Nats start 2010 with a thud
Opening Day in Washington will not be remembered with fondness by local baseball fans. The Nationals had won both preceding home opener games in which the president threw out the first pitch (2005 and 2008), so they had every reason to think that the presence of President Obama would help them win, or at least play well enough to stay close. For the first three innings, everything went just fine, and Ryan Zimmerman's RBI double in the first inning raised fans' hopes. But alas, the Philadelphia Phillies staged two big rallies (in the fourth and seventh innings), and went on to crush the home team, 11-1. Ryan Howard homered, and Placido Polanco hit a grand slam, and the Nats were unable to respond. In his first game as a National, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez went three for four, a very welcome sign.
The large number of Phillies fans at the Opening Day game makes some people wonder about the marketing strategy of the Lerners. If they go out of their way to sell tickets to fans from the visiting team's city, how is that going to affect sales to Washington-area fans? Hmm-mm?
In tonight's game, after a day or rest, the Nats did a little better, and Josh Willigham got some good hits, but another home run by Ryan Howard proved impossible to overcome. A possible ninth-inning rally by the "D.C. 9" was ended when "Pudge" Rodriguez grounded into a double play. Final score: 8-4. Well, at least they're narrowing the gap.
Obama commits gaffes
Part of the problem may have been that President Obama put on a White Sox cap just as he was about to throw the first pitch. You could tell from his grin he knew he was going to make some people mad, but from the loud boos he was getting as he walked onto the field, he probably figured it didn't matter anyway. See MLB.com and/or watch for yourself at youtube.com. Later on, while being interviewed in the press box by MASN's Ron Dibble, Obama was asked who his favorite White Sox players were when he was growing up. Obama stammered, and awkwardly explained that he grew up in Hawaii, and didn't become a White Sox fan until he moved to Chicago. He also referred to "Cominskey Park," which no real White Sox fan would have said!
It was not the first time that President Obama had mispronounced the name of the ballpark that South Side Chicagoans once held dear in their hearts. During an interview with Bob Costas for the All-Star game last year, he called it "Cominskey Field." See breitbart.tv. Is that really such a big deal? Only if you're a baseball fan!
Comiskey Park update
I was almost done with the revisions to the Comiskey Park diagrams anyway, and President Obama's amusing mispronunciation provides a fitting occasion for getting that one out of the way. I saw some blueprints that were very useful in getting the profile much more accurate, and I tweaked a few other details as well. From looking closely at photos, I noticed an oddity for the first time: The big scoreboard behind the bleachers in center field was actually positioned to the right by a significant amount; it is slightly "lopsided." Also, the lower deck extended further back than I had previously estimated.