June 18, 2006
WOW! Saturday's Big Event in D.C. was probably the most thrilling Nationals game I have ever seen (on TV), and it won't be forgotten for a long time to come. For me, the most vivid image was when the stocky Daryle Ward was chugging his way around third base (pant! pant!) on Jose Guillen's triple in the bottom of the eighth, putting the Nats on top, 10-9. Saturday's win put a very timely end to the Nationals' five-game losing streak, raising hope once again for a respectable season. It was a remarkable game in many ways: It was the first time since 2002 (or possibly 1997, as I thought I had heard) that the Yankees had lost a game in which they had been ahead by seven or more runs. It was also the first time that Mariano Rivera had given up any runs in over a month. The come-from-behind victory was truly a team effort: Ward not only scored the go-ahead run, he batted in the first run in the bottom of the fifth inning, starting a four-run rally that took most of the sting out of the Yankees' seven-run onslaught in the top of that inning. He also hit a homer into the right field upper deck in the seventh inning. Not bad for a substitute player! (Nick Johnson left in the third inning after straining his back while reaching for a wide throw.) Ryan Zimmerman and Brian Schneider each batted in two runs, and most of the other position players either scored a run or got an RBI. Once again, we have to give credit to Alfonso Soriano, whose patient walk and aggressive base stealing tied the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. The announced attendance was 45,085, but I saw a fair number of empty seats in the upper deck. See MLB.com. I noticed that the capacity of RFK Stadium is now listed as 46,382, whereas it was 45,250 last year. Where did they squeeze in those extra thousand seats?
Today's game was a sharp contrast in tone to yesterday's, a tense pitcher's duel that ended in spectacular, abrupt fashion with Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off home run, converting a likely 2-1 loss into a 3-2 win. WA-HOO-WA!* Against all odds, the Nationals ended up winning the series against the Bronx Bombers. (Yes, I do have mixed feelings about this.) In all three games, the winner came from behind in late innings. In case you haven't noticed, Zimmerman's batting average has climbed above .280, quickly closing in on the slumping Alfonso Soriano. Zimmerman was struggling early in the season, but with ten home runs, he is considered a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year. Official attendance today was 45,157. As the Braves continue their horrible slump, the Nationals unexpectedly find themselves in third place. The Marlins are closing in fast, however. The Mets beat the Orioles today, averting a sweep, but they are so far ahead of the rest of the division it's as if there is no real competition.
* For you folks in Rio Linda, that's the rallying cry of the University of Virginia Cavaliers, the alma mater of Zimmerman, Katie Couric, and (graduate school) moi.
Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has proposed to tear down Tiger Stadium, preserving only a small token section of the grandstand and the infield diamond area, so as to make room for a new housing and commercial development. The neighborhood is mostly vacant at present. Demolition will cost between $2 million and $6 million, which seems like an awful waste of money compared to what could be done with the old structure if such money were used to preserve and develop it. Unfortunately, no willing developers have come forward as of yet. Why don't they bring back the Old Timers' Game and play it in Tiger Stadium every year? See ESPN. Hat tip to Shane Bua.
Peter Piroso submitted his fond memories of Ebbets Field, which will be posted on one of the "Fans' Experiences" pages in the near future.
Frederick J. Nachman sent me some corrected info about Comiskey Park, Wrigley Field, and Soldier Field, which will be incorporated into the respective (baseball) stadium pages in the near future.
In response to the recent query from Jodi Yarbrough about Wrigley Field, Charlie, a.k.a. "Stadium Guru," reports:
The Cubs dugout is on the 3rd base side because that side was closer to the train tracks that ran along the left field side back when teams would travel by train.
Also, 3rd base side has the sun at its backs, so the Cubs are always in the shade for the vast amount of day games.
Finally, Frank Trimborn informs me that the Cubs have installed special wireless phones for communication between the dugout and the bullpen in Wrigley Field. It's a special system created by Motorola that supposedly is secure and untappable. Does the Department of Homeland Security know about this? See foxnews.com.