Thursday, February 26, 2009

Now Back To Baseball

Sohna and I took in our very first Pre-Season Game at Space Coast Stadium today. Last year we watched a couple of innings of an exhibition tune up between Our Washington Nationals and Georgetown University--but that doesn't count. First thoughts--wear Sun Screen--plenty of it. Except for a few rows of seats that sit high up behind 1st Base and 3rd Base--there is NO PROTECTION from the sun. Like Zero. And the very fact that we purchased seats in The Batters Box, right behind The Visiting Detroit Tigers On-Deck circle put us directly facing into the bright sun. This also made it difficult to get decent pictures with my little digital camera--especially being so close to the screen.

But nevertheless, Our Washington Nationals were playing baseball again and the sight of Collin Balester and Jordan Zimmermann pitching quite well in their respective two innings of work made the day worthwhile. Although Washington pulled this one out 2-1, the final score really didn't matter before 2,931 Sun Drenched Fans at Space Coast Stadium.

What mattered most where the first two hurlers Our Manager Manny Acta sent to the mound.

Pitching with confidence--Our Number 49 was solid. He allowed one walk in his seven hitters faced and handed the ball over to Zimmermann who was simply OUTSTANDING. Facing the heart of The Tigers order at one point--Zimmermann whistled right through them--striking out Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez. And finishing off Miguel Cabrera on a routine grounder in his final inning of work. Detroit may have never seen The J-ZMann yet, but Jordan overpowered them with three strikeouts. He even pulled off a terrific double play when Ramon Santiago drilled a one bouncer right back to his face in the top of the 3rd Inning. A reactionary move by Our Number 27 that found the ball land in his glove whereupon he pivoted, threw to Ian Desmond covering the bag at second who fired to Nick Johnson at first for a very nice inning ending double play.

After the game had ended--Sohna and I actually ran into Jordan Zimmermann and asked him about that play: "If I don't put the glove up, that ball smashes me in the face. Luckily, it went right into my glove and we were able to turn two."

You were pretty overpowering today, very solid. (SBF)

"It's early, but I felt good and loose. And I didn't feel any pressure to perform. I was very happy with the work. (Smiling and in a very good mood)."

Pete Orr scored both runs for Washington after successive hits. His first run on an absolutely HAMMERED shot to centerfield by Wil Nieves off Nate Robertson in the bottom of the 3rd. Orr's final tally coming on a drilled opposite field shot--off the rightfield wall--by the very trim looking Chris Marerro in the 5th.

Mike O'Connor worked his way out of one serious base loaded jam in the 5th--while allowing one run. But that was all the scoring for this rather typically mundane Spring Game. Rule V Pick Terrell Young threw two fairly solid innings. And Wil Ledezma set up Bling-Bling!! for the save. Jesus Colome closing out the 9th with a One-Two-Three finish for Our Washington Nationals first win of the 2009 Pre-Season.

No--there wasn't a whole lot of action. Most folks don't even seem into watching the game. But there were a few Notes & Highlights to mention:

How would you like to be hit by a 100 MPH Fastball off the arm of Detroit's Joel Zumaya? That man can HUM THE BALL--he just can't seem to control his tosses. And when he DRILLED Dmitri Young in the back shoulder blade in the 6th--that HAD TO HURT. The impact so loud--it could clearly be heard from our seats--and probably a good 10 rows back. To Young's Credit--he shook it off and trotted to first base. Although you had wonder how he was really feeling?

Adam Dunn collided with Miguel Cabrera at first base in the bottom of the 2nd inning. Cabrera--not the most deft player with his footwork around the bag--was in the wrong position while recording the out at first base. Dunn was looking for an apology--and didn't get one for some time. Until finally--while Adam kept standing near the first base coaching box asking if "EVERYTHING ALL RIGHT?" Cabrera finally turned around and almost curtly nodded his head up and waved his glove hand at Adam in saying "Sorry". This interesting moment had the brief feeling of little tussle breaking out at the Spring Home Opener. Thankfully that was averted.

Speaking of Cabrera--he looks to have lost about 20 Pounds--far thinner than his playing weight over the past few years. That man can CRUSH the baseball and it would have been sad to see his talent wasted by just not staying in shape.

Sitting right behind Home Plate in rows 3 through 8--Baseball Operations, Management, Scouts and Staff--including Team President Stan Kasten, Our General Manager Jim Bowden, Assistant GM/Baseball Operations Bob Boone, Director of Player Development Bobby Williams and Special Assistant Moose Stubbing. Just reporting what we saw there, but with The Speed Guns timing, The Scouts writing, JimBo watching closely--making notes--and Mr. Kasten commenting along the way. Sure looked liked the business of baseball on the field is moving forward.

As for Space Coast Stadium itself--Mojo Sauced Chicken Skewers--well worth the $7. Plenty of chicken, well cooked and can actually serve two hungry souls. The BEST VALUE on concessions in the ballpark. For $10, the premium beers (All Tall Boys) included Presidente's from The Dominican Republic, Jamaican Red Stripe, Japanese Kirinichibahn and Guinness Extra Stout. Pretty Decent choices for a Minor League Ballpark. Grilled Sausages with Peppers, Burger Baskets and Chicken Fingers--nothing costing more than $8.50. And of course--Ice Cream served in Red Curly "W" Plastic Helmets.

The Rites Of Spring--Detroit Tiger Fans waiting outside the visiting clubhouse waiting for their players to head to the bus. Nothing like the proximity of Spring Training.

We also loved the Eraser Board Starting Lineups posted in the tunnel behind home plate.

After the game concluded--most every player for Our Washington Nationals headed over to a special tent area to meet and greet and have Carrabba's Dinner with all Full Pre-Season Ticket Holders. Fans also given a Red Goodie Bag that included a Red Curly "W" License Plate and Cap.

While on his way to visit with those fans--Adam Dunn with The Quote of The Day: Noticing The African Queen and I walking down the ramp from The Home Plate Stadium Exit--Dunn looks up at us and shouts: "Thanks for coming out again. We appreciate it--come back and see us again soon!!" Sohna and I bust out laughing--"You will be seeing us a lot," replies The African Queen. "We come to every home game in Washington." Dunn: "Really?" Nick Johnson and Austin Kearns walking next to Dunn start chuckling. "Fill him in would ya" says SBF to Nick & Austin. NJ & Kearns chuckling even more. Dunn waving--"See you later!"

During the game, it was announced twice that some lucky purchaser of The Game Program had won a Free Gift Certificate to Uno Pizzeria in Melbourne if Jordan Zimmermann's autograph was signed on a certain page in the program. We never looked as we purchased the game program outside the stadium and immediately placed it in our car. Sure enough, Sohna and I had the lucky program and Guest Services was nice enough to give Sohna the voucher when she headed back over to Guest Services after the game ended. Guest Services actually telling us there were 4 other winners of various prizes--but none of those people claimed their prizes.

Finally--while heading toward our car--former Fairfax County resident John Gill and his girlfriend, Summer--stopped us to say hello. John says he and his brother are big fans of Nats320. They live in Orlando now--but have followed the team closely since Baseball Returned to The Nation's Capital in 2005. Also--thanks to another Nats320 reader Gale Sterling--saying hello to us at the ballpark today.

All Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


paul said...

Glad you're having fun down there. I hope you have a Panama hat, though! All my elderly relatives have your type of skin and have serious skin cancers, not fatal, but not pleasant, either.

Screech's Best Friend said...

Paul: Actually Yes--I do have a Panama Hat with me and am wearing it when we are out in the sun for an extended period of time. In fact, had it with me today at Space Coast Stadium. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

So great to hear Charlie and Dave again (I can pick up 1500 much better by day than by night). The line-up boards remind me of the Pfitz. We hope to make it to ST some day.

jg3 said...

Hah! Those tailgatin' fans are my brother and his fiancee ... awesome!

This post makes me realize how badly I need to get out of this cool, rainy weather and head south for a few games at space coast.

I, too, looooove the dry-erase board line ups. And the beer selection there.


Anonymous said...

I was quite surprised to hear that this was your first game. I have been going to Florida spring training every single year for 10 years and can't imagine not going to a game. Hope you get to experience other ballparks too. They are all very nice. I especially love to attend games in Port St. Lucie and Jupiter. Each park is unique and provides a different fan experience.

How long will you be down in Florida?

Jefferson M. Stovall said...

You guys are ridiculous. I took some time off from reading (you're in my RSS reader) and am skimming the 300+ posts from various Nats blogs and looking forward to the season. I enjoy your writings, even tho I only run through them usually (so many details!). It's nice knowing that I can come back to your blog and catch up on news tho, and I'm glad you're getting to meet all these fantastic players. Your pictures are endlessly entertaining. Keep it up, and I'll keep giving you pageviews!

Hope to see you at a game this season.