious Tom Boswell a bit more than a year ago saying that the "new owners will undoubtedly want to change the name back to the Senators" - a ridiculous notion, which would have richly fed the political opposition since the team is in a city where the license plates read "Taxation without representation" - and U.S. Senators are held responsible for that plight!!

By luck and in many cases quiet dedication, perserverance, and design, this team has become part of the fabric of the Nation's Capital, and its broad community. The name fits and seems eternal; the uniform is a classic; the Curly W now part of the venacular; and increasingly seen on hip-hop video's and in Hollywood. (I ought to send one for Turtle to sport on HBO's Entourage...)

The team has its own unique voice in Charlie Slowes, and "Bang - Zoom Go the Fireworks." It has a charismatic president and a controversial general manager. And it has its own manager - having never been anyone else's and true to a Horace Greeley-like aphorism: "go to the Nationals, young man, and grow up along with your team."

With 33 games to go in the old girl (Frank Howard's number in 1971); and Dmitri Young hitting at the Yankee Clipper's clip of .406 for nearly a third of the season, and leading the National League in hitting (a day at a time...), we can look forward hopefully to a countdown which may witness the healthy return of "Madeline;" Shawn Hill commanding the mound; B.Watson showing what he can do; and two-three young arms sporting their stuff.

Timeless and terrific. Two Nats' regulars hitting over .310 at this time of the year; a pitching staff with scrap heap starters and Double A hurlers combining for 4.70 ERA; and Zimmerman is indeed the rock projected. Last place doesn't seem hopeless, despite the anemic overall powerless quality of the current line-up. And they play in the sun today, right?

Trust in Kasten. All Good.

SenatorNat said...

I meant the Spendid Splinter - not the 1941 AL MVP Jumpin Joe - who hit .406 obviously...

Anonymous said...

So, true! The sounds and smells of baseball are as important as the sights. I grew up in St. Louis at "Old" Busch Stadium. My dad got us tickets to eat/sit and watch the game in the restaurant over looking the field one year for my birthday. It was nice, had to wear my favorite dress with tights and all (I was probably 8). Sure, it was a neat experience, but nothing beats sitting in the bleachers with a hot dog. Ha!

Anonymous said...

I am a lifelong Chicagoan although I have lived most of my adult life in D.C. I CAN NOT tell you how THRILLED I AM to be a NATS FAN! They will always be my SECOND team because I have been a proud WHITE SOX fan since 1972, but they are my HOME team! I have every hope that the new stadium will be EVERY BIT as "magical" as my favorite ballpark ever, WRIGLEY FIELD in Chicago, where I make an annual trip and have every year since 1970. Go Nats!