The Washington Nationals in 2014
I have finally completed the 2014 Nationals' day-to-day winning percentage chart, which is now on the Washington Nationals page. Even though the end-of-season winning percentage (.593) was about the same as in 2012 (.605), the month-to-month trends were markedly different. (Roll your mouse over the chart to compare the two years.) In 2012, the Nats started hot right out of the gate, in spite of multiple injuries, and cooled off somewhat in May. Nevertheless, they stayed close to .600 for through mid-summer, and then surged again in August. In September the Braves stayed close behind, while the Nats coasted. They finally clinched the division title in the last few days of the season.
In 2014, in contrast, the early part of the season was anything but auspicious. This time injuries undermined their competitiveness, as Ryan Zimmerman, Doug Fister, and Bryce Harper missed several weeks each. May was just terrible, but gradually they improved in June, and by late July they claimed first place in the NL East. An amazing ten-game winnin streak (with six walk-off victories) propelled them into a big lead over the Braves, and in September their advantage only widened. They clinched the division title by September 16, and finished the season 17 games ahead of the Braves and Marlins. And then the crushing disappointment of the postseason followed, which was quite similar to what had transpired in 2012. Wait till next year!!!
Here's a useful item: At natsinsider.com Mark Zuckerman presented "The Nats' all-time stats leaders after 10 seasons."
The Washington Nationals have now existed, believe it or not, for 10 full baseball seasons. Opening Day 2015 will mark the actual tenth anniversary of the team's existence. It might be a good occasion for me to see another Opening Day game, since I was there in Philadelphia (along with my friend from New York Phil Faranda) for the very first Washington Nationals game: April 4, 2005.
I'll have to wait until tomorrow (again!) to get to all the Nationals transactions...
The Cubs sign Jon Lester
Cubs showed they are serious about winning again, having signed former Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester to a fat, juicy contract worth $155 million over six years. See MLB.com. It's by far the biggest contract in franchise history. Hopefully it will work out better than the Alfonso Soriano contract did...
K.C. Municipal Stadium update
It's the same old story: I got started making some minor tweaks on my K.C. Municipal Stadium diagrams, and before you knew it, I got bogged down in a variety of uncertainties. But it was all worth it, as I made a few significant changes to the peripheral parts of the stadium and adjacent facilities. The diagrams have been revised, with much new detail.
I scoured through baseball-fever.com archives looking at all the photos to unlock various mysteries of K.C. Municipal Stadium. One thing that struck me: There is a photo of the rear exterior of the stadium (the southwest corner), the only one I have ever seen, and it's easy to know why. It was UGLY! No bricks, no big sign, no architectural trimming, just bare steel beams and corrugated steel sheets.
Kingdome minor tweak
Prompted by the desire to finish soccer diagrams (as mentioned four days ago), I made some unplanned minor revisions to the Kingdome diagrams. I realized that the entry portals needed to be reduced in size and repositioned slightly. While I was at it, I went ahead and included the lower-deck entry portals in all of the Kingdome diagrams; previously they were only shown in the lower-deck diagram. Nothing else changed in those diagrams.
Coincidentally, the last update to the Kingdome diagrams was exactly two years ago. Seeing that blog post reminded me that the Washington Redskins actually made it to the postseason in 2012. How times have changed. This year they were 4-12.
More soccer diagrams!
Thanks to Ian Cypes for the tip about soccer in Yankee Stadium II, which hosted Liverpool vs. Manchester City last July 30. (There were other such events as well.) According to worldsoccertalk.com, preparations for that match were inadequate, and the temporary sod laid over the infield dirt was not smooth at all. The soccer field fit very nicely inside the confines of New Yankee Stadium, however. Note that my soccer diagram is based on a photo of some other match, when the soccer field was laid out at more of an angle, overlapping most of the pitcher's mound.
Likewise, I found a great photo of a Seattle Sounders soccer match in the Kingdome (in 1980), at seattlemag.com. I was almost done with the Safeco Field revisions anyway, so it was easy to do a soccer version of it. From doing that diagram, I realized they had to reduce the size of the soccer field to avoid having to overlap too much dirt area, which had to be sodded.
So, there are now three (3) new soccer diagram which you can see on the Soccer use (of baseball stadiums) page. At least in terms of stadiums (if not matches), it is now complete -- as far as I know. The respective stadium pages will be updated to include those soccer version diagrams soon.
Stadium chronology fixup
The Stadium chronology, annual page has been updated to include the impending demolition of Candlestick Park next month, and the indefinitely postponed demolition of the Astrodome. It also lists the major renovations that took place at Dodger Stadium and Coors Field this year, and the ongoing renovations at Progressive Field and Wrigley Field, which should be done by April.
Opening Day will be Sunday April 5 as the Cardinals visit the Cubs at Wrigley Field, while all other teams start the season on April 6. The "countdown" will start on the Baseball blog page at midnight, New Years Eve!
Happy New Year, everybody!