Ok guy (that is, if anyone is still reading), I know we’re behind. I know we’ve been “bad bloggers” this season, but perhaps it’s because there’s other things we’re doing with our time. When you’re watching baseball games every night, it’s hard to concentrate on what’s going on on the TV AND to write a blog post. And then there are the non-baseball things going on in our lives. In any case, Drew and I are still making predictions, and while I haven’t gotten around to rounding up our July predictions (super quick summary: we weren’t quite optimistic enough), we’re going to put in our August predictions before the month gets too far ahead of us. And because we’re going for speed here, there won’t be pictures (at least for a little bit).
Maggie: I’m thinking at least 2. They’re having a crappy year, and showing it, but the Nats do have to face Cliff Lee. (2-1)
Maggie: We’re playing them at home (as opposed to Miami, where they historically cream us), so I’m happy enough to say (3-1)
Maggie: All my past predictions have been so cautious. They have more losses than we do wins. I’ll go with a big series win. (3-1)
Aug 10-12: @ Arizona
Maggie: For whatever reason, the Diamondbacks make me wary. I’ll go with (1-2)
Maggie: This is the right time of year for a late season Mets collapse. (3-0)
Maggie: I think it would be silly to count Atlanta out since they’re the last team other than the Nats that seems to have any spark in the NL East. I’ll say Nats win the series, but it wouldn’t surprise me if Atlanta took it instead. (2-1)
Maggie: A group of Nats fans will be visiting CBP on Saturday night, and I’ve got high hopes they leave happy. I say we sweep the series. (3-0)
Maggie: Visiting Miami has never been the Nats strong suit. Thank goodness it’s only a 2 game series! (1-1)
Maggie: The Cards are one of those more historically (well, recently historically?) dominant teams. I don’t see them fading off into the autumn light. I should end my optimistic month with a won series, but I’ll call it a split. (2-2)
Maggie: a ridiculous 22-10.
So – are we totally nuts for imagining a 22-10 run over the month of August (plus 1 day in July and 2 in September)? Let us know your predictions in the comments!
Sorry for the delay in putting up the link to part 2 of our July predictions. Drew had them up on the 5th, and then I think I was distracted by the wonders of Atlanta (have you been to the Georgia Aquarium? Or the World of Coke? Holy crow, those are cool places!).
In any case – Drew puts part 2 up here.
Since the “Predict the Nats performance” post was such an interesting challenge (and since Drew and I did fairly well), I think a June prediction post is well in order. The Nats have a challenging month ahead of them where they’ll be playing the entire American League East over the course of two and a half weeks. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Once again, we’ll be splitting the predictions in two, with the First Ladies taking the first post, and CTmD taking on the second. Let’s get started!
Drew: I got a little carried away in my May preview with the ‘S’ word. I was thrilled to see the Nats actually get one sweep and take care of the Bravos in A-town. These two series are still going to be tough. I know the Braves have been struggling with injuries but so is everyone else. They’ve been pretty good team so far, with strong BB% and wOBA even with a mediocre pitching staff(1.03 HR/9 and 4.06 FIP). Despite that, I think the Nats have this group of Braves number. Since last season the Nats have played really well against the Braves. I’m going to say the Nats go 2-1 in both series and wind up 4-2 for June.
Maggie: This coming week is a big opportunity for the Nationals. They’ll be facing two division rivals, and one of those is the Braves, who they just swept. The Nats will (hopefully!) be getting some players back from the DL (can you say Michael Morse?), so they’ll continue to win. But after a long division road trip, I’m thinking they’ll be tired and don’t see them sweeping the Braves again. By the time we get to the end of the month, the Braves should have more players back and the Nats will be playing at Turner field again. I have a feeling this will be a turning point for Atlanta, so I’m only giving the Nats 1. (2-1, 1-2; 3-3 for the month).
Drew: I’m still not sure I can buy the Mets as real. Their defense is pretty shaky with a .307 BABIP (3rd highest in the NL), they still give up more than HR per game, they strike out 21% of the time(5th most in all of baseball), and they’ve actually given up more runs than they’ve scored (214-234). These are not the makings of a winning team. No matter how they keep winning I can’t believe this team is for real until some of those stats take a more positive turn. I’m going to agree with Maggie on this one and go 2-1.
Maggie: The Mets have been a real surprise this season – maybe more so than the Nationals since everyone was still ragging on them at the beginning of the season and was talking up the Nats. The Nats haven’t played them since their second series, so I have a feeling it will be close, but as a homer, I’ll give the Nats a slight edge. (2-1)
Drew: No one in Boston was really jazzed about the Sox over memorial day. They dropped 2 of 3 to the Rays and there isn’t much buzz. The thing is, they’re not playing terribly. Yeah, they’re last in their division but they’re over .500. In most other divisions they’d be competing for second. They’re offense seems to be performing with a solid wOBA (3rd in the AL, 4th overall), a decent BB% (ok, they strike out a fair amount too). Their pitching has been atrocious. The Nats have been a little bit inconsistent bat wise but I’m still going to pick their pitching to carry this one and say 2-1. I’d like to see a little revenge for April 3rd.
Maggie: The Red Sox have been really struggling this year. Of course, struggling in the AL East means sitting at .500 and still being in 5th place. This is definitely not the team that dominated for a stretch in the mid-aughts, so I’m giving the young and surging Nats a slight edge here (though it will be close playing at Fenway). (2-1)
Drew: I have no idea what to make of the Blue Jays (really resisting the urge to call them the BJs). They’re playing about as expected from a run production stand point. But since they’re in the AL, and Canadian I don’t know anything else about them. Flipping a coin here aaannnnddd….. 1-2. Nats gotta lose some time right?
Maggie: The Blue Jays are another team that have “struggled” this year (though currently sitting just over .500), but they haven’t had a real signature dominant win within their division. I was originally thinking the Nats would take just 1, but will bump that up to 2 since they may have a decent cheering section considering the franchise’s former base in Canada. (2-1)
We’ll finish things out tomorrow!
On Saturday, before the Nats game against the Mets, we had already been on our feet for two hours. This was because the Nats had an on-field photo session that had lasted for about 2 hours. And thus we decided to try something new: dinner at the Red Porch. We didn’t get a seat outside/right next to the window/open area, but there was still a cool breeze, and we had a different sort of dinner at Nats park (which included crab balls, a club sandwich, nicer beers than usual, and red velvet cupcakes. All of it was pretty good.)
And then there was the game. We went to find Maggie’s friends who were at the game, and just barely saw Desmond hit his home run at the top of the first, and by the time we got up to our seats on the gallery level, we saw (but did not talk to) Clint as he gave away lucky seat upgrades to a couple in the next section over.
But the real action showed up in the second inning. Recently called up minor league pitcher Tom Milone got his first strikeout at the top of the inning, and followed that up with a 3-run home run on his first pitch seen in his first major league at bat. The crowd went wild – I mean…how often does that happen? Magical.
Then things started to get ugly. In the fourth inning, Milone let his first runs score, and he was taken out the next inning. Gorzelanny replaced him, and did ok for a while…only to have a 2 run homer against him the next inning. Tyler Clippard allowed a run in the seventh, and for the rest of the game, the bullpen shut things down, but the Nats were still down a run, 6-5.
There were good things about the game too, don’t get us wrong. We got to see a new face at 1st – Marrero. He played solidly. We didn’t see him make any huge plays or huge screw-ups. We also witnessed Pudge’s first at-bat in a while. He snuck in off the DL when no one was looking… and promptly grounded out into a double play. Oh, Pudge. We miss you and can’t wait to see you back on the field soon.
And if we’re being honest – this is where Ashley and I left. It was getting to be a long day at the ballpark (close to 6 hours), and watching Clippard slip was difficult.
So we listened to the rest of the game on the radio (hi Dave and Charlie – yes, people do listen to the games on the radio) on the way home. Cue dramatic bottom of the ninth moment. For some reason, Bobby Parnell (the Mets reliever) walked Roger Bernadina to fill the bases, which brought Ryan Zimmerman up to bat. And Mr. Walkoff didn’t disappoint. On the fourth pitch he saw, Ryan lifted a ball into right field, and for once when we all willed it to drop, it did, allowing the two necessary runs to cross the plate and finish the game.
Sometimes I feel bad about leaving games early (especially ones that are frustrating, and the Nats are losing), but occasionally, you get to do a little fist-pump and dance in the drivers seat. Good times.
Full album of photos from this game, including the photo session from earlier in the day (post to follow), can be found here.
Game: #023 – Nationals vs. Mets
Starting Pitchers: Tom Gorzelanny (0-2, 4.96) vs. R.A. Dickey (1-3, 4.10)
Final Score: Nationals: 3, Mets: 6
Wednesday night was game 23 of the Nationals 2011 season. 23 is Maggie’s lucky number, but luck wasn’t enough to turn the game around. It was an odd kind of night, and since neither Maggie nor Ashley stayed for the entire game, we’ll review the most interesting points.
1. Rain delay. And not just a rain delay – a tornado warning delay. Obviously a funnel cloud did not appear over the stadium, but there was storm damage in other parts of the area (and a lot of damage and loss of life in other parts of the country). This sort of dramatic weather does not provide a cheerful setting for a baseball game. It was interesting that fans were not encouraged to get under cover. Although we did not think of it at the time, if there really were tornadoes in the area we probably should not have been hanging out in the Red Loft. However, we did get to watch the Giants take on the Pirates during the delay – the previous Nats opponent versus their next (after the Mets).
2. The rain delay gave us plenty of time to sample some tasty food. Maggie tried the jerk chicken from the Jammin Island BBQ stand up near the Red Loft, which came with two sides (fried plantains and another she wasn’t sure what it was – a little salty, sort-of like fries? – but also very tasty). Just spicy enough, and a lot of food for $10. Ashley went with the old standby of nachos from Hard Times Cafe, and a Blue Moon beer, which sadly, did not come with an orange slice. Later in the game Maggie tried the chocolate chip cookie dough Dippin Dots, but decided they are not nearly as good as cookies & cream.
3. Another advantage of the rain delay is one more chance to see the grounds crew in action. Ashley decided that if she ever wanted to completely switch careers, it’s something she might consider.
4. We made our way up to our seats, and Maggie grabbed a stack of All-Star Ballots. Vote early, and vote often is her motto. Also – you can vote for Adam Dunn and Josh Willingham (ex-Nats whom we love) on the American league side. And if you want to copy Maggie’s style, be sure to write in Wilson Ramos as all-star catcher. That kid’s got promise!
5. A shout-out to the George Mason trumpet ensemble, who performed a stirring version of the national anthem. Someday Maggie will actually get around to uploading all her game videos to youtube, and that one will be featured proudly.
6. Rick Ankiel’s at-bat music is hilarious, and Ashley made the comment that she felt like she should have glow-sticks and rapid dance moves. Yes, we’re digging his rave-a-licious tune. (Sorry – no pictures of players at bat for this game. There were folks sitting directly in front of Ashley and blocking her view of the plate. This also made it tough to keep score…)
7. We met up with Clint and the Nat Pack just before they found the section where they gave away the umbrellas that will be given away at Saturday’s game. You know Clint is a good guy when he a) remembers random fans who say hi a lot, and b) remembers their little brother, who was at the game where he and Maggie got the lucky seat up grade. This is also why he has had that job for so long.
8. On the drive home, Maggie heard the play called as Jose Reyes tried to turn a double into a triple, and threw a tantrum when he was called out after being called safe. Further review of the play showed that he should have been safe (and thus, the tantrum was justified), but moments like that make Maggie sad when she has to leave a game early.
(full album from this game can be seen here)
Game: #139 – Nationals vs. Mets
Starting Pitchers: Yunesky Maya (29, 0-1, 7.20) vs. Dillon Gee (35, 1-0, 1.29)
Final Score: Nationals: 1, Mets: 4
Nats New Record: 60-79
Play of the Game: The Mets must HATE Willie Harris! Dude gets another homerun to make sure it’s not a no-no against the Nats. Thanks, dude!
Favorite Non-baseball Moment: Maggie getting to spend time with her sister (see Other Observations)
Who was there: Maggie and her sister Meredith
Our Records: Maggie – 10-12 ; Meredith – 0-1
Promotional Items: As a season ticket holder, Maggie had a voucher to get a free promotional item from some other giveaway earlier in the year. She was really hoping to pick up the Zimmerman Golden Glove/Silver Slugger bobblehead, but they were all out. Instead she picked up a beach towel with the Miller Lite logo blazoned across it.
President’s Race: It was a close one. Teddy took the lead in the middle leg, but was overtaken (yet again!) by Abe. When are they going to start testing him?
- Maggie’s sister, Meredith has been deployed to Afghanistan for the past 6 months, and this was her first Nationals game. Maggie wanted to introduce her to Clint (who she’d told about her sister), and Meredith wanted to introduce Maggie to Mike – a former (always!) Marine who now is an usher at Nats park. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find either, and so ended up wandering around the park for nearly a third of the game.
- After the President’s race, Maggie and her sister met up with Joel (@joelhousman) and Steffanie (@sfeuer). They followed Maggie and Meredith on their quest to find people, and when no one was found, everyone got Dippin’ Dots. We then upgraded our seats (it was a fairly empty night), enjoying a better view of the 3rd base line and of Abe and George as they had a dance-off during the 7th-inning stretch.
Game: #081 (the halfway mark!) – Nationals vs. Mets
Starting Pitchers: Luis Atilano, (#56, 6-5, 4.72) vs. Niese, (#49, 6-1, 3.60)
Final Score: Nationals: 3, Mets: 5
Nats New Record: 35-46
Play and Player of the Game: Josh Willingham makes the loss easier to swallow when he hits a dinger. Hammer-time!
Favorite Non-baseball Moment: Maggie wins a pre-game NatsHD trivia contest! (see below)
Who was there: Ashley, Maggie, and Maggie’s brother Ben
Our Records: Ashley – 5-6; Maggie – 5-8; Ben – X-Y+1
Where did we sit: Ashley bought a grandstand seat for $5, with no intention of ever sitting in it (and she didn’t). Maggie and Ben were in their regular season seats of section 311. Ashley found an empty seat to occupy just across the aisle in 310. However, this seat was one row down from Maggie and Ben, and Ashley said that her row (B) was not as good for photography, because the plexiglass rail gets in the way.
What did we eat: Before the game, Maggie and Ashley had deemed THIS the game of the mega-pretzel. They purchased $5 beers during happy hour, then headed over to the Red Loft to acquire a pretzel. It was bigger and heavier than you would expect. We found a spot to sit and eat, and discovered a few things. 1) It’s really crunchy (almost hard) on the outside. 2) Said outside is really really salty, and slick from some kind of grease meant to keep salt on the pretzel. 3) There are three sauces provided, and none of them really says, “Pretzel”. There is a whipped cream, which is delicious (and the best of the bunch), but odd to eat with a savory pretzel. Next best is the “cheese” – unfortunately very very fake, and in our case, hard as a rock, which makes dipping difficult. Last in our sauce standings was the mustard, which was WAY too spicy, but Ashley kind of liked it. Overall, the pretzel was ok. Unfortunately, it was way too large for two people to eat by themselves (even girls with decent appetites), and we had to call in the big gun to help finish it off: teenage boy. Overal thought – not worth the $16 pricetag.
Promotional Items: No promotional items, but Maggie’s prize pack had a number of promotional items from former years, including the Frank Howard bobblehead (gifted to Ashley so it can sit with her matching Adam Dunn bobblehead), the kid’s jersey backpack (which was nice, and may be Maggie’s bag of choice for future games), a kid’s cap (too small for Ben’s head, and thus, unworn during the game), a real player/coach jersey size XL (has anyone heard of #17 Montz???), and another curly-W backpack to carry it all in.
President’s Race: A straight race until the very last second when Tom crossed the finish line backwards, just edging out Abe. Abe then knocked over the Geico Gecko. Why? Because Abe’s a jerk – THAT’S WHY.
- This was another game with lots of fans from the opposing team. However, Mets fans seem to be less obnoxious than Phillies fans. So it was…ok.
- Because we’re weird creepy fans (not really), we knew it was Nyjer Morgan’s 30th birthday. And he got a leadoff hit as a gift!
- Maggie and Ashley were standing up in the Scoreboard Walk area before gametime, hanging out, drinking their beers, when all of a sudden, a girl from the Nat Pack walked over and said, “Would either of you be interested in participating in an on-camera game with us for prizes?” Maggie’s hand immediately shot in the air. “I would”. And thus, it began. There was lots of waiting (to find another player, to find the host, to find the spot where we would shoot, for whatever else was on the big screen to finish, etc.), and then finally Maggie and her competitor Phil were playing “Nyjer Morgan or Willie Harris”. Apologies to Phil, I’m sure he’s a great fan, but Maggie has been obsessed by T.Plush since his debut at Nats Park a little over a year ago, so she knew she would at least not embarrass herself, and that it would probably be a slam dunk. First question: “Who attended Kennesaw State University?” Maggie knew that Nyjer Morgan attended a community college out west, and KSU was probably not it. So she answered “Willie Harris” and was right. Next question: “Whose middle name is Charles?” This one was a little trickier – Phil raised his hand and answered “Willie Harris”, but the answer was Nyjer Morgan! Because it’s one or the other, Maggie got the points. Last question – “Whose alter ego is known as Tony Plush?” Maggie had her hand up before the end of the question, answered “Nyjer Morgan”, and won herself the prize pack (see the promotion items area for contents). Good times. If anyone out there in Nats-blogging land happens to have video, or knows where to find video of these pre-game contests, please let Maggie know. She’d love to have a copy.
- On our way to our seats we walked by the awesome set-up for Black History Day at the park. There were some fantastic displays about the Negro league teams and players, and it was really cool.
- To add to Maggie’s streak, a little while after Maggie, Ben and Ashley had settled in their seats, a Nats Pack girl sat down on the stairs and leaned over and asked, “Would you like to upgrade your seats to section 101?” At this point, Maggie and Ben were thinking they’d won the Lucky Seat Upgrade (to the President’s Club), but Maggie mentioned that she’d already won a prize pack from the “Nyjer or Willie” game earlier that night. The Nat Pack didn’t seem to understand until one of the guys recognized Maggie and said, “Didn’t you win one of the games earlier?” It also seems that they were looking for four people all in Nats gear, and our trio was not enough. So they moved on. Later, we figured out that section 101 is in the outfield, and Maggie felt less bad for denying her brother the chance to move into the best seats in the ballpark.
- Whichever four people did move to section 101 were probably there for the “Thirst Row” promotion. We weren’t sure what the point of it was, except to be a Budweiser commercial in between halves of the innings. Generally terrible, and we nominate this as another in-game promotion that needs to be yanked.
- Both teams were wearing weird white hats with the stars and stripes on the inside of the team logos. They looked…not great.