The Playoffs are Here!

No, the Nationals did not make it this year.  My post of April 5, 2018 said they would not.

The strange thing is Gio Gonzales (who was traded to the Brewers a couple of months ago) is going to start the first game tonight against the Dodgers:)))  The Brewers are underdogs to win the National League championship, but I like their chances.  Their manager, Craig Counsell, is one of the best.  He had a great playing career and won 2 World Series rings (Marlins and Diamondbacks).  As a player (and I watched him a lot) he was gritty and tough, a guy who never gave up.  But picking Gio to go tonight (he has never won a post-season game!) has me scratching my head:)))

And speaking of strange choices of starting pitchers………The Red Sox have pencilled in David Price to start game 2!  He is another guy without a win in October.  They ought to line up their starting pitchers this way: Sale, Eovaldi and Porcello.  And then, if they really must have Price start a game, have him go in game 4.

This should be great 7-game series for both leagues!  Fasten your seat-belts.


Max Does it With His Bat!

This game was mostly painful to watch; it dragged on way too long.  The Nats bats just weren’t there for most of the game.  In fact it is a minor miracle I was awake for the really exciting 14th inning (thanks to my anticipation for the hockey playoff game soon to start in Wash, D.C.).

So, the 14th inning starts with the game tied and our star pitcher grabbing a bat and heading to the batter’s box as a pinch-hitter!  That was actually not so far fetched since he was hitting .286 with several key RBIs to his credit.  Anyhow, Max hits a clean single up the middle, and then we fans could hope maybe Max would try to steal 2B again:)))  Wilmer Difo then hits a shot in the right-centerfield gap that goes all the way to the wall.  Max takes off from first clearly pushing himself to top speed.  I began to worry about him pulling a hamstring (I have painful experience with that!).  But as I watch him approach 3B I see Bob Henley signaling Max to try to score!  I see the cutoff man bobble the throw a bit and then try to catch Difo stretching for a triple, so I know Max will score and put the Nats ahead.

They ended up winning the game 5-3, and pulling to only a half game out of first place.  And the 2 minor-league players in the game (Soto and Keiboom) had more hits (5) than the rest of the team combined!

How Many MLB stadiums Have You Seen a Game in?

Of the stadiums that are being used today, I have been to six.  Years ago I also went to six that are now long-gone, including the three that used to be in New York City.  My favorite of those was Brooklyn’s Ebbits Field.  Today my favorite is Fenway Park.  I very much want to get to Wrigley Field some day.

Here is a good article comparing and rating the thirty stadiums now in use.

The first lighted baseball stadium West of the Mississippi

The Madrid Miners were a pretty successful baseball team from about 1920-1950.  Their home was the mining town of Madrid, New Mexico, which got its start when coal was discovered nearby in the mid-1800s.  This link will take readers to a trove of history about the first baseball stadium to have its own lightes, even before the first major-league team got them.

Life Throws a Curveball at Jim Palmer

When I was growing up in Arizona I played a lot of baseball.  While in high school Jim Palmer was rising to legendary stardom at a neighboring school.  He had an electric fastball that my brother and I could not catch up to:)))  Later in life (before the Washington Nationals debut) I drove up to Baltimore many times to watch him pitch (and drive Earl Weaver around the bend).  The Orioles were the only game in town for us ball-players in The Washington, D.C. area.

Check out this unusual story about Jim Palmer

Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer long wondered if he’s related to JFK. At 72, he learned the truth.

Was Cochise a Baseball Fan?

Here is an incredible story about baseball in the Arizona Territory in the 1870s to the 1890s.   The territory was home to a number of U.S. Army forts and when the soldiers weren’t out chasing outlaws or warring with renegade Indians they apparently often turned to baseball for entertainment.  Here is a link to the news article:

How Good Are the Nats?

They are good enough to possibly win the NL-East division.  But the Mets seem to have all their starting pitchers healthy and also have a chance to win it.  The Braves and Phillies are better.  So this division is up for grabs.  The Nats are slightly better now than they were at this time last year, but not by much.

They need the following: a 5th starter and a stronger bullpen.  Their starting pitcher depth is not strong at all; they have Hellickson and Jackson who are nearing the end of journeyman careers, and they have A.J. Cole and other AAA arms who are not ready for The Show.

Are they ready for October?  Not really.  To get past the first round of the playoffs they need to acquire a stronger #3 starter; Gio has never won a game in the playoffs.  The Nats need to do what the Astros did last year at the trade deadline, go get a starting pitcher who can win playoff games.  In addition they need to upgrade the bullpen by 2 better arms than they now have.  As the season plays out up to the trade deadline and some teams realize they are not going to be playing in October, candidates for the above needs will likely appear on  the market.

A Good Start For 2018

Sweeping Cincinnati gave the Nats a great start to the new season.  In general the pitching, defense, hitting and base-running have looked pretty good.  Adam Eaton has been phenomenal as he played a major role in getting the Nats on the scoreboard in the first inning of each road game.  That is huge in any away from home series, but to start the season in this way, and with a new manager, can pay dividends in so many ways.  For sure the starting pitchers love that!

I strongly support Dave Martinez batting Trea Turner down in the order.  With his penchant for swinging at anything near the plate, not working the count and resistance to bunting, he does not belong near the top of the order.  I hope the new hitting instructor will help him with a more productive and mature approach to hitting.  Turner played a leading role in ensuring the Nats failed to get past the first round last October.

Sports Media Strikes Out

Last night’s game was exciting and was baseball at its best.  Baseball’s unpredictability is one of the main reasons we love the game.  I was happy to see StEvIE pitch the game of his life.  And now Mikey Taylor, the hitting hero, is leading the team with his .273 batting average.  The Nats showed heart and character (2 qualities that have been in short supply recently).

The after-game interview with StEviE made me laugh when he was asked about the ridiculous media circus (created by the media solely to sell their BS).  He basically said “what circus, I ignored it.”  And so did his teammates, according to other interviews.  Glad to see the Nats being so grounded in reality.

Tonight’s game 5 will be “must see!”

Stevie Says He Can’t Pitch Today

Stephen Strassburg says he is sick, due to mold exposure, and can’t pitch today.  The media and fans have gone ballistic.  We know Strass is fragile and many call him a head case.  I think there is some truth there.  But it is what it is, and Tanner Roark will pitch today and it’s do or die.  Both Gio and Max will be ready to come in from the bullpen.  So lets fasten our seatbelts!