April 18, 2005
The phenomenal five-game winning streak of the Nationals has solidified a remarkable "love affair" that has blossomed between the team and their new home city. On some days they show overwhelming offensive power, and on other days they show a feisty competitive spirit. Yesterday's comeback victory over Arizona was a combination of both. Sweeping the Diamondbacks might not seem like a huge accomplishment, given their low place in the standings in the years since their World Series title, but this year they had been at the top in the NL West, which must mean something. Now the Dodgers are the only team in the majors with a higher winning percentage than the Nats. Believe it or not! Meanwhile, the Orioles managed an even more improbable sweep of the Yankees for the first time in five years. Booo! Thomas Boswell waxes euphoric about all this in the Washington Post, but it's way to early to draw any big conclusions about pennant races. (Or is it?)
"Screech," the bald eagle mascot of the Nationals, officially "hatched" yesterday. I suppose if the kids like him, it can't do much harm, but what about dignity? Do the Nats have to play "follow the leader" with every promotional gimmick concocted by other teams?
April 18, 2005
I heard on the radio on Saturday that the Yankees are finalizing a deal with the city of New York to build a new stadium next to the "House That Babe Built." Several press reports say pretty much the same thing; according to MS-NBC, the two parties "are completing a 'memorandum of understanding' and ... an announcement is expected around May 1.'" If so, it's a terrible shame. It's instructive that this news comes just as Mr. Steinbrenner issued a highly inappropriate "apology" (called "bombastic, ridiculous and pointless" by Thomas Boswell; see above) on behalf of his team for their mediocre start. If he didn't treat his players like expendable commodities or pawns on a chessboard, playing fantasy baseball with real human beings, they might perform more like a real team, as was the case in the late 1990s. He just doesn't get it.
Mike Zurawski sends word that Coors Field has joined the trend of squeezing more rows of box seats in the area behind home plate. The team's Web site seems to confirm this, but I haven't seen any officials announcements to that effect.
UPDATE: So the Yanks tied a major league record by scoring 13 (thirteen) runs in the second inning against the visiting Devil Rays. Too bad they couldn't have spread some of that offensive firepower around. They let Tampa Bay score eight runs and still won by an 11-run margin. The Nats got another reality check as the Marlins grabbed a 9-0 lead by the seventh inning, but at least they showed enough spunk to get four rebound runs by the end of the game. They left a lot of men on base (12), but the Marlins left even more: 14. Quite a pitchers' duel going on in Houston: Tim Hudson is holding his own against the "Rocket," 0-0 after seven innings.