Thursday, July 05, 2007

Seeing Is Believing

First Things, First. If you picked the night of July 5th in the Office Pool--you won. For This Evening--in the bottom of the 6th inning--a sight not many EVER expected to see, happened. Dimitri Young chugging around first base, rumbling toward second, motoring toward third--GASPING FOR AIR ALL THE WAY!! A Sliding RBI Triple for Our 2007 All Star. Yeah, it had to happen on a misplayed fly ball. Yeah, it had to happen when that badly misjudged baseball rattled around for a while in the vast outfield reaches of RFK Stadium. But, who really cares about the Details. The Sight Alone of Our Number 21 moving around those bases got EVERYONE EXCITED. I don't care if you were a Nats Fan or Cubs Fan--you were appreciating THAT EFFORT!!

And Fully Expecting Team Trainer Lee Kuntz to run out with The Oxygen Tank, at any moment, to assist in Dimitri's Recovery. Two Innings had to have been the minimum down time needed by Young to rejuvenate himself. Especially, when he had to trot home on a Sacrifice Fly by Austin Kearns, to right field, tying this ballgame at Two Runs apiece.

Really, the Spectacle of Seeing Our Number 21 run, as fast as his large legs could possibly take him--worth EVERY PENNY TONIGHT to attend in person.

That, along with Ryan Zimmerman making one of the FINEST CATCHES OF HIS YOUNG CAREER. In the top of the 8th--Cesar Izturis was at the plate with two outs for The Chicago Cubs. Big Jon Rauch on the mound. Izturis fouled a looping pop up down the left field line--near the front row of the stands. As I have said before, many times--NO ONE IN THE GAME runs harder for fouls down that line and better than Ryan Zimmerman. "Z" seeing that baseball was possibly catchable--swiftly moved toward the stands, near the rolled up field tarp. Realizing the baseball was near his grasp--jumped RIGHT KNEE FIRST on to the tarpaulin, then lunged his glove hand just over the railing into the first row--all the while falling, back first, head up, into the crevice, that exists between the rolled up tarp and the stands. Ryan Zimmerman found himself WEDGED, stuck momentarily--but still Holding ON TO THE BASEBALL For the Final Out Of This Inning. Third Base Umpire Mike Reilly with the SOLID FIST PUMP OUT CALL in appreciation for, not only The Defensive Play of This Game--but possibly The FINEST DEFENSIVE PLAY OF THE SEASON.

Ryan Zimmerman is one TERRIFIC FIELDER. Once again tonight--he provided solid proof, of the fact, that seeing is believing.

All on a night--The 43rd President of The United States--George W. Bush, made his way from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to the Old Ballyard on East Capitol Sreet. President Bush, sitting in The Special Owners Box, along with Mark Lerner, Team President Stan Kasten and General Manager Jim Bowden. Their box--just above us to the right of Section 320 in The Mezzanine.

Yeah, I know--I don't usually start the gamer with Game Notes & Highlights, but really --THOSE WERE SOME TERRIFIC MOMENTS--combining to make this a fun night at RFK Stadium--despite Our Washington Nationals losing their 3rd out of four games to The Chicago Cubs. They had their chance--BIG TIME. But couldn't get the tying and go ahead runs home in the 8th after loading up the bases. Sounds familiar, doesn't it.

And tonight--Washington was beat by an old friend--NO, Not Alfonso Soriano--But Daryle Ward. Our former Pinch Hitter Extraordinaire was the difference this evening against his former Team. Ward with a Run Scoring Double in the 6th and a Key Insurance Run Sacrifice Fly in the 7th giving The Cubbies a 4-2 lead. A lead that was lost, by Our Team, when Luis Ayala trotted on in the 7th, after Dimitri Young's fabulous jaunt around the bases. And immediately, gave up three consecutive singles, all with one out--leading to the go ahead decisive runs.

Our Number 56 had pitched quite well since returning from his long hiatus recovering from Elbow Surgery. This evening, he didn't have it. And, Luis Ayala got beat--badly--taking the loss. His first decision in nearly 21 months.

Although, as is always the case with Our Manager Manny Acta at the helm--Our Washington Nationals fought back gallantly--and nearly pulled off a FURIOUS Comeback in the bottom of the 8th. With the Cubs Carlos Marmol on the mound with one out--Zimmerman lined a single to right. Dimitri Young was next--and SURPRISE, SURPRISE--"The Hottest Hitter On The Planet" drilled a solid single to center, moving Ryan to second. Manny then sent out D'Angelo Jimenez to pinch run for Dimitri. Young trotting off to a ROUSING STANDING OVATION!! Really, it is JUST AMAZING how well he is swinging the bat over the past two months. What a stretch of fortune, and hitting talent--at the same time. There is NO WAY Dimitri Young is even THINKING while at the plate. Every pitch must look like at BEACH BALL heading his way. That's being in THE ZONE!!

With most in the crowd of 22,594 now on their feet in great anticipation, thanks to Young's continued hitting prowess, Austin Kearns stepped to the plate. And, quite possibly had his WORST AT BAT OF THE SEASON. With RallyTimeRichard calling for Our Manager to Pinch Hit for the struggling Austin with Ryan Church--Kearns took called strike one. Then, Marmol threw a slider that Our Number 25 half swung at--The Cubs appealing to First Base Umpire Scott Barry, who signaled Strike Two. Then Marmol, threw THE EXACT SAME PITCH. Austin Kearns still couldn't hold back, Check Swinging for Strike Three Called. You could nearly hear the air gasping out of every single Nationals Fan in the park. With a Chicago Pitcher in trouble and the time to show patience--Kearns had none. Austin's overaggressive AT-BAT, just terrible. Even he knew it, the moment he turned to walk dejectedly back to the dugout.

Even the fans started to boo in frustration. Yet, Felipe Lopez raised the hopes of all those dishartened Nationals Fans, when he walked to load the bases with two outs. Brian Schneider was next--with the game on the line. This was Our Washington Nationals Chance. If they were going to win tonight--this would be the decisive moment. Carlos Marmol was feeling the pressure and threw ball one in the dirt. But, then threw an inside pitch that Schneider backed off of--feeling it was inside. Home Plate Umpire Jeff Kellogg felt otherwise-- calling strike one.

With RallyTimeRichard SCREAMING OUT "COME ON SCHNEIDEEEER!!!", Marmol threw Brian a fastball. A baseball that Our Number 23--RIPPED!!!--Right at Daryle Ward at First Base for the inning ending out!! The ENTIRE CROWD YELLED OUT "OOH!!!", either in sorrow or glee--depending on your rooting interest. Everyone knew, if that baseball is hit two feet in either direction of the fairly immobile Ward--this game is tied. If the baseball heads down the line--FLop scores easily from first with the go ahead and potentially game winning run. But, not on this night.

As it was--Schneider's hit was just an out. A Rally Killing Out. And, the very last real chance for Our Washington Nationals to win this game tonight. The Chicago Cubs win 4-2. All on an evening--to be remembered for One Washington Nationals' Player exceeding all his expectations rumbling around the bases--while his marvelous fielding teammate, lived up to all his expectations--with The Defensive Play of The Year. Even The President Of The United States watching from above Section 320, had to enjoy those moments he witnessed. Seeing is Believing.

Game Notes & Highlights:

After pitching so poorly in his last outing--Jason Bergmann survived into the 6th giving up just two runs and not walking a single Chicago Batter. Bergmann looked more like the quality pitcher he was before his injury that sent him to the Disabled List on May 19th. As Dave Jageler always mentions on WTWP--Jason Bergmann is possibly the finest 1-5 starter in the game today. For what its worth. Jason's effort tonight a good sign, that better things are coming with Our Number 57.

Felipe Lopez had a nice night at the plate. Our one time leadoff hitter did the little things tonight expected of him earlier in the season. Two Walks, a single and double. An instigator and table setter. Its just one game--but wouldn't it be great to see FLop break out of his nearly season long slump.

Another Seeing Is Believing Moment occured in the bottom of the 7th. Michael Wuertz was on the mound for Chicago. Robert Fick leadoff and drag bunted on the very first pitch toward third base. The ball was tapped a bit too hard, Aramis Ramirez threw Fick out. Ryan Langerhans was next, pinch hitting for Ayala. Langerhans grounded the very first pitch he saw, right at Darlye Ward at first base for out number two. Then, wouldn't you know it, Nook Logan also swung at Wuertz's very first offering and also grounded out to Ward at first. Three Pitches--Three Outs. Not something you see too often in ANY BASEBALL GAME. And, a total waste of three At-Bats.

Speaking of him, could we please just end The Nook Logan Experiment? Sorry, but Number 7 is simply not helping enough. I think its clear what he can and can't do. Ryan Langerhans is a better player. Please Manny--just put Our Number 4 in the lineup each and every day. And, if Alex Escobar ever stops injuring himself, just getting out of bed in the morning--you can try Number 44 there also.

Ronnie Belliard's Ground Rule Double over the right field wall in the 3rd meant that Our Number 10 had reached base safely in 22 of his last 23 starts in 2007. Now batting .339 over that stretch. As I said last night--Ronnie Belliard is a BALL PLAYER.

Alfonso Soriano DID NOT hit a Home Run in any of the four games just completed at RFK Stadium. I would bet he wanted to accomplish that feat-badly.

Also, this Series with The Chicago Cubs drew a decent amount--over 115,000 Baseball Fans. A Good number--considering the rather low attendance totals, so far in 2007.

Finally--this was the 4th Appearance at RFK Stadium by George W. Bush as President of The United States. His first being that fabulous FIRST NIGHT OF BASEBALL's return to Washington on April 14, 2005. The Night Brian Schneider caught the FAMOUS FIRST PITCH in Washington Nationals History. Mr. Bush also returned to take in Nationals Games on June 24th, 2005 against Toronto; and his last visit, before tonight--July 8th, 2006 versus The San Diego Padres.

Mr. Lerner & Mr. Kasten better have been leaning on The President this evening to throw out The VERY FIRST PITCH AT NEW NATIONALS PARK IN 2008. I don't care what side of the aisle you represent. The President of The United States needs to throw out that pitch. NO ONE ELSE NEED APPLY. NO ONE.

Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Haraz N. Ghanbari


Anonymous said...

SBF and fellow readers:

Should Manny have called Ray King from the bullpen in the 7th inning, when Ayala was struggling?

I would appreciate your insight because I saw very little of the game. I understand Ayala faced lefties in Pagan (switch?), Fontenot (?), and Ward.

Screech's Best Friend said...

brianh--I have never been one to believe that righty, lefty matchups are the way to go every single time. Ray King has been mediocre at best. Ayala has pitched well since his return. If The Nationals are looking to judge how far Luis has come back--this is the oppportunity to try him. I have no problem with the decision by Manny. Ayala just had a bad night. Throw him back out there tomorrow. Luis Ayala has a potential future with this team. Ray King not so.

SenatorNat said...

Plus, Ayala wasn't rocked - he always looks like he is in command; nice, steady rhythm and generally good low action. He conceivably is the best set-up reliever in baseball if he continues to pitch back to his form of three consecutive years.

Very nice touch about the Prez, SBF, as even R's suffer what the Prez's own Dad describes as "Bush-fatigue." Certainly, we are in the Nation's Capitol and want him or her to throw out the first ball, and attend games regularly. And this Prez did actually run the expansion Senators (sic Texas Rangers!)

While Manny remains a leader and unflappable, and Kasten seems looking only towards next year and the new park, and the young signees ($2.1 million signing bonus for the Missouri pitcher is not chicken-feed, when one considers that Kevin Durant gets only 50% more than that as the college basketball player of the year from Seattle Supersonics), Bow-Bow seems to be rattling a bit.

I cannot tell yet whom Bow-Bow wants to blame, at this point, as we know it wouldn't be himself! Injuries to Nick Johnson, Alex Escobar, Guz, and a slew of pitchers who have undergone Tommy John surgery and the like and thus haven't pitched in the majors in one-four years, should not come as a major surprise to Nats GM, it would seem.

Nook Logan was Bow-Bow's 2008 version of The Man Who Would Play Centerfield, a play we Nats fans have now witnessed three years in a row. It opens and shuts in new Haven before reaching Broadway, or if it doesn't, it ought to...

Logan; Fick; Langerhans are three of the very worst hitters in baseball. Anemic would be too positive a description. Add Batista and Jimenez, and the Nats are carrying 5 out of 13 position players who cannot hit a lick. Tack on slumping Kearns and Church and Lopez, low BA's for Zimmerman and Schneider, a wonderful minor league back-up in Flores, and it is small wonder they are last in virtually all key offensive stats...

What if Bow-Bow had not brought Belliard and Young in: what if he is compelled by Kasten to deal one or both: can we concede the remainder of the year? Acta would never throw in the towel, as he sees this year as a chance to see who has the Right Stuff for the future...

Nationals angst is the best thing that has happened for me: I am so happy to be able to root for the Washington Nationals, and dream and suffer along every game.

Trust in Kasten. All Good.

paul said...

The Nats were unlucky.

Despite Zimmerman's catch last night, I would nominate Kearns's dive on the track in Cincinnati and his Dewey Evans-like throw to first for a double play as the defensive play of the year.

As for Ayala, I hate to douse our enthusiasm, and I wish what I am about to say wasn't true, but it seemed to me when I first saw him pitch in person earlier this week that he had no velocity on any of his pitches. So unless he can get super crafty really soon, I'm afraid he will never be the same. Say it ain't so.

Anonymous said...

Nice picture SBF of Bowden and Bush. Why have one clown in a photo when you can have two? The stadium last night seemed to me to be 2/3 full of Cubs fans. It's really too bad we can't get enough people to the stadium to out cheer the visiting team's fans.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Stan was in that picture too......maybe spending some cash on someone like DeRosa (Free Agent this past winter who would be leading the Nats with 46 RBI's and playing a bunch of positions) would have been an OK idea.

Ops that's right we have Fick......

Anonymous said...

All the talk about the poor pitching in spring training was just a smoke screen to hide the real problem - lack of field players anywhere in the system.

Anonymous said...


Watching him get booed to smithereens should be fun. C'mon, SBF, think clearly here. DC and it's surrounding suburbs are mostly Democrat, and putting Bush out there would just start next season at the new park on a bad note. You saw what happened to Cheney when he threw out the first pitch in '06, which is why Bush was "not available" to do it this year.

Screech's Best Friend said...

As I mentioned to The African Queen on April 14, 2005 "That may well be the only time I ever clap for that man." That night the 43rd President Of The United States threw out the first pitch of the very first Washington Nationals Home Game. There is a time when people need to step away from their personal beliefs, doubts and dislikes and look at the big picture. We live in the Most Important City in the World. We have the unique opportunity for The President of The United States to do something that can only be done once--Open Up Our Brand NewBallPark. For that day--its time to RESPECT THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT and what it Represents. Not how its represented by the person in the office. There is BIG DIFFERENCE. Sohna and I feel strongly about that. Thanks