Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ugly On The Field--Nice Off The Field

At 7:11PM, Mike O'Connor threw the very first pitch of tonight's game. And before the clock struck 7:12PM--The Florida Marlins had already scored. A Leadoff First Pitch--Hammered--Home Run well over the leftfield wall by Cody Ross. A Tone Set that played out all night long. Not many baseball games are over early. This one was. Five Singles, Two Doubles, Three Home Runs and Seven Walks allowed by Washington this evening.

The Fish plating runners at will in ONE UGLY GAME.

Making his first Major League Start since September 28, 2006--the night of the infamous Midnight Game at RFK Stadium--Mike O'Connor did not have anything in the tank. No control, less command and when Our Manager Manny Acta slowly walked out to the mound to remove Our Number 54 from this game--you had to feel sorry for him. Because not only was Mike booed by those fans on hand, but the emergence of Manny from the dugout to take him out--elicited cheers--sadly. Tonight's crowd not in a forgiving mood. Mike O'Connor slowly and dejectedly walking to the home clubhouse having allowed six walks, six hits, two home runs and eventually nine runs allowed.

Because--once Joel Hanrahan relieved O'Connor--amazingly--this game GOT WORSE. The Hard Throwing and many times out of control Hanrahan immediately threw a wild pitch to score Florida's sixth run. Then, after walking Jorge Cantu to again load the bases--Dan Uggla UNLOADED A GRAND SLAM off Our Number 38 over the left wall into The Marlins Bullpen. A 93 MPH First Pitch Flat Fastball that Florida's Second Baseman whacked. A resultant Seven Run 4th inning that now put this game out of reach. 10-0 before The Geico Presidents Race was even run. I don't recall that large of a deficit, ever, at RFK Stadium by the 4th inning--during the first three seasons since Major League Baseball returned to Washington.

An eventual 11-0 shellacking by The Florida Marlins--winners of all five games they have EVER PLAYED at New Nationals Park. A lopsided victory for The NL East Leaders that also found Our Washington Nationals providing no offensive support. Highly touted Florida Lefthander, Andrew Miller, shuting down the Washington Offense through seven innings. Taylor Tankersley and Matt Lindstrom finishing this blowout off.

Not much more to say about this one. Just a terrible game to watch on the field. Ugly. Thankfully, Sohna and I were treated tonight to a special time--off the field--making this evening far more bearable. More on that later.

Game Notes & Highlights

By the time The Marlins completed their game breaking Seven Run 4th inning--Mike O'Connor's ERA had ballooned to 13.00. Ouch!

Only FLop seemed to have his bat moving in a positive direction. Felipe Lopez with two of Washington's three hits. "The Guz" with the other. Not one--for extra bases. At one point--Andrew Miller retired 14 Nats Batters in a row. When Cristian Guzman singled in the bottom of the first--not one Washington Batter reached base again until FLop singled in the 6th--to rousing applause.

With the score already 11-0, Cristian Guzman ripped a Taylor Tankersley pitch to the wall in left field in the bottom of the 8th. Florida's Brett Carroll ran hard all the way to the track and leaped into the fence--making a very fine catch. The Defensive Play of This Game that also found Carroll bouncing off the wall--onto his back--and flipping over--landing steadily on his two feet. It was a very nice catch and roll for a game well out of hand.

The Marlins' Matt Lindstrom can HUM the baseball. Pitching in a mop up role in the bottom of the 9th--this righthanded fireballer consistently reached the upper 90's. Three times, the radar gun clocked him at 97 MPH. He was impressive!! What an arm--with control.

Tonight Sohna and I were invited to The Lexus Presidents Club. An opportunity to enjoy the various amenities. Sitting in the first row, next to Our Washington Nationals On Deck Circle--we experienced the ball game up close and personal--like never before for a Washington Home Game. Impressive to witness a 96 MPH heater thrown directly in front of you. The game appears to be played at a faster pace. The reaction times speeded up. The many Grunts, Groans and Chatter among the players--compelling and within earshot. The players so close--you could actually reach out and touch them--if not for the protective screen.

At first, we found ourselves a little disoriented. After sitting 25 rows from the field in Section 320 at RFK Stadium and now slightly farther back but higher in Section 218 at New Nationals Park--watching the game flat was odd for Sohna and I. But, as the game progressed we became far more accustomed to the sight angles. And we enjoyed the ability to look into Our Washington Nationals Dugout during a game for the very first time ever.

Even Nick Johnson acknowledged The African Queen while warming up. Third Base Coach Tim Tolman stopping by for a brief chat before the game.

The fully padded seats extremely comfortable. In-Seat Waiter Service included a whole host of food menu items at no cost--except for Alcohol/Liquor--available until the 7th inning stretch. The Order Taker simply came to your seat--asked for your choices. Shortly thereafter--a waiter would bring your items directly to you. This evening--Sohna sampled The Chicken Tenders, while I enjoyed The Chicken Ceasar Salad for dinner. Later--The African Queen ordered a Hagen Daz Chocolate Ice Cream Bar, while I munched on some Curly "W" Popcorn.

After the game ended--we retired to The Presidents Club for Coffee & Tea--while watching Our Manager Manny Acta's Press Conference from the Viewing Glass inside The Club. Very neat.

A different experience. A different angle to watch the game. All providing a different story to tell and pass on. Team President Stan Kasten chuckling upon first noticing us sitting in tonight's seats, stating: "This ought to be good, and I want to hear the entire story!"

We LOVED the opportunity to see Our Washington Nationals play at New Nationals Park from just off home plate. The Presidents Club was enjoyable and helped take the sting out of tonight's ugly loss. Many thanks to Pete--Presidents & Diamond Club Team Captain--for his hospitality this evening. He was TERRIFIC!!
Finally--this post could not finish without noting that The African Queen was voted The Fan Of The Game!! this evening by the 28,663 in attendance. Cheering for Ryan Zimmerman--the NatsTV camera caught her rooting for Our Number 11. Later in the game--she was shown on the HDTV Scoreboard with two other contestants. Sohna received the biggest cheers and was given a $50 Harris Teeter Gift Card for her effort. She was quite thrilled.

Tonight's Photos--Nats320 (All Rights Reserved)


Anonymous said...

Presidential club. Wow. What an amazing experience for you guys! Sorry the Nats didn't come through to perfect the evening. The African queen looked stunning as always ok the big screen.

Anonymous said...

I'm interested in your thoughts on the fan who threw back homerun and the was escorted out of the park. Should we be allowed to do that? I know you are well aware of the precedents for this. Personally, I find the practice rather theraputic -- the faithful spitting back the offending ball--assuming our outfielders aren't pelted. Do you agree?

P.S. Curly wants to know why his good friend Sohna didn't let him sit on her lap in the fancy seats.

Anonymous said...

CMom, re the ball-returning fan, those of us gifted with seats behind home plate might have a slightly different journalistic view of the matter from those of us in the upper deck.

Still, it's a bit remarkable that the highlight of the night (for most in attendance, anyhow) wasn't reported on here.

Patrick said...

Long-time reader, first-time commenter. Went to the game last night. Turned to my mom during the Fan of the Game announcement, "I think I read that woman's blog!" Congrats! I agree it was a nice night to be out there despite the game itself.

On the homer-tossing fan, we near first base could only guess about the ejection based on the booing, and it seemed like most of that side of the ballpark didn't catch it (no pun intended). There was some cheering out there a minute or so after the boos, so we guessed security relented. Reading around this morning, I haven't seen any real confirmation of either ending. Could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

The guy who threw the ball back onto the field was escorted from the park. The cheers were the result of his waving his arms, trying to elicit a response from the crowd. Was he ejected because of the act itself or for showing a stronger and more accurate arm than some of the Nats outfielders?

Anonymous said...

Mike O'Connor has no business pitching in professional baseball. He has the arm of a mediocre Little League pitcher. Last year, his record at Double A was 4-8 with a high ERA. On what basis is he on a major league roster?

Patrick said...

Thanks very much for clarification. The throw was definitely impressive.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Hendo--I have no idea where you are coming from with your comment, but from our vantage point--I did not notice a ball being thrown back on the field. Later, a ruckus occurred and someone was escorted from the field. But, I am not going to comment on something I did not fully see or notice. We could hear some yelling and cheering as I returned to my seat and that's about it. I will report whatever I see. But I can't write about something I did not see. Occasionally, I am out of my seat--in this case--using the restroom. Sorry, I could not be in my seat for each and every single second of the game--to satisfy you. My Bad.

JayB said...


I think the "Bad" was the Nats on the field. I was in the stands and the ball was thrown back and the fan was ejected and walked out of the park by security.

I think what many are growing tired of is bad baseball and lack of progress by this team.

I personally do not have a problem with your post but timing may be poor for those of us watching that mess from our regular seats without all the perks.

Anonymous said...

If a fan got thrown out of the park for throwing a home run ball park -- sorry, it's freaking ridiculous.

I don't know if you saw it SBF (it sounds like you didn't), if this happened, the Nationals perhaps may have overreacted and gone too far in this instance.

I concur with most of the fans' thoughts here so far -- the team is just in a horrible stretch of bad play and there's no sugar coating it.

Anonymous said...

SBF-- could YOU please detail the process by which you obtained tickets in the--LEXUS PRESIDENTS CLUB???--

I know there has been a lot of discussion here about trading in tickets, discounts, seat fillers, etc.

Could you weigh in?

Edward J. Cunningham said...

Today I sat in the left field bullpen seats in front of the flagpoles. Thinking that perhaps a Marlin might hit a home run in this area that I might catch, I asked an usher if throwing the ball back on the field would get you thrown out of the stadium. He said it would, and it did happen the other night.

If the Cubs had this rule, or better yet, enforced it, fans in other cities like ours would not think it was acceptable.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

I think anybody who is willing to pay $350 for a ticket can get into the President's Club. That's a little too steep for me, but I don't begrudge SBF getting in, and I thank him for posting about his experience on his blog.

Speaking for myself, I sat in the left field bullpen seats in front of the flagpole. I had to leave early because it was Mother's Day, but I had a good time and my ticket was worth every penny of the $35 that I paid. I'll probably stick to the Teddy Roosevelt Presidential Suite next time, though...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the insight into the VIP seats. Good for you that you could enjoy them and then pass on your experiences with us. I found it interesting to see that the menu is not really any different than the regular ballpark fare.

Today (Sunday) I got to sit in the Infield Gallery (sec. 311) and I loved the view from those seats. Personally, the up close view from the Presidential Suites would not be enjoyable for me. Now, how the far superior Infield Gallery seats are priced $5 less than my usual RF Mezzanine seats is a mystery to me. But I think everyone already has commented on that fact by now.

Anonymous said...

SBF just curious if you paid for those seats or were they comp'd?

Anonymous said...

SBF, I was pretty pumped to have scored seats right behind the dugout last night, then I look over to my left and it's you and Sohna right behind home plate! Rest assured we were cheering loudly for her to win fan of the game.

At RFK I was 3 rows behind the dugout, but this was my first chance to sit that close at Nats Park. The difference is remarkable. Being 16 feet closer is wonderful from any seat in the house, but being right in front with the new park's tiny foul territory is so close it's literally almost scary. If Stan can get the deep pockets to sample a game from down there, he'll sell those $300 seats.

Jim H said...

Has anyone noticed the comments from Milledge and Zimmerman after this game? They both appeared to throw the starting pitching under the bus. Blaming the lack of offense on how the pitching had allowed all those runs to score.

I hope these guys mature, soon. Zim may have been impressive as a 21 year old neophyte, but young as he still is, I'd hoped he'd learned a bit during his two years to not point the finger at others when losing as a team.

Really. How many hits did the Nats have before the roof caved in? One.

If the Nats had been up by five runs and given it back...okay. But the blowouts from starting pitching have been relatively few. The losses due to lack of production from the numbers 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 batters? Much much more.

Lastings and Ryan should start looking into the mirror and backing up some of their statements.

Still early?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad that fan got tossed from the stadium. Throwing a HR back on the field is a classless tradition that should be left to the Cubs. The only way to stop it from taking hold here is crush it before it starts - so I support management on this one.

Anonymous said...

I was there! It sucked that they lost like that without scoring. My seats were good. I was in the infield gallery in section 309 (behind and to the left of home plate). I could see everything so well. The scoreboard was right if front of me (I recognized you when you were a fan of the game nominee!) and I could see the field perfectly and the center field plaza. And I saw everything when the fan got tossed. But I'm surprised security didn't take his beer. I mean, you are being arrested, so you DON'T go waving your arms like that. He was definately drunk. They clearly state it is illegal to throw things, including balls, on the field. And I think throwing the ball back is a stupid move. Because the people around you who were close to getting a home run ball, even if it is from the other team, would love to have it.

I was laughing when the fan was tossed. as soon as he threw it back I thought "he's being "escorted" out now." Why would you waste your money?

Anyways, sucky game, but the marlins are just annoying. How did they get good this year? and how have the nats been doing well since their terrible start (after the first 3 games) but can never beat the marlins?

I knew the nats were in for a rough night when the first pitch was taken out, but I still don't see why, even in "clean up mode (subbing out everyone when losing by 10)," people leave the park early (unless they have something to go to or have kids who need to be put to bed). A great play can always happen. And (though it didn't) something to cheer about can come up. Like in the 2nd game against the cubs, the nats were losing badly, but got a nice rally going. Even though they didn't come back, it was something to cheer about.

I just wish I could get to more games :(.

Anonymous said...

Once again getting invited to the Presidential Club means that you are a mouthpiece of the organization and not Joe Q Public who you pretend to be!

Screech's Best Friend said...

There is nothing wrong with getting invited to President's Club by friends not using their tickets. We were offered the opportunity and enjoyed the experience. Just like anyone would if given the same offer. And we do not owe you any further explanation.
So get over it.