Everything’s coming up green

Twenty items! When you’re hot, you’re hot. Can you believe it? The Nats have 20 St. Patrick’s Day-themed items for sale this year, which I’m pretty sure is a world record for number of Nats St. Patrick’s Day-themed items.

And I should know because I’m pretty sure I’m the only person who’s been tracking such totals for years. Not every year, mind you, so I could be wrong. But most years, and good luck finding anyone to prove me wrong.

Coverage/commentary from previous years:

None of the Nats gear is particularly great-looking this year, and the same holds true for the rest of the major leagues. They’ve gone long on green, and beyond March 17, you can go too long to green. Also, across the rest of the league, enormous logos. But there’s some good heather-green stuff, a couple quality heather gray and dark gray uses, a solid mention of the Green Monster, a terrifying Phillies leprechaun, and a Blue Jays hat that will be popular with marijuana enthusiasts.

In related news, literally walking the walk, I’ve been wearing my green Nats hat on the walk to work a bunch recently. In need of a haircut, but failing that require daily hair-flattening. We all have to do what we need to do to get by. But beyond hair-flattening, the green makes me happy. Spring is coming.

Winning gets you green

For years, for whatever reason, I’ve been tracking how the Nats have fared on St. Patrick’s Day. Not in spring-training games, but in green gear. Every year, Major League Baseball makes special St. Patrick’s hats and shirts and what-have-you for its teams, but the amount per team varies.

In 2012, for instance, the Phillies had 37 items, the Cubs 35, the Red Sox 32, and the Yankees 31. The Nats had four items. The year before they had two items. In some year prior, the lean RFK years, they had none. As someone named Patrick, who is also half-Irish, who is also a full Nats fan, these numbers were sad.

But it’s wonderful what winning can get you. The league store sent its annual email this week, and we set ourselves a new record: 11 items! I hardly know what to do with myself. To track such things is odd. To be excited over such things is ridiculous. But I am. Several of my favorite things, together, happily.

The Phillies, after some losing, are down to 25. The Cubs, after enough losing that losing hasn’t mattered in a long time, are at 26. They’re tied with the reigning-champion Giants, and both are one ahead of the Tigers. The Red Sox are leading the way at 31. And the Yankees… well, the Yankees page in the store turns up blank right now. Hard to say what that means.

So, we’re a ways from the top. But on our trip up, one has to believe. I’ve bought myself a cap, the plainer one from among the Nats’ bunch. I’ll wear it with pride.

St. Patrick’s Day: Out of the cellar, into the chaos

Every March, I check out Major League Baseball’s green St. Patrick’s Day merchandise as an indicator of the state of the Nationals and the league. Yes, really, I do. I’m only half-joking here. It works, you see?

In 2007, the Nationals saw a meager offering in a meager stadium. In 2008, amid the fallout from Mitchell Report on performance-enhancing drugs, green scaled way back. In 2009, the league improved, but the Nationals stayed at zero. In many ways. In 2010, Stephen Strasburg arrived, and we returned to the green, celebrating St. Patrick’s again. In 2011, with our Strasburg hurt, our green merch finished dead last.

This St. Patrick’s, I bring mixed news. The Nationals aren’t last. We are a long, long way from first, but we’re not last. Across the league, there is upheaval. Every team gets green merchandise this year. A good sign of parity? Luck? (Socialism?) There’s also change among green leaders. The Phillies and Cubs have surged to the lead. Long-time St. Patrick’s leaders — the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets — have fallen back. Full list:

37, Phillies. 35, Cubs. 32, Red Sox. 31, Yankees. 23, Dodgers. 21, Mets and White Sox. 17, Braves, Twins. 16, Cardinals. 12, Giants. 11, Tigers.

Single digits: 8, Reds. 7, Astros, Indians, Orioles. 6, Brewers, Mariners and Rangers. 5, Athletics and Rays. 4, Angels, Nationals, Pirates, and Rockies. 3, Royals. 2, Marlins and Padres. 1, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks.

May chaotic road games rise up to meet you. May the wind be always blowing out. May the sun shine warm upon your wild day games.

Five Irish things I love right now

1. The rock-and-roll Finn McCool now playing at the Woolly Mammoth. Friend Lisa and I saw the musical in appropriate form, starting with the Cava sangria at Jaleo and then crossing the metaphorical Iberian land bridge to the theater beer stand. The show was a hit at D.C.’s Fringe festival last summer, and it won over our small audience (in the small Woolly rehearsal space) as well. Reviews said to ignore the plot, and they were right on. I’d read a book on Irish folk hero McCool as a kid. The plot confused me even then. Long story short, he saved Ireland, and that act — and electric guitars — made the performance a winner.

2. My shamrock plant. After years of disasters (yes, three links there) with my earlier shamrocks, the one from last year is still going strong.

3. Dropkick Murphys feat. Mr. Bruce Springsteen, Peg O’ My Heart. Damn the lawyers for knocking this song off YouTube. You’re going to have to settle for the iTunes preview page and understand that the rest of the song is as excellent as the sample you hear. I’m biased toward Bruce, but unless you live in some alternative universe that a lovely drinking song that also works as a drink-y love song, you’re going to agree.

4. This vanity plate, via Melissa.

5. Beeramisu. This Serious Eats article Jess forwarded combines two of my favorite things. In the words of one commenter, “I mostly just want to keep saying ‘Beeramisu!’ over and over again. That has got to be one of the best made-up words ever.” Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all.

Nats set new low for St. Patrick’s Day merch

Last year, after two years of no St. Patrick’s Day green merch, the Nats got two hats. I lauded the increase as a Stephen Strasburg effect. Like a successful potato, we were on our way up and out of the ground.

This year, after the sad Strasburg injury and surgery, we remained at two green things. A women’s shirt and a women’s hoodie were all we received. But the worse news? In the green merch, we finished dead last in the majors. We had never finished dead last and alone before.

In 2007, we got one hat, and eight teams got nothing. In 2008, we got nothing, but only 13 teams got something. In 2009, we got zero but so did four other teams. Last year, when the world was bright, with Stephen Strasburg nearing the hill, we beat 13 other teams.

But, boy, was it ugly this year.

The Red Sox got 48 green items. Then Yankees got 47, including this funky driver’s cap. Beyond them, the rankings were: Phillies 40, Cubs 39, Cardinals 34, Mets 28, White Sox 24, Tigers 20, Twins 18, Dodgers 17, Braves 13, Brewers 12, Giants 11, Athletics 8, Indians 7, Astros 6, Mariners 6, Orioles 5, Angels 4, Blue Jays 4, Diamondbacks 4, Marlins 4, Padres 4, Pirates 4, Rays 4, Rockies 4, Royals 4, Rangers 3, Reds 3.

Nats 2.

My favorite version of When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

From this Patrick, happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s to having a go at it.

Also on this April 14, 1963 show? Brothers juggling torches with their feet, clowns blowing up a piano, a German family and bear act, a comic magician, Hungarian acrobats, a trampoline comic, Judy Garland, Cliff Richard, and one of my top five non-Muppet puppets, Topo Gigio.

New shamrock plant! (How long before I kill it?)

Had a great brunch with my parents at Carlyle (my first time there — a special hello to the sauteed crab cakes among biscuit, scrambled eggs and hollandaise sauce) and came home with a new shamrock plant. My last one, if you remember, arrived at my apartment on St. Patrick’s Day ’06 and spent the next few years dying and miraculously resurrecting.

Any guesses how long this one has? Learning from the first’s initial die-off (from which it never really recovered), I’ve removed the pot’s plastic wrapper. Who could’ve known it was trapping most of the water? Most people, I guess. You have my word, no accidental drownings this time.

Happy St. Patrick’s Week!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

The day has a history of going bad on me, maybe with the day getting back at my years of hating on potatoes and claiming this was because they drove my people out of Ireland. Anyway, today I blew up the site before breakfast. Things got better later, with Irish soda bread (the #1 underrated Irish food) in the mail from my mom, lots of folks wearing the green at work and Bailey’s-meets-hot-chocolate with a good friend after quitting time. The day assembled okay. I like potatoes now.

From one of my favorite kid books of all time, here’s to Jamie Donovan, disappointed in the day, too young to wear the green sash and march in the parade — but who gets himself an egg, a ginger ale and a flag and blows the flute he can’t play to the hilltop before the town wakes.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to you

Imagine if you knew a person named Fourth of July, and he came up to you on the Fourth of July, slapped you on the back and said, “Hey, buddy, happy fourth of July!”

Or if you knew somebody named Valentine and he or she (because Valentine would be a great name for a girl, especially a girl gangster) gave you a big red heart, imagine that.

And so — have a wonderful day.