Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thank You Minute Maid Park

Final Post From Cancun, Mexico

Little League Field, Little League Dimensions. Where else could Ryan Zimmerman club a 425 Foot Triple to Center? Where else could Our Number 11 knock a routine Pop Up for a Home Run? Where else could "Z" attempt to retrieve a routine POP UP and see the baseball hit a girder--then deflect in another direction--yet still catch the ball. Where else, but Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Reminds me of playing baseball growing up on crappy fields. Many of the fields we played on had chain link fences down the lines. But, Centerfield was always open (Wakefield High School in Arlington comes to mind)--anything knocked past the centerfielder--you were on your own as the hitter. Run, until you had to stop. An experience Ryan played out tonight on the Big League Level. Can't stand Minute Maid Park.

Although, its silly dimensions helped Our Washington Nationals out tonight. Zimmerman's Home Run into the Crawford Boxes was as cheap as it gets. It also helped that for the first time in memory--Wandy Rodriguez was blitzed by Washington. Time and Time again--The Lefty Houston Astros Starter has handcuffed Our Team each and every time since 2005. Yet, Walks hurt The Astros Number 51 this evening, especially when followed by single after single, after single. Small ball by Washington. A ability to get runners home in scoring position. Novel for Our Team.

All resulting in a little in doubt, yet interminally long, and poorly played 11-6 victory in Game Two of this Four Game Series. How many pitches can possibly be thrown in a baseball game that contains a seven run lead in the 8th? The Houston TV Crew pitch count was above 300 then. Really guys, just take your cuts and sit down at that point. Please.

How about that Hurricane Dean?

Yeah, we're OK and well here in Cancan. But, its been a very long day, night and following day. Fortunately, Hurricane Dean went well south into a very rural Area of The Yucatan Peninsula, near Belize. No deaths, as of this time--Thankfully--just structural damage. And, No--as I watch Game Two again tonight on FSN--Houston, I have yet to go to sleep. Tomorrow morning, we are heading home though.

What's always amazing about ANY HURRICANE. Never has it not been like this for me. The Day After is one of the most Beautiful Days you will EVER EXPERIENCE. Always CRYSTAL CLEAR SKIES, NO POLLUTION (Its all been blown away). The surf may well be the finest surfing conditions DIEHARDS will ever see. A Wonderful Sunny Day. Its quite remarkable actually. Odd and Surreal, but it makes you feel good.

So, yeah--despite all that--I hung in there for Our Nats tonight. Rooting hard for Zimmerman to hit for the cycle--he didn't--walked in his final At-Bat, needing a double. And, pleased to see Joel Hanrahan not have his best stuff--but survive. Our New Number 38 may be something after all.

Hanrahan helped tremendously tonight from a very unexpected source. Doubtful to believe and hard to say, but Nook Logan batted well tonight. A broken bat double down the line in left. An RBI single, JUST OFF THE GLOVE, of a diving Lance Berkman at first base. A solid two strike, two out single to right center for another RBI. A fourth hit--another two out single to left center scoring Ronnie Belliard and then FLop on an error. Then, a shocker FIFTH HIT in the 9th. Even The Astros TV commentors couldn't believe it. Neither COULD I. Still a fourth outfielder at best in my book--Logan showed what he can provide as that backup player, when he plays well with his head in the game. A quality reserve. Nook has too many holes though--exposed as a starter.

Sorry for the short post--I really need to get some sleep. But, Curly "W" Number 57 was another No Doubter from Minute Maid Little League Park. A victory that brings Our Washington Nationals out of last place--moving past The Florida Marlins--closer to actually making a serious run at last season's 71 win mark. A Win Total never expected for 2007. A Number that should make Our Manager Manny Acta a frontrunner for The Manger of The Year Award. Only Bob Melvin in Arizona could be his closest suitor. Both Washington and The Diamondbacks have far exceeded expectations.

Interest which peaked for me upon reading that Emiliano Fruto is the unexpected player to be named later in the Wily Mo Pena Deal. A Three Way Trade involving Arizona. The Diamondbacks sending their AAA Tucson First Baseman, Chris Carter to Washington for Fruto. Our Nats immediately shipping Carter to The Boston Red Sox for Wily Mo Pena. A trade consummation that brings finality to the Jose Vidro trade. Instead of Chris Snelling & Fruto coming to Washington for Vidro and Cash ($4Million I believe--a portion of his 2007 salary)--that December 2006 transaction now becomes Vidro and Cash for Wily Mo Pena and Cash. Of course, Ryan Langerhans was designated for assignment a few days ago after coming to Washington for Snelling. I can live with this final trade evaluation. Our General Manager Jim Bowden wanted to dump the slower moving Vidro and his salary. And, after watching Pena twice run out infield grounders--beating the defensive throws to the bag--you have to say--Wily Mo's worth the risk--for both speed and raw power, if not his defensive prowess. If Our New Number 16 breakouts and becomes the slugger Jimbo has always envisioned--the better for us. If he doesn't--little has been given away. Its a no lose situation.

Finally--I received an email from Our Washington Nationals today stating The RELOCATION PROCESS has been FINISHED for The Presidents Club and Diamond Club Seating Arrangements. The Next Step will be "Traditional Seating" which includes The Club Level, and all other seats at New Nationals Park. What's interesting in the notation is that obviously seats are still available for Both Presidents or Diamond Club--Or Both. The email says one can still contact Our Washington Nationals about getting in on those seating plans. Interesting.

PS--If all flights go well, we shall be back in Washington--early tomorrow afternoon. And Yes, as Paul mentioned in yesterday's comments--Its time to return to The Lay-Z-Boy. I can't wait!!

Actually, I think its possible to fly from Mexico to Washington in a shorter time frame than the 3 Hours 44 Minutes this game took to play.

Tonight's InGame Photos--(AP) Pat Sullivan


Bang the Drum Natly said...

Did I hear correctly in the immediate post-game that no one on the Nats has had a 5-hit game until now? By NOOK LOGAN???!??!?

You gotta love this game.

SBF, thanks for your post, have a safe return, see you soon!

Cheers, and happy baseball!

Anonymous said...

I am not necessarily a Ryan Church fan but I read where he can expect diminished playing time. I know Church has been inconsistent but no more so than Kearns. It occurs to be the Kearns seems to be getting a free pass. This guy has not hit all year. I know his defense is good but he has not hit. Any thoughts?

paul said...

Kearns is hitting .311 against lefties, .239 against righties. For Church, it's .225 and .278. If we could take that platoon hitting, combine it with Kearns's defense, Logan's ability to steal bases, and Pena's power, you'd have a Hall of Famer!

Jarrett said...

Nats with a better record than the Astros?

How cool is that?

SenatorNat said...

Nats appear headed into the final stretch willing to put as much pop as they can muster in the line-up, and it is clear that WMP helps the dynamic immensely - much harder for the other team to ONLY have to worry about Z-Man and the Meat-Hook now.

Against right-handers, this is a good everyday line-up:

1. Lopez SS
2. Logan CF
3. Zimmerman 3B
4. Young 1B
5. Pena RF
6. Belliard 2B
7. Church LF
8. Schneider C

As to Church and Kearns,
Kearns is totally defeated-looking at the plate. He needs a rest, and someone to tell him to go back to his old hitting stance, since the new one is a bust. He can plattoon with Church and hit v. lefties, and flip with Pena as to which is better as left or right fielder in which ballpark. Since Church and Kearns are essentially having equivalent years, plattooning to their relative strenths is what plattooning is designed to accomplish. This is not Alou-Mota for the Pirates in the late 1960's, but it can help.

Bow-Bow believes in Kearns, since he wore the the Reds uniform, and is regularly sour on Church, but Kearns is only marginally better overall than Church. He does give more out on the field, and seems to fit the Johnson-Schneider-Zimmerman "Nationals-Way" that Acta wants to build-on, but he is no one the other team fears - to the contrary, he is the biggest rally-killer on the team...

Logan has speed, and speed in that position is a real team asset. If he ends the year .275, Nats will keep him, undoubtedly.

Trust in Kasten. All Good.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Kearns play this season has certainly been a disappointment. For a player considered key to the near future--he has come up short. In Fact, Sohna and I had this exact conversation with a Nationals Beat Reporter this past weekend. None of us see anything bad with Kearns platooning for a while--whether that's with Church or whomever. He needs to straighten his game out. Ryan has not broke out like some, including me, expected also. But, you could say Church has had a better year at the plate than Kearns. Austin the better outfielder. Bottom line, both have under produced.