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!
This past weekend was about Natitude. What is Natitude? Well, let’s do a photo essay as a demonstration of what it is based on who has it. Before the game started, warming up in right field, Jayson Werth was confronted with a crowd of Phillies fans who had bought tickets near him with the sole intent of taunting him during the game. What was his response? A tip of the cap. That’s Natitude. Follow that up with a three-run bomb in the bottom of the fifth. Extra Natitude.
Who else? Let’s go with the player of the player of the game – Gio Gonzalez. Not only did he pitch seven solid innings, he had a double in the fifth and scored on Jayson Werth’s home run. The best part is seeing Gio smile at his offensive success. Good stuff.
Natitude also means an offensive bonanza. Not only did we get the Werth homer, but we got one from Desmond…
And another from Chad Tracy. The long ball executed multiple times against a hated division rival is SERIOUS Natitude. So much so that it meant that it got the Nats a 7-1 win. Well done!
And it wasn’t just the players. This game was on Cinco de Mayo. In Section 135, this fan in the custom sombrero (a party-store spray-paint job) showed some serious Natitude in leading the crowd with their cheers.
Full face paint means you’re full of Natitude.
And even the kids have the spirit. And just because the official Natitude Weekend is over, that doesn’t mean we can’t keep packing the park as fans and showing our support for this team. We’ll see you back at the park next week!
Full album here.
On Friday, Drew and I headed down to Natitude Park to watch the baseball game. Yup, Natitude Park. Every reference inside the stadium, from the scoreboard to the directional signs, had been changed for the weekend. Totally cheesy? Absolutely. Useful? Well, as of right now, the Nats are up 2-0 in the series.
Although I definitely saw Phillies fans, there certainly weren’t as many of them as there have been in years past. They also weren’t able to dominate the stands. We had a rowdy group sitting in our section, and although they tried, they couldn’t get any cheers to catch on. There were just too many Nats fans!
But how was the baseball you ask?
Well, it turned out to be a perfect night. There were scattered showers around DC all day, but they stayed away for all 11(!) inning of play. Oh, and the moon was out too.
Things were heated from the start – the first three Phillies batters were quickly dispatched, and the Nats took a turn at bat. Bryce Harper was walked, and the Phillies manager came out to argue the call. With no umpire at third to check the call at the plate, Charlie Manuel was quickly tossed (there were only three umps for the whole game – one called in sick).
After that, the umps did a decent job until they robbed us of a run in the 8th! (My untrained eyes clearly saw Ankiel safe at home).
In addition to pitching, we saw Strasburg hit a double in the 3rd. He made it all the way to third with the bases loaded before Werth struck out to end the inning. The Nats got lots of players on base, but had trouble actually get them home. Hence, it took 11 inning to get the job done.
I sincerely hope that the Nats continue to do well and can get people to come to games. It’s a different ballpark with the stands full. The high school girls behind us were especially amusing, going from “Look, it’s Harper! He’s so dreamy!” to explaining things like bunts and balks to a friend who tagged along.
More pictures here.
The Nats have been off to an awesome start in the month of April. To end the month at 14-8 is somewhat unexpected. Fans were optimistic before opening day, but I’m not sure that anyone would have predicted how many ways our boys on the field would find ways to win (despite the frustrating road trip to California).
And now we leave the first month, and we start to have some real data to work with instead of merely making guesses based on limited opportunities. But because I’m not REALLY a baseball math person, I called up someone who is – Drew, husband of First Lady Ashley, who also writes a stats blog called Crunching Through My Day. We’re going to try something new this month, and depending on how things go…this could be a semi-regular thing. Let us know what you think, and we’ll see what happens.
The next month is going to be the Nats first real challenge. Everyone said that their opening schedule was one where they had a chance to dominate, and clearly they did since they sit tied for first at the top of the NL leaderboard. What we’re going to do is go series-by-series and using Maggie’s guts and Drew’s computer programs, try to predict how things will look by the end of the month. We’ll address the first four teams the Nats will face in today’s post on FLoB, and the back half’s opponents tomorrow on Crunching Through My Day.
Currently, the DBacks sit in the middle of the NL West with a record of 12-11. After this series, the next time they’ll see the Nats is the middle of August, once things get interesting. Last year the Nats were 2-5 against the D-backs who finished 1st in the NL West with a record of 94-68. With that history and the back end of our rotation facing Arizona, I predict 1-2.
The Dbacks are an enigma to me since I hear so little about them. Looking at the #s this will be an interesting series for the Nats. Arizona’s pitching looks awful, allowing 1.09 HR/9 and a 4.01 FIP. 290 BABIP. The Pirates aren’t that bad. However, their offense seems better than most. This should be a real series with the Nats pitching strength pitted against their offense and their poor pitching against our abysmal offense. After the series with the Dodgers, I’m going to say that our offense won’t get it done here. One upping Maggie and saying a sweep.
The Nationals will take on the Phillies twice in the month of May – during the first weekend of May for the highly touted “Our Park” initiative, followed by a trip to Citizens Bank Park towards the end of the month. They’ll face the fury of Strasburg during the first series, and will see the middle of the rotation up in Philly. I predict 2-1 for the first meeting, and 1-2 for the second (we’ll blame the Philthies for that) for an even 3-3 for the month of May.
The Philthies suffered a huge set back this spring with Howard and Utley going on the DL. While questions swirled about whether or not their pitching would be enough to carry them through the NL. Through April, the results aren’t pretty. The Phillies pitching staff has pitched pretty middling, with middle of the NL stats in K/9, BB/9 and BABIP (oddly enough, their FIP is 2nd in the NL behind the Nats). Their offense has been fairly nondescript which probably explains their record. While April results don’t have much bearing on post season outcomes, particularly for the Philthies, I’m not counting them out yet. Playing the Nats brings out the best in both teams (and the worst in Philthies fans). For the two series, I’m going to say that there’s a split, with the Philthies taking 2 of the first 3 and the Nats taking the 2 of the last 3.
Pittsburgh Pirates – 5/8-10, 16-17
The Pirates are a team that I always feel bad for. They haven’t had a winning season since 1992, and they’ve been dumped on for so long in a way that the Nationals only had to endure for a few seasons. They’ll face off for a three game series in Pittsburgh, followed by a 2 game series a week later in DC. I say 2-1 for the first series, and 1-1 for the second, leaving a prediction of 3-2 for the month.
I agree with you Maggie. Despite the fact that Sid Bream sliding into home is still the most exciting baseball moment of my life (Braves win! Braves win!), I feel bad for the Pirates. Even for a bad team, they’re underperforming. The Pirates pitching is ok but their offense atrocious, falling near the bottom in BABP, H, HR, and K%. Pair that against the Nationals pitching and I’m calling for a sweep in the first series and a split in the second. Assuming the Nats actually hit, that is.
Cincinnati Reds – 5/11-13
The Nats played the Reds as their first home stand of the year and took 3 of 4. If the Nats stay on top of their game, I bet we’ll see another win…even if they are playing this series in Ohio. I predict: 2-1.
While the Nats took 3 of 4 from the Reds at home, they got lucky. Going into the 8th inning of each game, the Nats’ win probability was 94.8, 21.6, 94.2, and 50.0. Games 1, 2, and 4 went into extra innings and the Nats lost the last one. The Nats could have easily lost the first two of those games and we’d be looking at a very different season right now. While the Reds haven’t been outstanding, they’ve got a core that’s as good as the Nats. I’m afraid the ball is going to bounce their way in the series. I’m going to be a downer here and say the baseball gods will smile on the Reds with a sweep.
We’ll finish up the rest of our thoughts tomorrow on Crunching Through My Day. Be sure to check back for the thrilling finale (haha) where we reveal how we think the Nats will finish out the month.5 Comments
Being a Nationals fan is never super easy – supporting a team that has been down in the dumps for a while is hard work. When a team with a passionate fan base comes to town (a fan base that has no problem calling our ballpark “theirs”), it becomes even more difficult. Think of being a Nats fan at a Nats vs Phillies game as Advanced Placement Fandom.
Friday night was a good game to come off of – there was suspense, dedication (for those who stayed through a 2.5 hour rain delay), and a dramatic win – courtesy of a grand slam home run by Ryan Zimmerman in the bottom of the ninth. Saturday was Ian Desmond bobblehead night, a night which has (from anecdotal evidence) usually been good for the subject of the bobblehead. Nats fans went in to Saturday’s game hopeful, and maybe a little bit cocky off the late night win.
Saturday was not a day where fans deserved their bravado. Roy Oswalt pitched lights out – an 8-hit shutout. John Lannan and the defense behind him could not handle the Phillies that night, and the game was a painful reminder of why it’s hard to be a Nats fan when the Phils come to town.
Sunday was a different day. The Nats knew that they still had a chance to take the series and that it was a new day. They hit against Halladay early to get the lead, and though the Phillies tied it, the weather was on their side. For the second game in 3 days, the Nats and Phillies had to sit through a rain delay – this time 1 hour 11 minutes – and when the tarp came off the field, the Nats came back with a vengeance to tie the game. Drew Storen may not have pitched as well as he has, but Ian Desmond made up for his pitiful bobblehead night with a game-tying home run in the ninth. Then a great inning by Sean Burnett, followed by a solid inning of hitting to win in a walk-off Hit By Pitch.
Ashley and I did not stay through the end of the game on Sunday due to previous commitments, but we were there to the bitter end on Saturday, and we can honestly say that Nats fans are really living up to expectations. They are there for their team with a cheer, and more and more… their team is there for them with a win.
Pictures from Saturday’s game are here.
Pictures from Sunday’s game are here.
Winning pitcher – Roy Halladay (7-3)
No Decision- Livan Hernandez (3-6) / L- Sean Burnett (0-2)
Final Score- 4-5
Before actually getting into the game, Ashley and I are both immensely disappointed with the Nats PR department. Building up everyone’s hopes that Teddy would win today’s Presidents race and then having Abe win like always. For shame! Now that that’s out of the way, on to the game.
In what is the “official” start of summer for most Americans, the weather couldn’t have been more appropriate: clear, sunny, and hotter than an outhouse roof. Our Nationals played fairly well all things considered. The defense played well although a couple of mistakes would cost the. The pitching held Philadelphia to about their average of 4 runs a game, which considering the firepower that Philly brings is more encouraging than holding the lowly Padres to 2 or so runs. There were a couple of times we felt that Riggleman was crazy for leaving Hernandez on the on the mound, especially as his pitch total began climb near the temperature.
What was most impressive about the Nats’ play was their offense. Even if Halladay was shaky (which he was), putting up 4 runs on 10 hits was a solid outing. Homeruns from Morse, Espinosa, and Nix were a welcome sight. More importantly, the Nats continued hitting well after San Diego left. They could certainly use the continued offense. Hopefully the bats will stay alive through the west coast road trip. If they do and things go well, the Nats might actually pass the Mets in the NL East. Still too far back to hope for October but hey, small victories are what count.
Ankiel stealing second in the first inningand the suicide squeeze in the second suggested that Riggleman and the Nats were going to aggressively try and manufacture runs. Once balls started leaving the park, it appears the game plan shifted.
Despite both Ashley and my opposition to the Nats’ alternate blue unis, they looked ok from the stands. Still too busy up close but decent at 200 yards.
We got mentioned in Dave Nichols’ piece for MASN on the Natosphere! We’re the blog written from a female perspective (despite the occasional male guest-writer).
I appreciate the Ladies letting me write the Post. If they’re feeling charitable they might let me do some more. Hope to see folks around the ball park
Drew (First Dude)
(a note from Maggie: I was completely remiss in posting this guest bit in a timely manner, Drew, husband of Ashley, deserves better, and I hope you enjoy his photos and thoughts. We’re going to try and get him to guest post more often now that he’s back in town on a permanent basis, and will OBVIOUSLY get sucked into being a full-time Nats fan)
So, last night was the first “official” 2011 Phillies invasion of DC. A hashtag went out on twitter pleading for help to #savenatsparkapril14th. Maybe it worked? Or maybe more Phillies fans have gotten jobs since the last time they invaded, because not only was the park not sold out with Phillies fans, I saw only 6 buses, as compared 25 or so last year. Phillies fans were loud, but they didn’t drown out the Nats fans in attendance. Add to that a pitcher (Jordan Zimmermann) who had a performance that wasn’t embarrassing (a problem at previous “invasions”), and in fact, went toe to toe with a World Series-caliber pitcher. A pitcher who Lee himself said that Zimmermann had, “the best fastball I’ve ever seen.”
Favorite Non-baseball Moment: At the bottom of the ninth, Adam Dunn stepped up to the plate and the fans exploded. Everyone was on their feet clapping, cheering, and chanting “Sign Adam Dunn”. It was great to be in the middle of a crowd that was both pro-Nats and excited about Dunn. Even though he struck out, he got a standing ovation walking back to the dugout.
Where did we sit: Our original seats were in Section 143 – at the far left side of the outfield, right behind Nyjer Morgan. Normally, these seats would be in the “just ok” category – you can’t see the big screen, and it’s harder to follow the game from (close to) ground level when you’re way in the back. On the plus side – you can actually kind of tell when pitches are balls and strikes, and Nyjer Morgan (who we love) is RIGHT THERE, miming and having fun with the fans. Unfortunately for us, there were a few too many
President’s Race: Abe led the entire race, and took his third straight racing championship. To this we say, “Boo hiss! Let ANYONE ELSE win!” Maggie was rooting for George (for a win), and Ashley for Tom (to create a 3-way tie, and thus put Teddy in “second”).
Game: #158 – Nationals vs. Phillies
Starting Pitchers: Jason Marquis (#21, 2-6, 4.29) vs. Roy Oswalt (#44, 7-0, 1.17)
Final Score: Nationals: 2, Phillies: 1
Nats New Record: 68-90
Play and Player of the Game: Adam Dunn – he had both RBIs for the game, a fielders choice out that allowed Nyjer Morgan to score, and then had an amazing walk-off homer into center field to end the game (more on that below).
Favorite Non-baseball Moments: Last season, Maggie’s sister had gone to a few games, and met an usher up in the Red Loft named Mike, who was really nice to her and her friend, and this season, she told Maggie to keep an eye out for him. Maggie never found him, so when we arrived early at Tuesday’s game (to get t-shirts), we decided to make finding Mike our primary concern. We asked around and found out that he was in the club level. We had passes for the Stars and Stripes Club, so went to see him. He was so nice and took such good care of us, that it made the evening that much more special. Thanks Mike, for being so good to us!
Who was there: Maggie and her sister Meredith
Our Records: Maggie – 12-14; Meredith 1-1
Where did we sit: Section 220. Fantastic view, with no net or wires in the way!
What did we eat: Split an order of (hot, hot!) french fries, a few slices each of Flippin’ Pizza (which we’ve had before), but things really got interesting when a dessert cart in the Stars and Stripes Club caught Maggie’s eye. We split a large piece of Smores cake, which was delicious, and definitely not something either of them could have made themselves. It was a little expensive ($8), but worth it.
Promotional Items: Ryan Zimmerman “Mr. Walkoff” tees. The middle front says “Mr. Walkoff” with Zimmerman’s swinging profile in the middle, and his last name in red down the left sleeve. A great fall giveaway.
President’s Race: Teddy had a MAJOR lead, and it looked like he would get his first win. Meredith noticed a brick wall along the sidelines, and as Teddy turned the corner, the Kool-Aid Man burst through the wall and tackled Teddy with an “Oh Yeah!”
- There are so many reasons for the Nationals to sign Dunn. One of them happened when the Phillies player Domonic Brown had a hit that was looking like a line drive over first base. At 6 foot 6, he was able to leap and tip the ball so that it stopped, and Ryan Howard was held off from scoring.
- Brian Schneider is now playing for the Phillies. This gives Maggie mixed feelings because he was her first favorite player with the Nats back in 2005, and he signed her hat that year. Fortunately or not, he didn’t have a very good game.
- It was hilarious to watch Marquis drop to the floor as Alberto Gonzalez scooped up a bunt to throw across the pitching mound to first.
- Meredith on Clint: “He’s really good at what he does…do you think he wears make-up?”
- Meredith isn’t a huge baseball fan, so Maggie needed to explain what “Mr. Walk-off” meant. This is how it went. Maggie said, “Well, right now the game is tied. Let’s imagine that it gets to the bottom of the 9th, still tied. Zimmerman is known for getting home runs in these situations where because you break the tie, you can just walk off the field. But since he’s not in tonight’s game – let’s say that guy is Dunn. If he gets up to bat and hits a home run (with 0, 1, or 2 outs), the game is over.”
- Maggie and Meredith left their seats at the top of the 9th because of a self-imposed rule of leaving at 9:30. They saw (and heard) Storen do a great job during the top of the 9th, and were walking back to their cars. On the walk back, a new, large video screen was visible on the back of the scoreboard. We saw Adam Dunn come up to bat, we saw him take the first ball, we saw him swing, and then a view of the centerfield seats. A cheer went up from the crowd, and fireworks went off. Maggie shrieked about having predicted Dunn’s walk-off during her explanation, and they both high-fived a vendor before finishing the walk back to their cars.
Game: #104 – Nationals vs. Phillies
Starting Pitchers: Ross Detwiler (#48, 0-1, 1.00) vs. Joe Blanton, (#56, 3-2, 5.71)
Final Score: Nationals: 7, Phillies: 5
Nats New Record: 46-58
Play and Player of the Game: Ryan Zimmerman goes yard with a 3-run walk-off homer to win the game. That’s how we do it.
Runner-up Player of the Game: Ross Detwiler goes into the sixth inning for the Nats. Seriously good stuff.
Favorite Non-baseball Moment: Spotting @darkmeathook and @dcyetti at the game, and going over to chat. And then getting caught on the “Fan Cam”!
Who was there: Maggie and her friends Jon and Sudhir
Our Records: Maggie – 7-10; Jon – 2-0; Sudhir – 1-0
Where did we sit: Section 225, Row E. Good view – lower to the ground, but at a decent angle to the field, and you can still see NatsHD.
What did we eat: Lots and lots of $5 happy hour beers. But Maggie also had a grilled turkey sandwich from Dupont Deli which turned out to be delicious (some kind of raspberry vinaigrette sauce?) that came with a free bag of chips. Not a bad deal for $8.
Promotional Items: It was Nyjer Morgan bobblehead night. Little Tony Plush is just as eager to snag the ball as his life-sized namesake, and sports the signature slightly twisted cap and knee-socks.
President’s Race: Possibly the most heartbreaking race yet – Teddy leads through to the end…then trips about a meter before the finish line, and just LAYS there. George comes in and steals the win. The new faces are way too cartoony for Maggie’s liking.
- The Phillies (Philthy?) fans, while maybe not quite as numerous as on opening day were still out in force. Before the game, they were overheard complaining about our “mediocre” ballpark, the price of beer, and the lack of people who come to games. All those fans became much more subdued when the Nats took a 3-run lead in the first inning. After taking the lead in the 9th, a few were VERY sore losers when Zimmy won the game for us. One girl kept repeating, “But you’re still in last place”. Nobody denied it, but instead she was confronted with, “But what does that mean if your team loses to us twice in a row?” Said Phillies-lady-fan was later heard shouting “I have a Masters degree!!!” Context for this quote was never discovered.
- Speaking of Philthy behaviour – a pre-game video on acceptable stadium/game behavior was shown starring Rachel and a few Nat-Packers. Maggie is quite sure that this video was created for the sole purpose of letting Phillies fans know that swearing, being rude and obnoxious, and SMOKING are not welcome at Nats park.
- John Isner, the winner from the longest game in the history of tennis, made an appearance before the game and threw out a ceremonial first pitch.
- One of the more interesting plays of the game occurred when Joe Blanton was hit by a pitch in the top of the 6th. He was just trotting off to first base, when he was called out. It turns out, he had stuck his elbow out, intentionally drawing the HBP, which is not allowed. Fans in the stands were a little confused at the time – especially those of us without the proper sight-lines to see what happened.
- You would not believe the cheer that went up during Adam Dunn’s first at bat. There are a lot of people in this town that are glad to see him stick around – at least through the end of the season.
- Finally – Maggie had a great time at the game, mostly because Jon and Sudhir – her two college buddies who accompanied her – had never seen her riled up at a professional sporting event. They got the full treatment of whoops, yells, and player nicknames. A good time was had by all.