Saturday, July 3, 2010

There's a million better blogs/With a million better posts...

No linkagery today. I'm giving serious thought to packing that aspect of the blog in and going back to my roots as a baseball writer, which is to say the independent minor leagues. That's where I started in 1995 with the Rebel Baseball Review, and while the Washington area doesn't have nearly as many independent teams as the Upper Midwest, there are the Blue Crabs within convenient driving distance (more or less), the Washington Wild Things within range for an overnighter, and there are all the teams of the Cal Ripken Collegiate League in the area.

Let's face it - as my not-so-clever post title says. there are literally dozens of other Nationals blogs out there, and all of them have writers more familiar with the team than I am. Even if I'd started blogging when I got down here in 2007, I'd still have been behind the curve since at the time I paid little attention to the National League.  Since I started only this summer (and late, at that) it's a fools errand trying to overtake more established blogs, many of which are part of larger national & regional networks.

Don't look for too much in the way of blogging this weekend. I'm heading down to Woodbridge to see the P-Nats tonight and up to Hagerstown for Independence Day, and I'll probably post again on the fifth.

Crabs are playoff bound!

It was a good night for baseball in St. Charles, Maryland, home of the Atlantic League's Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, which was good since I'd driven 45 minutes from my home in Alexandria for the game. Regency Furniture Stadium is in the middle of no place in particular at the moment, but in the not too distant future, some homeowners are in fact going to have baseball in their back yards since there's still a lot of housing being built out there in Charles County. This was my first Atlantic League game, and I was very impressed by the stadium after years of hanging out in Northern League parks such as Midway Stadium, the Wade in Duluth, and the Wolf Den in Madison. Here's a view of the main entrance:

The parking lot was pretty full, since 4,078 people showed up for the game, and there was even some tailgating going on but I couldn't get a good shot with my Pixi. On the inside, the park is equally impressive. Great sight lines all around the park, even from the concession stands.

This pic was taken about two feet from the onions, relish, coleslaw, mustard and ketchup; you can see one of the napkin dispensers in the lower right-hand corner of the picture.

This shot was taken from my seat. Yes, it's true: I walked up almost literally at the last minute, plunked down $13, and got an aisle seat right behind home plate. Lord, I do love the minor leagues. The box seats were arguably more comfortable than similarly-priced seats at Nationals Park, with built-in cushions, cupholders, not to mention being capacious enough for my 375-pound butt. The park has a manual scoreboard reminiscent of the Green Monster at Fenway, though not nearly so tall; there is also a ginormous video screen in deep right field. Very much a state-of-the art minor league park.

As for the game itself, it was a pitchers' duel for three innings until the Crabs broke through in the bottom of the fourth on a double followed by an RBI single; the Riversharks went to the bullpen, but the relief corps failed them in the fifth as Crabs DH Matt Craig slugged a three-run dinger over the right-field fence, The rest of the game summary is here. Final score Blue Crabs 7, Riversharks 1, and after the fifth it wasn't even that close, really. Very, very nice post-game fireworks display, even if the accompanying music included (incongruously) Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." A great game in a great park, and I'm definitely going to head down there for a few more this season.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Good Start to the Rest of the Season

The Nationals have beaten the Mets like a rented mule this season, and I was very glad to see them do it again last night. 2-1 Nats in the bottom of the ninth; here's Patrick Reddington with the recap and Mark Zuckerman breaks down the decisive ninth inning. (I'm thinking JMax could have drawn that walk and scored that run just as well as Willie, and maybe better.) Another view of the ninth from Screech's Best Friend is worth reading.

Also from Mark, Jordan Zimmerman will be making a rehab start tomorrow with the P-Nats in Woodbridge.
Elsewhere, Sue Dinem at Nationals Prospects reports that yesterday was a good day for the Nats' farm teams. Also, Sue has a list of the Good, the Bad, and the Interesting. Over at NFA, Brian notes that the team has signed their 32nd round draft pick. This puts them just over halfway through this year's crop of draftees.

Brian also encourages us to attend the July 3 game with the P-Nats, reminding us of the silent auction.

Across the Potomac in Regency Furniture Stadium, the Blue Crabs beat the Riversharks 3-1 to move within one game of clinching the Liberty Division's first-half title. Second and possibly decisive game is tonight, with fireworks!

Up the road in Bowie, the Baysox got smoked 5-0 by the Aeros, who teed off on Bowie starter Ryohei Tanaka for all five runs. On the other hand, The Frederick Keys notched their second win against Salem with a come-from-behind 6-4 victory. Rubber game of the match is tonight.

Elsewhere in baseball (and pop culture, if you're into that) Aaron Gleeman has his weekly Link-O-Rama, while Joe Posnanski tells us the sad (yet inspiring and cheerful) tale of the Quisenberry Tree.

LISTEN TO THIS MAN. HE SPEAKS TRUTH. I'm following his recommendation and going down to St. Charles for the second game of the Blue Crabs/Riversharks series, and heading up to Hagerstown Sunday for the first game of the Suns' series against the West Virginia Power - and some Waffle House. Mmmm, waffles. Not sure whether I'll take in the P-Nats on Saturday or head downtown for Strasmas VI, There's a knuckleball pitcher on the mound for the Mets, after all. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The defense was good (well, no errors, at least) but the pitching was mediocre and the offense couldn't get the job done; despite getting eight hits and three walks, they were only able to push one run across and left eight on base. Patrick Reddington brings the recap. Mark Zuckerman correctly points out that opportunities were squandered. Mike Henderson looks forward to the Mets series.

Harper correctly points out that Pudge's current slump is really just the veteran catcher regressing to what we paid for. Over at SBNation, Chris Needham of Capital Punishment argues that the future is now, and the Nationals need to make some deals. Steven from FJB and Brian from NFA bring us Natmosphere In Your Ear, with some mid-season grades for the Nationals at each position.

Brian Oliver reports the Nats signing of an undrafted free agent pitcher from the collegiate wood-bat Northwoods League. Aside from that, it wasn't a very good day for the farm teams. April Whitzman also has some news & notes.

Up in Lancaster, the Blue Crabs take the last game of that series 7-3 and come home with a two-game lead in the Liberty Division thanks to the Riversharks' loss last night. This weekend's home series against Camden will decide the first-half division championship, and in addition to the on-field fireworks, there'll be fireworks after the game on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Bowie wins 4-3 and gets the sweep against Erie; tonight they'll face Akron in the first of four games extending through Independence Day. Meanwhile, freshly promoted lefty starter Nathan Moreau stuns Salem by pitching a no-hitter in his first game with the Frederick Keys, who back him up with seven runs for a righteous blowout.