Category Archives: Washington Nationals

MLB team that returned baseball to D.C. in 2005. They play in the National League eastern division.

Highlights: Nats sweep Marlins

After a disappointing opening series with the Atlanta Braves, the Washington Nationals bounced back to sweep the Miami Marlins.

THURSDAY

Stephen Strasburg strikes out 12 and Ian Desmond hits and 8th inning grand slam in a 7-1 rout. Jayson Werth’s homer in the third was the difference.

WEDNESDAY

Jordan Zimmermann has a terrible start, doesn’t complete 2 innings, but the Nats come back on Bryce Harper’s 3 run blast. Werth hits a grand slam in the 8th after Anthony Rendon gets walked in front of him. 10-7 win

TUESDAY

Gio Gonzalez is sharp and the Nats shutout the Marlins, 5-0.

The Nats are 7-2 and go to Atlanta for a big series with the Braves.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
MLB_replay

Nats home season begins with literal dumpster fire, figurative one narrowly avoided

WASHINGTON, D.C. — After a literal dumpster fire before the game, the Nats had a figurative dumpster fire on the basepaths. Add in the replay equivalent of the Nats baserunning on the strange over-ruling of Ian Desmond’s inside-the-park home run and it had the makings of being a frustrating afternoon. It was disappointing the lack of a call by the umpires on the field allowed the replay officials in New York to reward Justin Upton giving up on a play.

However, the Home Opener, even with its long lines and huge number of fans is still always a joy. The clock isn’t working though — no hands left.

SATURDAY


Ryan Zimmerman throws one away and everything goes bad for Stephen Strasburg. He’s hurting. 6-2 loss.

SUNDAY

A no-doubt-about-it homer by Ian Desmond is the difference as the Nats win 2-1 with Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper out of the lineup. Taylor Jordan pitched 6 1/3 innings of 1 run ball.

The Nats are 4-2 which is a good place to be, but it’d have been nice to get some hitting off of starting pitchers in the first week of the season.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

MLB is finally letting you embed all videos! Nats take first two over the Mets

MLB is finally letting us embed all videos as soon as they come out. Yay, they caught up to the NHL after how many years?

Good start to the first series of the year, finale is at 1:10 this afternoon. Jordan Zimmermann on the mound for D.C.

WEDNESDAY

Washington Nationals 5
NEW YORK METS 1

All Gio Gonzalez does is hit homers in the second game of the year.

TUESDAY

Washington Nationals 9
NEW YORK METS 7
10 innings

Yay, Opening Day! Nats come back and win, even though Stephen Strasburg faltered early. Poor Wilon Ramos.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
District Drafts - Local beers at Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.

Local beer is a part of DC’s past and now it’s present and the Nats are helping

We are three years into the greater Washington D.C. brewing revival and things are going well. The Washington Business Journal covered it in a recent issue.

With craft brewing boom, D.C.’s beer scene returns to its regional roots

The one thing that today’s beer businesses have in common with the District’s brewers of old? A regional focus.

The heyday of Washington brewing was probably in the 1850s and 1860s, when tons of breweries sprung up to produce lager for the many Union soldiers stationed around the city. Eventually, the smaller, family-owned breweries closed, leaving about six huge breweries serving the region.

Those breweries were well known and respected businesses, according to Peck. Their founders also owned real estate, started banks and operated rail networks. Robert Portner, whose brewing company sat where Trader Joe’s is now located on Washington Street in Alexandria, distributed his beer by rail throughout the south.

The largest Washington brewer, and the only one that survived Prohibition, was the Christian Heurich Brewing Co. (Heurich sold ice during the 1920s to keep his business solvent.) Booze may have been able to flow freely, but that didn’t mean all was well for the brewer. One side effect of “The Noble Experiment” was the strengthening of huge, national beer companies.

“By the 1930s, there had emerged a national media market for advertising, so the ones who best competed in that were the national brewers, rather than the regional brewers like Heurich,” Peck said. “The smaller brewers couldn’t compete, and the national beer market really consolidated in the years after Prohibition.”

Make sure you read the rest of the story, along with this one, How the Nats are feeding D.C.’s beer industry:

Nationals Park. The home of the Washington Nationals, which first, added local craft beer offerings to its concessions last year with two District Draft carts featuring local brews, is adding two more carts this year. And some local craft beers will be sold on draft and in cans throughout the season at the Red Porch and at other Baseline Brew locations throughout the stadium.

The Nationals expect to increase the amount of craft beer sold at the District Draft carts by 50 percent — from about 40 kegs per home stand last year to at least 60 kegs per home stand this year.

“I don’t expect it to double, but it’s going to be tough to tell,” said Jonathan Stahl, senior director of guest experience and hospitality operations for the Nationals. “What we don’t know right now is are we just spreading the same crowd from last year or are we going to be appealing to a broader audience. I think it’ll be somewhere in between.”

I’ve been working on a story on the local craft brew industry — Shameless plug: The story comes out in our Friday print edition — and the demand from the Nationals repeatedly came up during interviews.

The stadium will feature beer from most of the big names in local brewing: D.C. Brau, 3 Stars Brewing Co., Atlas Brew Works, Port City Brewing Co., Mad Fox Brewing Co. and Flying Dog Brewing Co.

The relatively new Atlas Brew Works might have the biggest presence, with plans for its beers to be featured at both the carts and on draft at the Red Porch during each home stand.

There is even more exciting Nats beer news:

In addition to offering more local craft beer throughout the stadium, the Nats are also launching a new promotion: Firkin Fridays, which will feature two local beers in cask on Fridays of each home stand. First up on opening day, April 4, will be beers from D.C. Brau and Flying Dog, although the exact beers haven’t been finalized yet.

Yesterday, Atlas Brew Works announced that a new beer brewed exclusively for the ballpark – Atlas Brew Works Teams Up with the Washington Nationals to offer The 1500 South Cap Lager Exclusively at Nationals Park:

The 1500 South Cap Lager, named after the address of Nationals Park, is a 4.8% Helles lager that will be a great compliment to a sunny day in the stands. “The 1500 is an American spin on a traditional German style pale lager. It features light malt notes and earthy American hops,” said Will Durgin, Atlas’ Head Brewer. The beer will be available at locations throughout the three levels of the ballpark the Red Porch Restaurant in Center Field Plaza.

I am eager to try it, though I wish the press release came out on a day other than April 1.

It’s great to see the Nats are embracing the local brewing scene and probably good business for them too. Given a choice of marked up beers available, I’m inclined to support the local one, even if it’s a dollar or two more.

Nationals Park is said to be the 5th best ballpark for craft breweries (WTOP) and that was before this year’s upgrades. There are new foods available too (DC Sports Bog, The Post), though I’ll stick to Ben’s half-smokes.

It’s a great time to be a beer drinker and baseball fan in BeltwayLand and I think it’s only getting better.

UPDATE

I’ve added DC Sports Bog’s post about the beer in the ballpark: The local craft beer at Nats Park

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Opening Day

Happy Opening Day 2014!

Congratulations everyone, we made it! Opening Day is finally here and the Washington Nationals begin their 10th 21st century season at 1:10 in the borough of Queens as they face the New York Mets. Stephen Strasbug gets his third consecutive Opening Day start for DC (The Post), while Nats killer Dillon Gee starts (ESPN) for the Flushing Nine.

Strasburg is the only Nats starter to win an Opening Day game which was last year against the Miami Marlins. Given that fact, the Nats Opening Day record isn’t spectacular, going 3-8 since 2005. They have won their last two though. The Mets boast the best Opening Day record in all of baseball The Times, an impressive feat given their 0-8 start in their early years. They actually won a World Series before they won on Opening Day.

READ MORE: 2014 Nats vs. Mets Q&A with Eric McErlain

The game should be in our nation’s capital, but MLB commissioner Bud Selig is more worried about coddling his friend Peter Angelos than respecting long-standing traditions.

Okay, enough commentary, let’s focus on the joy that is this national holiday. Sadly, I have to work but I plan to take a late lunch and watch the first part of the game at a pub, then switch to over to the sweet sounds of Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler.

PREVIEWS

My take — the Nats will win the NL East again.

The Post

The Wash. Times has PDFs for much of their Opening Day coverage. Really. I’m no even going to link to that on account of it being 2014.

CSN Washington doesn’t have a specific section, so here’s their whole coverage.

Okay, time to put up the flag — the rain/sleet/snow over the weekend kept from doing that or putting up the bunting earlier. Have a great Opening Day!

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
chico-escuela

2014 Nats vs. Mets Q&A with Eric McErlain

The return of Washington Nationals baseball means the return of one of my favorite features, the guest prognosticator posts! One of my favorite annual guest prognosticators, Eric McErlain (not pictured), leads off as the Nats visit the borough of Queens to take on his beloved New York Mets on Opening Day next Monday. When was the last time you were so excited for a Monday?

Eric, a pioneering blogger now enjoying emeritus status, is now a member of the prestigious five-timers club of WWN guest prognosticators, having answered qustions about the Mets in 2011, 2012, 2013 and Jets in 2011.

WFY: How was the 2013 Mets season?

EMc: Exactly the same as 2012: 74-88. But I’ll be damned if it didn’t feel worse than the year before. At least in 2012 sticking with the team meant getting to pull for R.A. Dickey to get 20 wins or Ike Davis to hit 30 homers. 2013 held no such comforts. Davis slumped early and never recovered. David Wright got hurt. Again. So did Bobby Parnell. Reuben Tejada did his best to prove he’s not a major league shortstop (Hardball Talk). He’s got me convinced, even though the franchise seems inclined to give him yet another chance to prove us all wrong. Once Matt Harvey went down for the season, there wasn’t much left to root for. Were there bright spots? Sure, Juan Lagares may already be the best fielding centerfielder (MetsBlog) in baseball, though his bat is suspect. Zack Wheeler looked all right in limited action. Marlon Byrd’s comeback was nice to watch, but he was dealt at the deadline and is now playing in Philadelphia. Add it all up, it was another lost season.

WFY: GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins are talking about a 90 win season, what would need to occur for it to happen?

EMc: How often do you get a royal flush in poker by drawing the Ace of Spades on the river? The 2014 Mets should be better, but a 16-win improvement is too much to ask. To get there, all of the following would have to come to pass:

1. Wright returns to form – and that means .300 average, 25-30 HRs & 100+ rbi;

2. Whatever solution comes together at first base (Davis or Lucas Duda) it needs to provide some power in the 25-30 HR range;

3. The same Daniel Murphy needs to show up, though I’d be happier if he got on base more often;

4. Tejada needs not to be a stiff. That means he needs to hit .280 or above and find his glove again;

5. Curtis Granderson is going to strike out a lot, but I won’t mind as long as he hits 30 HRs or more;

6. Eric Young, Jr. needs to hit .280 with an OBP of .340 and steal 25-30;

7. Free agent Chris Young will play a credible CF, but he needs to hit 20+ HRs to make a difference;

8. The starting rotation needs to max out on its talent. That means Jon Niese needs to stay healthy and claim the #1 job in Harvey’s absence; Dillon Gee needs to repeat his 2013 performance; Bartolo Colon will not win 18 games with this team, but if he wins 13 and stays healthy enough to be dealt at the deadline I’ll be happy. Zack Wheeler needs to pitch over .500 and continue to develop. As for Daisuke Matsuzaka, the new human rain delay, I can only hope the Mets make his stay in the rotation short in order to make way for either Jenry Mejia early on or Noah Syndergaard at midseason.

9. The bullpen, as it has been in recent seasons, is a complete crapshoot. Having Parnell back will be nice, and I have high hopes for John Lannan in long relief. But the rest of the crew is unknowable, and they’ll have to come together in a big way and fast.
Get all of that, and yeah, 90 wins is a possibility. Don’t hold your breath.

WFY: Seemingly like every other promising pitcher, Matt Harvey had Tommy John surgery. Do you believe the Mets handled him properly before and after the injury? Do I recall correctly that they were trying to avoid surgery initially?

EMc: I think it’s impossible to second guess the team’s decision-making on Harvey. Indeed, they wanted to avoid surgery, but it just didn’t work out. Since then, Harvey has fought and won the right to rehab in New York this season instead of at extended Spring camp. He swears he’ll pitch this season, but I’m hoping the team and Harvey err on the side of caution.

WFY: What’s been the reaction to the Curtis Granderson signing? It is seen as more than just beating out the Yankees for a free agent?

EMc:It’s been positive. If you’d seen Duda playing right field (Sports on Earth) last season you’d be happy too. The Mets outfield has been a mess for too long. As for the Yanks, Granderson was done in the Bronx after last season, so there was no one to beat out.

WFY: Last year you mentioned Noah Syndergaard and Travis D’Arnaud – how have they progressed? Is the direction of the franchise trending upward?

EMc:Syndergaard will start the season at AAA Las Vegas, but is expected to join the Mets sometime mid-season. He’s a potential #1 starter who can strike out 200+ a season. As for D’Arnaud, he was a disappointment with the bat last season in limited action after coming up from the minors. He hasn’t played enough for anyone to conclude his development has been derailed, but his Spring has been less than impressive (Rant Sports). I suspect his upside isn’t nearly as high as has been projected.

WFY: Did you know that Bill Gotto’s original Mets logo design had the colors black & pink (Todd Radom)? How would have been cheering for black & pink have felt?

EMc: No, I had been blessedly unaware of that fact up until now. I think it’s safe to say they made the right decision.

WFY: Speaking of blue and orange, how do you feel about the New York Islanders moving west “off” Long Island to Brooklyn?

EMc: It’s sad but unavoidable. Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead are broke and can’t afford to build a new arena. It beats seeing them move to Quebec or Kansas City.

WFY: Nationals Park beer drinkers welcomed, albeit in limited locations, local and regional brews to the ballpark last season. Do the Mets sell local craft beers as well?

EMc: Take a look.

WFY: As an out of market fan, do you have the MLB.tv package? How is it?

EMc: Oh yes. I’ve had it for several seasons and I love it. I subscribe using my Apple TV, so I pump the games over my 42″ 1080p Panasonic HDTV. I have no complaints.

WFY: How are the current announcers? What is your favorite Ralph Kiner memory?

EMc: It’s Gary Cohen, Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling. They are a very entertaining trio, though I’ll admit to cheating on them with Vin Scully when the Mets go to LA to play the Dodgers. Nats fans should know that Darling’s performance has improved markedly since his one season in the booth here in Washington.

As for my favorite Ralph memory, it has to be Opening Day 1985. Gary Carter hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 10th in his first game with the Mets. Ralph goes down to the field to have Carter on Kiner’s Korner, and promptly introduces him as Gary Cooper.

But while folks remember his malaprops, he had more than his fair share of trenchant observations. People forget that he was a Hall of Fame talent that played in baseball’s golden era. He was teammates with Hank Greenberg and played against Jackie Robinson. When the game bogged down, Ralph always had an observation from the game’s past that shed some light on what was happening on the field. He’ll be sorely missed.

WFY: How do you think the NL East shapes up this season?

EMc: It’s for the Nats to lose. The Braves will challenge all year long, with the Mets, Phils and Marlins serving as cannon fodder.

WFY: How would you rank the Mets NL East rivalries? What about outside of the division?

EMc: The Mets have been out of the money for too long to have any meaningful rivals right now. Sure, we hate the Phillies and the Braves, and the Marlins are a tougher out than they ought to be. As for the Nats, the Mets always seem to have a problem putting them away (I still have nightmares about that walk off homer Ryan Zimmerman hit off of LaTroy Hawkins last season). Outside the division, it’s the Cardinals. In St. Louis, they’ve been calling the Mets, “Pond Scum” since the mid-80s. I’ve always been touched by that. For more, read “The Bad Guys Won,” by Jeff Pearlman.

WFY: What is your favorite book about the Mets?

EMc: Jack Lang, who covered the Mets from their inception in 1962, wrote a comprehensive team history that was published before the 1986 season. “After the Miracle” by Maury Allen, the late New York Post reporter, took a look back at the 1969 team 20 years after beating the Orioles. It had some incredibly bittersweet moments, including how the wife of one player didn’t understand why the Mets weren’t playing in the World Series every year. I like to think she’s learned since then. The aforementioned, “The Bad Guys Won,” lays out just what a group of reprobates that 1986 team really was. “Doc: A Memoir,” is a warts and all look at the career of Doc Gooden, and one that part of me wishes I had never read. Doc ought to be in the Hall of Fame alongside Darryl Strawberry. That he isn’t breaks the heart of any real Mets fan.

WFY: What is your favorite Mets pop culture moment?

EMc: The Seinfeld episode with Keith Hernandez will always be a favorite, though having Game 6 of the 1986 World Series force NBC to reschedule an episode of Saturday Night Live has to be tops.

WFY: Which team wins the opening series and the season series?

EMc: Mets win first series, 2-1. Mets are historically great on Opening Day. Nats win season series 13-6.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
nationalsparkpressbox

I remembered to submit my DC-IBWA 2014 Nats predictions

Every year, the DC Internet Baseball Writers Association sends out questionaires for the Natmosphere about the state of the Washington Nationals. Some years I get to them, some years I don’t. This year, I got to it. Fire away:

1) Who will lead the Nats in home runs in 2014? – Bryce Harper
2) Who will lead the Nats in RBI? – Bryce Harper
3) Who will lead the Nats in stolen bases? – Denard Span
4) Who will lead the staff in wins? – Stephen Strasburg
5) How many games will Ryan Zimmerman play first base? – 11
6) Who starts more games: Ross Detwiler, Taylor Jordan, Tanner Roark, Ross Ohlendorf? – Taylor Roark
7) Who will get more at bats for the Nats this season: Danny Espinosa or Jamey Carroll? – Danny Espinosa
8) Which minor leaguer are you most interested in keeping tabs on this season? – Lucas Giolito
9) Who will reach majors first: Sammy Solis, A.J. Cole, Lucas Giolito or Matt Purke? – Matt Purke
10) How many all-stars will the Nats have? Who? – 3 – Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Wilson Ramos
11) Total wins and what place in the division? 92, 1st

Essay: What should be the single most important development for the Nats this season?

The Nationals single biggest development should be playing smarter. The talent is there, as we saw in 2012, but last season they had a tendency towards defensive lapses that extended innings and wore down pitchers. Another part of playing smarter is not playing with serious injuries. Harper played hurt for the bulk of the season and Espinosa played his way out of the majors. In the outfield at least, an improved bench should make it easier for manager Matt Williams to give Jayson Werth, Span and Harper some days off with Nate McLouth as the fourth outfielder, so nagging injuries may bee mitigated somewhat. In the infield, Espinosa is a big question mark as the utility man coming off of injuries to both arms.

Strasburg also faces a big year at the top of the rotation after an “off” year in 2013. A recent Post article suggests he had an epiphany about his approach. Strasburg has always come off as intelligent, but very sensitive at the same time. If he has overcome his perfectionist tendencies and self-flagellation, he could dominate with more regularity. Simply put, a focused Strasburg, more comfortable with being an ace and all that entails could be devastating to NL hitters.

Lastly, I believe that Williams approach to defense and hiring of a “defensive coordinator” could help address defensive lapses. Not necessarily because shifts in and of themselves can anticipate where batted balls are going, but also keeping the fielders a little more focused. The question will be whether this will help overcome the learning curve that Williams will face as a rookie manager. Thus far, the tone he is setting for the team is refreshing after Davey Johnson’s casual approach in 2013.

I’ll be surprised if the Nats win 98 games like they did in 2012 — I think that was the peak year in the regular season at least, but I don’t see the Braves winning 96 again either. I believe the Braves will challenge to for the NL East title and probably make the play-in game. After that, it’s all about matchups in the playoffs, so, who knows?

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Video: Babe Ruth vs. Walter Johnson and Lou Gerhig on the first day of his streak

Tuesday’s Uni-Watch linked to a great post about a fantastic find – old film Babe Ruth batting against Walter Johnson. It was more than that though, as it was June 1, 1925 which was the day that Ruth came back from the “Belly Ache Heard ’round the World.” It gets even better, not only was The Babe back and facing perhaps the greatest pitcher of all time, but in the dugout is a young player who would pinch hit later that day and then play another 2,129 consecutive games. Lou Gerhig‘s 2,130 game streak began the day of this film.

Before you watch the video, read how Tom Shieber concluded it was June 1, 1925 – Some Very Fortunate Footage (Baseball Researcher)

Great stuff, I’ll see if I can find a cleaner, Olberman-less video tonight.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

R.I.P. Dick Heller, long-time Wash. Times sports columnist

Dick Heller, longtime Washington Times sports columnist, dead at 76

A Northwest Washington native, Heller began working for newspapers when he was in high school, covering high school sports for The Washington Daily News. He also worked for the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Alexandria Gazette before joining The Washington Star, where he covered University of Maryland athletics until the newspaper closed in 1981…

…Following a stint at The Miami Herald, Heller joined The Washington Times in 1986, and he became a columnist in the early 1990s. He remained with the newspaper until it folded its sports section in December 2009, then contributed bi-weekly columns for a time after the section returned in March 2011.

Heller covered the Washington Senators in the 1960s and was featured in a documentary or two about the D.C. baseball. My favorite columns of his were about the end of Griffith Stadium and his anti-Texas Rangers ones, though the alternative turned out to be a bit unpalatable as well.

I read and linked to many Heller columns over the years, some of which you can find here.

WHAT HIS COLLEAGUES ARE SAYING

WELP, NOBODY’S PERFECT

I will probably add to this post as more tributes and obituaries come in. There are some kind words for Heller on the Washington D.C. Baseball History Facebook group.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)