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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Chico and the Man(nny) OR The first win!

In the words of a non-"Rushmore" President, the late Gerald Ford, "Our long Nationals nightmare is over." (I'm pretty sure that's what he said but, heck, I was only 9 years old at the time, I might not be 100% on that).

MAN-NY! MAN-NY! MAN-NY! You got your first win as a major league manager and in high-drama style, too.
Falling behind 5-0, then 6-1, the Nats could have easily rolled over and died on the field this afternoon, with Marlins hitting homers seemingly at will. Instead, they bore down and quite literally snatched victory from the jaws of defeat before a reported crowd of over 18,000.

Shades of 2005, the "one-run wonders" do it again, with a nod to the spirit of the Bad News Bears mentioned in a previous post of mine (all those errors...yeeesh...)

But just look at all of those hits! Holy-moly, on a cold, overcast afternoon, the Nats demonstrated serious character to avoid a sweep by the Marlins, in what Redskins assistant head coach Joe Bugel would call "gut-check" time.

I had the IMMENSE pleasure of spending the game with Screech's Best Friend and the African Queen from Nats320 blog, and I had a seriously good time getting to know them better. They introduced me to some of their fellow section 320 residents and other friends, and SBF actually pinch-ran in the President's Race due to the lack of Nats Packers so early in the season (most of the NP's are college kids, so they aren't out of school yet). He did this once last year, and while he didn't win, by George he put forth a great effort. If there are more enthusiastic Nats fans in attendance then I'd like to meet them, too, because SBF and the AQ are loads of good fun, and they have established some wonderful ballpark traditions. Having been to spring training, they've met a lot of the players and coaches and they have wonderful stories to tell. It was truly a serendipitous occasion, because the buddy who was supposed to come with me had a work emergency and had to bail. Not wanting to sit in my section all by myself, I took a chance that there might be room with the 320 crew. (NOTE: I'm not "seat-poaching" here. My seats are in section 223, the team has more than enough of my money for me to move back into the 300's)

Screech's Best Friend took some great photos, and I photographed him and the African Queen with the one and only Screech. Take a look at his account of the day, it's sure to be a great read.

As for me, I shouted myself hoarse during the 9th inning. Is there anything more thrilling than a come-from-behind victory?

And who'd have bet that Ryan Church would have the season's first home run? We all know that he's capable of hitting them, and I long to see Church live up to his great potential. I'm a Ryan Church fan, I felt badly for him and how he struggled last year. I hope that this is his breakout year. Hey, he had doubles at consecutive at-bats today, and that great home run - maybe he's got his mojo back!

Poor Matt Chico didn't have the most auspicious first outing as a major-leaguer, but he certainly didn't disgrace himself. Certainly, no one expected him to throw a no-hitter, but all he needs is time and more hard work and coaching. I'm not alarmed, I think he'll be fine.

Now we say goodbye to the Marlins and prepare to give the Diamondbacks a chilly reception. We won't see Randy Johnson (thank goodness!) but we WILL see our old friend, and Original National, Livan Hernandez, who lost his last Arizona start here at R.F.K. last season. I hope that nobody boos him. Livan wanted to stay here, but we got Matt Chico and Garrett Mock instead, building for the future. Livan gave us some thrilling wins in his almost-two seasons here.

Howard update: Those of you who know Howard, the beer vendor, might like to know that he's still around, but according to his fellow vendor, Neal, Howard hurt his knee on Opening Day, and is out for an undetermined time. Neal did intimate that Howard might be back in time to vend at the Oriole's home opener. Since the Nats are on the road, I guess it makes sense that seasoned vendors are in demand at both ballparks, and Howard sold beer during the Ravens season. Howard, you probably won't see this, but get well soon and get back to R.F.K.!

BONUS! This will make William Yurasko insanely happy - At last, the Nationals have started playing "Heart" from "Damn Yankees" after "Take me out to the ballgame" - a wonderful homage to the Washington Senators of long ago and a nice new Nationals tradition. William has been requesting this since at least May of 2006. Thank you, Lerners!

1 comment:

Screech's Best Friend said...

Joe: Thank you for the kind comments. The African Queen and I enjoyed your company in Section 320. Stop by anytime. It was a GREAT DAY AT THE BALLPARK!! What a 9th Inning!!

Come On!! It's JORGE JULIO!!

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