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Monday, April 9, 2007

Random thoughts on an off-day

With the team traveling to Atlanta and taking a day of rest, I thought I'd take time to post a few observations.

Holliday on holiday? OR "Wherrrrrrrreeesss, Johnny?" - Where is Johnny Holliday on MASN's Nats Extra? He's been missing and replaced by an amiable fellow named Byron Kerr. Is Johnny just on vacation, or could he simply not take having to deal with another Nats loss and it was too much for him to bear? Come on back, Johnny, you're in this up to your neck with the rest of us.

MASN2 getting it together - The other day, when the first Nats game was broadcast on the new MASN2 channel, DirecTV still listed the channel as "RSN Alternate", meaning "Regional Sports Network Alternate". I couldn't even record the game because the programming wasn't even set yet. Now DirecTV's channel 671 reads "MASN2" and it is behaving like MASN did two seasons ago, nothing on it until a Nats (or O's) game, the rest of the time it is either dark or has music playing.

New MLB catalog - When I came home the other night, I noticed the new MLB catalog in my mail. After paging through it, I've noticed an alarming lack of Nationals merchandise. Oh, sure, pretty much anything in the catalog has "All MLB teams available" but it would be nice to see more Nats representation in there. The first item I noticed as on page #22, a doormat which reads "Nationals" on it. (A doormat? Ouch, baby, VERY ouch....). The only other item was car mats, of all things. If I'm looking for Nationals merchandise outside of the R.F.K. team store, there are plenty of good sites on the Internet to find them, including eBay (I've personally found good Nationals leather wallets there, which I like). Also, as anyone with season tickets can attest, the backs of each season ticket have a $10 coupon on them for a discount at Modell's, good all season long.

What I enjoyed about the first homestand - Number one? The fact that the season is here! That was a long off-season, and I'm just happy to have baseball back. It's renewal, it's the herald of summer coming (if noticeably absent these past few days), it's box scores, it's passionate arguments. Every day brings interesting news and possibilities.

I loved how Ryan Church played this past week. Those total bases of his, the doubles, the homeruns, the sliding "Sports Center"-esque catches.

I enjoyed getting to meet some new friends at the stadium. You know who you are.

I enjoyed catching up with old friends.

I enjoyed Screech and the "Rushmores" and all of their silly antics. They always bring a smile to my face, and it's fun to see the little kids get so excited about them.

I enjoyed the seventh-inning stretches, watching the bullpen work, and Shawn Hill develop on the mound.

The fireworks.

Shouting myself hoarse in the 9th inning on Wednesday, on the way to Manny Acta's first win.

The terrible anxiety of having men on base and hoping that they'll score some runs.

Recording the game and Nats Extra to see what Ray Knight and Bob Carpenter and Don Sutton have to say as they analyze the game later.

But I'm kind of glad for the day off and time to catch up on some personal business.

I'm not a sunny optimist by nature, but neither am I a doom-and-gloom pessimist. I generally like to believe that things will work out for the best more often than not. Since the inception of the Nationals, I've wanted to believe only good things and I AM a believer in what has been called "The Plan" as put forth by team President, Stan Kasten. I am generally patient, too, so I can take some solace in the notion that behind the scenes, Stan Kasten and General Manager Jim Bowden and all the good folks at the Nationals are working to improve things. I know that some have criticized the club and accused them of basically "giving up" on different aspects of the fan experience this season. I disagree. I think that the club is doing the best that they can with an almost-50 year-old stadium that they don't even own, and which wasn't built specifically for baseball. They've put lipstick on a beloved old pig, but the fact remains that R.F.K. is substandard for today's modern baseball experience. Who can blame the team for hyping the new ballpark, it's going to be the ballpark of our dreams.

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