Nats show pop and spunk, but ...
The Washington Nationals have shown a lot of promise in the first three games, and Dusty Baker's feisty, go-get-em spirit may be a big part of that. Daniel Murphy is already proving his worth, coming within a couple feet of a grand slam to right field in the bottom of the first inning in the first official game at Nationals Park this afternoon, but he had to settle for a three-run triple. That made up for the awful first inning pitched by Tanner Roark, when the Miami Marlins scored three runs. He gave up another run in the third inning (after a rain delay of nearly an hour and a half), and was charged with the loss. Bryce Harper hit his second homer of the year, but it wasn't enough. Marlins 6, Nats 4.
In the Wednesday afternoon game, Stephen Strasburg pitched very well, going six innings before Matt den Dekker pinch hit for him in the top of the seventh. Den Dekker had just been called up from the minors after Ben Revere was put on the disabled list. He flew into Atlanta, arrived at Turner Field during the fifth inning, and barely had time to tie his shoelaces when he was up to bat. Ryan Zimmerman had just scored from second base on a hard ground ball hit by Wilson Ramos to the shortstop. Danny Espinosa walked, and then den Dekker smashed a double to the 390 foot mark in right-center field, batting in two runs and putting the Nats ahead for good. Wow! Final score: 3-1.
It's too early to draw any conclusions from just three games, but Wilson Ramos, Ryan Zimmerman, Danny Espinosa, and the others mentioned above are all hitting pretty well so far. In Atlanta, the Nats came back to win twice, but back home in D.C. today (and tonight) they wasted some run-scoring opportunities. Jayson Werth and Michael Taylor have yet to get a hit, but they have put good wood on the ball more than once.
Random page updates
March Madness 2016
I heard that there was a big basketball game on Monday evening, while I was occupied with other things. (!) Villanova beat North Carolina to take the 2016 Men's NCAA championship. Until the Final Four, actually, I was paying a fair amount of attention to the "March Madness" playoffs this year. Why? Well, the University of Virginia Cavaliers made it all the way to the Elite Eight before being upset in the final minutes by Syracuse. D'oh! Malcolm Brogdon had a spectacular final year, and will probably be drafted into the NBA. He "was named the Atlantic Coast Conference's 2016 Player of the Year and its Defensive Player of the Year -- the first player ever to earn both honors in the same season." (See virginia.edu.) Another top player, Anthony Gill is graduating this year, but London Perrantes and Marial Shayok should be back for Virginia in the 2016-2017 season.
South Dakota triumphs!
Speaking of basketball, how many of you were watching CBS Sports Network (not the CBS broadcast network) last Saturday afternoon? Well, if you did, you witnessed a rare and perhaps once-in-a-lifetime event: a sporting event being televised live from the DakotaDome in beautiful Vermillion, South Dakota! (That's where I grew up.) What's more, the home team University of South Dakota Lady Coyotes won the Women's National Invitational Tournament championship, defeating the Florida Gulf Coast University Eagles by a score of 71-65. And the crowd went wild! Official attendance was 7,415. (See womensnit.com.)
It was an especially memorable occasion, because it was the last time that basketball will be played at the DakotaDome. A new basketball-sized arena is being built on the south side of the DakotaDome, and is expected to open some time next fall.
Congratulations, Lady Coyotes!
So, of course I had to update the DakotaDome diagrams (for the first time since 2010), adding two new variants that show how the roof was upgraded in 2001 from a flimsy air-supported "pillow" (like the Metrodome) to a solid dome supported by steel girders. The diagrams now show the entry portals, and other details are rendered more accurately than before. Also, I added a couple more photos to that page.