September 4, 2005
While in Washington this past week, I managed to devote a few hours on Friday night to see the Nationals hosting the Phillies in the first game of the series. I had great seats near the front of the upper deck behind home plate, right on top of the action. The weather was perfect, just like the last time I was there on May 31, but unfortunately, the game did not go as well this time. David Bell's grand slam in the third inning opened a gap that was too big for the Nationals to fill, and they ended up losing 7-1. There was one bright, memorable moment, however: Ryan Zimmerman, the recent U.Va. graduate who was called up from the AAA New Orleans (!) Zephyrs this week, got his first big league hit, a double in the fifth inning. The next three batters were out on fly balls to the outfield, however. Ryan also made a fine defensive play at third base in the top of the fifth, nabbing a hard ground ball and starting a double play, the only one of the game. A very auspicious beginning for this likely future star! New photos of the game I saw at RFK Stadium should be posted here soon; one is of a guy sitting next to me with a T-shirt that denounces the Orioles' monopolistic TV enterprise known as MASN: "Mr. Angelos Screws the Nationals." He told me about yet another anti-Angelos Web site: takebacknatstv.com.
I caught the tail end of the Saturday night game on Channel 20, and it was a doozy! The Nats were ahead 4-1 going into the ninth, and then Chad Cordero uncharacteristically gave up two home runs, tying the game. In the twelveth, Brad Wilkerson scored from second on a short looping single hit by Preston Wilson beyond first base, winning the game 5-4, and earning whoops and loud cheers from the relieved fans. On Sunday afternoon, as my train headed south, the Nats got revenge for the Friday night loss by beating the Phillies 6-1, thanks to homers by Brian Schneider and Preston Wilson, whose blast went into the upper deck in left field. Now the Nats are only two games back in the wild card race. Attendance for this series was down slightly, but the fans' enthusiasm was quite high.
The Washington Post reports that ABC filmed a scene of an episode of the forthcoming drama series Commander In Chief in which the president (Geena Davis) throws out the first pitch in Baltimore! Presidents have often carried out this Opening Day ritual in Baltimore in recent years, but anyone who knows anything about baseball should know that this joyous occasion belongs to the Capital City. Haven't those Hollywood moguls heard that there is a team playing in D.C. this year?