Saturday, April 30, 2005

Frankie's back on my good side...

He just got tossed for arguing that the field was unplayable. I love it that he stood up for himself. That was great. They just delayed the game after the top half of the eighth. But why the hell didn't they do it a while ago? Noah would have finished his ark by now, it was so wet out there.

Livan!

Nationals 5, Metropolitans 1



This weekend belongs to the future Mrs. Rocket1124, so I'll be in and out until Sunday or Monday night. But in my absence - it rules to hear the Livan kicked some ass. Go Nats!

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Bluto and Vinny

Vinny Castilla is pictured enjoying his off-day a little too much!

Toga!

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I'm pissed about this one

Phils 3, Nats 0

Like I said below, why the hell can't we get a consistent effort from the whole team?!

Loaiza was fan-flippin-tastic. 8+ innings, 11 K, 1 R. (EDIT: turns out it was 2 runs due to Wilkerson's fielder's choice, gunning down Lofton at third - he was Loaiza's final runner, but the run still goes to Loaiza due to the FC. You learn something every day!) You certainly can't blame him for the loss, and it's a damn shame such a brilliant effort was wasted.

I'm not going to blame Frankie for leaving Loaiza in the game. Until the 9th, he was cruising. It might have been smart to take him out, but if Loaiza was lifted and we still lost, Frankie would be ripped for not letting Loaiza finish.

Who to blame this on? Maybe I shouldn't be so simplistic and look for one scapegoat. The only person we can't blame for sure is Guzman! He had 2 of the 4 Nats hits! He's out of my doghouse for now. I give him a lot of credit for his interview with Bill Ladson yesterday.

I guess if you need a scapegoat, this one is on the middle of the order; Guillen, Sledge and Castilla. They were just dead offensively.

Another loss that stinks big time. Inconsistency is killing us.

But I'll freely admit that 11-11 is a respectable record for this team, considering the personnel we have.

Aaagh!

Why in the devil can't we get good pitching and good hitting in the same game?!

Loaiza has pitched brilliantly into the ninth, save for a homer to Rollins.

Right now it's 1-0 Phils in the ninth. If we had any offense today, Loaiza would be in line for a well-deserved win.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Taking care of business...

Washingtonians 3, Philadelphians 1

Got Wilk?!

This is one of those games you like to win. Not very eventful. The boys at BTO would have written a song about this one.

The Lanky Texan

Hopefully it was good for Patterson's psyche to have a rocky start. Winning a game that didn't start easy has to build his confidence. The ump wasn't giving him the calls and Patterson let up a run in the first inning.

But he settled down and started throwing some nasty junk, even striking out the side one inning. And how 'bout that double by Patterson?!

We hit well. Not great, but well. We forced Lieber to walk three batters, which is uncharacteristically for him. It means we had a little more patience at the plate.

And my boyz Wilky and Nick "da Stick" hit some bombs to get us our runs. Props to the Chief for an efficient save.

Just a nice solid, uneventful win. Go Nats!

For what it's worth...

Pitchers are batting about .220 against the Nationals this year, 9 for 41. That's not good, but honestly not as bad as I thought, considering that there are multiple sacrifice bunts in there that don't count as at bats.

What's really bad though, is the 5 times Nats pitchers have walked the pitcher. That just can't happen. Pitchers have also driven in 6 runs and scored 6 runs against the Nats.

This team drives me nuts...

...and I absolutely love it.

Time to Bench Guzzy

Last night was frustrating. Zach Day starts the game with a 1-2-3 first inning, and I started to get pretty confident. Then of course it starts to fall apart. After a walk and a single, David Bell hits a tailor made double play ball with one out, but Vidro messes up his footwork turning the DP at second and throws it away, allowing a run to score. 1-0 Phils.

Then Day intentionally walks Lieberthal to get to Lidle, the pitcher - a by-the-book move.

But these by-the-book moves only frickin work if you can get the next guy out! Day fricking gives up a RBI single to the damn pitcher! 2-0 Phillies.

Day still can't find the plate in the third inning, giving up a pair of singles and a walk to help Philly add another run. 3-0.

In the bottom of the third, Guzman singles and Wilky drives him in. Nice work, perhaps we're getting something going. 3-1 Phils.

But in the top of the fourth, Day walks the frickin pitcher! A DP gets us out of it, fortunately.

In the sixth inning, still trailing 3-1, Day walks the leadoff hitter. Then Guzman, who must have realized he had already made a good play today by scoring a run, boots an easy double-play ball.

So it's Phillies on 1st and 2nd with one out. Lidle comes up to sacrifice them over. And Day can't throw a strike. Frustrated, Frankie yanks him with a 2-0 count to the pitcher. One of the first Frankie moves that I thought was perfect. Carrasco doesn't pick us up though - allowing a hit to drive in those two runners. 5-1 Phils.

Now I'm pissed. Day couldn't find the strike zone, and Guzzy made a bonehead play in the field. But if it wasn't for that, we'd be in this game!

In the bottom of the sixth, Schneider triples in two runs. 5-3 Phils. I can feel the mojo start to work.

Top 7th, Jon "Too Tall" Rauch gets a 1-2-3 inning. Where has this guy been hiding? Oh, that's right, the minors - while hacks like Ohka get to start in the bigs.

Bottom 8th - Vidro triples and Guillen SAC-flies him in to score. 5-4 Phils. I can feel it. I can taste it.

Still trailing 5-4, 2 outs in the ninth and Billy Wagner is pitching. Suddenly, it doesn't look so good. But then Brad "Cut to the Chase" Wilkerson and Nick "da Stick" Johnson single - putting runners at the corners. Now I can taste it again. But of course, the next guy flies out to end the game. A 5-4 loss.

Typical roller-coaster Nats.

I'm still not sure who gets the blame. But for once, it wasn't Frankie. He put out the correct lineup, pulled Day at the right point, and double-switched Guzman to the bench. All correct moves.

But our starters just have to start throwing some darn strikes. Especially guys like Day who rely on movement and placement, not velocity.

And for a while now, Guzman hasn't been hitting, but he's been fielding. Last night he got a hit, but he booted a fielding chance that might have literally cost us the game. Memo to Guzman: You have to execute all parts of the game correctly if you want to be a big leaguer!

Today is another day.

Monday, April 25, 2005

I don't know...

Phils 5, Nats 4

I don't know who to blame for this one. Day pitched pretty darn bad - 5 runs in 5 and 2/3 innings. But he wasn't so bad that a decent offense couldn't have picked him up. And if Guzman and Vidro hadn't made those damn errors....

I guess I'll sleep on it and get back to this in the morning. This one really sucks.

Personally, I can't believe how much I love this team.

Right now...

It's 3-0 Phils, bottom of the third.

Day really had me fooled. He had a great first inning, but in the second and third, he started to be real tentative, walking hitters and giving them pitches to hit. Through three innings, he's thrown 61 pitches!! That's not good! Our starting pitching has just not been getting it done. (In contrast, Lidle has thrown only 26 pitches through 2 and 2/3)

(Holy cow, Guzman just singled to center!)

Day is a sinkerball pitcher and he HAS to remember that he's most successful when letting the hitters put the ball in play. He needs to be confident and he'll do OK.

Huge win

Got Wilk?

Just a big win yesterday, I can't emphasize that enough. Snapping a three-game losing streak on the road, especially a streak so demoralizing, was a big lift for our boys. Thursday's loss was a heartbreaker, Friday we still could have won, but Saturday was absolutely awful. The team looked worse than Little-Leaguers at some points - what with the dropped pop-ups, grounders through the legs and the free-swinging at the plate.

But yesterday we came up big. Three runs in the first inning opened the floodgates and kept the momentum going.

I'll say it again - 11 runs on 17 hits should be proof enough that the following lineup maximizes our offensive potential:

Wilkerson CF/LF
Johnson 1B
Vidro 2B
Guillen RF
Sledge/Church/Davis LF/CF
Castilla 3B
Schneider/Bennett C
Guzman SS

Is there anyone out there who can draft a restraining order to force Frankie to put this lineup out there every day?

Notes--
-I couldn't be prouder of the boys for stepping it up. This may not be the most talented team; it might be the least talented in the division. But they showed what they're made of by bouncing back yesterday.
-After two horrendous outings, Horgan was sent down to AAA New Orleans. I can't help but feel bad for Horgan. Frankie essentially hung him out to dry in his last appearance. Chris at Capitol Punishment details this very aptly, as always. Jon Rauch was brought up to take his place, which is an interesting development considering Ohka has been cut from the rotation for the time being.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

That's more like it.

Nats 11, Mets 4

I didn't catch all of the game, but it sounds like the offense got the job done, despite a rocky start for Livan. Maybe Frank's pregame pep talk got the job done!

It looks like he even put out the correct lineup, too. Maybe exploding for 11 runs and17 hits will be enough proof that batting NJ second and Guzman eighth actually fricking works!

More later...

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Time to go back to basics!

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Mets 10, Nats 5 (it was not nearly as close as the score suggests)

You guys lollygag the ball around the infield, you lollygag your way to first, you lollygag in and out of the dugout. You know what that makes you?

Lollygaggers!

This is a simple game.

You throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball!

YOU GOT IT?!

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(Maybe this guy should manage the Nats)

Nats have the plate discipline of T-Ball players

I don't have the numbers in front of me, but the reason we can't score runs is because we swing at everything! We don't work the count and make the pitchers throw bad pitches. Then the Nats could get a good pitch to hit and stop leaving guys on base!

The Mets made Esteban Loaiza throw 99 pitches through four innings last night. And it's not like the Mets got that many hits! They just worked the count and fouled off pitches. And any NORMAL manager would have pulled Loaiza after four innings.

Just like that, the Mets were into the bullpen! And that's why they won. And that's why we didn't win.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Did I mention I HATE losing!?

Metropolitans 3, Nationals 1

This sucks.

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Loaiza was not good. We couldn't get a hit with runners in scoring position.... I mean NJ led off the ninth with a double and we strand him. What the hell is that?!

And we pinch hit Baerga for the pitcher? What about Sledge? And we leave the bases loaded in the first inning? DAMMIT!

I swear, I saw Frankie asleep more than once tonight.

I really f---ing hate losing.

Nats Fans Screwed Again

A few weeks ago, we learned that Major League Baseball sent the Nats up the river by awarding television rights to the little dictator in Baltimore, Peter Angelos, who created the Mid Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) to broadcast the Nats, plus the Orioles once their deal with Comcast runs out.

Now, it turns out that Comcast, which owns the rights to Baltimore Orioles telecasts, is suing that rat bastard Angelos, because he is supposed to give Comcast the opportunity to match any new offer to broadcast the O's.

The result: Comcast won't carry MASN, and Nats fans in the Washington area will not be able to watch their team, except for about 75 weekend games on UPN20.

For more info and some excellent analysis, click here, here, and here.

In my opinion, this one rests completely on Major League Baseball. They own the Nats and are supposed to be looking out for the best interests of the team. They sold our souls to Angelos, and Angelos is now stuck in a power play with Comcast.

I believe since the existence of MASN may not in fact be legal, per Angelos' original contract with Comcast, MLB should pull the Nats out of the TV deal and put them on TV in another way.



Let's tell Commissioner Selig and MLB President & COO Bob DuPuy what we think!

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball
Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Commissioner
245 Park Avenue, 31st Floor
New York, NY 10167
Phone: (212) 931-7800

This guy was traded for Oil Can Boyd?



Joey Eischen on Peter Angelos and the Nationals moving to Washington:

"He's just gonna have to suck on it and like it."

Preach it, brother!

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Funny, this fan's handwriting kinda looks like the font Comic Sans MS. Interesting...

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Reasons Why Today Sucked!

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"Dammit Guzman!"

I was going to try to keep profanity out of this blog. But today's game forces me to retract that vow. These are the reasons why this game fucking sucked.

1) Cristian Guzman bats second.
2) Patterson pitches like Cy Young, but it's all wasted.
3) Cristian Guzman gets too many plate appearances.
4) Cordero grooves successive two strike pitches, helping load the bases.
5) It rains and the fucking umps don't call the game, forcing Guzman to try to throw a literal mudball across the diamond for the third out.
6) Frankie doesn't lobby the umps to call the game!

Seriously though, Guzman is batting SECOND in the lineup and he has a .186 On Base Percentage. HELLO?! Earth to Frankie! Why are you giving him such a prominent lineup spot!?

If Guzman didn't suck so much, we wouldn't have had to ask him to bunt following Wilkerson's fourth inning hit. When you ask your #2 hitter to bunt, maybe that's a clue he shouldn't be the #2 hitter!

He could have swung away and gotten a hit - then maybe Guillen could have driven him in as well, and we would have had a 2-0 lead! What in the name of Hondo is wrong with you, Frank?!

Nick Johnson has a .419 OBP. That means he's more than twice as likely to get on base as Guzman. Put him in the number two hole - he could have got on base after Wilky and been driven in for an extra run!

Now is it fair that fans will boo Guzman extra hard after making the error to lose the game? No, it's not, because God himself couldn't have made that play. Flinging a mudball across the diamond like that is hard for anyone.

But does Guzman still suck? Abso-fucking-lutely.

I'm sick to my stomach right now.

Atlanta 2, Washington 1

Nats lose a heartbreaker when Atlanta gets two unearned runs with two outs in the ninth.

I feel like I wanna puke.

Zach Day "Headlines"

Well, Zach Day had his mojo working last night, and today there are a plethora of headlines making weak puns about his name.



Here's a sampling:

"Beautiful, Day!" - As you can see below, I went with what I thought was a semi-clever U2 reference.

"Night and Day" - Chris at Capitol Punishment goes with a standard Cole Porter reference.

"Brand New Day" - Jeff at District of Baseball goes with a very sunny and cheerful theme.

"Dawn of a New Day" - Farid at The Beltway Boys checks in with an optimistic theme.

"Zach Saves The Day" - Phil at Nationals Review can't resist the superhero pun.

"A Better Day" - The esteemed Washington Times gets the booby prize, checking in with an absolutely lame entry.

I dare say that Chris, Jeff, Farid, Phil or me would make better headline writers than the clowns at the Moonie rag!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Beautiful, Day!

Washington 2, Atlanta 0


Zach Day came up clutch for the Nats. Seven innings of three-hit shutout pitching out of a guy who is probably considered the fifth starter right now is huge. Especially after a stretch of games where Ohka and Hernandez get shelled, the bullpen struggled and a pair of relievers hit the DL.

It took him an inning to get comfortable, but once he did, Day had his sinker working - not to mention confidence to make the big pitches when he needed. Let's see if Patterson can keep it going tomorrow vs. Smoltz.

Notes:
-Heck of a shot by Vidro to drive in the only two runs. He really needs a nickname!
-Guzzy was back in the 2nd hole in the lineup. I'll hold my tongue for now, but Frank had better know what he's doing.
-Sparkling defense tonight, especially by NJ and Guzzy.
-Cordero fell on his tuckus after delivering a pitch tonight. It looked like his foot got caught in the mound. The grounds crew has GOT to fix that mound, before someone else besides Tucker gets hurt.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

What's that you say? The earth is flat?!

Fish 6, Nats 3

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Everything I believe has now been turned upside down. Guzman broke out with three hits tonight, not to mention a stolen base. Does 2 + 2 still equal 4? Somebody should check if gravity is still working.

And Guzzy was the only National worth mentioning tonight. Good for him.... seriously. He's got a great glove, and we'll need his bat. But let's not move him out of the eighth hole just yet; OK Frank?

I don't have too much to say. Livan was really off tonight, and we couldn't buy a hit when we needed one. Too many runners left on base. And Castilla and Tucker are hurt, not good news.

I'm tired. I don't like losing. Good night.

Is Guzzy back?

2-2 so far tonight with a single, double and stolen base.

Unfortunately, Nats are trailing 5-1, but we do have something brewing.

Frank, "What the BLEEP are you doing?!"

Chris at Capitol Punishment sums up nicely why Frank really hurt our chances at winning last night. Like he says, maybe we still lose if Frank gets it right, but he sure killed our chances at staying in the game.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Too little, too late.

Fish 9, Nats 4



I don't think this game really surprised anyone. Throw a struggling Ohka out there against Willis, one of the game's hottest pitchers, and you're going to get this result probably 2 out of 3 times.

The thing that made this so tough to watch was that we could have won it anyway. If the Nats had not made some mistakes here and there, they could have limited the damage in the Marlins' big innings -- and then the four runs late in the game might have made it a whole new ballgame.

Castilla, Vidro, Johnson and Sledge got the RBIs for the Nats, but none of them really had a better than average day at the plate. Nothing to be too concerned about, at least not yet.

The guy who really disappointed me was Gary Bennett. Two errors and a passed ball. That's a bad night for a catcher. He did catch a few guys stealing - but one of them was running on a ball Bennett muffed at the plate!

And why in the sweet holy name of Frank Howard is Guzman hitting second in the lineup!?!?!?!? It's like Frank (I'm not callin him F-Robby anymore!) is trying to find ways to kill any possible strength the lineup might have. I'm not going to knock Guzman for hitting .106 - it's happens to the best of us, and he's been sparkling in the field. But any doofus can see he should be hitting in the bottom third of the order.

Good news is, we're still 8-5 and tomorrow is another day. Let's see if Livan can pitch another gem.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

OK, I'm hooked.

So I'm sitting in the upper deck at RFK on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Loaiza is pitching OK, good enough to keep us in the game. But the Nats are swinging at EVERYthing! I was thinking of how to write a funny blog entry on the fact we had no patience at the plate. I was going to to excerpt the rule book, stating that there are three strikes, and dammit, we don't have to swing at the first pitch! I was going to rip Nick Johnson for grounding into two double plays.

But then Vidro gets on to start the seventh. Guillen hits a laser to left field. Castilla grounds to third and Vidro gets nailed at home. "Ugh," I'm thinking, "here we go, we'll squander this chance." Guillen and Castilla, first and second, one out.

Then Nick "Da Stick" comes up. He shoots a laser of his own to center field. Guillen waits, hesitates to see if the center fielder will catch it, but Castilla keeps barreling toward second. The ball drops behind the outfielder - and Guillen and Castilla start wheeling around the bases toward home, literally three feet apart. They beat the throw, sliding into the plate, one right after the other. Guillen and Castilla both score, tying the game. They hop up, and jump into a bear hug while walking back to the dugout.



"That does it," I thought. "I'm officially in love with this team."

-------------------

Notes:
-I'd love to hear F-Robby's justification for putting a .100+ hitter (Guzman) back into the number two hole in the batting lineup. But I'll give Guzzy a pass tonight; he made a sparkling play in the field in the top of the seventh, turning a double play while holding a runner at third.
-RFK is well on the way to turning into a great home field advantage. Watching the third base seats bounce was a great thrill, and I hope the players loved seeing it too.

SWEEEEEP!

Washington 7, Arizona 3

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Give me some of what he's smoking!

Washington 9, Arizona 3

This man is a beast!


Photo: AP

What can you say about Vinny Castilla?! Four RBIs again tonight! Including a home run in the same spot.

And John Patterson pitched a fine game. Seven shutout innings with six strikeouts and only five guys reaching base. He looked real sharp, hitting all the corners of the strike zone. If he can keep this up, I feel real confident about our starting pitching.

It sucks that the relief pitchers struggled though. I really think F-Robby should have got someone besides Ayala up in the pen when we blew the game open in the seventh. Or maybe he should have had both Ayala and someone else - say Eischen - up the entire time.

It seemed like Ayala struggled because it wasn't a high pressure situation. Perhaps he got a little complacent. Whatever it was, it got F-Robby out to the mound to tell him to "Throw fucking strikes!"

And I'm really not pleased that Cordero was brought in for the fourth straight game with a day game tomorrow. In that situation, there probably wasn't much of a choice, but that could come back to bite us in the ass tomorrow.

Some other notes:

-35,000 was the approximate announced attendance tonight. It looked really good on TV; basically full except for some isolated areas in the upper deck along the baselines and big strips of empty seats in the outfield upper deck. Not a bad showing for game two on a chilly night. Hopefully we'll break 40,000 with a day game tomorrow

-Schneider make a heck of a slide at the plate in the seventh inning. I like him a lot - a real scrapper and a good leader.

All in all, very happy that we're 7-4 and winners of three of the first four series. Patterson and Castilla are the players of the game in my book.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Say what you want about the guy...

...but he knows his baseball.

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Photo: AP

From Tom Boswell's column in the Washington Post today:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A54926-2005Apr14_2.html

[Joey] Eischen was stunned by his presidential moment. Long before the game, Eischen mentioned he'd played in the Rangers' organization when Bush was a managing general partner. "I was a 19-year-old punk kid in A ball," Eischen said. "He didn't want to meet me. I wasn't even on the big club's roster."

By midseason, Eischen was traded as an insignificant minor league throw-in as part of a deal for Oil Can Boyd.

Afterward, Eischen said: "The president came in before the game and shook hands with everybody. I said my name. Later we had pictures taken. He looked at me and said, 'Eischen, right?' I said, 'Yes, sir.' He said, 'Oil Can Boyd. Bad trade.' "

Welcome Home!

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Photo: AP

Beautiful. It was a beautiful night.

As a non-native Washingtonian, I knew I couldn't appreciate the full magnitude of this event. I have lived in Detroit and Boston for a majority of my life, able to go to games whenever I wanted.

Since I knew the great things the game has to offer to a community, I desperately wanted my new adopted home metropolis to snag a team of its own. We finally did it, and last night was the first big payoff.

I was lucky enough to snag a pair of tickets when the public sale opened on March 26. My seats were quite a bargain - $15 a pop for Upper Reserved in Section 517 behind home plate. A little high, but a spectacular view of the field. And my beautiful fiancee was kind enough to drive up to go the game with me.

Here's my account of the game, for your reading pleasure.

----------------------
We hopped on the metro around 4:30 and had an easy ride on the yellow line to L'Enfant Plaza. At L'Enfant was where it got tricky. We waited for about a half dozen trains to go by before there was enough to room to squeeze onboard. Actually, that's not quite accurate. There was plenty of room on some trains, but no one squeezed in far enough and the drivers closed the doors way too early. It actually wasn't as bad as it sounds since the trains came about two minutes apart.

Once we arrived at the stadium, the security line was not all that bad. We were through in about 15 minutes and that put us in our seats at about 5:50 pm.

Of course, with 25 minutes before the ceremonies started, I thought I had plenty of time to grab food. BUT, the line for Italian sausages was "recockulous" and they ran out of change once I got to the front. It took a few minutes to sort all that out. So I missed the booing of Linda Cropp and didn't get back to my seat until about 6:30.

An aside: Walking back to the get food, I saw a young girl walking the other way. She couldn't have been older than four or five and she was holding her father's hand. As she came into view of the field, her eyes widened and let out a breathless "Wowwww!" Now that moment, my friends, is what baseball is all about.

I did get back to my seat with enough time to see Charlie Brotman take the mic and introduce the D-backs and our Nats. The magic started when every National got a standing 'O', even the trainers and clubhouse staff! Tell me that wasn't the greatest moment of the trainer's life!

I thought it was very cool how the crowd joined in on "God Bless America" when the microphones for the Navy choral group weren't working. Once they turn on, the singers did sound amazing. And I believe it was on the last lines of the song when they unfurled just about the biggest American flag EVER.

Renee Fleming was very good on the National Anthem. But I have to say something here. Whoever shouted 'O' during the song (which is an Orioles fan routine for those who don't know) deserved to be taken out by the rooftop snipers. Save that crap for Camden Yards. This isn't the Orioles town anymore and besides that, it's disrespectful to the anthem. I'm open to suggestions on how we should deal with this at future games.

Then the President was introduced to about a 60-40 mix of cheers and boos, respectively. Another aside here: Everyone has a right to criticize and even hate the President. I respect that. But at an event like this, he's appearing not as George W. Bush, but as the President of the United States. Just the like State of the Union address. During the State of the Union address, the entire chamber of both parties applaud the President. They're not applauding George W. Bush, they're applauding the President. I really feel it should have been the same way at the baseball game. And I know there are many Bush-haters that probably agree.

I give the President credit for striding up to the top of the mound, delivering a ball that was over the plate (but high) and getting off the field. You could tell even from Section 517 that he wasn't happy with his toss, but it could have been much, much worse.

What followed was a very touching moment. Nine players from previous Senators' teams wandered out on the diamond "Field of Dreams" style to some majestic music, I think it was from "The Natural." The announcer introduced them all one-by-one to standing ovations and cheers. My fiancee thought this was the cutest thing ever. "I want the old guys to stay out there and play!" she kept saying.

But it was quite moving to see the 2005 Nationals take the field and exchange hand-shakes and hugs with the old-timers. I'm sure it meant a lot to the new players to get to reconnect with figures of the days of the Washington-baseball past. I hope it showed them how important baseball is to this city and how much they will be loved as a team.

RFK absolutely sparkled with flashbulbs when Livan threw the first pitch. I was so taken aback by the moment that I didn't even notice it was a called strike. Great way to kick off a new franchise.

Livan pitched very well with a few minor hiccups. It was real fun watching him pitch and do his thing out there on the mound.

In the fourth inning, Vinny Castilla tripled home two runs and the Nats added another on a sacrifice fly. The fans responded well, going nuts when Washington scored. It wasn't as raucus as a football game, but that's OK. Baseball lends itself to a more serene type of experience.

In the sixth, Castilla hit a moon shot that landed in the Nats bullpen. 5-0 good guys. I was thrilled that the fans gave him a long enough ovation to get him to come out for a curtain call. Fabulous.

In the eighth, Vinny came to the plate with a chance to get a single to hit for the cycle. The crowd impressed me again, standing up to cheer for Vinny. Like Brad Wilkerson said, it was 5-0 in the eighth inning - most people would have left by now.

Of course, pansy-ass Lance Cormier drilled Vinny in the back with the first pitch, and the crowd promptly Cormier hear its disapproval. And we booed for the remainder of the inning. I don't see how it wasn't intentional. And I hope that F-Robby instructs the pitcher to take care of business on Saturday or Sunday. My money is on Troy Glaus, the third baseman, as the lucky recipient of a plunking in retaliation.

In any other situation, I would have not sent Livan out to start the ninth. But he had a one-hitter complete game shutout in the works on opening day. Since we had a 5-0 lead, it was a worthwhile gamble to send him back out to finish his one-hit shutout. Of course, a few got on and Livan gave up a gopher ball to Chad Tracy after a prolonged battle with Luis Gonzalez.

F-Robby pulled Livan, who got a well-deserved hearty ovation. I wish, however, that he didn't keep mouthing off to home plate umpire Jim Joyce as he left the field. Chad "The Chief" Cordero game in and slammed the door for a 5-3 Opening Night win. I was glad that so many fans stuck around to see the end.

It did take us about an hour just to get into the metro station to get home. Besides that, it was a fairly smooth trip back.

Some additional notes:
-People need to sit down and enjoy the game. Stop getting up every two innings for food and beer! You can't be that damn hungry or that damn desperate to get drunk! Of course, the problem would be solved if Aramark would get its act together and run the concessions more smoothly and put more roving vendors in the stands. This will be remedied, I trust. Still, people need to take it easy on the food. Did you buy a ticket to watch a game or did you buy a ticket to spend $6 a pop on beer and sausages!? SIDDOWN!

-The ThunderStix have got to go. They don't belong at a baseball game. Soccer, football, basketball, hockey, maybe - but not baseball. I give the fans credit though, not many people used them. But that may have had something to do with the fact that had "Inaugural Game" printed on them. People probably stashed them away as a collectible.

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All in all, a magical night that I loved, even though I couldn't fully appreciate it since I'm not a native to the area. I know this is a start of a great institution for this area, however. Baseball does something special for the spirit of a community. I want to see some decent crowds in the months to come!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Take THAT

Can't complain. Can't complain at all.

You can't help but feel good about this team. Despite all the holes, despite all the crap that they've been through, and despite a brutal opening road trip, the Nats are coming home to 56,000 screaming fans tomorrow night with a 5-4 record.

Monday night, many naysayers were leaving this team for dead. After a 11-2 shellacking, it was said they couldn't pitch, they couldn't hit, they had a terrible manager. And you can make arguments that all of the above is true.

But it's a loooooooooooooooooooong season. Washington so far has been a football town. A 3-4 record is cause for concern with the Redskins. But in baseball, it's no big deal. Why? Because there are 155 more games to play!

And the Nats proved how true that is the last two games. Last night they grind out a comeback win in the ninth inning. Today, despite a weak start by Ohka, they actually string together some key hits and score some runs! Now, the Nats will play 13 of the next 16 in front of thousands of fans rooting for them - something they're not used to.

Suddenly, it all looks a little better, doesn't it?

This is not one of those "We're just happy to have a team" posts. I am happy to have a team, but I also want them to win. I'm as frustrated as anyone when they screw up. But I also know that it's a looooong season. And a .500 record would be a huge accomplishment anyways.

Speaking of screwing up, what in the world is up with F-Robby!?

He takes out Ohka after six innings. That's the right decision. But he puts in Ayala - a questionable decision. And on top of that, he doesn't insert Ayala with a double switch! Stupid move. So in the top of the 8th, with Ayala's spot up second in the batting order, F-Robby's hand is forced, and he sends Ayala to the plate - essentially locking him in to pitching the eighth. If he had double-switched, he could have waited until the end of the half-inning to make the decision on whether to send Ayala back out.

Ayala was not pitching well and was lucky to get out of the eighth with only one run.

Lucky for us, Jose Guillen drills a dinger, Sledgehammer drives in three, and Wilky knocks one in - giving the Nats a 7 run lead. At this point, why in the sweet holy name of Frank Howard do you send Chad "Chief" Cordero out to pitch the ninth!? He pitched last night, including waiting through a rain delay! You are traveling today and you don't have a day off tomorrow. You may need Cordero to be fresher later. Eischen should have been the one to pitch the entire ninth. Hopefully Frank had realized that when he yanked Cordero.

With that said, let's get ready for the party at RFK tomorrow night!

Cardiac Nats

I love this team.

They aren't perfect by any means. Starting pitching has been shaky, our hitters can't work the count, and we can't string together consecutive hits! Things haven't been looking that good in a few recent games. I mean, our losses have been 8-4, 9-0, 8-0, and 11-2.

But these boys are gritty. Down 3-1 after being owned by Timmy Hudson for eight innings, Jose Vidro started the ninth with -- of all things -- a walk! He worked the count! Another walk, a hit and a sac-fly later, the stage is set for the catcher, hitting in the eighth slot. Brian Schneider got around on Danny Kolb's heater and dropped it into right-center for a go-ahead double.

I absolutely loved the reaction shots of the Nats dugout during Schneider's double. These guys are pumped and excited. Jose Guillen in the middle of it all really caught my eye. I think he's going have a monster year.

These guys may not hit .500. But I think they're a closeknit bunch of guys, which is probably due to all the crap they put up with in Montreal. I think they'll be a blast to watch.

Inaugural Post

I guess the day before Opening Night is as good a time as any to make my first entry into my first blog.

I'm a relatively new Washingtonian who came to college here and never left. I have lived in three different states before moving here, and thus have never put down solid roots with any sports teams.

After seeing the joy the Red Sox Nation got from watching their team win the World Series, I knew immediately that I wanted to fall in love with a team.

With the arrival of the Nationals to DC, I think I have finally found that team.

This is my first attempt at a blog, and I'm doing this for me as much as anyone. I want to record my thoughts as I start to follow this team. Keeping up with the blog will almost force me to pay attention, and I really am looking forward to it.

Like I said, I'm new to this game, so please be patient as I discover the blogosphere. I'll be adding links and graphics gradually, as I get into the swing of things.

Go Nats!