2008 Curly W #2!

The Nationals just defeated the Phillies 11-6 at Citizen’s Bank Park in an exciting back and forth game. After the Nats squandered a 6-2 lead, they blew up in the 9th inning, getting five runs off of closer Tom Gordon. They must have hit three balls off the wall in the inning.

I heard on the telecast that this marks the first time since 2005 that the Nationals are above .500. They have tomorrow off before they try to go 3-0 in Philly. More on the game later. I’m now up 1-0 in the 3rd Annual Cheesesteak/Half-smoke Challenge.

Photos from Opening Night coming soon.

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Oh, it’s on

Don’t let the lack of logo (I’m nearly finished) fool you, the 3rd Annual Cheesesteak/Half-Smoke Challenge is on! Cliff and I are continuing our annual “mayors bet” on the Nationals vs. Phillies series this season. Since his Fleas won last year, the foodstuff he is defending gets top billing.

Right now, the series is tied 1-1. My 2006 victory was acquired in dramatic late-night fashion. It was a tasty cheesesteak.

We are trying to come up with a tie-breaker. Something like total runs or overall record will not do either.

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I’m going to Opening Night!

Woo hoo! My parents won one of the second-chance lotteries for Opening Night tickets and let me have them. Thanks!

I actually didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the Nats yesterday. The Cherry Blossoms and Newseum preview took up just about all of the daylight hours, so I didn’t even get to read too many of the articles. I did see a lot of curly W’s* out all day long though which was great to see. I didn’t catch any of the exhibition though, but since I am going tonight, I’m glad I will see the park in its completed form in person, rather than on TV.

If you are going to the game, leave early. I’ve updated my Nationals Park information post.

If you are staying home, the game is at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

A few random predictions

First Nationals hit: Lastings Milledge will homer — why not shoot for the moon?

Final regular season record: 76-86 A little better, but the increased offense is offset by pitching not being quite as good in a smaller park

Division standing: 4th

Batting average: Nick Johnson

Total bases: Ryan Zimmerman

Most starts: Tim Redding

Attendance: 2.8 million

Sellouts: 16

*I also saw a LOT of redheads. Seriously, I don’t think I have ever seen so many redheads in one day ever.

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2008 Cherry Blossoms

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, instead of blogging at dawn, I was down around the Tidal Basin taking photographs. I had never gotten up to see the Cherry Blossoms that early and I was glad that I did, despite the chill.

Later in the day, I went the Newseum for an early-bird preview. I’ll have more to say about that in the middle of the week.

[flickr : Cherry Blossoms at Dawn, 3.29.08 set/slideshow]

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Blue White Roundtable: We interupt wall-to-wall Nats coverage for some spring football

The Blue White game is three weeks from tomorrow and we’re already talking football. My head is spinning.

Mike from Black Shoe Diaries has this week’s questions.

Let’s start with the ugly news. Chris Baker, Chris Bell, Phil Taylor, Knowledge Timmons, and Navorro Bowman are all sitting out the spring practice sessions. What impact will this have on the 2008 season?

I expect some won’t be back and that will cost some depth. I just hope the decisions are made before classes end this spring so that the team can move on. When’s Baker’s trial again?

Would you move Sean Lee to middle linebacker like Paul Posluszny in 2006 and Dan Connor in 2007?

I expect to see it, just because that seems to be the way they do things now. I think Lee has a bigger upside than Dan Connor in general too. Lee seems to have a little meaner streak than Connor and comes off as more serious. Does it make sense with Chris Colasanti waiting in the wings though?

If Lee stays on the outside, who would you start at the other outside linebacker assuming Bowman is out of the picture?

Probably Tyrell Sales, who started most of the games last season.

Which position on the field is our weakest link?

I am most concerned about the secondary which had been a strength for several years. Justin King is gone and several players are in the doghouse. Plus, the position coach is new, so between that and a lack of depth and to play “prevent” in throughout the game has me worried.

Who is your pony in the quarterback contro…uh, competition?

My pony is the one who will win the most games. We have such a small sample size of Daryl Clark and no sample size of Pat Devlin to base our opinions on. What I have heard is Clark is a better runner than Devlin, but not by much. Devlin apparently has the better arm. Based on that, I’d lean towards Devlin. Let the best man win the job though.

Name three players that absolutely have to step up their performance this spring?

Derrick Williams — he hasn’t lived up to the hype yet and has one more chance
Andrew Quarless — if he is on the team, he needs to decide he likes football more than alcohol
Joe Paterno — he needs to spend more time in the Lasch Building making the players afraid of him

Lightning Round

Who is your pick to win the Red Worrell award given to the offensive player that shows the most improvement during spring practice?

Dennis Landolt — Peanut butter jelly time pays off.

Who is your pick for the Jim O’Hora award given to the defensive player that shows the most improvement?

Marc Rubin

Your 2008 team captains are…?

Sean Lee
A.Q. Shipley
Derrick Williams

The ever-growing roundtable:
The Nittany Line
There Is No Name On My Jersey
Tangled Up In White and Blue
The Big Eleventh
The Nittany Notebook
Run Up The Score
Nittany Whiteout

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Opening Night Eve Eve

Nationals leave Viera on winning noteFlorida Today
Nationals say goodbye to Viera in 2008Florida Today
Lannan leaves in fine formThe Wash. Times
The Nationals finished up spring training yesterday, beating the cowardly, hated Orioles, before flying back home. John Lannan pitched well again and has made a strong case for being the first pitcher added to the rotation when it expands to five.

Nats Enjoy An Evening In the ParkThe Post
“It’s even better than any of us thought it would be.” – Ryan Zimmerman

After landing at Dulles, the players, who dressed for the occasion, were bused to Nationals Park for the first time. JD got lots of photos on Near Southeast DC Redevelopment.

The park lots wonderful, the bunting is up, the logos are painted, beautiful!

Acta to Catch Bush’s First PitchThe Post
Nats’ manager to cover homeThe Wash. Times
An awkward situation has been averted, Paul Lo Duca, prominent in The Mitchell Report on performance enhancing drugs in baseball will not receive the ceremonial first pitch from President Bush on Sunday night. Manny Acta will get the honor which makes sense since the president has criticized drug abuse in baseball.

In case you were looking forward to the awkwardness, don’t worry Lo Duca and starting pitcher Odalis Perez have a past (D.C. Sports Bog) together.

Williams Was Starter, But Fenty Gets the ‘W’The Post
Nationals Park was former mayor Anthony A. Williams‘ baby. He, along with Ward 2 councilman Jack Evans, pulled off getting MLB to come here. The city council, including current mayor Adrian Fenty, nearly killed it, but it eventually got through. While Fenty, who has since become a champion of the ballpark, will get the honors of presiding over Opening Night as mayor, Williams will be sitting with his wife in row W in seats he paid for himself.

It would be a nice gesture for Mayor Fenty to include Mayor Williams in some of the pageantry.

Dukes Is Granted Day Off to Handle Legal TroublesThe Post
Dukes’ charge droppedThe Free Lance-Star
Elijah Dukes has one less thing to worry about — his first-degree misdemeanor charge for violating a restraining order was dropped.
Florida Today

THOMAS BOSWELLHouse of RepresentativenessThe Post
Remember the other day when Bos was complaining that Nationals Park would hurt the team? Well, I told you he’d be singing the praises of it and sure enough, he is raving about it today.

Nationals unveil new monument in ’08 NL openerUSA Today
Another preview of Nationals Park.

A Guide to Nationals ParkThe Post
An interactive guide to the ballpark.

In Signature Style, Lerners Strive To Make Ballpark Fan-FriendlyThe Post
Must fight urge to be cynical…will leave it for Capitol Punishment
The Lerner family has added many touches to the ballpark, like cherry trees (that may not be blooming on Sunday), that will give it more of a personality than the “out-of-the-box” design.

Metro to Lease Parking Spots to NationalsThe Post
Ballpark, Race, Blossoms To Test Parking ProwessThe Post
Parking, parking, parking.

New park’s pitch: Good food, for a changeThe Wash. Times
The Nats Free Food Tour – D.C. Sports Bog, washingtpost.com
Strike Zone–Ballpark Concessions TourNats320
New Ballpark Interior Photos From Today; Press Release from Metro on Getting to GamesNear Southeast DC Redevelopment
Food will cost more, but it will taste better. The soda will not taste as good, becase they switched to Coke from Pepsi. The beer will just cost more.

‘I Helped Build the Stadium’The Post
Quotes and video form men and women who built Nationals Park.

Blue White Roundtable will appear around lunchtime.

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Nationals Park information

I am going to aggregate all of the evergreen Nationals Park information I can find right here. I will be updating this as necessary.

INSIDE NATIONALS PARK

Brief notes:

  • Bottles of water up to 1 liter are permitted
  • Small soft-sided coolers are permitted
  • Single serving packaged food from outside the ballpark is permitted

    Gate Times at Nationals Park

    Nationals Park A-Z Guide

    General Ticket Information

    Seating and Pricing Diagram

    HOW TO GET TO NATIONALS PARK

    Hints

    Travel TipsThe Post

  • Don’t drive to the actual ballpark neighborhood unless you have already secured a parking pass.
  • You can park for free at RFK Stadium and take the Nats Express shuttle to Nationals Park.
  • There are racks for 250 bicycles.
  • Capitol South Metro is not too far away if you are coming from Blue/Orange lines.

    Directions to Nationals Park

    Way to Go – Interactive Map

    A Guide to Nationals ParkThe Post

    Go Metro! Go Nationals! Take Metro to Nationals Park.

    NATIONALS PARK MEDIA COVERAGE

    Nationals Park: Home (At Last)The Wash. Times

    Nationals Park: The Opening – WTOP

    Welcome to Nationals Park – WRC

    Washington Nationals: The Inaugural Season 2008

    Baseball’s newest field of green

    NATIONALS PARK’S NEIGHBORHOOD

    There is not much there yet except for construction sites. That will by next season and improve annually.

    JDLand.com Near Southeast DC Redevelopment

    Q&A: Jacqueline Dupree

    EATING AT NATIONALS PARK

    Single serving packaged food from outside the ballpark is permitted.

    There are a variety of restaurants including Ben’s Chili Bowl, Hard Times Cafe, Five Guys (though maybe not on Opening Night), Red, Hot & Blue, Boardwalk Fries, Gifford’s, Cantina Marina, La Piccola Gelateria, Mayorga Coffee, Noah’s Pretzels, Kosher Sports, Krazee Ice. The hot dogs sold in the stands will Gwaltney. Coca-Cola products will be sold.

    There are very few options in the ballpark vicinity. Barracks Row (8th Street SE near Eastern Market) is marketing itself to the ballpark crowd.

    I will update this as I get new information.

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