September 17, 2014 [LINK / comment]
Washington, Baltimore clinch division titles
Boy, that sure felt good! The Washington Nationals became the first team in the majors to clinch a division last night, beating the Braves in Atlanta by a score of 3-0. The game was scoreless until the sixth inning, when Jayson Werth drew a walk and then Ian Desmond crushed a home run to the entry portal near the left field foul pole. Boom! That gave Tanner Roark a nice cushion, and he finished seven full innings without giving up a run. Desmond doubled in the ninth inning, reached third on a hard ground ball hit by Bryce Harper, and then scored on a wild pitch. Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen both had 1-2-3 innings as relief pitchers, and the Nationals jubilantly mobbed each other after the last out was made.
Unfortunately, I was unable to watch the game live, as I was lecturing for a night class. I got to share at least a little excitement, nevertheless, as I happened to be watching the MLB.com online scoreboard during a break when Ian Desmond hit that home run. Likewise, I was checking the scores just when the Nats made the third out in the bottom of the ninth inning. Yes!!! So today, I watched the rebroadcast on MASN, the game as well as "MASN Dan" Kolko's half-hour of interviews with the champagne- and beer-soaked Nationals players. I guess a little wretched excess is OK once in a while, as long as the cleaning bill for the visiting team locker room is not too high. But as manager Matt Williams told his team, they "have promises to keep ... and miles to go before [they] sleep." That was a nice reference to poet Robert Frost, an uplifting way to keep the focus on the ultimate prize next month.
Just 10 or 20 minutes after the Nats-Braves game ended, the Baltimore Orioles emerged victorious in their game against the Blue Jays, by a score of 8-2, thereby clinching the American League East championship for the first time since 1997. The heroes of that game were two guys I never heard of: Steve Pearce hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and Alejandro Da Aza hit a three-run triple in the seventh inning. It was quite a coincidence that such clinching victories took place almost simultaneously for baseball teams in neighboring cities!
So now the prospect of a Washington vs. Baltimore World Series becomes very plausible. Wouldn't that be something!
Sun Trust Field groundbreaking
This is almost too weird to believe, but from everything I have read, it seems to be true. In suburburban Cobb County yesterday, the Atlanta Braves held a "groundbreaking" ceremony for their future home, which is to be called "Sun Trust Field." I didn't see any golden shovels or actual dirt in the video, but it is still considered legitimate. The design reminds me a little of Minnesota's Target Field, but details are still sketchy. The actual construction is set to begin early next year, and will presumably be completed in time for the 2017 season. This will put an end to the hiatus in baseball stadium construction that began after Marlins Park opened in 2012. How bizarre that after 20 brief years, Turner Field will end up in "limbo" sooner than either Oakland Coliseum or Tropicana Field! See MLB.com.