All posts tagged: Washington Nationals

Bumpy roads often lead to beautiful places

When much-maligned Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez was asked how he felt after his ballclub just completed an improbable four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series (NLCS), he went back to something his mother told him: “Often bumpy roads lead to beautiful places.” Then, in light of earning the franchise’s first trip to the World Series, he added, “And this is a beautiful place.” Oh, is it ever! NLCS Most Valuable Player Howie Kendrick—one of 18 resident “Los Viejos” (the Old Men) on the Nats playoff roster over the age of 30—said, “I can truly say this is the best time of my career, the best moment of my career this year.” I can add that in my 55 years of being enthralled by baseball—beginning as a nine-year-old with a 1964 trip to Wrigley Field on a family vacation to see the Cubs play Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals; to following Willie Mays and the San Francisco Giants from afar, as a kid growing up in Middle …

Let’s Dance!

I suspect I wasn’t the only person having a private dance party in my television room at precisely 12:23 a.m. this morning. Or once again at precisely 12:41 a.m. No, indeed! The Washington Nationals faithful—after enduring crushing defeats in the 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017 National League Division Series (NLDS)—were ready to celebrate in that crazy 2019 Nationals way: the dugout home run dance party. Why? First, because Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto hit back-to-back solo home runs off Dodger legend (and playoff goat) Clayton Kershaw in the 8th to tie the 5th and final NLDS, win-or-go-home, game. Then Howie (THAT man can HIT) Kendrick blasts a grand slam home run in the 10th inning at 12:23 a.m. East Coast time. And finally, Michael A. Taylor made a diving catch in center field in the bottom of the inning at 12:41 a.m. to close out the game and bring the Nationals their first Division Series win in five attempts. And we all danced! Thank God the Nats don’t play in the NFL (also known as …

Now That Was Exciting!

I was there for Game 5 of the 2012 National League Division Series, camera up and ready to capture Drew Storen throwing the division-winning strike that never came. Two years later I was in the stands when rookie manager Matt Williams walked to the mound in the top of the 9th. There stood Jordan Zimmermann, just one out away from completing two of the most amazing back-to-back games with a potential win in Game 2 of the 2014 National League Division Series following his no-hitter to end the season. Only Williams never gives him the chance. Williams pulls Zimm from the game and puts in . . . yes . . . Drew Storen. Who in this instance quickly gave up two hits and one run and the Nats went on to lose the game in an excruciating 18 innings. And there was more in 2014, 2016, and 2017. Yes, there’s a pattern here. So the bottom of the 8th and the top of the 9th in last night’s National League Wild Card game was …

A Weird Night at the Ballpark

Maybe it was the full harvest moon over a packed Nationals Park on Friday the 13th.* Perhaps it was the insertion of Jason—the villain with the hockey mask from the Friday the 13th movies—into the President’s Race. (He favored Teddy for some reason unbeknownst to me.) Who knows for sure . . . but it was a weird night at the ballpark. Beginning with the national anthem. Did I mention that Washington was highlighting National Truck Driver Appreciation Week? Well, the singer of the Star Spangled Banner was a trucker who brought his guitar to the stadium. After strumming the opening chord, he sang an enthusiastic—if not exactly on-key—version, which would have been okay if he had dropped the idea of bringing the guitar back into play while still singing. Suffice it to say, our friend did not quite match the pitch of the guitar at the end of the anthem, which I could see coming. It was a “don’t give up your day job” moment. While it was a Friday night in September, it was …

Baseball is boring. Then suddenly it isn’t.

I know I’m going to jinx them. I just know it. As soon as you start talking about the Nationals this year, they do a face plant and fall back off the pace. Again. Their bullpen implodes. Again. They remind you that Mike Rizzo isn’t a genius when it comes to constructing bullpens or picking managers. Again. Nonetheless, I’m going to take a chance. And I’m doing so because Max Scherzer is worth it. Who breaks their nose (in a freak bunting accident, no less), then 24 hours later goes out with said broken nose and amazing black eye and punches out 10 Phillies (boo Bryce Harper) via strikeouts? Then five days later throws one-hit shutout ball — again with 10 strikeouts — against the Marlins? Finally, yesterday, in his first return to Detroit since signing with the Nats as a free agent, Max — still with a discolored eye and broken nose — goes 8 innings and has 14 strikeouts in a 2-1 win that brings the Nats home for July 4th with a …

Yes, The Playoffs Are Beginning Without Us

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted very much on the baseball season since the All-Star game.  For those watching the Nats’ season fall apart, the reason will be obvious.  And now that the local nine have wrapped up a miserable year, we get to begin speculation here in D.C. on where Bryce will land next year.  Frankly, I’ve read about all the ink I care to on Harper.  I just hope he makes up his mind early and doesn’t drag this out all year.  Robles and Soto are two excellent young (and cheap) outfielders, so it isn’t like we’d have chopped liver out there in the outfield But let’s move on to the teams still playing.  The team with the top record, the Boston Red Sox, look good, but I think they have a tough row to hoe to win it all. To cut to the chase, here are my picks/hopes: First in the American League: I hope the A’s (now Claire’s team since she lives in Oakland) use their “new pitcher every …

Baseball at (or just past) the Break

NOTE:  This was a post I meant to finish a week ago.  Then life intervened. In the past three weeks I’ve checked two items off my baseball bucket list and saw the most amazing comeback in my 40+ years of watching this always fascinating sport.  We’re now a little more than a week past the all-star break, the traditional midway point of the baseball season, so it seems appropriate to unleash a few thoughts on you, dear readers, in reverse chronological order to the way they happened. The All-Star Game is Great Fun:  Washington hosted the 2018 MLB All-Star Game at Nationals Park earlier this month. Almost by a fluke Andrew and I scored great seats.  A colleague—who is British—was given two tickets by a former colleague of his from National Geographic. (Remember that Nat Geo is now owned by FOX, which was televising the game.)  Not caring a great deal for the American pastime, he offered them up to me. For free! Which is how Andrew and I landed in section 133 in fantastic …