Nats vs. Pirates Q&A with Sam, The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus

Earlier in the season, I asked the outgoing Maryland Bureau Chief about the first Washington Nationals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates series. Since then, Sam became The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus by moving back to Western Pennsylvania and both teams reached mediocrity or better. Their third series of the year begins tomorrow at Nationals Park.

WFY: Since our last Q&A, you moved back to Western Pennsylvania and the Pittsburgh Pirates have at times had a winning record. The Washington Nationals have also been as high as 2 games above .500 (though they aren’t right now, grrrrr!). Is this all a coincidence or did your moving back lift both franchises?

TMBCE: It certainly appears that way, doesn’t it? I will say this: Pirates fever is starting to capture the city. At present, they are just 2 games over .500, but you’d think they are winning the division by 5 games. TV ratings are up and 3 of the biggest crowds in PNC Park history have been this season. To be fair, they’ve gotten a fair number of Phillies, Red Sox and Orioles fans for those respective series. And fans are still skeptical that the wheels will come off the wagon any day now. I think the Nats improvement is more sustained, and they could challenge for a division title next year.

WFY: Now that you are back in the Pittsburgh market, are you watching the Pirates and following them more closely? Did you find a Pirates cap to wear? Have you been to any games?

TMBCE: I am following them more closely, along with the Yanks. I’m much more into baseball this year. Sammy (my 5-year old son) is turning into a crazy baseball fan. We watch a portion of many of the games. I am trying to take him to his first game on July 9th against the Cubs-a fireworks night!

WFY: What is your take on Jim Riggleman resigning as manager of the Nats?

TMBCE: Overall, I think the GM did him wrong. And where is the ownership-are they weighing in on this ? I hope Riggleman isn’t interested in managing again, because he just committed career suicide. Plus, no one forced him to sign the contract, so I don’t feel too badly for him. But I would have tried to cash in on an extension too. The GM should have just fired him or extended him in the offseason. My long-distance view is a lack of leadership from ownership.

WFY: Thanks for taking 2 of 3 from the Baltimore Orioles last week — did We Are Family got a lot airplay? #theenemyofmyenemyismyfriend

TMBCE: Actually, it got none, because the Pirates (and I think wisely, for them) planned a series of events celebrating the 1971 championship team over that week. 40th anniversary and all. Who did they beat in the 1971 world series, you ask? The “unbeatable” Baltimore Orioles!!! So that was an enjoyable time for all.

WFY: Off topic, how do you feel about Jaomir Jagr’s decision?

TMBCE: I am in favor of him coming back, but will not be devastated if he does not. I cannot shake the “dying alive” comments he made right before getting shipped out to the Caps. Hopefully he has matured. Plus, the Pens power play sucks.


Surely I didn’t ask that previous question just to post this, did I?

WFY: Also, off topic, is a downtown rally for Hines Ward for winning Dancing With The Stars unbecoming of a city that has hosted 3 championship parades in the last 6 years?

TMBCE: It is. I have been a fan of Hines Ward long before it was “cool” to do so. Hines is probably my favorite all-time Steeler, but I will admit to being a bit disturbed to seeing so many “new” fans of Hines over the last 3-4 years. Most of them probably don’t realize he’s been playing for 13 seasons.

WFY: On a scale of “no chance” to “MORTAL LOCK” what are the chance that the Nats trip to Pittsburgh will be the same weekend as our mutual friend’s wedding next April?

TMBCE: Its a fair possibility. The Pirates seem to try and load up on summer weekend series against the big market teams, at least they did this season. I think the most likely scenario is the Nats come to Pittsburgh over Labor Day weekend. The 2nd most likely scenario is the last weekend in April.

One additional thought crossed my mind regarding the Nats-Pirates trade from a few years ago. Joel Hanrahan is exceeding expectations this season. He is tied for 2nd in the NL with 23 saves. He is perfect in saves opportunities this year with a 1.21 ERA. He is likely the Pirates All-Star, although with those numbers, I believe he has earned his ticket. I believe this tilts that trade slightly in the Pirates favor, for the moment.

WFY: Oh, how wonderful, I’m so happy that he is conquering his pyromania. Seriously, he killed the 2009 season with all of his early blown saves, this should have been his entrance music:

Lastly, TMBCE expects a split series but thinks the Nats have a better shot at taking 3. I think he’s trying to jinx me, so I’ll give the Buccos the edge in taking 3, though I expect a split.

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Throwing errors aside, Ryan Zimmerman is awesome, but the Nats are under .500

Does it figure that the day that overwhelmed sports radio host and occasional Post columnist for topics other than the NBA, Mike Wise, writes a column on how great Ryan Zimmerman is that the Washington Nationals third baseman commits the throwing error that cost the Nats the game? Of course it does!

I don’t argue Wise’s point that the Nats need to make Zimmerman part of a winning team in D.C. — I think they are doing that. Zimmerman seems to think it too. Oh and I don’t think it is time to move him over to first base because he’s having a little trouble throwing 3 weeks after coming back from abdominal surgery.

By they way, the ziMS Foundation gala, A Night at the Park, is tonight at Nationals Park, tickets still available, starting at $75. The ziMS foundation “is dedicated to the treatment and ultimate cure of Multiple Sclerosis.” His mother, Cheryl Zimmerman was diagnosed with the disease in 1995.

The guy whose last name sounds really similar to the “face of the franchise” Jordan Zimmermann, pitched 8 innings without giving up an earned run in yesterday’s 1-0 loss to the Anaheim Angels. Zimerman was 90 feet away as the tying run when Michael Morse struck out on a 100 MPH fastball to end the game. The Davey Johnson era starts out with a sweep and now the Nats are under .500. The good news is that interleague is over, so we should never have to deal with designated hitter Matt Stairs again.

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I-95: EZ Pass only lanes now open on the Delaware Turnpike

 

I-95 high-speed E-ZPass lanes open at Newark toll plazaThe News Journal (New Castle, Del.)
A nightmare of a construction project along Interstate 95 has been completed.

The Delaware Turnpike toll plaza near Newark now has two dedicated left lanes for cars with EZ Pass — drivers with the transponder no longer have to slow down!

Last year when we were going down the Shore, the delays for the Delaware Turnpike plaza stretched over 10 miles into Maryland along I-95 north.

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Nats: Davey Johnson is 0-2 and I dislike west coast night games

Two games in to the Davey Johnson era, the Washington Nationals are 0-2. Clearly, they blew it when they let John McLaren go. McLaren at least made the most of his era (DC Sports Bog, The Post) Also, Thomas Boswell took the Jim Riggleman mudslinging in stride which was almost disappointing.

I think I might hold a grudge against Walter O’Malley and Horace Stoneham for creating West Coast baseball — I have not been watching the Nats as their games are starting after 10 p.m. since they are at the Anaheim Angels. No, I won’t call them by their “proper” name because it is really redundant, about is geographically indefensible for a baseball team. One of the things I always appreciated about baseball was if a team had a city name in it, they actually resided in that city. Football, hockey and basketball aren’t great about that, but baseball was until the Angels decided to tack on the name of a city 30+ miles away. Also, in the past I was critical of the team renaming itself to Anaheim back in the 1990s, but it has a larger (and growing) population than Pittsburgh or Cincinnati.

Since I haven’t watched the games, I got my fix remembering the last time the Nats were in Anaheim, courtesy of rocket1124 at Capital City Goofballs:

20050614 – Pine Tar and JOSE’S REVENGE! from Rocket 1124 on Vimeo.

Frank Robinson may had his weaknesses as manager, but he was a complete badass.

Tonight’s game is East Coast friendly, 7:05 start. Jordan Zimmermann tries to stop the bleeding and get the Nats back over .500.

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