Category Archives: Best of WWN

The most popular, visited, fun, important posts on this blog.

THRICE HARPER: Free from the shackles of batting gloves, Nats slugger has 3 homer game



Bryce Harper
is doing his part to keep the Washington Nationals winning percentage above his on-base percentage. He’s not making it easy though as he keeps getting on-base with a league leading 26 walks over 29 games. Of course, it isn’t walks that make Harper who he is — it’s power. Yesterday, he hit 3 home runs in his first 3 at bats. His fourth at bat was a sacrifice RBI. He did it all without batting gloves, a rarity in modern baseball. The Nats beat the Miami Marlins 7-5.

I watched the second homer over and over again while waiting for a meeting to start:

For most of the season, Harper’s OBP has exceeded the Nats winning percentage. He’s now at .416 and the Nats are 14-15 which is .482. The hope is the winning percentage will remain higher than Harper’s OBP for the rest of the year. I think it will.

Also, let’s remember that Harper is 22 years old and has never faced a pitcher younger than him. He’s in his fourth season. He’s really good. Even Nats manager Matt Williams (who left Max Scherzer in too long) knows it. Finally.

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VDOT releases 1949 footage of Shirley Highway in Alexandria

va350_old_tinyThe Virginia Department of Transportation has released another Then & Now video, this time of Henry G. Shirley Highway in 1949, then known as Virginia primary route 350 and now Interstate 395. Last time, the video was of US 29 in Arlington. This time VDOT recreated about a 2-mile drive along Shirley Highway and combined it with the 1949 footage (IN COLOR!) of the same stretch of road, though nothing really is the same:

Shirley Highway predates the interstate highway system, having been built to provide access to the Pentagon and the Fairlington development that came out of World War II as well as a bypass of US 1 a bypass of US 1 between the Occoquan and Potomac Rivers. Technically, Shirley Highway did not go over either river, but provided a direct connection between the two of them.

In the original 1956 interstate highway plan, VA 350 was to be part of I-95. The new number may not have been posted as such until massive rebuilding in the early 1970s that included 2 reversible express lanes. The designation was short-lived though as the proposal to build I-95 between New York Ave (US 50) and the Capital Beltway near College Park was cancelled. Shirley Highway was re-designated I-395 in 1977.

The contrast between then and now is striking of course. The video begins near Edsall Road which today is just south of the terminus of the “EZ Pass Express” toll lanes that supplanted the 1971 express lanes. The two lanes in each direction with no shoulders of 1949 is unrecognizable to the 11 lanes over three separated roadways of now. The hills of the Alexandria area are quite visible too — it looks like a rural area then. Because it was.

Concrete arch bridges (similar to the Washington Blvd spans over Columbia Pike that are being replaced now) and sporadic white guide signs have been replaced by steel girders and frequent big green signs. A conspicuous NO THRU TRUCKS signal also makes an appearance.

Rolling along in 1949 Shirley Highway was through untouched country side past the current Landmark Mall (opened as a shopping center in 1956) and the new Mark Center. Van Dorn Street, which parallels Shirley Highway now wasn’t even there yet, nor was it’s residential development. That would come within a decade. The large Mark Center building would only open in the last few years.

This is a fun exercise for me, seeing what the area close to my current home looked like long before I was born. A late former neighbor grew up in Fairlington and told me about how they would ride their bicycles along the grading for an Shirley Highway when it was under construction; I wish I could show him this video.

There is a lot more to learn about Shirley Highway and see maps and photographs and I recommend the following sites:

Adam Froehlig and Mike Roberson’s Virginia Highways Project – VA 350

Scott Kozel’s Roads to the Future – Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway

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VDOT releases 1949 footage of US 29 in Arlington

us29_va_old_tinyThe Virginia Department of Transportation found footage of US 29 (Lee Highway) from Key Bridge to Cherrydale filmed in 1949. VDOT recreated the same drive and combined that and the 1949 footage into one video and posted it on youtube:

us211_va_old_tinyThe 1949 footage isn’t perfect, but still gives an idea of post-WWII Arlington County. Streetcars are visible and along with the billboards that faced Georgetown at the Virginia end of Key Bridge. It’s also noteworthy that there are two US 29 signs visible, but not US 211 which was officially multiplexed with US 29 until 1980 according to the Virginia Highways Project when it was officially truncated at Warrenton. I had previously heard 1984, but I suspect that the completion of Interstate 66 outside the Beltway hastened the demise of US 211 since it was no longer than only continuous route number from the Shenandoah Valley to Washington, D.C. This video suggests that the predecessor agency of VDOT and/or Arlington County was disinterested in the US 211 designation near Washington in that designation long before it was technically removed.

In the last frame, beyond the intersection of Kirkwood Road, is a trestle for the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad. That right-of-way would later be used for Interstate 66, completed in 1982 and the Custis Trail, BeltwayLand’s most challenging bicycle path. Starting that year, the intersection with Kirkwood Road was also the northern terminus of the George Washington Memorial Parkway according to Steve Anderson’s dcroads.net. Since 1959, that part of the GW Parkway has been a spur called Spout Run Parkway.

Highway markers from Shields Up!

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jordan-zimmermann-nohitter

Jordan Zimmermann throws first DC no-hitter since 1931 in Nats final regular season game

Monday is the 10th anniversary of the announcement that baseball was returning to D.C. What happened on Sunday morning might be one of top three highlights of that decade — Jordan Zimmermann pitching a no-hitter for the Washington Nationals:

103 pitches, 10 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 runner advanced to first on a wild-pitch strike three and then got promptly picked off. Here is the final out, a diving catch by defensive replacement, LF Steven Souza, Jr., as told by four different broadcasters:

That’s a really good call by Bob Carpenter. It was thrilling to watch.

Zimmermann recorded just the third 9-inning no-hitter in D.C. history. Other no hitters (as seen on Washington D.C. Baseball History Facebook group):

Walter Johnson – July 1, 1920 / 9 innings
Walter Johnson – August 25, 1924 / 7 innings, game was called due to rain.
Bobby Burke – August 8, 1931 / 9 innings
Jordan Zimmermann – September 28, 2014 / 9 innings

Ian Desmond hit a second inning homer and that was all Zimmermann needed for run support.

A great game deserves a great gamer:

Thomas Boswell finally saw a no-hitter:

The only two moments that compare to this — Ryan Zimmerman’s Nationals Park Opening Night Walkoff in 2008 and Jayson Werth’s Game 4 walkoff in 2012.

So far.

This was an exclamation point to a 96-win season with home field advantage in the NL playoffs. Zimmermann’s performance gives Nats fans a roaring crescendo to the regular season. The tension of the playoffs can wait for several days as it will surely happen, particularly when the opponent is determined by the NL Wild Card play-in game.

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REDUCE SPEED: These neon signs used to be all over the New Jersey Turnpike. Photo by Ian Ligget.

REDUCE SPEED: Vintage neon NJ Turnpike sign for sale on ebay

Can somebody please buy, ship and store this outstanding New Jersey Turnpike neon sign for me? It’s only $2,000! You can drop it off with me when I get a house. A really big one, apparently.

In 2013, I mentioned the coming end of NJ Turnpike exceptionalism when it comes to signs. The Turnpike Authority has begun modernizing (note: I did not say “upgrade”) highway signs to comply with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Though not necessarily directly related, the neon “REDUCE SPEED” signs that have been on the Turnpike since time immemorial are being removed in favor of modern LED signs.

I have been wondering what will happen to all of these classic neon signs. I hope that some are saved for museums. Maybe I’ll tweet at them to buy this one, though on second thought the Turnpike ought to donate one. There probably ought to be one or two at a service plaza on the Turnpike itself.

The sign itself probably weighs at least a ton and it has to be picked up. This isn’t a really good time for me to do that logistically or financially. So, a little help?

Failing the acquisition of this neon sign, I’d be okay with a Turnpike trailblazer. A Garden State Parkway, Capital Beltway and even a Pennsylvania Turnpike sign while you are at it.

Photos © Ian Ligget

h/t Steve Anderson

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Wizards: It turns out I’m a tattoo designer

Way back in 2011 when it the Washington Wizards finally returned to the franchise (and DC sports) colors of red, white and blue, I came up with a uniform and logo concept for the Wiz.

The logo wasn’t that far off from what the Wiz went with in the rebrand.

On Friday, @dcsportsbog retweeted a tattoo pick and it looked very familiar:

This isn’t the first time an idea of mine has been used by someone else — Mr. Walkoff, the nickname I came up with for Ryan Zimmerman, became a t-shirt for sale by other bloggers and then the Washington Nationals (sadly, I didn’t get to the ballpark in time during the giveaway, though Adam Dunn provided a walk-up of his own in his penultimate Nats game). This mover though, shows more commitment than anybody else to date.

It had not occurred to me that I might be a tattoo designer, however inadvertent. I guess I have a new skill to add to my LinkedIn profile. I’m flattered.

Oh and since we’re on the topic of D.C. basketball, here’s a little something I found in my old stuff in my mom’s basement the other day:

old Washington Bullets trucker hat

I probably bought it around 1992 at the Capital Centre, perhaps when I saw my only Bullets game (floor seats, under the basket no less) against the Portland Trailblazers.

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W&OD Trail clinched…again!

w-od-clinched
Eight years after I did it the first time, I rode the length of the Washington & Old Dominion Trail from Purcellville (Loudoun County) to Shirlington (Arlington County). This time, I rode solo though my brother contributed with a ride out to the western terminus.

20131110_101651

Riding the length of the W&OD Trail is enjoyable because just about every part of Northern Virginia is seen from a bicycle seat. There are the old towns of Purcellville and Leesburg. In the west, there are still working farms, whereas in Ashburn, there is sprawl on what were farms until about 25 years ago, maybe less. The old Partlow Bros. general store there has been turned into an excellent barbecue place and retains the old charm. Before even reaching Ashburn is the Luck Stone quarry with an overlook. In several areas adjacent to the trail are auto repair shops, just about the closest that we get to light industry in Northern Virginia. The practice bubble of Redskins Park stands out from a countryside awaiting its own sprawl. Sterling has its own sprawl from the 1960s and 1970s while Herndon seems almost quaint, particularly in the center with its restored rail station and caboose. Reston, one of the original planned communities, now has highrises and a skyline. Between Reston and Vienna, an area I spent a lot of time riding through as a kid, the earlier sprawl has grown in as it has in Vienna. My hometown also has a caboose and a restored rail station and a block away from the trail, the Vienna Inn. East of Vienna, the Capital Beltway (I-495) and I-66 are crossed with the latter bisecting the last significant hill of the ride. Falls Church, “the little city” has a little of the light industrial feel, but is mostly suburban, while aside from some on-street portions entering Arlington County much of the rest of the ride is through Four Mile Run Park which also has a caboose at Bluemont Jct. The last mile or so parallels Four Mile Run Drive which has apartments on one side, more “light industry” and high rises a few miles away, before terminating in Shirlington across from Weenie Beenie (closed Sunday).

20131110_114512

I could not specifically say how much has changed since the last time I made the trek, but there are so many grade separated crossings now that stops are relatively few. There are several stations for water and air too. I wasn’t stopping unless I had too, but there are numerous displays about the old railroad and the history that happened along it through the ride.

BEFORE AND AFTER

20131110_10123120131110_144332

SOME STATS

Distance: 44.9652 miles

Time: 4:21 total, 3:27 actually bicycling

Calories burned: 6,291

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WMATA’s new Metro map with Silver Line released

With new Metro map, agency tries to market Silver LineThe Post
The new Silver Line, currently expected to open in early 2014, requires a new Metro system map. In order to accommodate the line that will serve the Dulles Corridor, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority brought back original designer, Laynce Wyman to figure to create an updated map. An initial version debuted in 2012 in conjunction with Rush Plus.

The new map (with annotations from The Post) keeps the basic design that dates back to the 1970s. There are several differences:

  • The Metro lines are not as wide
  • For the Blue-Orange-Silver portion, there are little white prongs attached to the station circle
  • Abbreviations are also being used for station names — i.e. Morgan Boulevard is now Morgan Blvd

One change that isn’t mentioned is that the line colors are different shades than what was used for about three decades. This change actually occurred within the last couple of years as the proposed Silver Line started appearing on maps.

I decided to go back and find an older Metro map* and compare it with the current edition.

WMATA MAPS PRESENT & PAST

NEW


OLD

maps not to scale

Using graphics software, I grabbed the hex/RGB numbers of each line’s color, past and present and put them together in this table:

WMATA SPECTRUM PRESENT & PAST
LINE NEW COLOR NEW HEX/RGB OLD COLOR OLD HEX/RGB
BLUE #0795d3
198-97-83
  #015593
1-85-147
RED   #be1337
190-19-55
  #e7312e
239-49-46
ORANGE   #da8707
218-135-7
  #f86e33
248-110-51
YELLOW   #f5d415
245-212-21
  #fbd731
251-215-49
GREEN   #00b050
0-176-80
  #00733a
0-115-8
SILVER   #a2a4a1
162-164-161
N/A N/A

I’m not sure that these color changes needed to be made, particularly the Orange Line which is pretty dull now. The Yellow Line seems the least changed.

As for the Silver Line itself:

Now, Metro has turned its focus to what its chief marketer calls “raising awareness” of the new, $6 billion rail line that eventually will run to Dulles International Airport and parts of Loudoun County.

Research among focus groups and from surveys conducted this year showed that only 45 to 55 percent of riders in the Washington region are aware of the rail addition, Metro said.

That leaves some transportation and land-use experts skeptical of whether — and when — the Silver Line will meet its ridership expectations. As one of the country’s most expensive transportation projects underway, the Silver Line is seen as an important test of whether drivers will abandon their cars and ride a transit line.

The Silver Line extension being built from East Falls Church will be 23 miles long when completed. The first phase is 11 miles and includes four new stations in Tysons Corner and one in Reston. Construction of the second phase, which will run to Dulles International Airport and into Loudoun County, is expected to start in mid-2014.

I would like to know more about the survey — which riders are most aware or unaware of the Silver Line. If they are Red Line riders, that’s probably not too big a deal. If they are Orange Line riders in Arlington, we’ll that’s a different story.

I still wish WMATA had gone with a letter/number suffix naming convention.

On a lighter note, I think I’ll wait until the Silver Line is completed to Loudoun County before I order a Metro map shower curtain (We Love DC).

*Finding an old Metro map was harder than I expected. The small one I found turned out to be from Hardball Talk of all things, from last season when the Washington Nationals in a typical tone-deaf move, argued about keeping Metro open in case of late-games.

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