April 28, 2005
After nearly two weeks without a break, the Nationals had a much needed day off today. They need to regroup and focus on problems after recent missed opportunities such as yesterday afternoon. You would think that eight shutout innings and eleven strikeouts would be enough for Esteban Loaiza to win his first game as a National, but no-o. All it took was a solo shot homer by Jimmy Rollins in the top of the ninth to decide the series rubber match; the two insurance runs the Phillies scored didn't matter. I'd like to hear Frank Robinson's explanation for not replacing Loaiza with a reliever in the ninth. The Nats left runners on third base twice early in the game, almost unforgiveable. The last time they won a series was against Arizona, in their home opening series. Since that series, attendance at Nats' home games has averaged about 27,000. Not bad, especially compared to Montreal, but it could be better. Nick Johnson has been pulled from the lineup until a contusion on his leg heals; he's got a 16-game hitting streak going. The versatile Brad Wilkerson will move to first base for the time being.
Jim Bowden will stay on as General Manager of the Nationals through the end of the season. He had been working under a verbal contract that expires at the end of the month, under the assumption that the franchise would be sold by now. Because of the lingering legal issues, the team's value is still too uncertain for buyers to commit. Without Bowden, it's hard to imagine that the Nationals would have acquired so much first-class talent such as Vinny Castilla and Esteban Loaiza. In my book, Bowden is a genuine hero, going way beyond the call of duty to give Washington fans a real reason to root, root, root for the home team.
Alex Rodriguez hit three home runs, knocking in ten of the Yankees' twelve runs on Tuesday night. The Yanks have crawled out of last place, while the high-flying Orioles are having their best April in many years. Is it possible that the increased competition for fan support resulting from the Washington Nationals has given the Orioles the needed kick in the rear to be aroused from complacent apathy and start living up to their high historic standards? Just a thought...
Steven Poppe, who has never given up hope that Montreal can support a major league baseball team, brought this Web site to my attention: Encore Baseball Montreal. It's too bad they can't share one of the Florida teams, which could play in Canada from June through August, but that would probably be too hard on the players, as the ex-Expos found out.
The newly reformatted baseball stadium pages should be ready by tomorrow, complete with links to comment forms (not yet functional).