August 14, 2005 [LINK]
The Nationals' 9-2 win over the Rockies today capped their first sweep since the series against the Cubs just before the All Star break. John Patterson got his seventh win of the season Combined with yesterday's 8-0 victory, it was their biggest two-game run total since May 6-7 in San Francisco. Ironically, the Nats only got two home runs in the series, confounding the expectation of easy long balls in Denver's mile-high atmosphere. See MLB.com. This trip was bittersweet for Vinny Castilla, who still resides with his family in Denver, where he played for most of his career. He said he would have stayed there if they had offered him more money. The Nationals have been in desperate need of something to turn things around as the final month approaches; maybe this series in Denver was it. Winning the NL East is now a very long shot, but the Nats are at least holding their own in the wild card race. Now they head to Philadelphia, and then on to Queens, New York to finish a challenging 13-game road trip.
In Houston on Wednesday, Livan Hernandez accomplished something rather unusual: He hit a home run and yet lost the game as a pitcher. I hope this doesn't add to his already high level of frustration over the lack of run support. Sorry for the lack of updates this past week. I've been occupied with a variety of other pursuits, and my Internet connection was on the fritz yesterday.
The winning streaks chalked up by the Red Sox and Yankees recently point to yet another all-out war between the ancient rivals as September approaches. On the other coast, the race between the Angels and Athletics is likewise getting closer and tenser all the time. In the National League, the Cubs surprised a lot of folks by beating the Cardinals twice, but it would take a miracle for anyone to overcome the lead St. Louis has amassed. The same could almost be said for the Braves, who have built an aura of near-invincibility in their division (if not in their league) over the past 15 years. In the NL East, all the teams are currently above .500, whereas in the NL West, all the teams are below .500. Perhaps there should only be two geographic divisions in each league, and two wild card teams...
Saturday's Washington Post explored the murky world of how baseball franchises are sold, recalling the dismay in Boston when the Red Sox were sold to a group of out-of-towners led by John Henry. All indications are that close personal ties to Commissioner Selig have been the primary consideration, outweighing the amount of the bids. Selig says he hopes to decide on awarding the bid for ownership of the Nationals by the end of August, but if the past is any indication, this process could stretch on for many more months. I hope Fred Malek's group gets picked, since he has been working tirelessly to bring baseball back to Washington for two decades, and he deserves a lot of credit for the fact that it finally came to pass.
That reminds me, amid all the glum talk about the Nationals' fading postseason prospects, let's put things in perspective and rejoice in the mere fact that baseball is being played in Our Nation's Capital at all! With far more games being played every year than any other pro sport, baseball is famous for all the amazing hot streaks and depressing slumps. Perhaps it's all for the best that Washingtonians are getting a taste of the variety of emotions that come with being a major league city. Anything could happen in the next seven weeks...
Many thanks to Fritz Roberson for sending me excellent panoramic interior and exterior photos of Dodger Stadium, SBC Park, and Miller Park. They have been added to those pages, greatly enhancing them. (The one of Dodger Stadium has been retouched slightly.) I do accept stadium photos for use on my pages, and I always credit the photographer.
Thanks to Richard Morscher for letting me know it was Josh Gibson (not "Howard") who was said to have hit a baseball out of Yankee Stadium. I was told by Bruce Orser a few weeks ago that some of the eyewitnesses to that blast acknowledged that the ball didn't actually leave the stadium but did, they say, sail over the front corner of the upper deck in left field and hit the wall behind the bullpen. Another mystery that will never be known for sure... Coincidentally, Alex Rodriguez hit a monster 485-foot home run that sailed way back into that same area, where an elliptical exit ramp now stands.
Thanks to Mike Zurawski for letting me know about recently unveiled plans for a new home for the Oakland Athletics. See SFGate.com. It would be located a couple blocks north of the existing Coliseum. I like the big roof, the Wrigleyesque triangular bleachers, and the Tigeresque curved grandstand in the right field corner. They seem to be emulating San Diego's PETCO Park by integrating existing buildings into the stadium design.