Nationals crawl out of cellar
The Nationals finally won a series, edging the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates at RFK Stadium. They got off to a great start with a 6-0 win on Friday, but they wasted an early lead on Saturday, as the Pirates caught up and won on a Jason Bay home run in the tenth inning. Sunday's game was likewise a close match, and this time Chad Cordero resumed his role as confident closer, holding on to a 5-4 lead. Today is the Nationals' first off day in more than two weeks. On Tuesday they begin a challenging series in Cincinnati, where the Reds are currently leading the NL Central. To almost everyone's surprise, the Braves are in third place in the NL East, only one and a half games ahead of the Nationals.
Nats pitchers hurt
John Patterson will remain on the disabled list for at least ten more days, because his throwing arm (right) is still sore. Ryan Drese's tendon strain has not yet healed, either. See MLB.com. Trusty reliever Gary Majewski revealed that he has been suffering from tendonitis, which probably explains his disappointing performance this year. It was also learned that last year's starting shortstop Cristian Guzman will have season-ending surgery, and may not play again as a National. On the bright side, sluggers Alfonso Soriano, Nick Johnson, Jose Guillen, and Jose Vidro all seem to be in fine shape. Now if they could only hit consistently... Speaking of which, All Star balloting is now underway. Last year, no Nats batters made the team.
Now that the question of ownership has been resolved, the focus turns to the task of getting the new stadium built. The Business section of today's Washington Post talks about the Lerners plan to apply their experience in managing construction projects, and more particularly, about their experience in turning such projects into investment gold mines via economic spinoff effects as the neighborhood develops. The head of the construction company, A. James Clark, promises that the stadium will be completed "on time and on budget." We'll see. What if they have to use fully documented laborers?
Joe Torre wins #1000
Joe Torre, who used to be a catcher for the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, celebrated his one thousandth victory since becoming manager of the Yankees in 1996. With the high turnover rate of managers under George Steinbrenner (Torre was the twenty-first!), no one would have expected him to last ten years. This came as the Yanks swept the Rangers and moved into first place, along side the Red Sox. See MLB.com. On a sad note for Yankee fans around the world, the career home run record of The Babe is about to be eclipsed under questionable circumstances.
The diagrams on the Yankee Stadium page have been corrected, moving the deepest part of the bleachers about 25 feet toward the left (north), reducing the depth of the upper deck by about ten feet, and extending the grandstand in right field about 25 feet further toward center field. As usual, getting these details right proved to be more time-consuming than I originally expected. The text on that page has been condensed, and the data table now shows the actual distances to the power alleys and center field, which differ significantly from the marked distances. Once again, I am indebted to the research assistance of Bruce Orser, who sent me blueprints and satellite photos that came in very handy. Those blueprints confirmed what I had suspected from some aerial photos: that the concourse "bulges out" at the three corners of the grandstand, where the entrances are located. Thanks, Bruce!