Gotta say: mad props to the Hawaiian team that defeated reigning champs Curacao in the Little League World Series. For those who missed it, they rallied from three back in the last inning of regulation, then shut down the Curacao team in the top of the 7th (first extra inning, LL is only 6 innings of regulation play) and with a solo shot home run, brought the LLWS crown back to the US. Kids showed some real gumption.
And in other news, the Nats managed to not lose tonight!
Opposing fans annoy me. Which sucks, cause here in the DC area, there are so many people culled from all over the nation, and such a new team that there isn't the established fan base, that even when the Diamondbacks come to town there are plenty of opposing fans.
Today, I'm thinking we home fans were completely outnumbered. And the fact that we got our asses handed to us didn't help matters, as it let those fans stay vocal the entire damn game. Anyone watching the game must have been sure it was in St Louis and not in DC. It wasn't that the individual fans bug me (though there were one or two who did) but the whole of just being outnumbered, out yelled, at HOME...
Yes. I know I'm 12 years old for finding his name funny. It's horrible. But I just can't help it!
The Reds Series
I've been trying to think about something to say about the recent (and season) series against the Reds. Best I've come up with? At least we weren't swept.
Seriously. That's about it. The only positive I can find is that we won 1 of 6 instead of dropping the whole sextet. Even things that would otherwise seem good just get rusted. Guillen getting RFK out of his head? Yeah, but we still lost 2 of 3. Good game by Patterson? Yeah, but it was the only of six games against the Reds we won.
And with the next two series being the Cards and then a trip to Turner, I don't see things looking up anytime soon. Although, once upon a time, we got swept three games by the Reds, came back, drew some blood against the Cards, and went on the tear that was June. If September can be even just 2/3 the month June was, we'll stay in the hunt til the bitter end.
So here come the Eagles
I will conceed that Boston is, technically, on the Atlantic Coast. However, that's as far as I'm willing to go on BC's worthiness to be included in the ACC. I was against the whole expansion from the moment it was first rumored that the ACC wanted to go to 12 teams for the sole reason of having a football championship game.
Not a good enough reason, damnit.
However, if we had
to expand...why BC? With their addition, the distance from the northern to southern tips of the ACC has expanded from 881 miles two years ago, to 1063 miles last year, to now 1500 miles. It's nearly 500 miles removed from the next closest ACC school, just hanging out up there in New England.
Plus, what are we really getting. Sure it looked like they might take the Big East BCS spot in their lame duck season, but they fell apart, and struggled out of conference, including dropping their second game in two years to new ACC division mate Wake Forest. WAKE FOREST! Now, I love my alma mater, but when you're getting beat by us with any regularity, you are not
a football power house.
I don't know who I would have preferred. Navy would have been nice, though logistically difficult, as they have three non-conference games expected of them every year, so adding an 8-game conference schedule puts them at 11 games. However, they do play ACC teams on a regular basis, and do match the academic reputation of the conference. They're even getting a lot better in football lately, so wouldn't immediately be a powderpuff in the conference. Plus, it'd be great to have the Army/Navy game, the biggest game that never mattered, as part of the ACC.
Other than that? I dunno. Lure WVU over? But they're not Atlantic Coast (though a better geographical fit that BC), and I think they have some of the same BC problems of looking good because of big-fish/small-pond. Repair the relationship with ACC dropout South Carolina? Questionable at best. Georgia? Florida? Couldn't see them moving. Give up, kick out Miami and VT, and go back to nine teams? Now that's an idea...
The NCAA has backed off a little, and will allow FSU to continue using the monicker of "Seminoles" in post season play. U of Utah will likely be the next school to win its appeal. Now that this has happened, my odd period of defending FSU will come to an end.
Damned football factories dragging down the ACC in basketball...
Welcome to the season
While we can't necessarily put ourselves into the WC spot with this six-game home stand, we can go a long way towards losing any chance we had at WC. After the shellacking that was handed down to us by the Reds last time, we really need to turn things around, but this isn't the same whipping boy team that pounded us flat. They've actually gotten better. And the Cardinals haven't gotten worse. I'd say our odds of staying in the WC hunt the rest of the season will be the same as our win percentage this home stand. Take 'em all, and we're going to hold on until October. Drop 'em all, and we're done. Split them, and we still have a chance, but it's going to take some work.
However, I see splitting the 6 games as being the likely outcome. 2/3 against the Reds. 1/3 against the Cards.
That's to the tune of Rock-and-Roll Part 1 if that wasn't apparent. It's hard to put it in "words". Church piled on another great game tonight. 5 plate appearances yielding 2 hits, .800 OBP, and just a second straight night of ass-kickery.
Y'all might not have noticed this about me, but I'm a Church fan, so these last two games have been good to see after the slump as DH he was having.
And two straight nights putting up a 6-run inning. Shame only one of those two turned into a W, but it's great to know we can generate offense, even in pitchers parks.
What might have been...
I think I could take the anemic ending to this road trip better if it weren't for the fact that the Astros have gone into freefall lately. When we left Houston the last time having lost two of three to the Stros, I figured we were still in good shape, because I felt that Houston would do exactly what it's doing now: fall apart. The WC will go to the second place team in the NLE. Don't worry about the Stros. Certainly not about the Cubs. Right now it's just the Fish, Phils, and Mets that the Nationals need to be concerned with.
Of course, tomorrow could put us in last place in the NLE. That sucks. Last in the NLE with a record that would still have us three games up in the NLW. Of course, worst of the best means playing only two regular season games in October, best of the worst lands you in the playoffs.
Still. Amazing comeback. I love that we managed to put that together, even if it did fall apart in extra innings. 8 runs in the last 9 outs of regulation is nothing to be scoffed at.
And potentially lost in all of this? CHURCH! Two hits, two runs, two RBIs in two at bats. I hope that goes a long way towards turning around his confidence, which will be a big step towards him getting mroe playtime, and potentially some starts. If I were the owner of one of the other Nats blogs that does things like Majority Whip, or Nat of the Night, or whatever else, I'd certainly give it to Church. And yes, ahead of Schneiders 4 RBIs, including the game tying RBI.
I won't even talk about Livan.
Item: Nats split a double header with the Phillies. We needed to come out of Philly with a split of the series, which we did. They're a half game up on us in the NLE and WC races right now, but the rest of the season meetings between the two teams happen in RFK. Even if the Phils have taken 2 out of 3 there, I still feel better about having the games be at home down the stretch.
Item: The FSU Seminoles should continue to be called the Seminoles, and NCAA can just shove it. Same with the Utah Utes.
Item: WFU isn't being projected to do much this football season. I think we'll surpass expectations, but not enough so to go bowling. Will be interesting to see if we can extend our winning streak over new conference rival BC to three straight years.
Item: Washington Redskins. I'm torn about that name. How about Powhatans? Seems that generic references to Native Americans are considered bad, but specific tribes are okay.
Item: I'm torn as to whether there really is a Big Fish out there, in terms of the MLB steroids witch hunt. If there is, I hope it's not Clemens. Not cause I'm a fan of his as much as I think it'd be the biggest non-strike related black eye the sport has had since the Black Sox.
Item: Nats. Mets. Shea. Three games. We need to take one. We probably need to take two. If we take three, I'm willing to be irrationally exhuberant and declare the season turned around.
Item: Nats won't win all three.
Item: "Because the Royals and Rockies might play each other" is not
a valid argument against Interleague Play. You listening, Gene?
Phils 4, Nats 3 Just frustrating
These are the kinds of games that are just frustrating. We stay in it, when we potentially don't deserve to, just to fall short. And not just fall short, but fall short by having a rally fall flat when two PH are brought in (though one was for Guzman: The Rallykiller), and some really questionable decisions near the end of the game. Especially pinch hitting for Schneider, one of our more reliable bats.
Yeah, maybe Wagner does slice through lefties, but I'd rather have lefty Schneider in there than the Rule V albatross that is hanging around our necks. Seriously, I know that sending Blanco down means forfeiting him, but is that really such a bad thing at this point? Is he really contributing something to the team? Lose him, and bring up Short, and we've not had any net loss of infielders, and Short at least has some proven PH success at the Majors level (and is much more likely to start a game than Blanco).
So another one-run loss. At least we're not stuck in that streak of one-run losses anymore. But that doesn't really make it feel any better.
Letter for the Yankees!
Just came in the mail. It's the paternity test results! Let's see. Wow, I didn't expect this, but it looks like your daddy is...the Devil Rays.
Well, looks like at at least someone
is still giving Ryan Church some props, even as he's been dropped in the outfield rotation, and turned into a DH. Which creates the problem that he's slumping, and he's not really getting the playtime to try and bust out of that slump, and I think it's just this really horrible negative feedback style. Wonder how much of this ranking is just because there's not too many NL rookies producing numbers, and Church is still bouyed by the numbers he was putting up before the injury he never quite came back from.
Still. Nice to see Church still getting some respect, even if it's not from his own manager.
Nats 6, Phils 3. Credit and Debit where due
Let's talk Preston Wilson. Seems like a good subject to discuss tonight.
Preston seems to be someone who manages to divide Nats fans cleanly into the pro-Wilson and anti-Wilson camps. I'm more in the latter than the former, though probably not as firmly as some. He just seems to be exactly what's wrong with the way the Nationals have been acquiring players this year. We've overstocked the outfield to the point that a former candidate for rookie of the year has been demoted to pinch hitter. And not even F-Rob's first choice for pinch hitter.
He was supposed to be a Big Bat. He's not been. He was supposed to be a defensive powerhouse that could take over center from Wilky. He's not been. He's just another mid-level player who has been wedged into an already crowded outfield situation. I'm not entirely sure if it's Preston Wilson I'm against, or if I'm just against what he represents.
One thing he does do, at least, is tend to clear the wall on a roughly weekly basis. Which isn't bad, since weekly homers mean 26 in a season, which is more than many people can swat. Plus, he doesn't seem to have RFK on the mind, like some of our other hitters (cough-cough-guillen-cough-cough), so has even managed to clear the walls at home.
So tonight is credit where credit is due. In his first two at-bats, Preston Wilson swatted a pair of two-run homers. Good on ya. When solo shots by NJ and Schneider are added into the mix, the Nats managed 6 runs on 4 homers scattered among 10 total hits. After the 21-4 series in Colorado, this is looking like the Nats might be turning around.
Or...or the Nats are just taking advantage of some hitters parks, since their offense has sparked at the same time we started a road trip to the hitter friendly confines of the Juice Box, Coors, and CitBank. So I'm going to withhold any final judgement until I see whether this carries over when we return to RFK against the Reds. However, if we can keep it up, I smell revenge series after what they did to us in Cincy.
I think I've mentioned this twice already, once in the description text of this blog, and once in the introductory post of this blog, but baseball travel is my own little term for a goal I've recently created for myself. Well, it's really a goal that I've stolen from another baseball fan friend of mine. The idea is to see baseball games in all 50 states. I'm not thinking about MLB games, cause that's quite impossible without a massive expansion/relocation of the league. Or even MLB/MiLB, which is still not quite possible.
Now, in reality, I would love to turn this into a book, one season, 50 states...but that's a pipe dream, cause it would require some serious financing by either a lottery win, or by some sports site like ESPN or CNNsi. Yeah. Not happening. Fun to dream about, though.
Anyway, I'm going to plan to keep a link over there on the righthand side with my current baseball map, the same one presented, well, right here
So far I've got eight states (I'm including the District, because I'm not SportsCenter), which I might write up in the future as memories:
FL: St. Pete Cards (MiLB)
NC: Demon Deacs (college)
TX: Astros (in the Dome)
VA: Prince William/Potomac Cannons/Nats (MiLB)
Eight down, 43 to go. One more likely added this season.
Here it is, blog number three for me. So as to provide some kind of order, my LJ is still going to be for my day-to-day thoughts, Take On... will still be for essay length articles, and either might still be infested by the occasional sports post. This will be where I do most of my sports writing from now on, and will probably see more sports posting than I've tended to do in the past. Common topics will include:
The Washington Nationals
The WFU Demon Deacons
Baseball Travel (including my goal of seeing baseball in every state)
Stats Geekery (and my tendency to invent new stats when bored)
And just generic posts about baseball, football, college hoops, cricket, lawn darts, curling, freerange llama racing, or any other sport that strikes my fancy to write about at the time.
So. Enough introduction. On to the blog.