Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Is it baseball season yet?
Is it baseball season yet?
Is it baseball season yet?

The weather is getting all pretty, where are my ball games?!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Frozen River Thoughts

My way home from work carries me across the Potomac. It's been frozen for most of this past week, and I keep looking down at the chunks of ice bobbing on the surface. The only problem with looking at the river is that it distracts me from looking up and trying to spot Nationals Park as I cross the bridge in the train. Today, I made sure I looked up. With Nats Fest getting closer and closer, I wanted to look at where I plan on spending my Sunday.

The happy feelings I get when I spot the upper deck and the sun glinting red off of the giant sign over the scoreboard remind me of all of my favorite moments from last season. The way I see it, there were three amazing home runs that happened last year.

Number 3 goes to Ronnie Belliard in that extra inning game against the O's. Feeling the emotions of the entire stadium turn a 180 was great. All the happy O's fans nearly cried and all the somber Nats fans were ecstatic in just one swing.

Number 2 is going to throw people, Ryan's on opening night. There's an argument that Zimm's ought to be number one. Let's face it; it was crazy fantastic. I hugged strangers and stood in the stands singing all of the verses of "How Do You Like Me Now". I actually think I skipped in place. It was amazing. But not my number one.

Number 1 goes to Wil Nieves and his first career homerun ever. What made it so wonderful was that no one saw it coming, least of all Wilbert. The joy on his face was like a giddy five-year-old on Christmas morning. The joy written on all of his teammates was, if possible, even more. It was a reminder that baseball is the every-man's sport. The only one where you can be a life-long bench player and come in and save the day. It was what the sport is about, what makes it so fantastic to watch. It was Baseball, like Baseball should be.

22 days 13 hours and counting

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Just Give Him More Money

It shouldn't surprise anyone that Ryan Zimmerman has filed for arbitration. He is one of the best defense third baseman in the game, performing regular acrobatics at the hot corner, and the Nationals do not seem to pay him enough. I know full well that I retain a good measure of bitterness over Zimm not winning rookie of the year in 2006 (thank you very much Hanley Ramirez), but long standing bitterness aside, Ryan has earned some more cash.

His defense is amazing to watch. His work at the plate is consistent. His leadership on the team is vital. Really, is anyone surprised that he thinks he's earned more?

I know that we tried (and failed) to sign some big name guys this off-season. When we didn't lavish those names with thousands of dollars, could we at least have given Ryan a better contract.

I don't want that much; I just want the face of the franchise to be around for the long haul. Oh, and I want the Lerners to openly want that too.

Baseball Quote of the Day: Since it is about as cold as DC gets-
Baseball, to me, is still the national pastime because it is a summer game. I feel that almost all Americans are summer people, that summer is what they think of when they think of their childhood. I think it stirs up an incredible emotion within people. ~Steve Busby, in Washington Post, 8 July 1974

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Staring out the Window, Waiting for Spring

Spring Training really is the next major holiday after New Year's. And a girl can only wait for the warm breezes, the budding trees, and the all import sound of a ball bouncing off that bat. It what I wait for, and I miss it during the winter.

I miss transferring to the Green line after work so I can see the game. I miss walking down half street and seeing the ballpark smile back at me. I miss my favorite ushers and reminding strangers that the dug-out is most definitely not a shelf. I miss that glittering emerald sea that is summer-time and happiness and something that is beyond my range of words. Sure, it's emotional; maybe even a good bit silly. But it's true for me.

Yes, I love baseball, I love the Nats, that much.

The summertime, the laughter, and that marvelous cracking sound.

36 days and just under 3 hours until pitchers and catchers report.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Can I Start Crying Now?

I know that there's no crying in baseball; my purse tells me that each game. However, when we lose to a team with which we have developed a near incestuous relationship with I want to cry.

Not only were we owned by the Mets, it was my old Ryan who did a big chunk of the damage to us. I think that having all 14 inningings of last night/this morning come down to a wild pitch was just short of pushing me over the edge. I love my Nationals; I really do. They say it's always the ones you love that hurt you. And, let's face it, a 2-3 loss in extra innings hurts.

I just hope that we clean ourselves up for Florida. I may have a complete break-down if another truly amazing starting pitching job (last night was Lannan, but Chico was amazing last week) comes to not. I feel an urge to run down to Florida and either hug or hit the guys into putting a couple hits together.

Here's to hoping that the guys start coming into their own. I miss the call of curly-Ws going down in the record books. I'm starting to forget what the words sound like.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

#42 an honor, but not a good luck charm for the Nats

This is why I shouldn’t go out of town. Wins are few and far between and by going out of town, I miss them. The Nats finally broke their nine game losing streak on Sunday and I was on a mountain several hours away and could watch or listen to the game. After an off day on Monday, it was straight back to losing on Tuesday. We just can’t seem to get those clutch hits we need. The few who get on base are unlikely to advance. Wily Mo is back, but is not yet making much of a difference in the line-up. He’s still getting back into the swing of things, as it were.

I was looking forward to this series with the Mets. Not only is it always fun to play them, I wanted to see Schneider and Church again, and to see how the Mets fans reacted to Milledge and LoDuca. Let me just say, it’s freaking me waaaay out to see Schneider in a Mets uniform. I’ll catch sight of him behind the plate and think, “But I thought we were batting…oh, right.” And we had to go and lose the first game there, to put a nice damper on the start of the series.

Last night was Jackie Robinson Night and all the players on both teams wore the number 42 in tribute. While it was a bit confusing at times, and a bit of an overblown gesture, it was great to hear Willie Harris talk about what it means to him, being from the same hometown as Jackie. “There’s no one else from Cairo, it’s just me and Jackie.” “"I like to think if it wasn't for Jackie, I wouldn't be standing here in this locker room. A lot of things that I'm able to do, I wouldn't be able to do if he hadn't persevered and faced all the difficult challenges that he did. I'm just thankful for Jackie Robinson."

Friday, April 11, 2008

I Am Hereby Over the Lo Duca Experiment

“I’m almost afraid to ask, but, you look so sad, did the Nationals lose?”

Monday night as the Ryan Girls were getting on the Metro elevator to go back home we ran into a woman who asked us that very question. Decked out in gear again last night I had a sinking feeling we would run into her again.

Perez gave us a respectable start to the game, going five mostly clean innings with a 0-1 lead thanks to Belliard’s solo homer. The problems all started in the fifth with Hanley Ramirez and then Hermida (who I took to heckling the whole of the game). Perez let things slide and the bullpen didn’t stop it as well as we have all come to expect them to. Big John gave up the run that would make the difference in the game, and the Ryan Girls called it as soon as foot touched plate. It’s just rather difficult to win a game when your pitchers give up 13 hits.

I will say one good thing about how we played last night though; we didn’t leave a little league number of people out on the base paths. What it came down to were those last two, Nick and Kearns, left standing out there. Lo Duca was up to bat with one out and Nick in scoring position. It was a moment where I missed Schneider with all of my heart. Not only has Lo Duca been unable to throw out a single base runner, not only has he left several balls roll by him (including a crazy throw from Zimm last night), but he also hasn’t been able to hit in the clutch. On Monday, with the bases walked full he whiffed. Thursday, when all he needed to do was hit a sac-fly, a Schneider-man specialty, he grounded into yet another double play to end the game at 4-3. And yet, when he hasn’t been performing up to scratch, he goes and tells the press that the team needs to be doing better. Well, yes, that’s true, but sometimes I think he may have forgotten he is a part of that team.

I think it is rather telling that Estrada’s been activated and Flores still lingers. We’ll see how long it takes for the veteran’s elbow to finish healing, but with the way Lo Duca has been playing, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Daisy’s role continue to shift this season. Unless the former Met steps up his game, and soon, Ryan Girl #2 would not be surprised to see Flores’s future with the team coming earlier than originally intended.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Forget the birds, let's have fish for dinner!

Ouch. Not the best weekend in Nats history. But, not the worst either. Friday's starter Perez continued to not impress. Saturday a passed ball (which is shaping up to be our specialty this year) let in the run that made the ninth inning rally pointless. Sunday's good pitching effort by Lannan, was completely wasted when we couldn't string any hits together.

Colome seems to have lost all ability to find the plate (which I'm sure my neighbors enjoyed hearing about as I screamed at him during the game). King isn't doing much better. But on the plus side, Chico has (so far) cut down on his walks. Still wouldn't be surprised to see Matty lose the spot to Lannan though, if Shawn does come back soon. Personally I'd rather see Perez go, but that's just because I have a soft spot for Matty.

Though the results aren't showing yet, we do have some hitting going on. Ryan, Nick, and Austin are all batting above .290, with Milledge and Guzman not too far behind. We're #2 in baseball in doubles so far, tied for sixth in total bases. It's not that the boys aren't hitting, they're just not hitting when they've got someone on in front of them.

So I'm not giving up on them yet (or ever). Before long we'll have Wily Mo and Dukes back and Dmitri back on the bench. Things ought to pick up then. Tonight the boys come home for their first homestand, in which we're sure to whip up on the Marlins and get this show back on track. The Ryan Girls will be there, of course, cheering them on. LETS GO NATS!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Welcome Home!

So the Nats have had a pretty good week so far and, like any good (read: crazy) baseball fan, I was terrified to talk about it for fear of jinxing it. But now that they’ve actually lost a game, I can finally update! A start of 3-0. Even if we lose the next seven, it’s definitely much better than last year’s. The boys are looking good so far. We’ve got some offense, finally! In just four games, we’ve already had three inning in which we scored more than four runs. Last year it took us 23 games to score in the first inning. This year it took four batters.

And have you seen Zimm in the field?! Wow!

Pitching is working. How about Tim Redding? One-hitting the Phillies after spending the day before vomiting up his oysters? Pretty great. Didn’t he have the flu for his last good ST start (discounting the game with the back spasms of course)? Maybe he just needs to vomit a little before every game.

And I’m really liking Joel’s stuff when he comes out of the bullpen. He was always good at getting two quick outs, it was the third one he would break down on. Now that they’re only asking for those two, he’s got it going on.

We’ve really got what looks to be a new and improved team to match our new and improved stadium. And that new stadium is NICE. Top of the line everything. A beautiful place to spend a day (or night) watching a game. Some kinks need to be worked out with the concessions still, but it’ll come along with practice. We Ryan Girls have only spent two days there so far, and one of them it was impossible to explore during, but we’ve been on every level of the stadium and they all have great views of the field.

The beginning of the season is the time for dreams. For a few short days, we got to dream of the boys being welcomed home undefeated. For a few more weeks, we get to dream of them going all the way this year. Is it likely? No. But we can dream it just the same. Last year we couldn’t even do that.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

He Might Like Ohio

Well, I've cherished a few happy thoughts of Daisy (Jesus Flores) becoming a catcher in 2008, platooning with LoDuca at the very least. I know that Manny and Bowden didn't want him to sit on the bench that much, but I wanted him to stick around and face more big league pitching.

That will almost certainly not happen now that we signed Johnny Estrada. Yes, I know, it's better for the rookie pitching staff to have more seasoned catchers. Yes, I know, Estrada's numbers have been good. Yes, I know, having another lefty after Church and Schneids left is pretty darn vital. Yes, I know that Daisy will get more playing time and more opportunities to mature playing in AAA or AA. I know it's true, but I don't have to like it.

See you in 2009 Daisy. The Nats should be looking pretty strong by then. In the meantime, I hope you like Ohio.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The hardest part of the game

So the big trade news has hit. Ryan Church and Brian Schneider are going to the Mets; Lastings Milledge coming to us. Is this a great move? Is Milledge the answer to our center field problems? Could be. I haven't seen the kid enough to have an opinion of him yet. Ask me again in May and I might have an answer for you.

Of course, we Ryan Girls are sad to see Church go. But we knew it would happen, and we were prepared. We'll miss him.

The real shock in this though, is Schneider. Yeah, there were a few rumors that he was on the block, but the Ryan Girls never believed them. They didn't have much to back them up. They would never trade him, we thought. At least not this year. But then the news came. He was gone. We couldn't believe it. How could Schneids go away? We NEED him!

Forget for now the practical implications of having our team father and “captain” now calling games for our frequent opponents. Forget the way he performed for us. Right now, we'll just miss his guidance. His presence. We'll never again see him playing with his daughter on the field before a game, her in a Nats jersey way too big for her. He won't hug Daisy anymore after Daisy gets a game winning hit. He won't do the weekly mike checks for MASN. He won't be leading the charge onto the field to mob Zimm. There will be no more fist-bump tomahawk-chop with the Chief.

Yes, this trade might work out wonderfully. We might look back on it as one of the greatest trades. But for now, we Ryan Girls are still to shocked by the idea of seeing Schneider, and Church, in Mets uniforms.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I've seen the future, and it is sweet!

The last pitch flew right over the center of the plate, past the batter who didn't even try to swing. The pitcher threw his glove in the air with joy, before being mobbed by his teammates. The crowd, already on their feet for the entire last inning, somehow managed to yell even louder. The bullpen door flew open and the pitchers who had been stuck in there streaked across the field at full speed to join their team in the tangle at the mound. The joy was evident in every face. Even though my team had just lost, I couldn't help but smile. This was it.

The Nationals lost the game and the Phillies won the division. But it was a battle to the end. Our boys were determined not to make it easy for anyone. And, possibly more importantly than the game itself, they got to see what it would be like to win it all. They saw the crowd. They heard the cheering. They saw the joy on the faces of the other team. After the game, instead of slinking off into the clubhouse after the loss, several of our boys stayed in the dugout, watching the celebration happen. A few exchanged hugs with Phillies players. One head popped out and looked around at the crowd, soaking it all in. Someday soon, they'll get to see this in DC. They've now seen what they're playing for. They've seen what it could be like.

It was great, as a fan, to be able to experience that as well. From a perch high up at the very top row at Citizen's Bank Park, The Ryan Girls watched the celebration. I could see the whole stadium from up there, the rally towels swinging wildly. The hugging, the cheering that just seemed to go on forever. It wasn't the outcome I wanted. I wanted to see my boys win. And I definitely didn't want the Phillies to win the division. But I saw what I did want. I want that celebration. I looked at Ryan Girl #2 and saw she was smiling too, looking around and taking it all in. We stayed for a few minutes, soaking it all in until our boys all disappeared into the dugout. As we left, the cheers continued around us. The usher in our section hugged us good-bye, despite the ribbing she had given us earlier over our Nationals t-shirts.

The celebration continued outside the stadium as we walked around it. Most of the fans were too happy to care that Nats fans had come into their midst. "Thank you!" many of the shouted at us. "Thanks for taking out the Mets." (Not that they were all sweet as pie or anything. A few of them shouted things that were much less nice. Gotta keep their Philadelphia sports fan reputation intact.) The cars in the parking lot all had their windows down, horns honking, rally towels swinging out the windows. Out on the roads it continued, cars that weren't even coming from the game joining the celebration. A fire truck drive by, honking its horn with hands holding Phillies flags out the windows. An hour later, halfway down the highway toward DC, it seemed like the celebration was over. Then, in front of us, a horn honked, a window came down and a swinging towel was held out the window. All around us, every car I could see, responded with their own towels. These people were thrilled.

One day we'll have that in DC. Cars up and down Capitol Street(s) in all directions, honking and waving their Nats flags. Metro conductors getting in on the celebration, honking their horns all through the tunnels. We'll have it. I can feel it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sweet Sweep

Oh, how sweep it is.

The headlines are only talking about the Mets' tumble; I choose to talk about the 72nd win of the season. Church has finally relaxed, and good things come from it. I'm not sure if he gave up hope or if someone gave him a firm talking to. Either way, my Ryan is hitting nearly .400 in the month of September. He got his 43rd double; if he had been allowed those extra 100 at-bats, I have no doubt my boy would have made it to his desired 50.

The plan was to “win every game,” according to Schneider. Now the plan is “to sweep the Phils,” as Church so concisely put it. Ryan Girl #1 and I have had this plan for a while; it's good to hear the Nats finally had it occur to them too.

Only the first game of this series came easily, 13-3. Austin just keeps getting worthwhile hits, and pitchers keep being foolish enough to walk the men in front of him. Tuesday night looked like another blowout until Colome and the Human Heartburn (Chad Cordero) allowed 3 runs each. Rauch finished it off and fell on Schneids in relief when we got out of the ninth still leading 10-9. If it wasn't for the Mets quiting the game in the top of the same inning, allowing Batista to saunter into home on a hit that didn't even approach being deep enough, we would have gone into extra innings. Wednesday night it looked like the Mets had finally become angry enough at us to grab a victory. But, alas, poor Willie Randolph, Ryan Church continued to plague him. A homerun to give us energy again, and a 3 for 5 night to make all of DC feel good.

It wasn't just Church that had himself together this week. Kearns is on fire. Batista keeps doing well. Fick is actually on a hitting streak. Zimmy started a beautiful and extremely long double-play. Bergmann pitched a fantastic birthday game for himself, getting his own double-play started. Shoot, even Ryan Langerhans knocked that white and red spheroid out of Shea Stadium.

As it currently stands, the Nationals are in a strong 4th place (if the Marlins lose tonight, it's clenched). In the whole of the MLB, we are 10th from the last. We are not the lowest scorer in the NL. We have met our goals. And we are ever so far, far away from looking like the '62 Mets. Let's see how Zimmerman does this Friday. It should be good; the boy has to consider his own birthday a holiday.

Monday, September 24, 2007

My College Home

I may not have been at RFK for years on end. I may not have gone to concert after concert or a multitude of sporting events. I will, however, continue to think of that park as a home.

I moved to DC only a few months before the Nationals did. I began my college hunt right around the time that the MLB started a serious search for a place to move the Expos. My freshman year of college saw me pouring of the newspaper at breakfast to keep track of how the discussions were progressing with getting a team to Washington.

Personally, I would like the think that I've been good luck for the Nats. I move then DC gets a team. My first game was Memorial Day 2005 and we beat the Braves. I've obviously been back several times since then, carting roommates, friends, and the occasional awkward date out to the ol' concrete doughnut.

RFK was the place where I first got a team of my own. My father (I am aware that what I'm about to say is boarder-line evil) raised me a Yankees fan. (I would like to say that he did use to play in their minor league system before going to Vietnam; that usually gets me out of trouble.)

However, earlier this summer when I finally got it in my head to ask my dad what number he used to wear, he realized something. Dad said he wore number 11, and I told him a little something about Ryan Zimmerman and the hot corner. My dad paused briefly and then said, “You really have a team you follow now, don't you?” Thanks to the Nats and RFK, being down there so often these past three years, my dad realized that I had grown up. I had my own ball team now.

This entire last week the Ryan Girls sat in our favorite sections, getting looks at the field we'll never manage again: Friday, the boxes that we'll never be able to afford again; Saturday, section 517 where we spent most of our season; Sunday, started in the outfield upper deck and finishing up down in 214.

The 3-5 win was just that much sweet coming off of two days of losses. It takes a lot to get Phillies fans to quiet down but losing to the home team managed it. Daisy's hit by pitch got us the lead; he did ask Manny before he went up if he should take one for the team. It was the way the Nats have played all year. Fight to the end for everything, and remember you're part of a team, do it for the team. Everything was sweeter that day. The stands bounced in nearly every inning and it sounded like every third out was being pitched in the ninth.

I know that Nationals Park will be better for everyone. But RFK will be the place that marks where I grew up. I moved away to college, and I moved into that stadium. I finish up college this year and the Nationals move. The whole of my collegiate career has been connected to that stadium. Nothing can replace that sensation of leaving home and finding a different one. I found Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium and I'll miss it too.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Off to Spoil the Phillies

Well, we didn't sweep the Mets; we lost 8-4. But we did clean out a couple of cobwebs on our own team. For two games our offense remembered how to hit and Pena learned how to follow a ball coming off of the bat. Our starting pitchers choked often, with only Chico not given up runs in the first (and, oddly enough, the only one to log a loss).

The loss of this game won't phase Manny or most of the players. Our boys of summer still took the series, still are a little closer to that magic 72. But Daisy (Jesus Flores, the nickname is not an insult, the story is odd, but daisies are strong, manly flowers) will beat himself up over this loss for days. He has openly admitted to feeling a need to try hard to impress the team that let him go. He managed hits in the bottom of the second and sixth, hopefully they were enough to get him over the complex he has developed when it comes to the Mets. I just hope that Daisy won't focus on the idea that with Schneids calling the game we won, and with him behind the plate we stumbled.

Maybe it was Pelfrey's mouth guard that threw off our players. Maybe it was the ball getting trapped in, in, in the outfield wall that was just too odd for us to come back from. Maybe it's simply that the Mets are a first place team.

We had amazing moments that showed what we are capable of, that showed that the first two games of the series weren't a fluke: Chico's RBI, Austin's Gold Glove caliber play, Fick playing dirty for the sake of the team, Nook diving for catches.

We have the stuff to take on some of the best teams and give them a run for their money, and we get to decide the NL East winner. Let's see what happens against the Phillies, shall we?