To put 11-0 in context

What a season so far for Stras! Explained well by ESPN:

WASHINGTON — Stephen Strasburg is all about the theme night.

On ’80s Night at Nationals Park, Strasburg became the first National League pitcher to begin the season 10-0 since Astros reliever Juan Agosto did it in 1988. He’s the first NL starter to accomplish the feat since 1985, when San Diego’s Andy Hawkins got off to an 11-0 start, ESPN Stats & Information points out.

To put Strasburg’s throwback thriving in context, the last time an NL starter got off to a 10-0 start, back in 1985, the 66-year-old Baker was wearing an Oakland Athletics uniform … as a player.

What a day at the ballpark

As the Nationals’ season came to an end today (a 1-0 loss to the Mets), it was easy to be disappointed. We weren’t not going to the playoffs. Down the stretch, not only did we lose first place, but we did so by losing lots of games we had a good chance to win. And, last but not least, in the final days, our closer tried to choke our best player, and our manager sent the closer back to the mound a few minutes later.

But the year wasn’t all bad. It was actually mostly good. We saw a young player have a break-out, tremendous year. We saw one ace pitch two no-hitters — I managed to catch the end of both on TV! — and we had another regain his amazing rookie form after years of struggle. We played stretches of terrific baseball. We contended.

My favorite game was just before the Fourth of July. Friend Carlos, through the magic that is Carlos, got field passes and great seats for a game. He invited me along with his brother and oldest son, and it was a wonderfully, ridiculously good baseball time. Thank you to Carlos, the Nationals and the sport of baseball for a memorable summer day.

Batting practice. Gray. But the rain held off!

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Continue reading What a day at the ballpark

Winning isn’t everything

Seen two losses in the past week but had two good times.

Camden Yards with the Grishams last Sunday. Orioles lost, 6-1, and the weather was some of the hottest of the summer; but the seats were great.

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Nationals Park with Becky and Kyle on Wednesday. Nats lost, 11-4, and first baseman Tyler Moore had to pitch in relief, but weather was great. And:

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Yes, on Jayson Werth Chia Pet Night (we bought tickets in February), above is Abe Lincoln winning the Presidents Race with a green Chia beard.

Keep the Zimmerman-Yankees walk-offs coming

The 2006 headline reads, “Kid Zimmerman, Nats burn Yankees with walk-off blast.” An end-note on the story reads, “The sellout crowd was the highest single-game attendance for a baseball game in the history of RFK Stadium (a 1962 doubleheader drew more spectators).”

The Post story about that win against the Yankees — then a league above us, in a sense — is absolutely heart-warming. The homer happened on Father’s Day with Zimmerman’s dad in the crowd. And Zimmerman had never before hit a walk-off homer — or any kind of walk-off — at any level of baseball. Video of that home run is here:

I was there at RFK for the game, with my father, and the rest of family. It was a baseball moment I’ll never forget. So, it was exciting Tuesday night to be at Nats Park when Zimmerman hit the 10th walk-off of his career, against the Yankees in the bottom of the 10th inning. Perfect weather, and followed Harper and Ramos homers. What a team.

The Post:

Chocolate sauce dripped down Ryan Zimmerman’s face late Tuesday night, smeared over a subdued grin. His home run off the right field foul pole a few moments before gave the Nationals an 8-6 win over the Yankees, a rally from a four-run deficit to a fourth straight victory. For the first time in his career, stoic, steady Zimmerman was drenched in Gatorade and water and topped with chocolate. For the first time all season, the Nationals had a share of first place in the National League East.

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.

Florida trip, day two: Spring training on St. Patrick’s Day

In mid-March 2013, Kyle, Becky, Lori, and I went to Orlando to visit Kyle’s grandparents, Disney World and spring training. I took so many photos. Too many photos. The idea of all that photo cropping… well, here we are.

Part two of three is green waffles, Nats-Tigers and Luigi’s.

Kyle’s grandmother and sister made us all amazing green waffles.
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Continue reading Florida trip, day two: Spring training on St. Patrick’s Day

Not one, but two first-placers?

What a summer it’s been to be a Nats fan with a past and eternal soft spot for the Orioles. Baseball blessings like this don’t come around too often.

June 7 at Camden Yards…

Hot dog and mac and cheese and crab.
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Love a late afternoon start.
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And a breezy evening finish.
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August 5 at Nats Park…

Jayson Werth garden gnome night. Not pictured: the gnome.
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They’re off, but where’s Teddy?
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He’s hiding at the finish! To knock them over and win. Good guy.
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August 10 at Camden Yards…

Bird!
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“Did you take a picture of me because I looked like that child?”
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Amazing seats, courtesy of the Grishams.
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Usually ultra-subdued Buck goes nuts, gets tossed. It was amazing.
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And there’s still another five weeks left to play. At least.

Friday night? Bring the innings

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Went to a Nats game in June that began so hot and went so long, and in the end, we lost. But had a great time. It was a Friday night in summer.

Early on…
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A little later…
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A little later (fourth inning, Presidents Race! Teddy loses!)…
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We enter extra innings on a Nats homer! But things get slow…
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Slower…
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They run a second Presidents Race in the 13th inning.
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I start to lose my mind at this point. On the outside, I’m like this!
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On the inside, I’m like this!
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But Teddy wins! The Nats lose 6-4 in 13, but Teddy wins.
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Matt Williams on management

Love this long quote from him in the Post, as the finally-getting-healthy Nationals deal having with four terrific players in three outfield spots.

While pulling players in and out of the lineup, Williams would face a steep challenge – providing everyone enough playing time to keep them fresh and keeping players rested for a stretch run without irking veterans who have earned their status as an everyday player. …

“It’s not easy, but it’s part of the job,” Williams said. “We do it collectively, too. The guys understand, hey, if you need a day, then come let us know. We’ll figure out where we could possibly do that. They’re honest. They let us know. We respect that. We all to win games, but you have to look at the long run. And a day off for a certain guy at a certain time may be the best thing in the long run. It’s not easy. But we’ll deal with it.”