It was my first game at Nationals Park this year, and look who I ran into at the Center Field Gate:
That would be fellow ballhawk, Rick Gold; and for the record, I was wearing the University of Miami shirt because I found out Rick was going to this game and he is an alumnus. It was a pretty hot day, so we tried to stay in the shade until security asked whose bags were sitting alone at the gate and we had to stand with them until the gates opened.
When the gates opened, Rick went to the Red Seats in center field and I went to the seats in straight-away left field. Just as I got there, a coach was picking up a ball right at the wall, so I asked him point blank, “Coach, could you possibly toss me that ball, please?” He picked up the ball and tossed it right back in to the bucket in shallow center field. Here is the coach:
Anyone know who he is?
After that, I had three balls hit within ten feet of me. Want to know how many I caught? Zero. Here are the misssed opportunities:
1. This one feels the stupidest of all three because I was THE ONLY ONE IN THE SECTION. All I had to do was catch the ball and I would be fine. Well, I ran into a row two rows above the landing spot of the ball and when I couldn’t reach the ball leaning over a seat, the ball bounced off a seat in front of me and back onto the field.
2. My biggest problem the whole day was that I was going too far back on balls. I kept thinking balls were going to keep travelling when they didn’t. This ball was no exception. I to a spot that was about three rows back from the ball, and watched as a fan tried to barehand the ball, and later picked it up after it scooted away from him. Had I judged the ball well, I could have gone into the row in front of him and caught the ball, or I would have picked up the ball after he dropped it.
3. This time I actually was in a spot to catch the ball. The problem was there was a fan in front of me. He then deflected the ball, which made it go to my left, where it ricocheted off the seat back into his row, where he picked it up. There was no one even close to me other wise, so had the ball just stayed after it deflected off his glove, I would have been able to easily pick it up.
Then I noticed a few balls were going into the bullpen. I then saw this guy, who I tried to glove trick:
First I reeled out my line to knock it closer, then I pulled it up to insert the sharpie and rubber band. (If you don’t what the glove trick is, here’s a link that should explain it. Disclaimer: the link is to Zack Hample’s blog, not mine. That’s because he thought up the idea, not me. I’m simply a vulture.) What happened when I pulled the glove up is the string got tangeled, and the glove therefore couldn’t go as far down. I then spent what seemed like an hour trying to untangel it before relenting and simply letting down more string (I call it string, but it’s actually a fishing line.). I then had the glove over the ball and was pulling up when the ball dropped out of the glove. I tried to make the necessary adjustment, and then dropped the glove down again, but when I did, a security guard started yelling, “Sir, sir.” I looked back, and he motioned for me to get my glove out of the bullpen. I then headed back to over to straight-away left field- the bullpen is behind the left-center field wall- and caught a ball on the fly off of the bat of Mark De Rosa.
I then moved over to right field, where I quickly got Michael Morse to toss me a ball. He was fielding basebaballs where you see him here, but when he ran back to the wall, I called out to him and he threw me the ball.The red arrow is where he moved to field the ball and the black arrow is the path of the ball he threw me:
My next ball was hit by a Nationals lefty. It touched down in the row the woman in blue is right here, I believe, which is also where I picked it up:
Want to see how I could run so far? This was the crowd in the right field seats:
Right about the time I took that picture, I caught a Michael Morse opposite field shot on the fly from about the spot from which I took the picture.
After that, an usher came through saying, ” Does anyone have an extra baseball? I’m going to try to get Bryce Harper to sign a ball.” I wanted to be all cool and catch a ball, and then give it to her saying, “Here you go”, but I eventually relented and pulled one out of my backpack for her.
There I got Wade Davis- who was in the last throwing group- to toss me a ball over the protective netting along the third base line:
As I left the section in right field, an usher who lets me sit there during the game asked me if I could give him a ball. I said, “sure”. He later reported that he had given the ball to a little girl.
After that, I went over to the Red Seats, where this was my view:
There, I got David Price to throw me a ball. He is the one all right by the right edge of the picture, and when he ran over to center field to field a ball, I asked for the ball and he tossed it to me:
After B.P. ended, I went over to the Rays dugout and the guy in dark blue tossed me a ball out of the ball bag. Anyone know who he is?:
As for the game, Stephen Strasburg outpitched Chris Archer, and the Nationals won 3-2.
During the game, I was planning on running back and forth between both sides of the outfield, but instead, I decided to stay put in right field and talk to Rick the whole game. After the game, though, I went to the Rays’ bullpen in left field and got a bullpen attendant- who was picking up the Gatorade cooler- to toss me my eighth and final ball of the night:
• 8 Balls at this game (5 pictured because I gave three away)
• 21straight Games with at least 1 Ball
• 8 Balls x 27,485 Fans= 219,880 Competition Factor
• 67 Balls in 14 Games at Nationals Park= 4.79 Balls Per Game
• 7 straight Games with at least 1 Ball at Nationals Park
• 7 straight games with at least 2 Balls at Nationals Park
• 4 straight Games with at least 3 Balls at Nationals Park
• Time at Game 4:51- 9:45 = 4 Hours 54 Minutes
So, Brian, what happened last year?
Angel Pagan, Melky Cabrera, Clay Hensley, and Ryan Theriot.
Carlos Beltran, Pat Burrell, Orlando Cabrera, Mark DeRosa, Bill Hall, Jeff Keppinger, Ramon Ramirez, Cody Ross, Aaron Rowand, Jonathan Sanchez, and Andres Torres.
Why?: Before I started looking at their offseason, I was one of those people who thought the Giants could seriously contend for the NL West with the Diamonbacks. Now, not so much. Sure they added a couple good people to soften the blow, but the subtraction column is just massacre. It is the combination of both an astounding quantity advantage over the additions and a substantial quality advantage over it.
Let’s go through the additions and subtractions just by what the players mean to the team, shall we? They added: two average starting outfielders, a decent reliever, and a solid infielder. They lost: an All-star outfielder, two above-average outfielders, two slightly-below-average outfielders, a decent shortstop, two power-hitting utility players, two alright relievers, and a high potential starter, who has already thrown a no-hitter. While we’re at it, you can just tack on a partridge in a pear tree.
I over-value pitching in a team more than any other person that I know, but I can’t see how the Giants will consistently win, in AT&T Park especially, with the team they have. They don’t have any ways of scoring runs repeatedly that I can see. I mean Brian Wilson should be better this season now that he is (probably) healthy, but a closer only benefits a team when they have the lead.
Predicted Record Range: 80-85 wins
Next Up: Wait, you mean I don’t have any more entries of this sort? Yipee!! I won’t be able to go to games consistently until June, so I’ll figure out some other types of entries to write, so stay “tuned”, or whatever the word is for following a blog.
I think the story of the Nationals’ 2011 season could very well be one person:
Michael Morse. Now he might not be that much of a household name, but as a person that went to Nationals Park pretty frequently last season I can say the dude is a monster. Just look at his spray chart,
For that reason he was a bittersweet person to have in the cage during bp. You knew he was going to hit the ball a ways, but deciding whether to play him as a lefty or a righty was a whole other frustrating deal.
Gio Gonzalez, Mike Cameron, Mark DeRosa, Chad Durbin, Edwin Jackson, Brad Lidge, and Ryan Perry.
Laynce Nix, Collin Balester, Todd Coffey, Alex Cora, Jonny Gomes, Livan Hernandez, Tom Milone, and Brad Peacock.
Why?: With this past offseason, it may seem like the Nationals did really well. Maybe it’s just that I’ve been around the Nationals so much, but it seems to me that they lost a bunch of players that, yes, were not starters, but they are just below that cusp. Mind you, a B is still improving the team a bit, but I think most everyone christened their ship to a much improved season because of the additions. For me, they will improve if those that were already in the organization improve, because I am a little bit skeptical about whether Gio Gonzalez can stay healthy after building up such an innings count for the first time.
All that said, it still can be a great season in that the talent on the team surpasses the record they had last year if they can just *solidify* their rotation. I’m not talking about making it a strength of the team, but if they can just not lose games because of their starters, their lineup could win them 85 games. I kid you not, the only offensively deficient spot in that lineup is the Short Stop position with Ian Desmond. The next closest position to being offensively below-average is the Catcher position with Wilson Ramos (aka the guy every Twins fan wishes had never been traded in order to get Matt Capps).
Predicted Record Range: 85-90 wins. I say this tentatively, though. For whatever reason, I have this strange feeling in my gut that SOMEthing will go wrong with the Nationals this year. My first thought was that Gio Gonzalez will be injured, but now I’m starting to think that it might be Strasburg again. Whatever, enough of my crazy feelings, that’s it for this entry except that you need to vote on the poll below.
Next Up: Atlanta Braves, then the NL West
First team in NL West: