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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

In the "better late then never" department...

"Yo, pizza here!"

As has been reported elsewhere, the "Ryan Zimmerman pizza" from PapaJohn's is now a reality. One pizza with up to 5 toppings for $14.11, with $1.11 from each sale going towards Ryan's ziMSfoundation to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis (why the extra $0.11? Because Ryan's jersey number is 11, that's why. Too bad he's not #99, but at least he doesn't have Brandon Watson's "00" on his back) I can tell you right now that there are a couple of pizza outlets who are going to lose a lot of business from me henceforth. Have charity in your heart while putting pizza in your stomach, please. If you are ordering for a party or other large gathering, please consider going online and ordering the Ryan Zimmerman pizza special.

In praise of "Guzzie"

My heart really does go out to injured shortstop Cristian Guzman. I was really enjoying the excellent baseball that he was giving us this season. Sure, he wasn't prefect, he made a couple of mental errors, but that was far outweighed by his great hitting and baserunning, and he and Ronnie Belliard combined just the other day to make one of the coolest outs at 2nd that I've ever seen, with Guzzie sliding and catching the ball and in one motion, flipping the ball right out of his glove BEHIND HIS BACK to Belliard, who LEAPED up to snag the ball and falling while stretching his leg out to tag 2nd, and he got the out. Serious SportsCenter/ highlight film stuff. I also loved the timing play that he and starter Jason Simontacchi had down to tag out runners at 2nd, the so-called "daylight" play, where they combined to get out 4 runners this season, including Milwaukee's Johnny Estrada, Baltimore's Miguel Tejada and Florida's Dan Uggla. I actually told a guy sitting next to me about that the other day when the Indians had a man on 2nd. I said, "Watch Guzman, watch if he moves towards 2nd, Simontacchi will spin and throw to him" Sure enough, it happened, but the runner beat out the tag to stay safe.

I became a Guzman fan back in September of 2005 when he went on an offensive tear and began to show just why Jim Bowden had signed him to begin with. I, too, had been one of those fans who cringed each time Guzman came up to the plate, fearing yet another strikeout. Yet, I'd heard that when he was with the Minnesota Twins, that Guzman had lead the American League in triples two different years. There just HAD to be more to this guy than we were seeing. After Guzman ended 2005 on a high note, I looked forward to seeing him in 2006, but after he injured himself in spring training, that called for another season's wait. I was curious to see what kind of player he'd be in 2007, and the spring training reports were very good. I learned that he'd had laser eye surgery and was seeing the ball better, which was encouraging. Then he went down injured on Opening Day and I just thought that he had physical issues, and I began to believe that we'd never see the "real" Cristian Guzman.

How happily wrong I was.

When Guzman returned off of the D/L in May, he quickly established himself as one of the Nats most fearsome hitters, getting his batting average into the .300's and quickly becoming a singles-machine, but he hit his share of doubles and he led the team in triples. THIS was the Cristian Guzman that we'd waited for, and this isn't the first time I've sung his praises this season. Guzman was challenging hard-hitting Dmitri Young for the opportunity to represent the Nats in this year's All-Star game. Better stats people than myself have shown how the Nats performance improved once Guzman returned to the team.

The Washington Post's Thomas Boswell has written a wonderful piece about him today, and it is a great read. I learned a couple of things, and it certainly gives Guzman his due.

"I can't hear you, them darned bells are ringin'!"

Has anyone else noticed that, when Ryan Church comes up to plate at home games now, that the sound people play ringing church bells? "BONG.....BONG....." sounds, like the Big Ben clock in London's Parliament. Some time ago, I asked the team to do something like that whenever Church hit a homerun, and so I'm perfectly willing to take credit for this. Man, I'm awesome.


Beginning this last homestand, I've noticed that whenever a baserunner is on 1st, and the pitcher tries to pick him off, and it fails, the stadium sound people play Dean Martin singing the opening lyric of the song "Volare", which is meant to provoke the crowd to exclaim, Whoa, ho!" The idea in and of itself is funny, but I can tell you that ALMOST NO ONE understands why the sound people play that and what it is meant to encourage. I actually took the time to explain it to a couple of guys sitting behind me. I hope that my explanation of it here encourages fans to respond appropriately whenever they hear Dean-O sing, "Volare!". For those of you unfamiliar with this song, please have a listen right here.

Welcome back, Robert Fick

Robert Fick returned to the Nats after his bereavement leave, and he will be needed. Hopefully, having had some days off and being free of the emotional burden of his dying mother, Fick can just concentrate on himself now. He claims that the clubhouse is his sanctuary, and I'm sure that he feels much better to be back with his teammates. My condolences, Robert, and welcome back.

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