Verizon Center experienced two RAIN DELAYS on Saturday night as a leaky roof dripped water on the court during a Washington Wizards vs. Houston Rockets game. During one of them, Rockets center Dwight Howard played one-on-one with a kid from the stands:
I remembered the kid getting a layup through. The Wiz lost 107-114.
Sunday, another boy, Braden Nienaber, got to do a ceremonial faceoff before the Washington Capitals game with Alex Ovechkin and Buffalo Sabres center Steve Ott.
Sending the visiting player out of the faceoff was the highlight of the game. Naturally, the Caps went to a shootout, but lost 2-1. I hope Sabres goalie Ryan Miller plays like that in the Olympics for the US team.
As for the hole in the roof, I blame The Post‘s Nationals beat writer Adam Kilgore:
Did you ever think that maybe it's you… RT @AdamKilgoreWP: A damn rain delay at the FIRST NBA GAME I'VE EVER COVERED. Come on!
Verizon Center had shown uncommon rudeness toward the Washington Wizards all season, but at least it had the decency not to spit on them. It’s one thing for the Wizards to rarely win at home relative to the rest of the league. It’s another for the building to turn against its tenants.
I go out to get my wife a birthday present and find out that Adam LaRoche has signed a 2 year deal to remain with the Washington Nationals. The first baseman had a strong 2012 after an injury-filled, shortened 2011 season.
Hey, a local Nats beat writer even broke the news!
Source: The Nats have agreed to terms with Adam LaRoche on a two-year deal.
The final contract details are not yet known. The original offer LaRoche was weighing was believed to be roughly $25 million.
LaRoche wanted a 3-year deal, but there wasn’t one out there. His consolation is playing on the reigning NL East champions and not having to relocated. Oh and $25 million.
Good signing by the Nats.
The LaRoche signing likely ends the tenure of OF/1B Michael Morse whose best defensive position is DH. Morse still has a year left on his contract and should bring something valuable back in a trade. However, the Nats would be unwise to unload him any time soon since they don’t run out of a place to play him until April 1. The outfield is set with Bryce Harper, newly acquired Denard Span and Jayson Werth, but I think GM Mike Rizzo and manager Davey Johnson will keep Morse around through a good chunk of spring training. Any injury to LaRoche or the three outfielders makes Morse pretty valuable. Morse will probably find a new home around March 25 or so.
Speaking of Harper, I had to unfollow him on Twitter. Following a pro athlete is kind of silly since half the tweets end with “ha ha ha” or “LOL” but especially so when he’s asking everybody to pump up his chance to be on a video game cover.
“The Washington Post’s Barry Svrluga, Chico Harlan, Adam Kilgore, James Wagner and columnist Thomas Boswell recall the journey of the Washington Nationals since the team moved from Montreal to winning its first division title in 77 years, and all the good and bad moments in between.”
This video is a great look at the Nats from 2005 on, even with Chico in there.
The Washington Nationals reached a .500 record last night (37 wins and losses — hey that Strasburg’s number, it MUST BE A SIGN) with a tight 2-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners. This the latest the team has not had a losing record since October 2, 2005. Only two members of the team were around then, Ryan Zimmerman and ¡LIVAN! and the latter was playing elsewhere for about 3 years of that span.
I thought today’s gamer by Adam Kilgore of The Post was the most successful in getting what .500 means to the team those who follow it. Kilgore framed the story around John Lannan, who along with Zimmerman, endured the leanest years of the franchise. Lannan, like the team has had his struggles. As recently as early May, it looked like Lannan might be headed to another long assignment in the minors like last year. However, Lannan has been excellent of late:
Lannan has allowed two earned runs or less in eight of nine starts, and in his last six starts he has a 1.15 ERA. He lowered his season ERA to 3.40. Five of the last six times Lannan has taken the mound, the Nationals have won.
The 26 year old sinkerballer has AA written on the interior brim of his caps to motivate himself, a constant reminder of his time in the minors last year.
The Nats are saying the right things. Lannan again:
“People doubt our ability, and they have for the last couple years,” Lannan said. “And we have to be able to prove them wrong. We’re not done doing that. We’ve struggled, but it’s a new organization. It’s a great feeling.”
“Nothing,” he said. “If we continue to play good, then it will mean more at the end of the season. A ton of teams are .500 in June.”
But, Zimmerman allowed, “the past two weeks matter.”
Reliever Sean Burnett, who after having a poor stretch has rebounded well – last night he struck out Ichiro, a rare feat and a critical out, said:
“Baseball’s been fun again,” reliever Sean Burnett said. “We knew what we were capable of, but we had to get back to .500 before we could really see how good we were.”
Of course, as @needham_chris noted, Burnett has only played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Nats, so how could it have been fun? Point taken.
Danny Espinosa, who factored in both Nats runs last night (1 RBI, 1 R) observed:
“I think people are going to pay more attention to us. Coming back from where we were, people probably just thought, ‘The Nationals this year, they’re going to flop.’ This team’s not like that. We’re not going to accept losing. It’s obvious losing hasn’t been accepted.”
It’s true, people are starting to take notice. Baseball Tonight did last night:
For an everyday Nats fan, there is certainly room to quibble with post-season aspirations or Jim Riggleman’s in-game managerial aptitude, but Riggleman deserves praise for getting this young team to play cleaner baseball. The errors have been fewer and they run the bases well. There seems to be a level of accountability in the team that has been absent in five years.
I took the day off today to head up to Nationals Park with my dad. So far, I haven’t seen a single win in my 3 trips to 1500 South Capital Street. I didn’t even see a run until my third visit. Hopefully, the Nats can break that streak, while building on their modest 2 game winning streak and shocking 10 of 11 run. A win today would give them a winning record for the first time during the summer since 2005. I am excited. I am pleased that they are at .500.