Friday, August 03, 2007

Hot As A Washington Summer Night

Those Homestead Grays Retro Cream Colored Home Uniforms with Navy Trim worn my Our Washington Nationals Tonight--They Were HOT LOOKING!! Just Gorgeous!!

On an evening Washington continued a hot streak of its own--now winners of four straight, 7 of 10!!

And, not one single player for Our Team is hotter than Ryan Zimmerman. Our Franchise Player is heating up, as summer reaches its sweltering zenith.

Tonight, on as hot and humid a Washington Summer Evening as you would ever expect to sit through-- the site of Our Number 11 being chased down by each and every uniformed member of Our Washington Nationals--a site to behold. Ryan with his 6th game winning, last inning stroked hit in his short career. A single to left field scoring Felipe Lopez from second with one out in the bottom of the 9th inning. A 3-2 Victory over The St. Louis Cardinals that jump started a HUGE CELEBRATION on the field at RFK STADIUM.

You can say all you want about professional players not caring--but when it comes to Our Team--no one can ever fault them for their enthusiasm. When Our ENTIRE TEAM runs onto the field in great jubilation to rejoice--and when each and every Fan of Our Washington Nationals in attendance, is High Fiving, Jumping Up and Down, Kissing in the Aisles--you got something going. A Special Feeling that's being developed between a Team and it's Spectators. As the Bang!! Zoom!! of The Fireworks!! played out overhead at the Old Ballyard there was Joy among the Faithful.

There was delight over a well fought victory. Cheer over a continuing winning streak. Glee over the fact that Washington is attempting to move out of the cellar--last place. Jubilance over a pitching staff that has kept Our Washington Nationals in more games than anyone ever expected. And, Pleasure in the fact that Our Hitters are finally coming around.

The Despair and Misery of April & May, 2007 less upsetting, farther from the mind's eye. Now, there is the revelry of an ever emerging young team. And, the satisfaction that Our Manager, yeah--that Rookie Manager--was a pretty good hire after all. Who else, but Manny Acta--he of the Charismatic Smile and always Positive Approach could have worked his way through such difficulty. Adversities that are far from solved. Yet, Manny Acta has his group of players jelling into a cohesive unit. I understand, Our Washington Nationals are far from the best in Major League Baseball--but they are enthusiastic, with most every single player giving their all.

And, who can say they are not FUN TO WATCH?

This last At-Bat win was satisfying. Enjoyable because Tim Redding pitched a terrific ballgame. Although he tired after 107 pitches with one out in the 7th--who could blame him? The temperature was 90 Degrees at game time. THIS WAS A NIGHT GAME!! Yet, Redding tied up The GREAT Albert Pujols three times--striking him out twice. He scattered 7 hits here and there, but was only beaten by his opposing mound mate. Kip Wells--who swings the bat as well as any pitcher in the game--singled to right with two out in the top of the 2nd to score The Cardinals only run against Our Number 17.

This game was A Baseball Fan's Game. Well pitched, tightly played--and battled down to the last swing. Really, what more can you want for entertainment? Curly "W" Number 49 was a positive sign that Our Washington Nationals do not ever give up. Having a long way to go before they are a Championship Team--Our Team has developed a Fighting Spirit. Underdogs most every night, but NEVER QUITTERS--The Dog Days of Summer are bringing out the best qualities in an enjoyable team to watch. Are they EVER HOT!! Sweltering like the Heat & Humidity now upon us in Our Nation's Capital.

Game Notes & Highlights:

The game deciding 9th was started when Tony Batista knocked a broken bat single to left off St. Louis Reliever Ryan Franklin. Although Batista would be forced out on a grounder by FLop to second--Tony took out The Cardinals David Eckstein at second base to prevent the double play. And, when Ronnie Belliard followed with a looping liner to right field that Juan Encarnacion had no play on--The Table were set for Ryan Zimmerman with one out. With EVERYONE NOW STANDING--not a sole left did not realize that "Z" has consistently been our best clutch hitter. Ryan would foul off Franklin's first offering, then take ball one. Finally, after 3 hours and 25 minutes--this very long ballgame was at hand. Their Ryan--Franklin, would toss in the very last pitch of this game to Our Ryan--Zimmerman. As he has done so often in the past--Our Number 11 delivered with a clean single through the hole to leftfield. FLop was RUNNING HARD ALL THE WAY (yeah, I know that's surprising--but he was ON HIS HORSE) No way The Cardinals' leftfielder Chris Duncan has ANY PLAY!! Felipe Lopez scored the game winning run--sliding for EFFECT ONLY--The Festivities were ON!! Our Washington Nationals had nearly evened their home record for 2007--now standing at 28-29. But actually, going over .500 in their Career at RFK Stadium. Their Record on East Capitol Street--now standing at 110-109, with just 25 games left to be played at My Favorite Ballyard of All Time.

Zimmerman now hitting .342 (41-120) over his last 30 games. Now with 57 RBI and a .269 Batting Average. Its conceivable that Ryan could still knock in 100 runs and bat--.285. Not a long shot to finish with those numbers.

FLop, who scored the game winning run--also knocked in Washington's first. A Two Out opposite field double down the left field line off Wells, scoring Tim Redding, who had reached on a fielder's choice in the bottom of the 5th inning to tie this game. An affair that seemed locked up when Ronnie Belliard provided the go ahead run in the bottom of the 7th with a sacrifice fly scoring Ryan Langerhans (pinch running for Brian Schneider). A 2-1 lead that may well have held up, if not for Nook Logan--once again--retreating on a blooper to center in the top of the 8th. A baseball that fell in front of him. A two strike hit by The Cardinals Yadier Molina that Logan SHOULD HAVE CAUGHT, for the second out of the inning. A Frame that eventually saw Big Jon Rauch give up three hits and the tying run. None of which were hard hit. A slow grounder between the mound and third by Encarnacion that Ryan Zimmerman made the play on--but hurried his throw--a toss that was wide and high. A single that proved costly when Adam Kennedy followed with a slow grounder JUST PAST Belliard going to his left. And, became worse--when Molina looped in his RBI Single to Nook Logan.

The fact that Our Washington Nationals announced today that Logan is THE STARTING CENTERFIELDER made his efforts tonight even worse. Not only does he continue to have problems in the outfield, but he struck out twice and hit into a double play--when he couldn't lay down a bunt. Everyone has a bad day. Even My Main Man!! Ryan Church had a tough evening at the plate. But, Our Number 7 is not a player to be counted on--for the future. That, I am sure.

In the top of the 5th inning, The Cardinals Scott Rolen grounded softly onto the grass down the third base line. Ryan Zimmerman charged in, barehanded the baseball, and all in one motion--threw out his St. Louis Counterpart. A fine play against the long reigning Gold Glove Winner at Third Base. A defensive effort that was The Defensive Play of This Game.

Manny Acta's maneuvers tonight all worked out in the long run. But, to this day--I still question replacing Dimitri Young with Robert Fick, for defensive purposes in the 7th inning. At that time, the game was still 2-1 in Washington's Favor. Young was the FIRST SCHEDULED HITTER in the 8th. I understand that Manny says he TRUSTS HIS BULLPEN. That's good. But, why replace YOUR BEST HITTER ALL SEASON--for a batter that can't hit his weight. Fick may well be a better fielder--but not the specialist so many claim him to be. Personally, I have nothing against Robert Fick. I just don't see the advantage of taking out Our Number 21, in a close game--in the 7th. Yeah, maybe the 9th. But, not in a close game.

A competition tonight that saw Our Manager use up his entire bench. And, a fine performance by Ray King when he replaced Redding with one out in the 7th and David Eckstein on first base with a walk. Big Ray (who looked FABULOUS in that Grays Uniform) struck out the dangerous Jim Edmonds. Unintentionally walked--intentionally Pujols then got Chris Duncan to fly to Austin Kearns in right to end the threat. A effort that saw King jauntily walking off the mound. He had faced The HEART OF THE CARDINALS LINEUP. Some of the best in the game, and he had beaten them. Nothing wrong with being proud about that moment.

As has been the case when The St.Louis Cardinals come to town--their fans travel well. A large contingent of faithful wearing the "STL" and REDBIRD SHIRTS. What's nice to see--is that their fans are respectful. Unlike New Yorkers or those Phillie Fans--St. Louis Fans cheer on their team. Never do they put themselves in the faces of Washington Fans. Regular Nats320 Visitor and Commenter Jim and I got into this very discussion after the game. Its true. Cardinals' Fans come to cheer on their team. They don't come to tear down the opponent. Its quite refreshing actually.

When Jesus Flores batted in the 8th inning tonight--The African Queen and I got a kick out of the fact the Flores was facing Flores. Randy Flores was on mound for St. Louis. Randy Flores would win the battle, when Jesus Flores grounded into a force out.

Of course tonight was Negro League Tribute Night. Our Washington Nationals wore the 1943 Replica Home Uniforms of The Homestead Grays. The Grays split their home games between Pittsburgh and Washington's Old Griffith Stadium. Quite Frankly, those Uniforms were really nice, the Navy Trim set off well against the Cream Whites. The Blue Rear Pockets on the pants--exceptional. Trousers which Dimitri Young wore that had EVERYBODY in Section 320 ROARING IN DELIGHT. Now, I don't know what size pants Dimitri normally wears. But, lets just say for argument sake--he wears size 52. Well tonight, Young had to be wearing a size 60 or 62. His Uniform pants so BIG AND BAGGY--YOU HAD TO LOVE THEM!!! And, when he rolled up the bottoms to show his long navy blue socks--it gave the impression of a Tent being blown in the wind. We just couldn't wait to see Dimitri Young chugging around the bases to see those pants flapping in the wind. Unfortunately, we did not get that chance. But, the thought--absolutely hilarious. What A SIGHT!! Very Memorable.

We all liked those uniforms this evening. Far better than the Grays Pinstripe Whites worn last season at RFK Stadium in another Negro League Tribute. Better than the gray "Greys" with Red Lettering the Negro League Greats wore on the road and Our Nationals honored in Milwaukee in 2006. The St. Louis Stars uniforms donned by The Cardinals--not as fancy, or impressive.

Finally--Over the left field wall at RFK Stadium, beginning last night-Our Washington Nationals have placed a Countdown Banner to the final games to be played on East Capitol Street. Each subsequent game for the remainder of 2007, the banner is reduced in number-until that final game in late September--against The Phillies. Its a nice gesture--but it doesn't stand out. Honestly, I don't think many have noticed. Too bad.

Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Pablo Martinez Monsivais


Anonymous said...

SBF: I think we all can see a growing emergence of confidence in this team. Maybe it has to do with the signings of Belliard and Young, or the success of the young pitchers like Hanrahan or Lannan. But there is something happening, a spark, that maybe wasn't there in April or May and has been slowly emerging all season. As I've said before, I am also a long-time Red Sox fan. And although my heart remains with the Sox first and foremost, and they have the best record in baseball, I have to say I enjoy watching this young Nats team more! The excitement they display when they win one like last night is just contagious! It really gives us all hope for the future. Add a couple of free agents, a power bat and an experienced starter to the mix, the new stadium, and we might be ready to contend sooner than any of us thought. Who knows?

Anonymous said...

I was quite amused to notice that Dmitri's pants legs didn't stay balanced. (I guess he didn't do knickers). At one point, the right leg was down to the ankle, and the leg was about halfway there.

I enjoyed the tribute to the Negro Leagues. Veterans and family members graciously signed autographs outside the Diamond Club. I went down during the second inning, and was a little surprised I didn't see more fans going for autographs. It was a privilege to pay homage to this part of baseball history.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

I like the fact that the scoreboard referred to the teams as the Grays and Stars and I am sorry that MASN did not follow their lead. Regardless of whether the team should or should not rename themselves the Grays (I think they should stick to Nationals), I would like to get a Homestead Grays cap to go along with the other Nats caps I own.

I wonder if Georgetown might consider using the Grays cap? The blue and gray colors made it hard NOT to think of the Hoyas...

Anonymous said...

Isn't it a treat to see this young team growing up right before our eyes? This sure is going to be a fun ride. GOING to be??? It already IS.

SBF, I'm glad you mentioned Nook's breaking back on the Molina blooper. I thought I was the only one in RFK who noticed, but I was in the midst of Cardinals fans and they didn't seem too upset about it. Had he gotten a good break, I'm not sure Nook would have caught the ball, but it sure would have been nice to see him have a chance. He is bringing back painful memories of Preston Wilson during the second half of 2005. The first step always seems to be back, followed by a furious, late and unsuccessful charge toward the infield. Is it really that difficult to get a good read on a fly ball to center in RFK? If the ball is hit off the end of the bat, doesn't that normally increase the chances that the ball will fall in front of you? I haven't noticed opposing center fielders having a problem reading fly balls at RFK.

And ... not only are Cardinals fans well behaved, but they are very educated baseball fans as well. Enthusiastic, yet not in your face. Kind of reminds me of Nats fans.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Old Nats Fan--I have actually talked to alot of different folks about centerfield at RFK. It appears during the early evening--the ball can get lost when the late sun is setting behind the stadium on the first base side. But, in this case, it was late in the game--Logan just doesn't get a good read. It should not make any difference what ball park he is in. I have said it before, he has speed, but doesn't know how to properly use it. And, his baseball skills are minimal. That's just the way I feel.

Anonymous said...

I feel like a relative newbie to baseball now that I am learning about the Negro Leagues. It is fabulous that we are able to honor and pay homage to these great players!
I also want to say that I think the Nats First Ladies are doing a great job for charities in the area. So many food kitchens are overwhelmed with donations around the holidays but receive little during the summer months, and the First Ladies were brilliant to collect food at this point in the year. Their back-to-school drive makes me smile to think of the little ones proudly displaying their new backpacks, lunchboxes, and other learning materials. These community ties are so crucial in sports...way to go Nats, wives & fans!