September 23, 2016
After a four-game losing streak in which they came up short against also-ran teams (the Braves and the Marlins), the Nationals bounced back on Wednesday night, thanks primarily to the pitching of Max Scherzer and clutch hitting of Ryan Zimmerman, who hit a three-run homer. An inning later, Trea Turner hit a solo home run that just stayed fair down the left field line -- his 12th homer of the year! Max was replaced during the seventh inning after giving up two home runs, but Blake Treinen got the third out, and there was no further damage after that. Final score: Nats 8, Marlins 3.
The night before was an epic pitchers' duel in which the Nats' Tanner Roark did superbly but not superbly enough. One swing by Giancarlo Stanton was all it took to give the Marlins the winning margin, as he blasted a solo homer way up into the upper deck in right-center field. Miami's starting pitcher Jose Fernandez was just too much for the Nationals hitters that night.
I previously anticipated that the Nats would clinch the division title while in Miami. Not quite, but they're getting close! The magic number is now just 2. With ten games left to play in the 2016 regular season, the Nationals (currently 89-63) should aim to finish 95-67 or better, to ensure that they stay ahead of the L.A. Dodgers for the second seed (NLDS home field advantage) in the postseason series. If the current leads hold up in tonight's Nats-Pirates and Phillies-Mets games, what F.P. Santangelo said about what "PNC" stands for in PNC Park may come about: the Place where the Nationals Clinch!
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Braves showed surprising spunk by sweeping the Mets in a three-game series on the road. Thanks to the Braves, playing spoiler, the Nats' magic number shrank by three. But the Mets aren't giving up just yet. Last night at Citi Field, the Philadelphia Phillies were on the verge of beating the Mets twice, and both times the Mets foiled them. With the score 6-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Jose Reyes hit a two-run homer to send it into extra innings, and with the score 8-6 in the bottom of the 11th inning, Asdrubal Cabrera (a former Nat) hit a three-run walk-off homer to end it. Like Casey Stengel said, those Mets are amazin'! Otherwise, the Nats' magic number would have been 1. Oh well, it's just a matter of time.
The Boston Red Sox inflicted pain and suffering upon the Baltimore Orioles, sweeping them in four game series just like they did to the Yankees over the weekend. The difference was that this time the series was away from home. That's eight in a row for Boston, whose magic number is now just five.
The newly-minted L.A. Rams won their first game in their "new" (yet also old) home on Sunday afternoon, giving the 91,046 fans in attendance much to cheer about. Oddly, the Rams failed to score a touchdown, as they beat the Seattle Seahawks, 9-3. Mike Zurawski sent a link to the game recap at espn.com, and recommended an article at forbes.com in which it is estimated that the Rams franchise may soon be worth 4 billion (with a b) dollars.
In recognition of the return of professional football to Los Angeles, I made some revisions to the Memorial Coliseum diagrams. It's an awkward case, because there needs to be a horizontal rendering optimized for football as well as a "diagonal" rendering optimized for baseball, with center field at the top. I paid particular attention to the placement of the entry portals as benchmarks, and realized that the left foul pole was not where it should be. Eventually, I figured out that the baseball diamond was angled almost two degrees off of where it should have been.
* I have heard from sports fans in the Los Angeles area who say that everyone there calls it "Los Angeles Coliseum," but in all the books and maps I have the primary designation is "Memorial Coliseum."
Coincidentally, Turner Classic Movies showed a movie featuring L.A. Memorial Coliseum late last week, The Split, starring NFL Hall-of-Famer Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland, Ernest Borgnine, and Steve McQueen. It was shown during the wee hours of the morning, so I recorded it and then played back the stadium scenes frame by frame to get all the details in my diagram just right. It was from that movie that I realized that the Coliseum was reconfigured during the 1960s, with the gridiron being shifted toward the west. At about the same time, the old bench seats were replaced by individual seats in most of the stadium.
The Rams' odyssey from city to city, and stadium to stadium, must be one for the record books:
As a consolation to St. Louis Rams fans, here is a photographic tribute to the home of their team for over 20 years: