Nationals are holding their own
The Washington Nationals just concluded a ten-game home stand in which they came out ahead, winning six games and losing four. On Sunday they beat the L.A. Dodgers 1-0, and the only run was scored by fleet-footed Nyjer Morgan in the first inning. Adam Dunn hit a hard ground ball that was snagged by the second baseman, who prevented a single but could not make the throw to the plate.
This marks the eighth consecutive game in which the outcome was different than the day before: L,W,L,W,L,W,L,W -- like a clock ticking back and forth. Well, that's one sign of consistency. Ever-curious about such distinctive patterns such as this, I checked my records for the Nats and found that the longest previous "tick-tock" streak was six, which they did twice: in August 21-27, 2005 and Sept. 18-24, 2006. For this home stand, attendance averaged only 16,836, but will hopefully increase as we enter the summer months.
And guess who is currently leading the National League in batting average? Why, Nats catcher Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, who is batting .411 as of yesterday! The backup catcher Wil Nieves is doing pretty well also, and has had a few clutch hits.
The Nats have vastly improved their "small ball" skills this year, and that's what it often takes to win a game. In today's Washington Post, columnist Thomas Boswell writes that the Nats have a attitude this year, much tougher and resilient. They aren't content with just saying "wait till next game," they're doing what is necessary to win today.
Marquis is injured
Now we know what was ailing Jason Marquis, who had raised high hopes for the Nationals when he was acquired in December. X-rays revealed that he has bone chips in his right elbow, so he has been put on the 15-day disabled list. He is voicing optimism about a prompt return, but to me that sounds like something that will take a month or two before it heals. See MLB.com. If he does get healthy again before mid-season, then the Nationals will be a very competitive ballclub. Marquis was replaced by Luis Atilano, who won his first start after being called up from the Syracuse minor league club.
Meanwhile, Ryan Zimmerman was taken out of the lineup after straining a hamstring again, but it doesn't sound too serious. With the team doing as well as it is, he can afford to take a few extra days of rest.
In The Bronx, the demolition of Yankee Stadium is almost complete. All that's left of the concourse structure is between first base and the right field, and the ramp "pod" at the southwest corner is coming down as well. See baseball-fever.com; hat tip to Mike Zurawski. Here's my take:
Thanks to Gary Dunaier for his thoughtful explanation of his feelings about this melancholy historical event, adding to his already-superb photographic expressions. I thought that view of NYS with the fallen wall of OYS (one of the original 1923 parts of the structure) was a classic for the ages, and soon all traces of the latter will be gone. I made my final pilgrimage to Yankee Stadium in October 2008, fortunate to take a tour inside, and I'm very grateful to Gary and all those others who have shared their photographs and anecdotes of the final months and days for the benefit of fans who live in other parts of the country.
As for NYS, it has some good points, but as Gary says, the sky-high prices for box seats is an outrage -- especially in the context of the current economic situation. I wish they had found some way to "re-renovate" RYS, and I'm mad that they couldn't at least preserve part of the original structure, but I'll get over it eventually.
In Chicago, they are moving ahead with plans for a college football game at Wrigley Field between Northwestern and Illinois on November 20. The gridiron will roughly parallel the first base side rather than the third base side, as it did when the Chicago Bears played there. See the Northwestern Athletics Dept.; hat tip to Phil McGuire.
Fans with a keen eye (most of you, no doubt) may notice that I have changed the photo montage on the Baseball blog page, for the first time in years. "Out with the old and in with the new!" Actually, the old montage will reappear -- as if by magic! -- when you roll your mouse over the image. This is part of an ongoing overhaul (or overgoing onhaul?) of this Web site, aimed at simplifying the navigation process.