Cubs sweep the Nationals
The change of management has had no discernible impact on the Washington Nationals, who were swept by the Chicago Cubs in a four-game series over the weekend. Since the Cubs are one of my favorite teams, and are in need of a boost in the standings, it wasn't as painful as such a sweep would have ordinarily been. It's too bad the Nats' new manager Jim Riggleman couldn't at least get one win against his former team, the Cubs. On the plus side, the Nats came close in Games 2 and 3, but then fell apart in Game 4 as the Cubbies walloped them, 11-3. The low point was the seven-run rally by the Cubs in the fourth inning; see MLB.com, which noted, "For trivia buffs, you have to go back to July 11-14, 1898, for the last time the Cubs won a four-game series in Washington. The games were played at Boundary Field then, and William McKinley was president." I was surprised that former National Alfonso Soriano (who hit a long home run to left field) is batting so poorly this year, about .240 or so. Attendance was pretty good, over 35,000 in the two weekend games. With any luck, I'll finally get to see Alfonso play in Denver next month...
Tonight's game against the Mets wasn't any better. J.D. Martin, a rookie just called up from AAA Syracuse, was the starting pitcher, and he gave up five runs in the first two innings. At least he retained his composure and held on for another two. Tyler Clippard did a superb job as reliever, getting nine straight outs over three innings, including five strikeouts. Unfortunately, the Nats' bats were mostly silent again, and Josh Bard had the only runs batted in. Final score: 6-2.
In Philadelphia, meanwhile, the Cubs had a rude reality check, losing to the Phillies, 10-1.
Groundbreaking in Miami
The Marlins held the formal groundbreaking ceremonies at the site of their future ballpark, and you can see a gallery of artist's renderings at MLB.com; hat tip to Mike Zurawski. There are definitely some things I would have done differently, such as a shorter left field, but overall it seems like a pretty good design, with several interesting features.
Fenway Park hockey
Also from Mike: The NHL Boston Bruins will host the Philadelphia Flyers in NHL Winter Classic at Fenway Park next New Year's Day. See MLB.com.
Yankee Stadium football
I learned from Brian Wysocki that there will be a college football game for the first time in New Yankee Stadium one year from this fall. Notre Dame will play against Army on Nov. 20, 2010, reviving a tradition from many years ago, when they used to play in Old (pre-renovation) Yankee Stadium. For next year's game, they plan to lay the gridiron with one end zone in center field and the other near home plate, slightly angled toward the left. The outfield was designed specifically to accommodate football, just as the original (1923) Yankee Stadium was. For the future, they are considering a hockey game there as well. See MLB.com, and a diagram of the gridiron at twitpic.com. Groan! Here we go again...
Thanks for the photos
I received several excellent photos of Rogers Centre from Tim Moysey, and I'll be posting those in the next few days, along with the remaining ones submitted to me by John Minor.