Tag Archives: D.C. Sports History

Old-timey Washington professional sports.

Nationals Park, from section 117

Nats enter postseason with 95 wins, questions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Sunday’s regular season finale at Nationals Park ended with the Washington Nationals winning their 95th game of the season, 10-7. They defeated the grieving Miami Marlins who, to their credit, didn’t fold when they went down 3-0, 5-2 or 8-5.

Max Scherzer, DC’s #1 starter was strong at the plate with 2 hits and 4 RBI (according to one source, giving him a 9-8 lead over Ryan Zimmerman in the second half) but uninspiring on the mound and basepaths. Nonetheless, he got the his 20th win when his teammates scored after his 5th inning exit. He should be on the mound on Friday for the first game of the Division Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Trea Turner and Danny Espinosa both walked twice, the latter being a damning piece of evidence against a pitcher going to arbitration. Bryce Harper looked injured, but still crush a 99 MPH fastball early and foul to right. Daniel Murphy also pinch hit, but recorded an out and eliminating him from the NL batting title. His health will be huge moving forward.

I predicted the Nats would win 90 games and be in contention for the division. They won it and I was off by 5. The New York Mets won 87 games, despite losing much of their rotation to injuries. They are in the play-in game against San Francisco.

Errata

Wait, why didn’t anybody tell me Vin Scully retired?! I kid of course, but seldom-mentioned in the ubiquitous Scully retirement coverage was that his first radio job was for WTOP in D.C.

DC vs. LA Playoff history

You know how previous results have no bearing on what comes next? Let’s expand upon that by bringing in completely different sports for an all-time intercity/intersport matchup! While Washington and Los Angeles have never met in the baseball postseason, they have in two different kinds of football.

1974

Sonny Jurgensen’s only playoff game is his final game, throwing 3 interceptions while splitting time with Billy Kilmer. The Redskins fell to the Rams, 19-10, at the Coliseum. There used to be clips of it on youtube, but not anymore – probably for the best.

1984

After a 14-2 regular 1983 season, the Skins easily crushed the Rams 51-7 (there was youtube video of this game within the last two months too) at RFK Stadium in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs…

…three weeks later though, they were upset by the Los Angeles Raiders (two years removed from Oakland) in Super Bowl XVIII at Tampa Stadium, 38-9, and it wasn’t that close. I won’t find the video.

1986

After a 10-6 regular season, the Redskins defeated the Rams again at RFK Stadium, 19-7, this time in the Wild Card, the final playoff gridiron meeting between DC and LA for now.

1996

The inaugural MLS Cup us won by D.C. United, coming back from an 0-2 deficit to the Los Angeles Galaxy at Foxboro Stadium. Eddie Pope won it with a header in sudden-death overtime.

1999

In their fourth MLS Cup appearance D.C. United won their third championship, this time 2-1 over L.A., again at Foxboro Stadium.

On uniforms

Don’t forget — The guy in the red shirt always dies!

Nationals – please, wear the home whites and road grays.

Prediction

Dodgers over the Nats. If Stephen Strasburg was healthy, I’d say the Nats take it. He’s not and I don’t trust Gio Gonzales, even against a lefty-heavy LA lineup. That leaves Tanner Roark and possibly Joe Ross along with Scherzer, who will be head to head with Clayton Kershaw. Injuries to Daniel Murphy (we are praying for his buttocks and his family), Bryce Harper (undisclosed) and Wilson Ramos (out) are too much to overcome.

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Frank Howard enters Nationals Park Ring of Honor

On Friday, Washington, D.C.’s all-time home run leader, Frank Howard was added to the Ring of Honor. He’s the only non-Hall of Famer in the ring which is no longer restricted to just that membership. Howard is also immortalized in a statue (that the D.C. Fine Arts Commission installed) and in the Hall of Stars (Events DC) all of which are around Nationals Park. It’s a bit confusing, particularly when Montreal Expos are included.Signing his rookie photo

I was hoping his #33 (worn 1969-1971, before that he wore #9 which he gave up for Ted Williams) would be retired as well. Back in 1992, his #33 was “retired” before an (rained out) exhibition game between the New York Yankees (he was hitting coach) and the New York Mets (whom he managed for a season). My wife and I met him in 2007 a Maker’s Mark event in Northwest.

There were tributes to Hondo in the D.C. media this week that are worth a read:

DAN STEINBERG: Senators legend Frank Howard is humbled and thrilled to enter the Nats’ Ring of HonorThe Post

THOM LOVERRO: Frank Howard was a gentle giant, but fearsome at the plateThe Wash. Times

Howard also appeared on nationals.com beat writer Bill Ladson’s podcast:

I’m glad to see that the Nats found a way to give Hondo a night, though they erred when they didn’t hire for a goodwill ambassador job when they arrived.

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Nats sweep Cardinals: First D.C. sweep in St. Louis since 1951

Bryce Harper went hitless for the weekend and the Washington Nationals still swept the St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium III. #cantpredictball

Here’s some historical perspective that I tweeted out on Sunday:

Yes, Senators vs. Browns, the golden age of baseball indeed. That was Sportsman’s Park too, Anheuser Busch hadn’t bought the Cardinals yet.

Oh, there’s more:

Take that Neil Lomax!

I don’t know if the Capitals have ever swept the Blues though. Washington and St. Louis weren’t ever in the NBA together, at least not for very long.

When the Rams were in St. Louis (which was really weird), they played the Redskins almost annually, but never twice.

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Nats Opening Day videos from Hoover to Obama

Despite the spring equinox, the season never really arrives in the U.S. until the familiar cry of “play ball!” rings out. In Washington the grand and ancient tradition is carried out as President Johnson arrives to throw out the first ball as a thousand shutters click…”

To celebrate the home opener, I’ve put together a youtube playlist of Opening Days in Washington over the years, starting with a silent movie featuring Herbert Hoover. There’s some more highlights of recent vintage as well:

For generations, the traditional start of the American League season begin in the District of Columbia, frequently with the President throwing out the first ball to the assembled Washington Senators. Presidents Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson included in black and white newsreels included on the playlist. Footage of Richard Nixon, a big Senators fan, couldn’t be found — newsreels were over by then and the Senators were by the end of Nixon’s first term. Presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush (the elder) and Clinton would throw out the first ball elsewhere, while oddly enough softball player Jimmy Carter never did, at least for Opening Day.

The tradition resumed, albeit sporadically and not always on true Opening Day, in 2005 when the Washington Nationals were reborn as a National League team. Now, it’s a first pitch, from the mound to a specific player rather than the first ball from the stands to a group. George W. Bush made two home opener appearances – 2005 at RFK Stadium and 2008 on Nationals Park Opening Night. Barack Obama, wearing a Chicago White Sox cap and Nats jacket threw an eephus pitch in 2009.

Hoping for a return to an annual Washington Presidential Opening Day is unfortunately a fool’s errand. Between other presidential duties and MLB stretching out Opening Day into Opening Week, the tradition is unlikely to return. At the very least, MLB could award Washington a regular Opening Day slot, but they tend to be more sympathetic to Baltimore on such matters.

There are a few other on-field highlights as well as a pregame hype video. Hopefully, more Opener video will find it’s way onto youtube.

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