For posterity, Katie Ledecky and the Nats

Swimmer Katie Ledecky visited Nationals Park last night for the Washington Nationals home game since she returned from her 5 medal (4 gold) performance at the Rio Olympics. The Bethesda-native threw out the ceremonial first pitch with Bryce Harper standing by her side, holding her medals.

Ledecky joined the TV booth in the third inning to talk about it as well.

This wasn’t her visit to Nationals Park. In 2014, she threw out the first pitch before NLDS Game 1.

Okay, so the results of those games haven’t been great, but that’s not on her. Last night, she do throw a strike (The Post) or at least close enough for Dave Jageler to have a strong opinion.

In 2012 though, she threw out the first pitch and the Nats went on to clinch the first winning season for D.C. baseball since 1969 with a win over the Chicago Cubs.

Ledecky also played in a celebrity vs. Wounded Warriors softball game in 2013 (DC Sports Bog, The Post)

Noted DC Sports sentimentalist @bogcommenter made another observation:

Someone pointed this out: she was 8 when team came here. A first generation Natskid. https://t.co/lYIrrCRxPt

— InternetContrarian(@bogcommenter) August 24, 2016

Ah, the passage of time. This is the 12th season since baseball returned to the District and we’re to the point where people old enough to vote don’t remember life before them.

Ledecky’s also known for her Capitals and Wizards fandom (NHL.com) , but she’s apparently got split allegiances now with her uncle owning the New York Islanders (NHL.com).

If you’d rather watch her swim than throw out ceremonial first pitches, go right ahead.

Further reading
Katie Ledecky’s First Pitch RuledThe Nats Blog

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Nats may alter batting helmet curly W’s for 2017

I caught a little blurb in the latest Paul Lukas ESPN UniWatch column on the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-D batting helmet insignias:

Poole said the New York Mets’ and Washington Nationals’ equipment staffs had spoken with him about the 3-D logos…

That’s kind of interesting. The Dodgers have been a 3-D printed plastic insignia, but they are brittle and will be replaced by a flexible a rubber-like polymer.

Would a 3 millimeter raised curly W look good on a batting helmet? We may see that before too long.

Oh and Ryan Zimmerman is clean and headed back to the lineup.

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2016 Nats vs. SF Giants Q&A with my friend David

Another Q&A? Is it 2011 again?

David (not pictured), who grew up on another court in our Northern Virginia suburb, has been a guest prognosticator in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and 2014.

WFY: The San Francisco Giants are in the first place in the NL West and it’s an even numbered year, so everyone must be planning where to stand on Market Street in late October….wait, WTOP (rather than talk about the team in the city they broadcast from) mentioned they came out of the All-Star break 1-8. What in the name of Jeffrey Leonard is going on in China Basin?

DFS:I have no idea. Up until the All-Star Break, this season has been a lot of fun. It is simply amazing to me how well the team has been doing. They are platooning minor leaguers at three positions–2B, 3B and RF–and their bullpen is unreliable. And yet they are in first place and, at least for a time, had the league’s best record.

WFY: What’s the mood of the fanbase overall? Are they just brushing off the bad start to the second half?

DFS:I think that we’re seeing reversion to the mean. The minor leaguer back-ups are making base running mistakes, reliable defenders are making untimely, random errors, and the team has gone into a hitting slump–particularly Belt. But I think there is a general optimism that people can’t believe that this team has played so well and they can only get better when Hunter Pence and Joe Panik return and, to a lesser extent, Matt Duffy.

WFY: How are these Giants looking compared to the three championship teams of the decade?

DFS:Each of the World Series team were carried by a dominant pitcher. In 2010 it was Lincecum. In 2012 it was Cain. In 2014 it was Bumgarner. This team has both Bumgarner and Cueto pitching very well and at an All-Star level. That gives me confidence. What I worry about is the bullpen. The ’10, ’12 and ’14 teams got tremendous performances out of their bullpen. Affeldt for instance was amazing in multiple series. Romo was fantastic in the ’12 run. The Giants have a few guys (i.e., Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez) that were on all of those team. 6+ years is a tall order for a reliever. There’s no question Casilla is breaking down. The Giants owned the peculiar statistic of having the league’s best record at the same time as leading the league in blown saves.

WFY: Daniel Murphy has carried the Nats with his bat this year, is anybody doing the same for the Giants? How does the rotation stack up compared to years past?

DFS:My answer above could be duped here. But the rotation is not that different from those championship teams. The Giants had the luxury of have a five-man rotation where the fifth man is at least at mildly above replacement level. That’s not true of a lot of teams. Bumgarner and Cueto are aces who I expect to win their starts. Samardjiza is a total wild-card. He’s had good starts and bad starts where he gets shelled. Getting better performances from him down the stretch will be key. Jake Peavy is like Tim Hudson in 2014. Everyone loves him and he’s a good guy. But he is going to tire at the end of the season and his starts tend to end in the 5th inning. Matt Cain is the most veteran member of the team. He’s the only Giant that overlapped with Barry Bonds. He has a heart of a champion and I love to watch him pitch. But sadly the bad outings keep stacking up along with the trips to the injured reserve.

WFY: Is there any other nickname people use for the Giants? I’m find it gets It gets pretty dry writing that every time. Perhaps we ought to use the Bochymen now and then.

DFS:The broadcasters will occasionally call them the G-Men. I worked with a fan who called them the Gyros (and no one else does). Nicknaming tends to be reserved for individual players to the point of being forced.

WFY: Speaking of Bochy, how long does the great big head have left?

DFS:I think he stays as long as he wants and I’m fine with that.

WFY: How is the local beer situation in AT&T Park? In DC, there has been a bit of a retreat with AmBev taking over pouring rights. Also, congratulations, it’s been AT&T Park longer than any other name and since you’ve arrived in town, I think. It’s also the longest streak for a San Francisco ballpark name since 1995. What do fans call it though?

DFS:The beer situation for craft beer people is bleak, but for the average Joe it’s good. The concession stations have all the macro brews. It isn’t like some ball parks where it is Bud and Bud Light only or Coors only. There are a few places where you can get pale ales, IPAs and the like. But I don’t want to drink that stuff at a ball game, so I don’t really pay attention.

Everyone calls it AT&T. A handful of people will occasionally say Pac Bell, but I think that like me intentionally called the Wizards the Bullets because I can.

WFY: Off the diamond, how are fans taking the Warriors losing a 3-1 to Cleveland in the NBA finals? Or is their ambivalence because they are “Golden State?” Aren’t they moving across the bay to a pier some time?

DFS:I read about the “Golden State” thing a few years ago and it was interesting. The owner of the Warriors in the 1970s was trying to extort a stadium out of San Francisco or Oakland. He threatened to leave the Bay Area. Part of that threat was that he scheduled half the upcoming season to be played in San Diego and changed the name to “Golden State”. I think the team ended up playing part of that year’s home games in San Diego. Then a stadium deal got work out and the team became a permanent fixture in Oakland, but they kept the name.

Losing to Cleveland was absolutely devastating to fans. There was a lot of jaded talk about how the league had it in for the Warriors by suspending Draymond Green. I got wrapped up in it a bit, but I’d never do the fanbase the disservice of referring to myself as a real fan. I have a ton of respect for Warrior fans. They have supported that team for years through lean times of bad players and worse management. They would sell out that arena when the team had no hope. And what is their reward? The recently successful team is going to move into a new building in San Francisco that will be super expensive and is not BART-friendly. I think it is awful. It parallels nicely with the end of RFK. Replacing a stadium filled with diverse fans that actually look like people that live in the community near the team who are deeply passionate with a bigger and charmless building occupied by rich people that come to the game late because someone else paid for the ticket.

WFY: Who takes the series and are these two teams headed to the playoffs?

DFS:The Nationals win this series. I’m optimistic that the Giants win the NL West this year. The sooner Pence and Panik get back the closer it will be.

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2016 Nats vs. Indians Q&A and prediction with Vince Guerrieri

Hey, what’s going on? I’ve been busy this spring and summer, so there hasn’t been much blogging of late. I’ve found a little time though and with the Washington Nationals headed to Cleveland, I have asked my former colleague Vince Guerrieri (not pictured) to answer some questions about his beloved Tribe. Some say he’s the best freelance writer in Ohio. He’s also a newspaper editor as well as the author of Ohio Sports Trivia and The Blue Streaks and Little Giants: More Than a Century of Sandusky and Fremont Ross Football.. Vince also contributed to Tim Russert’s Wisdom of Our Fathers. Someday, he’s going to write the definitive biography of Jim Trafficant as well, can’t wait.

WFY: The last time we talked baseball here, the Cleveland Indians were coming off of the Manny Acta Experience, 2.0. Terry Francona was in his first year and that team lost the play-in game I think. Now, the Tribe has the largest divisional lead in the American League. What’s working for this year’s team? Is there optimism from the fans?

VG: The Tribe did win a wild card in year one of the Francona era, and lost the wild card game at home. They’ve finished at .500 or better in both years since, and three straight years of that is quite an achievement in Cleveland baseball.

The short answer to what’s working? Everything. They’ve got a strong starting rotation, and the offense is scoring five runs a game — and that’s WITHOUT Silver Slugger Michael Brantley. And not only are people starting to buy in, the Cavs have tapped a vein of optimism.

WFY: Beyond baseball, Cleveland’s doing okay this summer — the prodigal son came home and won a title, but not just a title. A comeback over the best regular season team in NBA history. The first title since LBJ was president. You got to cover the Republican National Convention and nothing caught on fire. Great Lakes Oktoberfest is only a month or two, if not weeks away! How much fun has it been on the shores of Lake Erie this summer?

VG: Everyone loves everyone! I didn’t actually cover the RNC (the closest I came was just across the river for a Daily Show recording … and I had a couple Great Lakes Cream Ales), but it went about as well as could be hoped for. I thought the Cavs were dead and buried after Game 4 of the Finals, and I’ve never been happier to be wrong.

WFY: How is attendance at The Jake this year? It was down in 2013, has it rebounded?

VG: Well, renovations and additions took out about 10,000 seats from the ballpark’s peak, so small crowds don’t look as small as they used to. Attendance has picked up in the past two weeks (right around the time the team was setting a record with a 14-game winning streak), but the RNC put the Tribe on an almost two-week road trip. So we’ve got a division-leading team with a lot of home games coming up. We’ll see what happens.

WFY: Chief Wahoo is being phased out, right for a block, serifed C, correct? How is that going over? I am anti-cartoon in any form on a major league cap and believe the letter(s) of the city is the only appropriate insignia, so I’m on board.

VG: The problem is that the team seems to want it both ways. They’re not completely eliminating the Chief, but they are phasing it out. And nobody’s happy. The anti-Chief faction wants it completely gone, and there are still fans who cling to the Chief out of nostalgia or something.

WFY: We’ve got two, two-game series over the next few weeks. Who do you think takes these four games, DC or CLE? Any chance you’ll be in our nation’s capital for the second series? Maybe in 2019, I’ll make it out to Cleveland with the Nats.

VG: I will miss the games at Nats Park. I think the Tribe wins both at home and loses one or both in DC.

WFY: How far do you think the Tribe is going to go this year? What about the Nats?

VG: I think they’re both in good spots, leading mediocre divisions. If the Tribe clinches the division early enough and sets the postseason rotation (and maybe makes a deal before the deadline), then the sky’s the limit.

As for the Nats, well, it looks like they might run into the Giants, and it is an even-numbered year…

WFY: Okay, thanks Vince. I might have to start doing football Q&As again in the fall just to talk about the Browns.

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William F. Yurasko's blog v.15 – Nats, Redskins, Capitals, D.C. life, transportation, not so much Penn State anymore,