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Nationals Versus Cubs July 23, 2006 July 29, 2006

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Did they reduce the price of beer too? July 24, 2006

Thanks to the orange line running every ten minutes during the evening, I missed a good shot at the new food options. I was only 15 minutes late for the raising of the gates, but the terrace food court was too busy for me. I did a quick search around for the stand selling half-smokes with no luck. Probably due to everyone flocking to the new choices, there was no line for some chicken and fries. The wait staff was very friendly, but give it a few weeks for the threat of more training to wear off before I give proper respect. The new chicken sandwiches, sold somewhere on the upper deck, looks good and the Texas sausages wrapped in a folded tortilla were drawing me in from the three bought down the aisle.

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The red carpet was nice and when I walked through the turnstiles, I was greeted by Saul Rivera and the young Mr Lerner. The on-the-field fireworks during player introductions was a little much, especially watching the scared faces of those holding the extra large flag on the field, probably less than 20 feet from the launchpad. The F-18 flyover was fantastic though. Most of the other flyovers I have seen were a lot of noise and maybe a quick shadow. This time, 4 F-18 seemed to float in over the left field walls, flying in a cross formation, wings tilted about 30 degrees.
P1020494 Mark Prior, returning from injury without a rehab start, looked very shakey. Two walks and two wild pitches for the first three batters. He was done in 3 innings. The great thing about still photos is that twenty years from now, when I am looking at my photos all I will see is the once, briefly great pitcher Mark Prior–not someone pitching double A ball in RFK.

Aramis Ramirez hit two out of the park. Double A callup Dorta had his MLB debut when he got to pitch run for ailing Escobar who had just hit the game winning 2 run single before pulling up with a sore hamstring. Dorta also got caught stealing second to end the inning.
P1020556 The crowd of over 35K was small but rowdy enough to make it feel like a nearly full house. The beer was flowing a little more freely too, based upon the evidence. As Chad Cordero was closing out the final two batters, some young and very drunk kid behind me fell forward landing on his back in the next row–taking out some girl who screamed as if she was stabbed. Security had to go get stretchers for the kid and first aid for the soon-to-sue girl. On the way out of the stadium, I saw and smelled not one but two piles of puke. So, yes, party RFK party.

A better look at our two new starters, from a Reds blog July 13, 2006

On Baseball and the Reds: Better Know a Red #12 – Felipe Lopez

On Baseball and the Reds: Better Know a Red #9 – Austin Kearns

8 Players swapped, 2 teams, a couple tears and a younger team

Major League Baseball : News : Major League Baseball News

The Nationals began what could be an eventful run-up to the July 31 trade deadline with an eight-player deal on Thursday, acquiring outfielder Austin Kearns, shortstop Felipe Lopez and right-hander Ryan Wagner from the Reds in exchange for relievers Gary Majewski, Bill Bray and Daryl Thompson, infielder Brendan Harris and shortstop Royce Clayton.

I have spent the last hour looking over my shoulder, hoping to find a clue sneaking up on me.  I really thought the plan going forward was to build up the farm system.  Instead, we got 2 proven starters that are 26 years old–something that could help us soon instead of the later that the farm system approach would give us.  And we still have players to move to help the minor leagues.

We lost a lot of promise.  Gary Majewski, even though he had his problems this year, felt like a Nat.  Bill Bray was a lefty who could have been solid out of the pen for years to come.

What does it mean to the Nats of tomorrow (and I mean tomorrow, versus the Pirates)?  I hope it means Jose Guillen is gone–maybe for a young middle-of-the-road pitcher and a prospect.  It should mean the end of Guzman at SS.  We still need to eat two more years of big dollars, but worth it to be beyond all the drama.

Nick at 1st, Vidro at 2nd, Lopez at SS, Zimmerman at 3rd. Vidro is the old man out but the rest could be around for 6-8 years easily.

Soriano (for now) in left, Escobar  in center and Kearns in right.  I think the addition of two proven starters gives Bowden the flexibility to hold on to Soriano in a pinch.  It probably would be foolish not to trade him, but really it has to be for something with some punch to it.  Otherwise, re-sign him.  With the new youngsters, we can be competitive sooner than later.  If we had been going strictly for improving the farm system, there should be no reason Alfonso should stick around.  Now, there is hope for him to be on a good team without moving.

We still need to do something about pitching.  Livan should go, the Hill/O’Conner novelty has worn off.  Armas Jr Jr might have something left.

I guess it doesn’t matter any way.  Tomorrow Jim might trade everybody away.

Baseball Scorecards July 10, 2006

I have recently started scoring at my games on paper. I tried last year to use PDA scoring software and dropped a nice chunk of change on it, but I just didn’t feel it.

At first, I read about our own TV announcer Bob Carpenter’s side job selling his own scorebooks. It is really hard to see what they look like on his website, so I plunked down cash for two of the fan books. Unfortunately, they are very free-form and I definitely do not have a free-form personality. They are useless for me. I will gladly bring them along to RFK at a future game if anyone wants them–never been used, one still in plastic. Cost me $25 each–yours for the asking (free as in beer).

I was already a fan of Christopher Swingley’s scoring tutorial...it is detailed and fun to read. He produced a number of versions of his own scorecards, made available under a Creative Commons license. I don’t necessarily like his approach for listing base hits or walks (circling preprinted markers down the right of each at-bat) but I have adapted. I burned the duplex-grey version with pitcher stats to CD, walked over to Kinkos and had them print 100 back-to-back copies, wire bound with a blank white sheet laminated for both back and front covers. Cost me around $25 and it is really sweet. Next time, I will probably back up to 25 or 40 copies, since I think the book will be pretty worn by 100 games, but otherwise it was a great decision.

Nationals Farm Authority Blog Archive Price Reductions and Food Improvements Coming to RFK

Nationals Farm Authority » Blog Archive » Price Reductions and Food Improvements Coming to RFK

The best news for me–Half Smokes!  The best news for the stadium–$3-$5 tickets.  Hopefully this can get some butts in seats (plus a $7.50 combo meal–hot dog, chips and soda…That is at least $5 cheaper than what those would cost right now)

Nationals Versus Padres July 8th 2006 July 9, 2006

Astacio gone

The President, Secretary of State and Attorney General all showed up to RFK Saturday…maybe they should have brought along the Nats’ starting pitching. Seventy-nine degrees and low humidity–very San Diego like–proved to be the only thing Nats’ fans could cheer about last night. Pedro Astacio, making his second start of the season after a few months on the DL, proved that Monday night’s good showing against the Marlins was not what we can expect game-after-game. Five runs in 4 innings (one unearned) and Pedro was gone. Micah Bowie started off a procession of 5 relievers who kept the Padres to zero runs and 4 hits but the damage was already done.

On the positive, Soriano has hit lead-off home runs in both of Astacio’s starts. Other than that bang to start the game, the offense was limited to Alex Escobar scoring (after his double) on a Royce Clayton single.

More troubling than our starting pitching woes is the evident lack of fire in our middle infield. After watching Vidro get rung up with grounder after grounder a few games ago, tonight I watched Royce Clayton not even try to field a number of grounders. With Vidro, I think the losing is bothering him and with the rest of the All Star break, he just has given up. Hopefully, he will enjoy the down time and be back to his limited range when the games pick up again.

Nationals Versus Padres July 8th 2006 Nationals Versus Padres July 8th 2006

Nationals Versus Marlins July 4th 2006 (or 2 out of 3 dentists prefer walkoff homers) July 4, 2006

P1010112Two of my first three games for this home stand have ended with walk off homers by a Nat. Today it was Ryan Zimmerman’s second walk off in the last month and this one brought three runs with it to give Washington a 6-3 victory.

While Soriano didn’t hit two homeruns, he continued to hit well in his second game back from Frank’s timeout–going 2 for 4 (single, triple, walk, 2 stolen bases).

Jose Vidro had 2 errors and went 0 for 5. Worse was his evident lack of range as the Marlins grounded hit after hit through his area. Almost every one was playable by most major league second basemen. Maybe Jose just needed one of those veteran passes on day games.

Vidro’s most hurtful misplay happened in the top of the 8th. With Cabrera on 2nd and Hermida on first, Borchard grounds to Zimmerman who tosses the ball to Vidro. Vidro turns and throws to Nick Johnson for a hopeful double-play. Only he threw off balance and the ball went passed Nick, allowing Cabrera to score, leading to a 4-3 Marlins lead. Nick still had a chance to get Cabrera at home, but Schnieder had trouble taking the ball from catch to tag.

Brochard tried to take second while this was happening, but found Hermida still hanging around after being forced out at second. Confused, Brochard started back for first base. Bill Bray starts to throw to Nick to start the rundown, but sees Hermida running for third and fakes a throw there–faking out an already out runner.

John Patterson gave up 2 runs on 4 hits in 5 innings, but noticably tired will in the 4th.

Nationals Versus Marlins July 4th 2006 Nationals Versus Marlins July 4th 2006

Nationals Versus Devil Rays, June 30 2006 (or how I learned to stop crying and love the Bowden) July 1, 2006

P1000118 Future president Stan Kasten announces that Bowden will be the GM of our future and the Nats take the field to show the confidence inspired by this decision….an 11-1 D-Ray drubbing.

On my scorecard, I noted “*Sound System Fixed*”. Finally I could hear and understand everything our lifeless stadium announcer said. However, in my quest to never be happy, it was too loud for normal ears when blurting out some of the routine sound effects.

Next to that note, I put down “*Bowden named perm GM*” and wept. Okay, not really. Not because there is no crying in baseball stadiums, just that it would be pointless. It is done, time to move on. The only good thing I can say about this is that it will be the end of Frank Robinson as manager, hopefully by the Grand Reopening of RFK on the 21st. If we have to move forward as a MLB-JV squad after trading away most of our veterans, then we need the manager of our future now to go with the GM of our future.

This game gave the fans a preview of the rest of this season, and realistically next season as well. Mike O’Conner gave up 5 runs in 5 innings (at least he makes baseball math easier) and was relieved by Jason Bergman who topped his batterymate by giving up 6 runs in 2 innings. These are two players that will be a part of the Nats future. To be fair, they both have the potential to contribute.

Frank Robinson visited Jason Bergman in the middle of his meltdown, not to pull him, but to whisper “Ohka, Ohka, Ohka” before abandoning the young reliever to watch his psyche leave the park along with the balls off of the D-Rays’ bats.

It says a lot when the old man Mike Stanton, tying Dennis Eckersley for third on the all-time old-time appearances list, comes in and is our most effective pitcher. Stanton threw 16 pitches over the final two innings, sending down 6 out of 6.

Nationals Versus Devil Rays June 30th 2006 Nationals Versus Devil Rays June 30th 2006