Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Knock Out Punch

When Jason Bergmann started to lose his control in the top of the fifth inning today--why was no one warming up in Our Washington Nationals Bullpen? Out of nowhere a battle ensued. At the start of this decisive inning--Our Number 57 was cruising along having allowed three hits and no runs--while holding a slim 1-0 lead against The Florida Marlins. Yet--when Jorge Cantu hammered Jason's first pitch of the 5th down the left field line for a Home Run--trouble was brewing. How quickly this ball game fell apart for Washington.

Five of The Marlins next six batters all reached base--four of whom scored. Two Doubles, Two Singles and an Intentional Walk had Bergmann on the ropes. Now staggering--only Florida's Starting Pitcher Scott Olsen was punched out--on a sacrifice bunt. Clearly Jason had lost command and was laying his pitches in over the middle of the plate. Yet not even Our Pitching Coach Randy St.Claire visited the mound to talk with Our Number 57 until Our Washington Nationals were behind 5-1. And only then did Joel Hanrahan even get up to stretch.

Then, for whatever reason--Our Manager Manny Acta decided to keep Jason Bergmann in the game--to face Mike Jacobs--another Nats Killer. Having already taken some serious punches--the worse was yet to come. Now--I don't know the totals--but seemingly since the very first days Jacobs appeared in The Major Leagues with The New York Mets--he has CRUSHED the baseball in Washington, DC. Their Number 17 may be an all or nothing hitter-but against Our Washington Nationals he is All World. A Champion. Time after time--this lefthanded power hitter slugs Home Runs in The Nation's Capital. Tonight that trend continued--deciding this ball game. Mike Jacobs belted a two run homer over the right field wall off Bergmann--The Knock Out Punch. The very first homer at New Nationals Park into Our Washington Nationals Bullpen. Just like that--The Florida Marlins held a commanding 7-1 advantage. A lead that Jacobs finished off with ANOTHER two run smack--his second homer that skimmed over the right field wall off Hanrahan in the 7th inning. What a beating Mike Jacobs put on Washington this evening.

All because when this game was on the line--no counter punches were swung by Our Washington Nationals. They stuck to their game plan--giving The Florida Marlins the technical knockout. A 10-4 bruising at the hands of The Fish.

Game Notes & Highlights

New Nationals Park witnessed a baseball game that through the first four innings--seemed very winnable--just like Jason's last start against Philadelphia. For two consecutive appearances--Our Number 57 has cruised through the early part of each starting assignment. Only to see one inning--ultimately his last innings--be his downfall. Against The Phillies--much of his demise was the pure luck of bloopers and seeing eye hits. Tonight--no such fluke. The Florida Marlins were teeing off on him. Jason should have been taken out of the ball game--far earlier than later.

When the game is taking a drastic turn--you have to make a move. You can't stay pat and hope for the best. Yes, I understand that Jason Bergmann was the scheduled lead off hitter in the bottom of the 5th inning and, possibly, Our Number 14 didn't want to waste a reliever on one hitter--then pinch hit for him. But sometimes you simply have to stop the bleeding. Tonight Our Washington Nationals were beaten and defeated by not realizing the knock out punch was at hand in the top of the fifth inning.

The Marlins tall lanky lefty--Scott Olsen pitched a very fine game. His fielders cost him an early run with two bad errors, and Olsen served up a homer to "The Guz" in the fifth before tiring late--fortunately with a large lead. More importantly he kept the game close for Florida--until his teammates ripped apart Jason Bergmann in the top of the fifth.

In the top of the third inning--Florida's catcher Matt Treanor singled to lead off. But was retired four pitches later when Alfredo Amezaga slapped a sharply hit low liner toward Ronnie Belliard at second base. Moving to his right--Our Number 10 appeared poised for the catch--and Treanor returned to first believing Ronnie would record the out in the air. Instead--"The Ballplayer" seemingly let the fast moving baseball hit the infield dirt--directly in front of this glove. Ronnie Bellliard then shovel scooped to Cristian Guzman for out number one--followed by the relay toss to Nick Johnson at first base for not only The Double Play, but The Defensive Play Of This Game. It was sweet.

Not much offense from Washington tonight. Guzman continues to swing a nice bat. His home run a part of a two hit night. Lastings Milledge laid down a beautiful bunt base hit in the 3rd moving Our Number 15 to second and Lastings to first with nobody out. But, lo and behold--no runs scored--after Ryan Zimmerman hit into a rally killing double play.

Six straight losses and little showing of offensive life of late. Starting Pitching questionable. 153 Games remain--still a long way to go. Who will provide the spark to turn the latest tailspin around?

23,340 tonight's attendance on a nice 65 Degree game time start. Sohna and I witnessed quite a few folks purchasing game tickets from the kiosks directly outside The Centerfield Gate. But the sight of so many empty seats behind home plate is bothering. We are at the game--but those watching at home on TV must think NO ONE is at the park.

Continuing the slow tour of Concessions--this evening Sohna tried The Grilled Chicken Breast Platter in Club Level. For $11, Sandwich with fries and fixings. Excellent--good serving portion and enjoyable meal. Although we continue to be amazed at asking concession employees something about an item on the menu--and they can't tell you ANYTHING about it. Example--at the Dupont Deli down the right field line--second level--I asked three different employees what was included in The Dupont Deli Sub. No response except "I don't know." So--who does and why are they working there? We walked away. Why would we be interested in something if the person making it--has no clue what goes on the sandwich? Honestly, we can't understand that mentality.

And still--Pat's Pizza in Stars & Stripes Club lists a "Speciality" Pizza on their menu. Yet, the item is not available--not one single concession employee knows what it is? Why? Makes no sense to us. Could someone please make a token effort and find out?

Arriving at the ballpark early tonight--I tried out the Sony Playstation MLB Game in the Kids Strike Zone. The likenesses of Our Washington Nationals Players are really good. Driving the Indy Race car was pretty realistic.
Finally--while enjoying a relaxing time in The Nats Bar in The Stars & Stripes Club Level with our friend Jim, Senior Vice-President of Clark Construction--Ronnie Strompf happened to walk by. If you have read the Nats320 Blog for any length of time--you know how many 24/7 days this man put into the construction of New Nationals Park. Ronnie drove the construction crews through the 22 month ordeal. A design and build process that a few years from now--many folks might be calling New Nationals Park--a breakthrough model of building.

After giving up so much of his personal life for Our South Capitol Street Ballpark--Ronnie told Sohna and I tonight that Clark Construction--as a THANK YOU for his efforts--is sending his family on an all expenses paid trip to Italy this summer. Good for him--because Ronnie Strompf EARNED IT--more so than many may ever know.

Ironically--not 20 minutes after Mr. Strompf moved on--Matt Haas, Project Director for Clark Construction also stopped by to say hello in The Nats Bar. Working hand and hand together--Ronnie and Matt lead the building of New Nationals Park. Yes, more work still needs to be done--but they finished in time for Opening Night--2008 to be a success.

Tonight's In Game Photos--(AP) Nick Wass

All other photos--copyright-Nats320


Anonymous said...

Hats off to Haas and Strompf. I'm guessing they worked 18 hour days for the last two years.

Has anyone interviewed them lately? They must be so proud.


VCUAlum Kyle said...

A question for you about attendance!
Should the Nats be concerned that on a nice Wednesday evening they only drew 23K?
I know they sold alot of tickets and maybe people are waiting for a nice weekend night game/ Sunday day game to try out the new ballpark.
I am concerned for the simple reason I thought this stadium would have helped build up the fan base like the Redskins have in both VA, MD, and the District, your thoughts on this idea would be great?

Anonymous said...

Manny Acta is managing like he had his brain removed over the winter months.

Anonymous said...

If the team sucks, and the team does suck, the fickle fans are not going to show up even with a new stadium. The Wizards nearly outdrew the Nationals last night with a capacity crowd. Bad weather could not be blamed for the lousy crowd last night. Who wants to watch a team that can't hit and has no pitching.

An Briosca Mor said...

What's the deal with the helmet sundaes? I thought they were supposed to offer a Nationals helmet and the helmet of the opposing team of the night. Yet (at least at the Sweet Spot on the Gallery Level concourse) they aren't doing that. At the exhibition game against the O's I was given my sundae in a Seattle Mariners helmet. I thought, okay, this is an exhibition game and they're just burning through stock that they won't need at Nationals Park this season. But then last night I got the sundae again, and the two helmets they had were Astros and Phillies. What's up with that? (I didn't bother asking the lady behind the counter, because her brain was already overloaded trying to sort out that I wanted vanilla ice cream and hot fudge.)

The sundae was good, though, and they certainly don't skimp on either the ice cream or the topping. Perhaps they trained at Ben's Chili Bowl...

Unknown said...

ABM, in two games, we've had D-Backs and Phillies, and, like you, the act of preparing the sundae properly seemed a bit overwhelming for whoever was helping us as well. Of course, we don't have our Phillies helmut anymore since I put it under our seats on the last row in the 300s and the too-efficient cleaning crew cleaned it right out from under my seat while I was still sitting in it!

Unknown said...

Oh, and the purchase of a helmut sundae is much more exciting when you have no idea what helmut is coming your way. Consider it a wagering opportunity if you're purchasing the sundae with a friend.

natsfan said...

We went to the game last night and had a enjoyable ballpark experience even though the middle innings were a disaster. I am very concerned about the middle part of the line-up that seems to be having problems at the plate. I can see that Zimmerman and Kearns are frustrated and hope that they can work things out.

We enjoyed the stadium and the food, though. Our seats were in 406 and it seemed that we were higher and a bit further away than we were in RFK from the action. Still, we had a wonderful view of the field and of the scoreboard and there were alot of food fares to choose from. We had a nice leisurely walk from Capitol South to the ballpark and all the employees we met were very nice.

BTW - did I see a quick shot of SBF singing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" in the video clip on the anniversary of the song? They played it twice during the game and he looked like a natural for "root, root, root for the Nationals".

An Briosca Mor said...

Well, if I used getting a helmet sundae as a wagering opportunity, at the Sweet Spot on the upper concourse it would be kind of like betting on a coin flip. I could clearly see the bags of Phillies and Astros helmets sitting on the counter in the back of the booth. I considered asking specifically for one or the other of the helmets, but I was afraid of terminally confusing the server if I did that. I wonder if they actually have the right helmets for each night somewhere in their storage area, and the staff just isn't clued into the fact that they are supposed to be using certain helmets each night and not just whatever random ones they happen to grab every time they gear up for a game?

I've bought (or tried to buy) now from stands on both the main concourse (Ben's, Nats Dogs, Boardwalk) and the upper concourse (Sweet Spot and Taste of the Majors), and I have to say that the concessions workers on the main concourse are uniformly competent and polite, and the ones on the upper concourse are uniformly clueless. I guess that's a 50% improvement over RFK, where most all of the concessions workers were clueless - or worse.

Anonymous said...

One added highlight the stadium last night was the spectacular sunset. It looked great behind the stadium and the Washington Monument from my view from section 232.

It's like a helmet sundae lottery wondering which team you are going to get, but you're right ABM, they are good once you get one. I went to five different stations on two levels looking for a Nats helmet and not one place had them. I finally gave up, and, to add insult to injury, I ended up with a Marlins helmet.

Anonymous said...

I noticed that Zimmerman is going to be on Colin Cowherd's "The Herd" today on ESPN radio around 12:20. I'd love to get his opinions on the stadium, the fans, and why the team is mired in this losing streak. I'm hoping Cowherd can coax him into really speaking his mind too, as Cowherd himself never shies away from an opinion.

Anonymous said...

I watched bits of the game on TV last night -- until the disastrous fifth inning. Right before that inning, Don Sutton was marvelling at how well Jason Bergmann was pitching tonight.

The Nats staff or somebody did a better job at filling in the first two rows of seats behind home plate last night. So, it did not look as empty in that section as SBF's photo shows.

I go to my second official game tonight, and I have to admit, I kind of wish I were going to RFK. I had a routine over there -- I knew where to get the Italian Sausage with peppers and onions and the Dos Equis at the Terrace. My three times at the new ballpark leave me kind of dreading the concession decisions and prices!! I know, I know -- I'll get used to the new place and find my favorites. But I really did have a great time at RFK, though I totally understand the feelings of those who thought it was a dump.

Unknown said...

What? No mention of SBF lrage and in charge and in HD on the new scoreboard singing?

Screech's Best Friend said...

vcualum kyle: One of Stan Kasten's best comments was "We will get the attendance we deserve." The Nationals attendance so far is right in line with the crowds they drew during the first few days of 2006 and 2007--large Opening Day crowd then half of that for the next two games. With all the negative comments about getting to and from the stadium--which so far have basically been unfounded and the fact that The Marlins are not a good draw--has probably affected the turnout. Nationals Park is a good venue and worth watching a baseball game at. But, The Nationals need to find their own fan base and they probably will not fully succeed on that until the team has their own stars to focus on. Building a new stadium is fabulous--but the product on the field is important too. Zimmerman is a fine young player, the remainder of their youngsters are still in the minors. Once those guys establish themselves and the team begins to win--attendance will not be a problem. I have always believed The Nationals can be a glamour franchise. Just not going to happen overnight.

natsfan--Yes, that was me on the video clip played during the game. Although I have not been notified whether I made the final cut where fans will vote at

Anonymous said...

Ms Zimmy and I enjoyed the game on MASN HD last night. Although the seats behind home plate were empty (not to mention the people in those seats kept waving to the camera), they panned the park a lot, so it didn't look completely empty.

Chuck B. said...

The Concessions and the incompetent employees are a joke. Stan the Plan needs to do something about it, and fast. By the looks of it, the hiring process for the concession employees was a pulse check or "please breath on this mirror."

Stan the Plan, in my opinion, is part of the problem with the lack of attendance so far. His "take metro, take metro" crap and the radio ads they run about "Don't drive to Nationals Park" has scared the bejesus of some people and they don't want to even try.

I've had a few people at work give me the "your going to a Nats game? How are you going to park? I heard it's a disaster."

I understand they were trying to set people's expectations but, they went way overboard.

Anonymous said...

I've been to all the home games so far and must say that I am also disappointed by the attendance. I wasn't expecting sellouts, but thought 30K would be reasonable. The ballpark is beautiful. Getting to and fro is not an issue at all (we used the Nats Express twice and drove twice). When school lets out for the summer it will help weeknight attendance a bit. I am starting to worry that even winning will not help as much as some think/hope. I just do not know many people who care about baseball the way I (and SBF and those on the various other boards) do. Baseball may be setting attendance records, but it ain't going to happen in Washington. Fortunately, the team isn't going anywhere this time.

By the way, (and bear in mind that I am a red-white-blue bleeding Nats fan and season ticket holder), even with the Marlins most recent fire sale, I think they are ahead of the Nats. That team has as serious future. They have younger and more talented starting pitching/a few hurt like Johnson and Sanchez). I do like that they have been willing to call several up in their early 20s to take some short-term lumps (the past few years) for future long-term success. They have a stud at short. They have a stud-in-waiting with Hermida in the outfield. They have another with Cameron Maybin down in the minors. The Marlins truly could be contenders before the Nats. If the next 8 weeks show us out of the race, it's time to bring up Balester, Detwiler, Mock and let them get their feet wet.

SenatorNat said...

Should the Nationals average 26,500 per game this year, they shall draw 2.15 million, same as 2006 (Soriano's year). I suspect this is the true baseline for baseball fans here, even with the very finest ballpark imaginable, and fantastic accessibility, as it is turning out.

I think that Lerners' CFO Ed Cohen is unsentimental about baseball as one of their principal enterprises, and has the payroll closely monitored and geared to a 2 million fan base. Thus, while not publicized, I imagine that the payroll is still shy of $40 million total in 2008, and via trades, it could actually go lower. Add to this a saving of $8 million by not erecting the iconic baseball next atop the Red Loft as depicted for over one year in all publicity...

No Stars on the Team. Add Soriano to this club, and I suspect that it would translate into as much as 250,000 more in total attendance. Z-Man is beloved, but statistically, he is far from a Star. No one else on the club even approaches that status.

Look at the Capitals: IT IS ALL ABOUT OVECHKIN. And, for three years, the Wizards are really about Gilbert. The Redskins are starless - but they have a built-in following...

Nats are too tight right now - they need to relax, as the fanatical fans are doing about the lack of attendance: they are here for the duration, and they should start enjoying going out there and playing. And they need to recognize that Austin Kearns cannot bat in the 5th position. Reshuffle the line-up, batting Belliard second, Milledge or LoDuca 5th, Kearns 7th, and Lopez 8th. I actually agree with Manny sticking with the starter for 5 innings - no point in burning out the bullpen this early, and it forces these guys to face the music.

Trust in randemly provided upside down visiting teams' small batting helmets all creamy and fudgey. All Good.

Anonymous said...

I think everyone is way too bent out of shape over the attendance already. It is April, early April. Baseball is meant to be spectated in good weather unless you are one of those rabid baseball fans in the Northeast/Northern cities where you consider 45-50 degrees to be a heat wave this time of year. I also think a lot of people are way too concerned about the start thus far this year. Remember we have three pretty stout bats on the DL and the starting pitching situation is going to evolve throughout the season. A win streak here or there combined with good weather and fans will come out, if not just to take in the new stadium. Give it a chance.

Anonymous said...

The pic you have up of the empty presidential seats says it all. Look at the few people sitting there, hardly anybody wearing so much as a Nationals cap. What a joke.