July 17, 2012
Having been swept the first three games they ever played at the new home of the Marlins back in late May, the Washington Nationals expected to do much better the second time around. Indeed, they won handily on Friday night, with Jordan Zimmermann getting a much-deserved sixth win of the season.* Ryan Zimmerman hit a home run, showing continued improvement ever since he had that cortisone shot two weeks earlier. On Saturday, Gio Gonzalez gave up only two runs, but the Marlins' Mark Buehrle was even better, holding the Nats to just one run. On Sunday, Stephen Strasburg was in fine form, as the Nats won easily, 4-0. On Monday night, Edwin Jackson gave up four runs in the third inning, as Miami beat the Nats 5-3. And so, even though the Nationals outscored the Marlins 13-8 runs in the four-game series, the two teams split the series.
* NOTE: I erred on July 10 when I wrote that "Jordan Zimmermann was in line to get his fifth win of the season." He already had five wins, and was going for his sixth.
The Nationals are back home in Washington tonight, welcoming the New York Mets to town. Their lead over the Braves in the NL East has shrunk to 2 1/2 games, so they'd better get moving. Ian Desmond has been out of the lineup for the last few days, trying to get his oblique muscle fully healed, and last reports are that he is making good progress. More good news: Drew Storen is expected to play in the next week or two, and Jayson Werth will probably be back in early August.
The Nationals signed high school pitcher Lucas Giolito, their 16th draft pick, to a contract worth $2,925,000. That means the franchise has come to terms with nearly all of their draftees. Giolito (no relation to Gio Gonzalez) is reputed to throw a fastball over 100 MPH. Oh-oh, here we go again... See MLB.com. Thanks to Bruce Orser for pointing out the significance of that transaction.
For the third year in a row, the National League won the All-Star Game, after failing to win in any of the 13 years before that. Once again, the "streaky" nature of the Midsummer Classic continues. The visiting NL squad mercilessly thrashed AL starting pitcher, with five runs in the first inning. The AL never put together a rally, and the final score was 8-0. Among the Washington Nationals who were there, Gio Gonzalez pitched a 1-2-3 inning (the third), while Stephen Strasburg gave up a hit and a walk in the next inning, without any damage resulting. I was surprised that Bryce Harper was given the chance to play several innings; he walked in the fifth inning and later struck out looking. While playing in left field, he lost a high fly ball in the twilight glare, but was not charged with an error.
I just made some minor corrections to the Seals Stadium diagram, with details such as the entry tunnels and a more accurate size estimate. The diagram now shows the dimensions for 1959, which I suspect were also in effect for 1958, which I had relied upon previously. There are also all-new diagram versions for the minor league period for the first time: 1931 and 1947. Other revisions are nearing completion...
I was startled to see Yankee Stadium in its primitive version on Turner Classic Movies today, in They Learned About Women (1930). It was a strange plot with two long-forgotten vaudevillians in the starring roles. There were two odd aspects of the baseball scenes: Yankee Stadium was shown in its pre-1928 form, with only a single deck in the left field corner, and there were frequent clips of Shibe Park, which did not look remotely like Yankee Stadium. You'd think more people would have noticed that glaring inconsistency.
So, I updated the "Cinema" box on the Yankee Stadium page, while adding the lineups for the 1977 and 2009 World Series champion teams (along with the 1962 and 2000 teams). I also grouped the photo captions into sections that open and close by clicking on their respective headings, like I did for Nationals Park recently. It's the best way to keep all those photos straight, I think.
In preparation for the Fall 2012 football season, the Washington Redskins will remove 4,000 more seats from FedEx Field, bringing the seating capacity down to only 79,000, plus 4,000-5,000 standing-room tickets per game; see Washington Post. Hat tip to Mike Zurawski. Their average attendance last year was just over 76,000. They had already removed seats last year, reducing the capacity from 91,704 to about 83,000. With all the excitement over the signing of quarterback Robert Griffin III ("RG III"), perhaps the fans will get excited enough to go see Redskins games again. And then they'll put more seats back in, etc., etc., etc.
Speaking of "football" stadiums in Washington, there is a new push to get land for a new stadium for the D.C. United soccer team, after two big investors -- Erick Thohir and Jason Levien --became part owners. It would be located in the Buzzards Point industrial neighborhood, about four blocks southwest of Nationals Park. See Washington Post.
I noticed that the www.stadiumsofnfl.com Web site seems to have died. Does anyone know if its content migrated elsewhere?
Many thanks to Dr. Thomas Tomsick, author of Strike Three! My Years in the 'Pen, for renewing his sponsorship of the Cleveland Stadium page.