September 21, 2005
For the first time in months, there is a brand new stadium page: Estadio Monterrey, which is ordinarily home of the Monterrey (Mexico) Sultanes, but also served as the venue for three major league games in August 1996 and one game (Opening Day) in April 1999. On the latter occasion, Mexican sports hero Vinny Castilla played there; he was then with the Rockies. Many thanks to Bruce Orser for research assistance, once again, and also to reliable tipster Steven Poppe. I have moved and reformatted the information on Latin American baseball from the Latin America Culture page to a new page: Latin American leagues. It is still far from complete, however.
After twice battling back from three-run deficits, the Braves gave up a grand slam (hit by Ryan Howard) in the tenth inning, losing to the Phillies, 10-6. That scenario is something Washington fans can relate to: "We feel your pain." I don't think anyone is going to catch Atlanta, until the playoffs, that. Without a full pitching rotation, I don't see how they can get past the first round. Even though the divisional titles in the National League are pretty much decided, on the American side the races in all three divisions are getting tighter all the time. The ongoing Indians-White Sox series is a classic matchup between two very worthy teams. There were some unusually high scoring games yesterday: The Rockies beat the Padres (who had just ruined the Nationals' playoff hopes) 20-1. It's sad to see the Rockies alone in the cellar, ending another disappointing year after getting off to such a great start back in 1993. The front office needs to make some big changes to recharge the once-high fan enthusiasm in Denver; I just hope they don't overdo the hokie promotions. Also last night, the Red Sox beat the Devil Rays 15-2; the Red Sox should have saved up some of that energy for tonight, as they just lost to the Devil Rays, falling behind the Yankees for the first time in months. The Devil Rays have had almost no respect throughout their brief eight-year existence, in spite of playing in one of the most brutally competitive divisions, but at least they held their own during the latter part of the season.
After Barry Bonds hit home run number 707 in the first inning tonight, there wasn't much the Nationals could look forward to. Ace pitcher John Patterson gave up an uncharacteristically high five runs in seven innings, as the Nats batters only scored one run. At least they managed a couple of hits in the bottom of the ninth. Having struggled on the fringes of the post-season quest since their monumental collapse in July, the Nationals are finally out of contention. But who would have thought back in April that they would still be in the thick of it with only two weeks left in the regular season? The Nationals rank a decent ninth place in terms of team ERA, but have the lowest team batting average in the majors, .252. If they can just keep their win-loss record above .500 until the end, we can call this historic season for D.C. baseball an unqualified success. I hope the former Expos' devoted fans up in Montreal don't lose interest in the sport. There may be room for franchise expansion a few years down the road...