Saturday, April 12, 2008

Maybe The Rains Should Have Kept On Coming

From the very moments Sohna and I left our house in Alexandria, Virginia--the overcast skies started to build on our way to attend the 11AM Washington Dream Foundation Press Conference. Throughout this media get together announcing their Neighborhood Initiatives and New Nationals Park "Wall of Dreams" Press Conference--the clouds became grey and darker. And just moments after the presser ended--the downpours began--continuing off and on for nearly three hours. Maybe those rains should have kept on coming, because the eventual game between Our Washington Nationals and The Atlanta Braves was ugly--from the get go.
But there was a bright spot today--the universal belief by all our friends in The Stars & Stripes Club. No better place to be during a rain delay than Club Level. The African Queen and I were having a great time--hosting Frank & his Dad Nick from Brooklyn. Loyal Nats320 Readers that were visiting New Nationals Park for the very first time. We gave them the Grand Tour--sat at The Homestead Grays Bar--directly behind our seats in Section 218--downed a few--and shared some laughter, the fun following Our Washington Nationals and memorable baseball moments. Really--this was enjoyable.

Who needed the game? At least today?
Because once this affair finally began--John Lannan had little in the tank. Did The Atlanta Braves ever jump all over him!! And, the biggest Free Swinger in the Major Leagues--torched Our Number 31. Jeff Francouer--who would probably swing at a pitch bouncing six times to the plate--slammed Lannan for his first homer of the day--down the left field line. Four Atlanta Runs in the first. Six total charged to John before he was sent to the showers.
Only to see Jason Bergmann come on and get hammered by--who else--Jeff Francouer (a two run shot), followed immediately by Brian McCann lofting another Home Run over the right field fence. Our Number 57 didn't have it again this afternoon--for the second time in one week--leaving after two innings and four runs charged against him.

Then that hammer truly struck down on this New Jersey Native. Mere moments after this 10-2 romp by The Atlanta Braves ended--Our General Manager Jim Bowden announced Jason Bergmann was being sent down to AAA Columbus as Our Washington Nationals reinstated Chad Cordero to The 25 Man Roster. Now--who would have thought--just two weeks ago--that Bergmann would be the first pitcher sent down to the minors in 2008? I would suspect--no one. For during Spring Training in Viera this pre-season--Jason was one of Our Washington Nationals better starting pitchers. Easily--Washington began this year expecting John Patterson, Shawn Hill & Jason Bergmann to anchor their Starting Staff while Our Youngsters learned the ropes in the minors. Yet, not a single one of those players is currently with the team. How quickly times change following an ever developing team--looking to find its way.

Sohna and I feel badly for Jason Bergmann--he is quite the likable guy--but this is the part of game--that many times is uncomfortable. We only wish him the best and hope he returns another day to The Big Club.

And as we return to this awful game--a big Atlanta Lead with Sure Fire Hall of Famer John Smoltz on the mound for The Braves was not going to be turned around. Smoltz--like Tim Hudson last night and Tommy Glavine tomorrow--are quality starters. Professionals who know how to keep a lead--no matter how big or small. Their Number 29 cruised through an efficient six innings of one run ball--then handed this laugher over to his bullpen. There was no way--The Atlanta Braves were losing this Saturday Afternoon.

Our Washington Nationals 9th Straight Defeat--was not even close. Maybe those rain showers were a warning--from The Baseball Gods stating--No This Is Not Your Day--But You Are Going To Play--and You Better Get Your Act In Order--Soon!

In the meantime--we will be hanging out in The Stars & Stripes Club--awaiting the reversal of fortune.

Game Notes & Highlights

In the top of the 5th inning--with Jason Bergmann on the mound--Atlanta's Matt Diaz lined a pitch into centerfield. A drive that saw Our Centerfielder Lastings Milledge loaf on the play. An unprofessional move that saw Diaz instantly recognizing opportunity--chugging into second base with an easy double. Lastings--Buddy--that type of play is UNACCEPTIBLE--and I don't care how good you think you may be. More than a few sitting around us--wished Our Manager Manny Acta had set an example with you--and immediately pulled your Number 44 from the game. You deserved no less--because Our Fans only deserve your best. Like your No Slide at Citizens Bank Park during the first week of the season--please learn from this incident--also.

He had not done much this early season--but when Willie Harris got a hold a John Smoltz fastball with two out in the bottom of the fourth--a liner over Mark Kotsay's head in centerfield--who on hand DID NOT BELIEVE--Our Number 1 was going to circle the bases for an Inside The Park Home Run. That man can fly!! As well as Bernie Castro or Nook Logan ever did. Too bad--Harris was stranded at third--when Rob Mackowiak swung at Smoltz's very first offering--pinch hitting for Lannan--and meekly flew out to Kotsay.

"The Guz" had three more hits this afternoon, turned over a nice 4-6-3 Double Play and made an EXCELLENT throw from the hole in the top of the third to retire Matt Diaz. A Strong Toss that I don't recall seeing so far this early in the season and The Defensive Play of This Game. Cristian Guzman surprised me with that catch and throw--after some weak tosses to Nick Johnson in the first 12 Games.

On Geico Car Flag Day--an EXCELLENT TURNOUT. 32,532 Fans and you better believe the concession folks must have been extremely happy. DeWayne Herndon from Noah's Pretzel telling Sohna and I that the longer the rains came--the deeper the purchase line became. Ben's Chili Bowl formed a zig-zagging line--that if straightened out--might have run the entire Main Concourse from left field to home plate. Clearly--folks came to have a good time--enjoy the park--whether Our Washington Nationals actually ended up playing or not.

Our Friend Jim (it's amazing the number of folks we know in Club Level named Jim) from Section 218 was so excited over the picture of his wife Kay & himself appearing with their Curly "W" Tattoos on last night's post--he was kind enough to buy us a round of drinks at The Homestead Grays Bar during the rain delay. We very much appreciated the thought.

This afternoon also was Visiting Our Friends Day--including seeing Ms. Zimmy & Shawn from Old Section 320 sitting down below us in Section 127. Noticing her "ZIMMY" Jersey from above--we waited for the right time for her to turn around--to spot each other. Sohna and I spent the 7th & 8th Innings visiting with them in The Field Box Seats. Having not seen them since the very last games at RFK Stadium--The African Queen and I enjoyed the reunion. Do notice the "Zimmy" jersey shot with Ryan Zimmerman at the plate. And COME ON!! ZIMMY!! was happily shouted--in all its well known chorus--hi tones, low tones and meek tones. You may well have to have sat in Section 320 at RFK to understand that joke.

Finally--Yes, Sohna and I did attend the entire Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Press Conference late this morning. The event announcing two new partnerships--the third and final cornerstone project for The Foundation--Neighborhood Initiatives. The First Partnership with The Earth Conservation Corps and the Second Partnership with The Hopkins Branch of The Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington. These programs dedicated to supporting small, non profit organizations in the area surrounding New Nationals Park.

Also unveiled--The New Nationals Park "Wall Of Dreams" A fund raising venture where fans may purchase a baseball displaying their name, up to two lines of inscription to be displayed in The Center Field Plaza adjacent to The Kids Strike Zone. Four price packages are available--beginning at $250 and running up to over $5000.

We have plenty more coming on this initiative. The Press Conference itself, and interviews with Washington Nationals Dream Foundation Chair--Marla Lerner Tannenbaum, Team President Stan Kasten, Darius Stanton from The Boys & Girls Club, Glen O'Gilvie from The Earth Conservation Corp and Frank Cumberland--the first fan to purchase a baseball for the "Wall of Dreams".

We have a lot more coming over the next day or two on The Washington Dream Foundation Neighborhood Initiatives--we just need time to transcribe all the interviews. Stay Tuned.

Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Haraz N. Ghanbari
All other photos--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


Anonymous said...

Dear NATS320,

Thank you for all you do. I read your blog everyday and show it to my friends and family. I tried to get your attention at the OPEN HOUSE but I guess you didn't hear me. I was wondering if you or if you had any connections into getting 4 tickets to the METS vs NATS Game in April. My mom loves going to METS vs NATS games and it is her birthday and I wanted to get her something that she would enjoy. If you had anyway of getting 4 tickets from someone you knew inside the NATS orginazation I would deeply appriciate it. Thanks and keep up the Good Work....GO NATS!!!!!!!! I will read your blog to find your reply, thank you so much!

Anonymous said...


Enough. When are you going to call out the Lerners, Kasten and Bowden for putting an unacceptable product on the field this season? Especially Bowden with the pitching, then acting like it's EVERYBODY'S FAULT BUT HIS when the pitching stinks. Why don't you just come out and admit that you're nothing more than a cog in the Nationals corporate system and that they see you as nothing more than their yes man when they need it? This blog has absolutely ZERO CREDIBILITY with people (except for the three people that comment who for some reason think you can do no wrong) as long as you keep using velvet gloves to treat these guys. I'm not trying to be mean or insulting, but it's more insulting to the people who read this blog at the way you coddle the Nationals front office, surely for fear that if you said one negative word that they would revoke your "special access" to team functions, which knowing the way Kasten works, they would. I know it's your blog and you can write what you wish, but why don't you report on what's REALLY going on for once. This team sucks, and the front office is responsible. You complain more about your stupid plastic ice cream helmet than what really needs complaining about. You seem like a likeable guy, but you need to get out of the club level, wake up and grow a spine dude.

Anonymous said...

natsphan1 i have to disagree with u....natsblog 320 has the right to complain about the ice cream....the price per ticket is high already and for the price he is paying to get into the game he deserves his food to be right and get a a curly W helmet and not a Red Sox one....(btw..natsblog) i cant figure out how to write my name on the blog so i can only do anoymous....same one as above...keep up the good work

Anonymous said...

You call yourself a "Natsphan"? Its easy to blame the front office, but the players play the game and the manager manages them. Nine losses in a row is not the front offices' fault - I'm sorry to tell you. SBF certainly calls out non-hustling players who make stupid mistakes at least daily. He also has been critical of the front office at times - do a little research. But frankly, I think the front office is doing their job. Sending Bergmann down sends a message to everyone on the team - perform, or face the consequences. And Bergmann was told he might not come back unless he can prove he is better than Balester or any of the other kids who are proving themselves at Columbus. Let's also not forget that 3 big bats have been on the DL since the beginning of the season. That is not the front office's fault. Give this team a chance to develop and be a true fan. Call yourself a Natsphan? I don't think so.

Unknown said...

So I have a much more important stadium/scoreboard punchlist item after yesterday's game. Not sure if this has been mentioned before, but I wouldn't have really noticed it until sitting yesterday right next to the Nats bullpen.

I knew from those seats that we wouldn't be able to see the HD. However, I assumed that we'd be able to rely on the basic wraparound boards for basic info like the running R/H/E tally that is the most basic element of a baseball scoreboard.

Nope. Although those boards give you the current score and inning (although the font size of the inning is almost too small to be legible), there is no running R/H/E tally for the game. There also is no place to indicate a H vs. E scoring decision.

It might be nice to be able to use those boards to show less commonly displayed stats like OBP and Slugging, but if there is very limited real estate on those boards and a good percentage of fans are relying upon those boards alone, there is no excuse to neglect to include the basic stats needs for a game in order to show less crucial ones. In the fourth inning, I was much more interested to know how many hits the Braves had than what Willie Harris' OBP was.

It could be that this problem will be addressed by hanging smaller screens above each of the sections that cannot see the HD that act as smaller scoreboards for each of the sections. But until then, rethink what goes up on the wraparound boards!

An Briosca Mor said...

It's pretty clear that the wraparound boards are there for advertising purposes rather than for imparting any more than the bare information about the game to the fans. Otherwise, why all of the "Welcome Home" and other Nats-specific stuff up on them (in particular the one above the Red Porch) when scores, stats and other game information could be there instead? Simply because those ribbon boards too will eventually be filled with ads, once those sponsors are found, and it would look bad then if they pulled down game information from the boards to replace it with ads.

Nothing wrong with them doing this, other than the small fact that they've got a lot of seats in the outfield that they are trying to sell at a too-high price where you can't see parts of the field and you can't see the main scoreboard. Without ribbon-board scoreboard information, fans in those seats are totally in the dark. This explains the two totally empty sections in the RF mezzanine, which unfortunately show up big in one of the prime TV shots being used by MASN. And of course the other section that shows up big and empty on MASN is the overpriced Presidential and Diamond seats. I bet people watching on TV yesterday thought the park was half empty because of that.

Anonymous said...

"He also has been critical of the front office at times - do a little research."

Show me when he's been critical. I've done some research, but have yet to find it.

And btw. i'm just as much of a fan as anybody here. Being a season ticket holder and follower of the team for three years gives me the right to say that. But i've had enough of reading a blog that criticizes the team only and kisses the ass of Kasten and the other people who provide his frequent team access. I think this blog is very useful in many ways, but it's a little suspicious that the front office gets a free pass.

He hasn't responded to my criticism. Telling, no?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the Nats would ever consider dropping the price of those overpriced empty seats behind home plate that moved all of the real fans out to the baselines? Would be great to see real fans back there and allow those of us with half or partial season plans that got shipped to the outfield to move a little closer to the action. What a waste!

diane said...

natsphan1, you really need to chill out. there's actually no reason at all to complain about the front office or the team. a new park doesn't equate to winning the division. if the nats go .500 this season, that will be a great season for them. part of being a fan is appreciating everything this team has to offer...good and bad. sure, the bad parts suck. but every team has a bad side. the lerners don't need to go out and spend millions of dollars on current IT players to be great. they just need some time for some key players to learn and grow. then they can be contenders for years to come instead of having washed up veterans with huge contracts. if you want to be a fan of an always-winning team, go cheer for the yankees. otherwise, stick with the club and enjoy the ups and the downs. everyone will grow from it and winning the series will be even sweeter.

as for the seats behind home plate, i think they're almost all sold out. those people have access to a private club area and are probably spending their time in there during these colder games. those seats probably won't be full until the weather gets nicer.

Anonymous said...

SBF: Always enjoy your work! natsphan1: who made this blog your homepage? Don't like what SBF says/thinks? Don't read it!

SBF, you are a positive guy. Help me get my head around a 100-loss season! They are an awful team! We should be seeing Balester, Clippard, etc. before too long. Am already scouting the 2009 (next year's) draft. Gonna have a crackerjack pick!

Anonymous said...

Diane: I hope you are right about those seats behind home plate, but even if you look at SBF's pix of each game, you will see that there are entire rows and parts of sections where no one is sitting. To me, that means they are not sold. Not everyone in a row or section is in the private club area. Those seats could be filled by real fans like us.

Anonymous said...

you are whores and stole that team. can't break 35K in a brand new stadium? yeah.....I guess 33 years of no baseball didn't really make that much of a difference. Didn't support it then, won't support it now.

diane said...

fav61 - if you look at the seating chart, all of the yellow (a-e) and all of the gray (119-126) are all part of a special area and all have access to club areas. when you are at the park, you can notice that these sections are fenced off from the other areas. anyway, i don't think all of the seats are sold out, but most are. and the people either aren't coming to games or are schmoozing in the club areas. think about the cost of those seats. they're insanely expensive. and probably were purchased by people who don't care about baseball, but do care about how great their seats are.

my husband thinks the nats should adopt the practice of stand-in seating from the oscars. get regular fans to sit in the seats and then in between innings and half-innings, when the owners of the seats arrive, the regular people leave. doubtful this will happen, but it sure would make the stadium look better on tv. maybe a good idea for nationally televised games?

Anonymous said...

"there's actually no reason at all to complain about the front office or the team."

Um, you're kidding me right?

___________________________________ "the nats should adopt the practice of stand-in seating from the oscars. get regular fans to sit in the seats and then in between innings and half-innings, when the owners of the seats arrive, the regular people leave."

And you actually think this idea is realistic?

Anonymous said...

that would be a new low in baseball.....hiring people to fill seats.....I'm going to the restroom...tell the seat filler not to touch my beer.....

what a farce...this team should just have been contracted.

Anonymous said...

Geez guys! It's two weeks into the season! Let's give it until at least June before we declare it a total loss. I remember seeing Alfonso Soriano being booed in April 2006 and seeing Dmitri Young being laughed at in April 2007. It may be true that this team with the new acquisitions of Milledge, Pena, Lo Duca, and Dukes may be a failure. But let's give it some time.

For now, I love the fan-focused view of this journalism. SBF gives his honest opinion on the good and bad of the new stadium and its patrons and workers. He has been very tough when he has seen something unacceptable at the service quality at the concession stands. SBF -- Keep up the Great Work!

I don't think it is too early to agree with fav61 that the 1/2 and 1/4 season planholders have been assigned crappy seats. And the empty seats make it obvious that the seats reserved for purchase by Full Season Planholders have not been sold.

I had posted the idea about "seat-fillers" last week. Of course, it is absurd but the pricing structure is similarly absurd. It seems like they are striving to attract the DC version of the Hollywood types to those seats so let's play it like it's a TV show. That's baseball (and most of the major league sports) in the new century. Sucks, I know.

Anonymous said...

Let's see Forbes says the team made $43 million and we should be excited that their giving back $90,000 to the community?

NY Nat Nuts said...

To SBF and The African Queen: Thank you so much for the hospitality during the Saturday game with the Braves. We didn't win the game, but my son and I spent some time with two super people, and got an inside tour of the park to boot. Again hope to see you soon again this summer.

Frank and Nick