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September 29, 2007 [LINK / comment]

Nationals control NL East race

Who would have thought that the lowly Washington Nationals would end the 2007 season in a position to determine which team wins the National League Eastern Division? For the past two weeks, they have played every one of their games against the Phillies or the Mets, and have come out ahead more often than not. In today's game Matt Chico faced down Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and the rest of the Phillies, pitching six innings of shutout baseball -- broadcast in living color on FOX! What a pleasant way to spend Saturday afternoon. It certainly helps make up for the loss at the game in RFK Stadium that my wife and I saw one week ago. Whoever wins tomorrow, the Nats will have at least stayed below the 90-loss mark, which is a very real symbolic achievement.

Congratulations to the Indians, Angels, Diamondbacks, the Yankees, the Cubs, and the Red Sox for making it to the postseason. The latter two are both in the playoffs for the first time since 2003, and who knows what bizarre happenings that may portend? This time, however, both teams are divisional champions, not wild card winners. I'm just glad that we didn't end up with a five- or six-team tie, because I just don't have enough time or spare mental energy to understand the arcane tie-breaking procedures, quite frankly. For those who like to wonder "what if?," it was explained at MLB.com.

(Bitter-)sweet memories of RFK

It's hard to believe that baseball's days at RFK Stadium really are over once and for all -- barring some construction site calamity, that is. I'm fairly sure I'm "not the only one with Mixed Emotions" about the retirement of RFK. (Cue Rolling Stones.) Aside from the swooping roof profile and the large upper deck overhang, there really wasn't much to distinguish it from the other cookie-cutter "concrete doughnuts" of that bygone era. Everyone assumes that it will be demolished after D.C. United gets a new stadium built for them, but maybe it should be preserved as a monument of sorts to the one-size-fits-all solutions that were put forward by government experts in the 1960s. But however cramped, dank, and bland it was, one thing is for sure: It served a vital role in getting baseball back to D.C., where it belongs!

Let us not forget that the home team prevailed in all three final games played by professional sports teams at RFK Stadium: the Senators against the Yankees in 1971, the Redskins against the Cowboys in 1996, and the Nationals against the Phillies in 2007. True, the Senators had to forfeit the September 1971 game because of the riot by angry fans, but they still ended up with more runs scored.

Well, there won't be another chance to shoot a photo of us together at RFK Stadium, so this one will have to do. At long last, Jacqueline realized what great fun she had been missing for the past three years since baseball returned to Washington in 2005, and now she is eager to see a game at the new stadium next year.

Roll your mouse over this image to see a view from the upper deck just behind the left field foul pole. Click on it to see the white-painted seat where the longest of Frank Howard's upper-deck home runs landed: Section 542, Row 3, Seat 3, in center field. (Note the original wooden seats, and the peeling paint.) More photos from last Saturday's penultimate baseball game at RFK Stadium are on their way...

Andrew, Jacqueline at RFKStadium

Stadium impressions

Thanks to Scott A. (Milwaukee County Stadium) Kevin Barnacle (U.S. Cellular Field), Bruce B. and Eric Rippe (League Park), Dave Zanko (Shea Stadium and Olympic Stadium), and especially to the very eloquent Mario V. (Cleveland Stadium) for adding their impressions of some of (North) America's favorite ballparks over the past month. If you'd like to share your own memories (or even add comments to my blog entries), just REGISTER for this Web site.

COMMENT by: James Sutton, of St. Louis, MO on Oct 02, 2007 14:17 PM
You mentioned that "Congratulations to the Indians, Angels, Diamondbacks, the Yankees, the Cubs, and the Red Sox for making it to the postseason. The latter two are both in the playoffs for the first time since 2003." The Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 against the Cardinals and I believe they made it to the playoffs in 2005 and lost in the first round to the White Sox.

COMMENT by: Andrew Clem, of Staunton, VA on Oct 03, 2007 15:17 PM
You would think I would have a better command of English. What I meant to say was that BOTH teams (not merely one or the other) are in the playoffs for the first time since 2003. All fans of the Yankees and the Cardinals certainly remember 2004! I suppose my emphasis on those two particular teams considered jointly is related to the fact that their respective home fields are the oldest and most treasured ballparks.

Posted (or last updated or commented upon): 03 Oct 2007, 3: 17 PM

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