August 29, 2016
Just when you think the Washington Nationals have finally gotten on the right track, something goes wrong again. With two of their five starting pitchers on the DL, they had to rely on rookies again two games in a row. On Saturday, A.J. Cole took the mound and did fairly well, giving up three runs over 5 2/3 innings. But the Nats' bats were mostly cold once again, and they were behind 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jayson Werth came up to bat, and with two strikes against him, he belted an RBI single to left-center field, tying the game. Absolute clutch hit! The Nats had a chance to win it in walk-off fashion [after Werth reached third base on a wild pitch, but Daniel Murphy grounded out.] Mark Melancon pitched in the [top of the] 10th inning, [and Bryce Harper was ejected after lashing out at the umpire who called him out on strikes], but neither team scored. In the 11th, Yusmeiro Petit took the mound and gave up home runs to both Charlie Blackmon (his second of the night) and Carlos Gonzalez, plus one more run after that. What an appalling disaster! The Nats got two runners on base in the bottom of the 11th, but nothing came of it. Final score: Rockies 9, Nationals 4.
The loss to the visiting Colorado Rockies was most distressing. The game was almost a carbon copy of the July 2 game (see July 4 blog post), when the Reds beat the Nats 9-4 in 10 innings, after the Nats made a similar heroic comeback in the late innings to tie it. That time, Sammy Solis and Matt Belilse were to blame.
On Sunday afternoon, the widely-hyped rookie pitcher Lucas Giolito got the start, and was lucky to escape the first inning giving up only one run. On the first pitch in the bottom of the first, rookie Trea Turner homered to tie the game 1-1. But Giolito gave up a three-run homer in the [third] inning. Wilson Ramos hit a solo homer in the seventh inning, and Bryce Harper did likewise in the ninth inning, but it wasn't enough. Otherwise, the Nats just weren't hitting. Final score: 5-3. There was a weird play in which a Rockies player scored from second base on a wild pitch, when the umpire was keeled over in pain, and nobody paid attention to the base runner rounding third base. It was a questionable move on his part, and fortunately, the extra run didn't matter in the end.
On a brighter note, Jayson Werth hit a solo home run in the top of the first inning at Philadelphia this evening, and that proved to be enough in the Nats' 4-0 victory over the Phillies. Clint Robinson replaced Ryan Zimmerman at first base, and got two hits. Is Ryan's job in jeopardy? That's a scary thought. Tanner Roark had some command problems, hitting a batter with a pitch again, but for the most part he did better than last time. Meanwhile, the Marlins lost to the Mets in extra innings, so they have fallen nine games behind the Nats in the NL East...
Earlier this month the Miami Dolphins announced an agreement under which their newly renovated home will be called "Hard Rock Stadium." See miamidolphins.com. Meanwhile, work on building the gigantic, cable-suspended roof covering virtually all the seats has been completed, and an aerial view can be seen at miaminewtimes.com. Frankly, I can't see how that flimsy thing is supposed to withstand hurricane-force winds. I hope we won't have to find out any time soon...
So, I made a new diagram showing the new configuration of what was once called " Dolphin Stadium." For the time being, it does not include the bare frame roof extensions (about 20 feet?), which apparently are intended to support a canvas awning when more shade is desired. It also does not include the extreme corners of that rectangular roof, which extend beyond the existing diagram parameters. The new diagram is subject to revision, once I have seen more photos.
Prompted in part by that news item, I updated the Stadium names page, including the new name of the White Sox' home (Guaranteed Rate Field) mentioned four days ago. I have also made it less "judgmental," replacing the categories of "Bogus" and "Suspect" with "Brief" (in use for four years or less) and "Medium" (in use for five to nine years) categories; most but not all of them are sponsored. I may fiddle with the definitions of those categories and revise that table again. I also intend to do a separate page showing the year-by-year chronologies of those stadiums whose names changed most often.
For the record, here are the old "judgmental" categories:
* The Beehive (Braves Field) and White Sox Park (Comiskey Park) were only labeled "suspect" because the names reverted to the original after a few years.
I wasn't sure, so I checked and learned that Anheuser-Busch entered into a 20-year naming rights contract with the St. Louis Cardinals in August 2004, when construction on their new stadium was getting underway. See bizjournals.com. "Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed."
Somehow I missed this, but apparently the U.S. Supreme Court killed the idea of the Oakland A's moving to San Jose once and for all last October. In their legal reasoning, they rejected claim that "Major League Baseball has used illegal monopoly powers to block the relocation." See sfgate.com. That's bad news, not just for Athletics fans, but for baseball in general. If MLB franchises can get away with leveraging their protected status so as to bilk fans and local governments without limit, the fan base will steadily shrink, while the blatant unfairness of it all will eventually kill public support the sport.
So now, the A's are back to working on some kind of deal with Oakland, which is not prepared to be generous, or else move somewhere else, such as Las Vegas. Yuk.