Monday, June 13, 2005

Attending The Cathedral of Baseball

Yes, you know by now from Dexy's that the Nats Blog is undefeated - a perfect 13-0 when attending a Nationals home game. I don't subscribe to any theory of statistic significance (something must be related to or caused by something to be statistically significant. My butt in my seat doesn't help the Nats win). SuperNoVa, who drafted a number of Sunday games, is personally 7-0 when attending Nats games:

(1) Opening Night 5-3 win over D-Backs
(2) April 26th 3-1 win over Phils
(3) April 29th 5-1 win over Mets
(4) May 15th 5-4 win over Flubs (sorry, White Sox fan in me)
(5) May 19th 3-2 win over Brewers
(6) June 8th 7-2 win over A's
(7) June 12th 3-2 win over Mariners

Until yesterday's game, I never came away from RFK with anything other then pleasure over a Nats victory.

Yesterday, I got a foul ball.

The bottom of the 7th may not have been meaningful for you, but it was for me. It happened here:

Wilkerson's foul was a bouncing ball, which ricocheted off the Mariner's bullpen and off the person sitting in front of me. It fell to the ground, I snatched it and there it was, my first Major League foul ball. From Wilkerson, nonetheless! It has the nice "Inaugural Season" logo, and is only mildly damaged from its run-in with the concrete dugout.

Now, in the hierarchy of foul balls, this was probably the third most impressive way of getting a ball. At the top of the hierarchy is catching a screaming line drive, or softly cradling a pop foul. Next is catching a foul cleanly on a hop, or off of someone else's hands or body. Third is getting it when it gets to the floor. Below that is when a player tosses it to you. Getting one tossed to you from a ball-girl down the line is the lowest form of foul ball.

Here's my theory on this. I'm in my thirties, and I've never gotten a foul before. So I'm entitled to one foul ball, kids be damned. (I think I'd also be entitled to one home run ball, too).

But every ball after this goes to kids in the stands. Not the big kids who hog up the balls between innings, but a little guy, maybe too small for his age. And you don't toss it to him, you hand him the ball, so those bully kids can't take it away from him (or her).

Game Notes

As for the game - two words come to mind. Hot and slow. More hot than slow, but the slow part was really ticking me off. I mean, this was getaway day, guys! It's 90+ degrees out there. Never mind the fact that Frank Robinson was wearing his warmup jacket all game. Perhaps the heat has gone to his brain or something - that's why he bunts so much. Meanwhile, the home plate ump was not exactly lenient with the strike zone either. I was groaning when he wasn't calling strikes on pitches to our guys.

Majewski's at-bat did not surprise me much. Ayala and the rest of the bullpen have been used pretty heavily lately, and Armas's 108 pitch, five inning performance meant that Frank was going to have to lean on the bullpen. I don't blame him for trying to get 2 innings out of Majewski. Baerga was ready to hit if Carroll got on, but with one out and no-one on, there's no real loss from batting Majewski there. The ERV loss from that situation is what, .18? Not much to ask when you might save an inning from the bullpen. In the end, Ayala was needed for the 7th and 8th, but it wasn't a bad call.

I think the best part of the game - and one of my highlights thus far this season - was the send-off the crowd gave to the Nats at the end of the game. We cheered for the end of the game, then died down, and then cheered the Nats off the field and into the locker room on their way to Anaheim Los Angeles of Anaheim (still "ANA" on the out of town scoreboard, guys). Not only did it warm my heart, but you could tell that the players really, really appreciated it. They waved their caps and lingered just a little bit to soak it in. It was one of those moments that only happens in sports - the bonding of a team and a city. It might have got a little dry in the stadium at that point - or maybe it's just dry in my office as I'm writing this.

SuperNoVa's Concessionaire Notes

There was plenty of the Ice Cream of the Future on hand yesterday, at least in my favorite flavor, chocolate. They ran out of cookies & cream, to the chagrin of everyone else in line in front of me.

The Nachos are a scam! The pictures of the Nachos includes a white, creamy liquid that must be sour cream. (As we know, cheese, sour cream and salsa is the best combination of flavors on this Earth). Ordering said nachos, I learned that not only did they not have sour cream on Sunday, but they have never had sour cream for the nachos. This is the kind of outrageous false advertising upon which the FTC should clamp down.

I'm close to giving up on the concessions at RFK now that my nacho dream has been destroyed. I'll try the chorizo next time, but I do not have high hopes.

Figuring Attendance

The Post beat me to it, but I was going to mention that yesterday's RFK crowd put the Nats over the top of the DC record for highest attendance in a year. That's right, no Senators team ever drew more than 1.05 million. Shocking, isn't it?

Believe it or not, the Nats will have higher attendance in their games against American League teams (9 games vs. the AL, probable attendance of 300,000) than the 1935 team had all year versus the American League. Mind you, that 1935 team had a lot of the same players that had played in the World Series two years earlier.


ESPN says that the Nats can "eclipse a franchise record" with their 11th straight win tonight. This assumes, of course, that the Nats are the same "franchise" as the Expos. A debatable topic, at best. If we were still the same franchise, wouldn't Andre Dawson/Rusty Staub's #10 have to be retired? No one wears it, but it's also not on the outfield wall like Jackie Robinson's 42. According to the Web site, #8, #10, and #30 are retired. I'm calling bull**** on this one - the Twinkies haven't retired former Senators' greats numbers. Ooops...there were none. Walter Johnson never wore a uniform number when he played, and none of the other Senators were worthy of numbers being retired (with the possible exception of Goose Goslin, who also played the bulk of his time with the Senators before numbers were used).


At 2:03 PM, Blogger dexys_midnight said...

Just a couple of things. As I posted today, we are 17-0 (you shortchanging us?). Personally, I am 8-0 when attending:

Opening Night 4/14: 5-3 Win over AZ
4/16: 9-3 win over AZ
4/26: 3-1 win over PHL
4/30: 5-3 win over NYM
6/2: 8-6 win over ATL
6/4: 7-3 win over FLA
6/7: 2-1 win over OAK
6/10: 9-3 win over SEA

2) I'm glad you posted about the send-off the crowd gave to the Nats. I was wondering all day Sunday pre-game what it would be if we lost, and decided in my mind that even if we lost or got killed Sunday, the crowd would give the Nats a standing O for giving us such a great homestand. Glad they classed it up!

3) I am a Dippin Dots convert!! I spent 15 years mocking the "so-called ice cream of the future" without ever trying it. But last Tuesday, it was so damn hot, that I got some Cookies N Cream DD's and they were so good, I got them Fri night as well. Long live the Ice Cream of the Future.

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Chris Needham said...

1) Look at Ed Yost's stats and get back to me. He played with WAS forever -- and note the power spike at the end of his career when he was washed up and moved from the cavernous Griffith Stadium (400' down the left-field line!) to Tiger's Stadium, a much better hitter's park.

2) The Chorizo from the Dominic's stand is the ballpark cuisine equivalent of a Nick Johnson plate appearance.

3) I fully subscribe to your foul ball system. Just give me one, kid. The rest are yours.

At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed Yost should be in the Red Sox Hall of Fame!!!

-- John Kerry

At 6:53 PM, Blogger SuperNoVa said...

I don't quite get it - shouldn't Yost's doubles totals have been MUCH higher even if it was hard to hit a home run out of Griffith's left field?

At 8:15 PM, Blogger Chris Needham said...

Would you believe he faced terrific outfield defense for the bulk of his career? ;)

From what I recall, Griffith didin't inflate 2B by as much as you'd think if you look at the dimensions -- roughly 15% or so.

He was good for 25-30 doubles, which put him in the top-10 five times in his career.

His nickname was "The Walking Man", for good reason. He led the league six times, and is still in the top-10 for his career.

He played 14 seasons, mostly as their lead-off hitter. They stunk during his era, but that wasn't his fault. And, when you consider the position he played, he was pretty valuable.

He's not a hall-of-famer, but he's definitely worthy of having his number retired.


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