Top 10 Moments From The Nationals 2014 Season

MLB-Atlanta Braves @ Washington NationalsDo you miss baseball? So do I. Lets relive the Washington Nationals‘ best moments of 2014 with this post.  I included video embedded below.  You may not be able to see them if you are reading this in an email, so make sure you visit MattsBats.com.

10. March 31: Extraordinary Opener

The Nationals started the season with promise. After Stephen Strasburg gave up 4 runs over six innings of work, the Nats rallied back and tied the game at 5 at the end of 9. In the tenth, the Nats scored four to eventually win the game, 9-7.

9. July 20:Walk-Off Winners

On July 20, the Nationals took on the Milwaukee Brewers. Going into the 9th, the Nationals had a 4-3 lead until Rickie Weeks singled in Logan Schafer to tie it. When Jayson Werth hit a ground ball down the line with Anthony Rendon on first, third base coach B0b Henley windmilled Rendon home, winning the game. Henley saw left fielder Khris Davis double-pump before throwing the ball in, and it gave Henley the idea to send him home.

8. September 3: Astounding Adam

September 3rd was a very interesting baseball game. There were no runs scored until the 7th inning, when utility guy Dodgers Justin Turner demolished a pitch to center field. Adam LaRoche, who was sitting out the game because he was sick and injured, came in to pinch hit in the 9th, and actually drove a Kenley Jansen pitch over the left field wall and slowly trot around the bases. He had tied the game. Denard Span singled in a run to make it a 3-2 game, and in the 9th, with a chance to win it, Jayson Werth missed to catch Justin Turner’s fly ball that would have ended the game to score a run. In the 10th, Craig Stammen and Aaron Barrett split to leave the bases loaded, same with Jerry Blevins in the 11th. LaRoche singled in two in the 12th, after being hit in the 11th, and the win was taken away when Carl Crawford homered to tie it later that inning. Rochy got his fifth RBI when he drove in a run on a force out, only to be followed by another Asdrubal Cabrera clout. Blake Treinen closed it out in the 14th, to end a crazed day for everyone.

7. June 24/25: Sweet Sixteen

I hope that you went to bed early on June 23. The next day, blanks filled the Miller Park scoreboard in a game that took two days to complete. Jayson Werth got the first run scored in the 1st, surprisingly, and only until the 5th was another run scored. Ryan Braun singled in two to be (eventually) the last runs Milwaukee scored. Anthony Rendon proved himself clutch in the 8th, with a home run that tied the game at 2. We then waited a day to see the outcome. Ryan Zimmerman finally took a Mike Fiers pitch and homered into left field. That took care of the drowsy Brewers, who wasted five hours to see their team lose.

6. October 4: Phenomenal Postseason Pitching

On October 4, the Nationals came off a loss to the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS. They took a lead early, making it 1-0 for most of the game. But the spotlight of that game was Jordan Zimmermann. Coming off his no-hitter on September 28, Zimmermann hadn’t missed a beat in the game. Jordan had enough to go the distance, until Matt Williams pulled Zim after 8 2/3 innings of work, and Drew Storen gave up a RBI single to Pablo Sandoval and the rest, they say, is history.  The Nats lost the game in 18 innings, the longest post-season game in history.  This is also the only Nationals loss to make my Top 10 list.

5. April 9/10: Double Trouble

On April 9 and 10, the Nationals played the Miami Marlins. And when they needed it, both Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond came up big. They both hit a grand slam to help the Nats win. On the 9th, Jayson homered to help the Nats come from behind against the fish, and Ian added insurance to take it from a 2-run game to a 6-run game.

4. August 24: Comeback Columbidae

A wild win for the Nats against the Giants on August 24th because of the Rally Pigeon. Ian Desmond, Danny Espinosa, and Bryce Harper all hit home runs to help the Nats. The Rally Pigeon stood on the field to help the Nationals win. The Nationals came back in the 6th from an early deficit. Columbidae is the species of bird pigeons come from. Thanks to my 7-year old brother for helping my write this one!

3. August 12-August 21: Double-Digit Doozy

From August 12 to August 21, the Nationals went on a tear, beating the Mets, Pirates, and Diamondbacks. It all added up to three sweeps and one 10-game win streak– tied for the longest streak in Nationals history. The Nats had walk-offs galore to help them take ten, highlighted by Jordan Pacheco’s error in the last game against the Diamondbacks.

2. September 16: Clincher Climax

September 16. One year before, the Nats were set to play the Braves until the Navy Yard shooting incident occurred. The game was canceled, and there was a doubleheader the next day. A year later, in 2014, the Nats were in Atlanta this time, on the verge of clinching the National League East division title. Ian Desmond absolutely teed off Aaron Harang in the 6th, to give the Nats a 2-0 lead. In the 9th, Nats now leading 3-0, Drew Storen got Justin Upton to ground out to Asdrubal Cabrera and the Nats were NL East winners.

1. September 28: A Fantastic Finish

If this isn’t number 1, what is? At the beginning of play on September 28, F.P. Santangelo said that he would like the Nats to be 96-66 rather than 95-67 because it is easy to remember. Not only is it easy to remember, but starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann did more than that. In the 2nd inning, Ian Desmond unloaded for his last regular season home run. Zimmermann had a perfect game through the 5th, until 1st baseman Justin Bour walked. Zimmermann also surrendered a dropped third strike baserunner, until Wilson Ramos picked him off. In the 9th, Steven Souza made an unbelievable catch to finish off a no-hitter by Zimmermann, first in the Nationals history and the first in the Nationals/Expos franchise since 1981.

Have any other memorable moments? Tweet them to me @MattsBats!

 

 

I’m Going to Play Xbox with Stephen Strasburg! And You Can Too!

Stephen Strasburg's Historic Complete Game Shutout The new Microsoft store at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, MD is celebrating its grand opening on Saturday, November 22 (next Saturday) with an event that no Washington Nationals baseball fan will want to miss.  Nationals star pitcher Stephen Strasburg will be there to play Xbox One with 200 guests!

I am so excited because the people from Microsoft invited me to meet to Stephen and try out the new Xbox One with him at the event. Stephen has been known to be a very serious gamer and he brings his system on the road with him during the baseball season. He plays games against his Nationals teammates and friends across the league.  So whether he beats me or not, how cool is it to tell all your friends that you played video games with an All-Star pitcher from your favorite baseball team?

This is the Stephen Strasburg’s only appearance where you will get a chance to play video games with him.  Fans will get a picture and an autograph, but the main event is getting to play Xbox One with him.  I am so incredibly excited for this event.  I have been practicing my Xbox skills to prepare.

You can get all the details about the event at this link, but here’s the main information you need to know:

  • The Microsoft Store opens at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 22, 2014.  The first 200 people in line will receive one free meet and greet ticket for the Xbox One event.
  • The event with Stephen Strasburg begins at 2:00 p.m. for people who have tickets and will go until about 4:00p.m.
  • Since so many people will want to play Xbox with Stephen, Microsoft is letting die-hard fans camp out at the mall overnight beginning at 10:00p.m. on Friday, November 21 at the California Pizza Kitchen entrance.  They have promised some cool giveaways at the event, including really special things for the people who camp out or arrive super-early.
  • Even if you don’t get a ticket to play Xbox One with Stephen, don’t worry. Microsoft is giving away gift cards to the Microsoft Store to the first 500 people in line for the grand opening, ranging from $10 to $1,000.  100 of these gift cards will be worth $100 or more!
  • There are also going to be door-buster sales.  Anybody who comes will be able to buy a Toshiba Encore 2 8-inch 32GB tablet or an Xbox 360 4GB for $99.

People say that Microsoft puts on amazing events for their store grand openings, and this year they have gotten some pretty big-time athletes to open up their stores across the country.  For example, Stephen Strasburg is opening the Bethesda store, Shaquille O’Neal is opening a store this week outside New Orleans, and Jose Altuve opened a store near Houston.  They’ve even brought out musicians like Kelly Clarkson and Macklemore to play concerts at some of their grand openings.  You know it is going be a really cool event they are putting on for the Westfield Montgomery Mall store!

Since the event is mostly geared for fans, there won’t be a lot of press coverage.  So I will be sure to take lots of pictures and tweet them on @MattsBats.  Be sure to read my post about it at MattsBats.com after the event, including how I did playing against him.

Make sure you check out the Microsoft Store’s Facebook page for all the information you need about the event next Saturday.

2014 Bob Feller Act Of Valor Award Honors Tommy Lasorda, Nick Swisher, and Carl Thompson

Bob Feller Act of Valor Award included baseball celebrites Tommy Lasorda, Bobby Valentine and Nick Swisher

Bob Feller Act of Valor Award included baseball celebrites Tommy Lasorda, Bobby Valentine and Nick Swisher

On Wednesday, November 5, I attended the second annual Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C.  This year’s recipients were Tommy Lasorda, Hall of Fame manager of the L.A. Dodgers; Nick Swisher, MLB First Baseman, Outfielder, and Designated Hitter from the Cleveland Indians; and Senior Chief Petty Officer Carl Thompson of the U.S. Navy.  It was so exciting to be there again this year (also be sure to check out last year’s post).

The Act of Valor Award honors Bob Feller,  a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Cleveland Indians from 1936 to 1956. Feller threw no-hitters in 3 different years, including the only no-hitter ever thrown on Opening Day. “Rapid Robert” Feller was also called “The Heater from Van Meter” after his hometown of Van Meter, Iowa because he threw some of the fastest fastballs in baseball history.  He pitched 3,287 innings, threw 44 shutouts, and rang up 2,581 strike outs in his career, which was interrupted by serving 3 years as a gun captain on the U.S.S. Alabama in the Navy during World War II.

Feller was the first American professional athlete to enlist in the military after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  He enrolled just one day after the attack.  His service inspired other pro baseball players like Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Hank Greenberg to serve their country.

The Act of Valor Award is given out to three people who share the characteristics of Bob Feller: an active MLB player, a member of the Navy, and a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Award winners are selected because they are dedicated to serving our country and share the values and integrity of Bob Feller.  Among the award presenters this year were Peter Fertig, founder of the Act of Valor Foundation, along with other VIP guests such as Mrs. Anne Feller, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, , retired four star admiral Hank Chiles, and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Michael Stevens, who is the most senior enlisted member of the Navy.

AWARD WINNERS

Tommy Lasorda and Bob Feller

Tommy Lasorda and Bob Feller

Tommy Lasorda is the Hall of Fame former manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has been with the Dodgers organization for 66 years.  Lasorda managed the Dodgers from 1976 to 1996. He won two World Series in 1981 and 1988, and his number 2 is retired at Dodger Stadium.  Before becoming a manager, he was a left handed pitcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers and Kansas City Athletics.  He also managed the 2000 U.S. Olympic baseball team, and won the gold medal.  Lasorda was honored for his military service in the United States Army during World War II.

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Nick Swisher is a current first baseman/left fielder/designated hitter for the Cleveland Indians. He previously played for the Oakland Athletics, Chicago White Sox, and New York Yankees. Swisher was honored for his participation on USO tours and Operation Homefront, and his own charity, Swish’s Wishes (now known as the Swisher Family Foundation).  Swisher and his wife, actress Joanna Garcia, visited troops at forward operating bases in Afghanistan during their honeymoon.  Nick was a member of the 2009 World Series Champion Yankees and was selected as an All-Star in 2010.  He is the son of former major leaguer Steve Swisher.

Sr. Chief Petty Officer Carl Thompson wins Bob Feller Act of Valor Award

Sr. Chief Petty Officer Carl Thompson wins Bob Feller Act of Valor Award

Sr. Chief Petty Officer Carl Thompson is and Engineer Laboratory Technician in the United States Navy serving the aircraft carriers U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and his current ship, the U.S.S. George Washington.  In 2012, he served in Djibouti as the Command Security Manager for Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.  Senior Chief Thompson is active in volunteering in community service in the places he is stationed.  He lives now with his wife and 2 kids in Yokosuka, Japan, where he traveled from to win the Act of Valor Award.  He has won the Joint Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and Good Conduct Medal.  He is a native of Custer, South Dakota.

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The other MLB nominees for the Award were Oakland Athletics closer Sean Doolittle, Miami Marlins Pitcher Mike Dunn, Colorado Rockies OF/1B Michael Cuddyer, Milwaukee Brewers C Jonathan Lucroy (finalist), Cincinnati Reds OF Jay Bruce, Boston Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia (finalist), Baltimore Orioles P Darren O’Day, Pittsburgh Pirates P Charlie Morton (finalist), Arizona Diamondbacks P Brad Ziegler (finalist), Kansas City Royals DH Billy Butler, and Washington Nationals 1B Adam LaRoche (finalist).  They were honored in a slideshow at the ceremony, and each received a quilt during the regular season from Quilts of Honor.

People told great stories about Bob Feller and the great things the winners of the award did.  In fact, when Tommy Lasorda came up to accept his award, he said, “after hearing that introduction, I thought I had died.”

Indians Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Bob DiBiasio, talked a lot about Bob Feller’s achievements.  Feller is the only baseball player ever to pitch a no-hitter on Opening Day. He told a story about Opening Day 1994, when the Indians were getting no-hit by Randy Johnson.  Feller, who was in attendance at the game, stormed into the broadcast booth to go on the air with ESPN announcer Chris Berman in the 8th inning to start talking about his accomplishment in 1940 to try to jinx Johnson’s no-hit bid.  Just when he and Berman started to talk about it, Sandy Alomar, Jr. singled into right field. Feller returned to the press box to a round of applause.

Secretary of Navy Ray Mabus with Bobby Valentine and Tommy Lasorda

Secretary of Navy Ray Mabus with Bobby Valentine and Tommy Lasorda

The Honorable Ray Mabus spoke next.  He said that he was supposed to throw out the first pitch at Nats Park in Game 5 of the 2014 NLDS, so he was mad at the Giants fans in the house whose team took that opportunity away from him. He told about Nick Swisher’s one major league relief appearance.  The Yankees were down 15-5 in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays.  They had used up all their pitchers, after Chien-Ming Wang only went about an inning.  They called in Swisher, who threw a scoreless inning and clocked a 78-MPH fastball.  The last time Swisher pitched, he said, was in high school.  Still, he now has a lifetime major league 0.00 ERA. Mabus also spoke about Sr. Chief Petty Officer Carl Thompson.  While stationed in Djibouti, he spent time teaching English to the local citizens.

When Nick Swisher took the stage to accept his award, he was so thankful.  He said the reason he helped the military is because his grandfather was in the army. I was able to speak to Swisher a little more about his volunteer projects, what it meant to him to win the award and other topics.  Click on the short video below to see part of our interview.

It was then Carl Thompson’s turn. He was so glad to be honored in front of his mother and father from South Dakota, as well as his wife and kids.  His kids were asleep during most of the ceremony because they came in from Japan and were still on Japanese time. After the ceremony, I asked Senior Chief Thompson what it was like to be honored alongside Lasorda and Swisher, and he told me, “it’s truly a great honor.  I am very proud and happy to be recognized in the same context as them for all the service they’ve done for their country, as well as the troops when they visit the all the forward deployed bases and troops. It is a great honor.”

Finally, the last speaker of the night was the hilarious Tommy Lasorda.  He spent a lot of time telling jokes and about funny experiences coaching players Steve Sax.  There were a couple of funny stories about players missing bunt and steal signs.  You should take a few minutes to watch his whole speech here: http://dodgers.mlblogs.com/2014/11/06/video-tommy-lasorda-accepts-bob-feller-act-of-valor-award/.  Even though he his 87 years old and has been married for 65 years, you can tell that Lasorda still loves baseball.  He said that his wife accused him of loving baseball more than her, and Lasorda replied, “Yes, but I love you more than football or basketball.”

You can also tell that Lasorda loves his county and the people who serve in the military.  “I don’t care if you are a Democrat, Republican, or Independent.  You need to pull for the armed forces,” he said during his speech.  He also talked about how he cried at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, when the national anthem played after he won the Olympic gold medal.  He said that when he won the World Series for L.A., no one really cared in San Diego or especially in San Francisco.  But when he won the Olympic gold, it was a celebration for all Americans.

IMG_3058I also got a few minutes to interview Lasorda, my first interview with a baseball Hall of Famer.  I asked him what it felt like to be given the award named after Bob Feller.  “I’m honored.  As a great player I looked up to, Bob Feller was my hero when I was a youngster.  To receive that award, I am very, very fortunate. . . . There are so many other people who could have gotten this award, so for them to select me to receive it, I’m very, very appreciative and it’s a blessing for me to be able to get the Bob Feller award.”  He told me that Feller, along with Lou Gerhig, was his favorite baseball player growing up.  When I asked him how his military service affected his life, he said, “it made me a better man to serve two years for my country.”  Finally, I asked him what lessons baseball taught him. “It taught me how to be respectful and how to be energetic. It taught me when I put that uniform on to give it 100%. It made me realize that I was fortunate enough to be to be playing professional baseball and that I was fortunate to be able to do that.”  At the end of the interview, Lasorda told me, “you did a good job,” which is a compliment that I will always remember coming from him.

Check out a few more pictures from the event:

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You can also view some highlights on other MLB Pro Blogs: Tribe Vibe, Dodger Insider and MLB.com.

As this week we celebrate Veterans Day, I dedicate this post to the service men and women who risked their lives and made personal sacrifices.  Thank you for your generosity to the country.  Learn more about the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award at http://www.actofvaloraward.org/

Where Are The Nats Going This Offseason?

zuzuzumba #3 dp ladNow that the 2014 MLB season is over, the hot stove is going to start to warm up and people will be talking about trades and signings.  Some of these things have already happened, like the Cubs signing Joe Maddon to be their manager and the Twins signing Paul Molitor to be theirs.  I want to take a look at what the Nationals might do.

In 2014, the Nationals acquired or claimed many players to help progress to eventually clinch the National League East. They have a few players not under contract for next year, and they have already released their options on a few others (and picked up their option on Denard Span!).  The biggest ones are Adam LaRoche, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Rafael Soriano.  There are also questions about what the Nats will do with Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, who both have one more year under contract before they become free agents.  And there is also a lot of trade talk too.  So I am going to look at some of the most talked about Nats players from 2014 and ask: WHERE ARE THEY GOING THIS OFFSEASON?

Now, these are just guesses based on where I think each player would play best.  They are not always the most realistic, but sometimes you can never predict trades.  Just ask how the Nationals got Doug Fister for Ian Krol and Steve Lombardozzi.

Asdrubal Cabrera- Asdrubal came over in a trade with Cleveland over the mid-season trade deadline.  He played shortstop for the Indians, but filled in as the starting second baseman for the Nats.  The question is who will be the Nats’ second baseman?  Is it Danny Espinosa?  Do they re-sign Cabrera?  Do they move Rendon back to 2nd and give Zimmerman another shot at 3rd or sign someone like Pablo Sandoval to play 3rd?  Do they acquire a second baseman like Brandon Hicks, Emilio Bonifacio, or Kelly Johnson?  My guess is that Cabrera is probably leaving DC.  He was an excellent second baseman, but he is also the best free agent short stop.  Maybe the Yankees, who will be suffering from the retirement of Derek Jeter.  Let me say this: I like Cabrera’s bat, as he is a good, doubles or triples hitter. Cleveland and Washington have fairly smaller ballparks, and with above average speed, he could get some big hits in some ballparks. That’s why I am thinking he might be good in a place like Miami.  The Marlins are in the middle of a rebuilding process, and with a ballpark that could fit 3 blue whales, it would be an ideal ballpark for Cabrera to call home. They’ve got a nice shortstop in the making in Adeiny Hechavarria, but they could move Donovan Solano to the bench and have Cabrera at 2nd. San Diego would also be a spot if Everth Cabrera or Jedd Gyorko were not at 2nd and short, and so would AT&T Park.  He needs to be in a big ballpark to succeed, so Cabrera would fit perfectly in Miami.  It would be great for him to come back to Washington, too.

Rafael Soriano- His status in DC was very controversial, and the Nats have already decided not to give him an offer for next year. The era of the “Soriano Save”– where he almost gives you a heart attack by putting the game on the line– is over. He played excellent baseball in the first half of the 2014 season, but the second half was a disaster.  He lost his closing job to Drew Storen down the stretch.  Still, Rafael showed that he still has pretty good ability, and he definitely makes the games exciting to watch.  I think that Rafael could play in a ballpark with smaller gaps, as when he gives up hits he doesn’t give up many home runs. Cincinnati would be absolutely perfect, but there is absolutely no way that will happen since Cincy already has one of the best closers in Aroldis Chapman.  But what about as the setup man?  Soriano doesn’t pitch as well in non-save situations, but if it meant having a job in the big leagues for 2015, he might be able to do it.  Other options: Detroit, which needs relief pitching badly, 0r back to New York.  Boston would be good too, but a lazy fly ball in to the outfield there could be a home run easily.  Also, San Francisco may be a spot for Rafael, because their closer status is shaky and he pitched well in the NLDS there.

Adam LaRoche- It became clear when the Nats did not pick up LaRoche’s option that next year Ryan Zimmerman would be playing first base.  That really wasn’t unexpected.  I might have guessed that Adam LaRoche would head to Milwaukee, but the Brewers just announced a trade for Adam Lind in exchange for Marco Estrada.  So what’s my next best guess?  I think he will find his way up to Minneapolis. Joe Mauer is aging, and if LaRoche can play 1 or 2 seasons up in Minnesota, then he would be a good age for him to retire. Another option would be Miami but Justin Bour is a future star there.

Matt Thornton- One simple word: Toronto. The Blue Jays do not have a true closer, and Thornton has past success as a closer for teams like the Red Sox and the White Sox. He would also good setting up in a place like Detroit, where the ALDS showed that the Tigers’ pen STINKS. They also would need a lefty specialist, and that is exactly what Thornton is. Another team that could use him is the Mariners. But I would think the right place for Matt would be in Toronto.

Nate Schierholtz- One place that would be good for Schierholtz would be Houston. Space City is in the middle of a rebuilding process, and a player like Nate would go perfectly with a team doing something like Houston. Nate does not have overwhelming power, but a team with Matt Dominguez, Chris Carter, Nate, and in the near future Colin Moran and Carlos Correa, the Astros may be the powerhouse of the 2020s. You will have to watch out for Houston and Chicago in future years.

Kevin Frandsen- As much as he proved himself to be a great personality in the clubhouse and an excellent situational hitter off the bench, he may not be coming back to Washington. Frandsen would be perfect hitting baseballs into the Ohio River in Cincy (BTW, has anyone ever hit a baseball into Kentucky at Great American Smallpark?).  I also think he’d be a good fit in the Bronx or Boston, where fans would see lots of home runs off the bat of Frandsen. If he doesn’t return to the Capital, who could replace him as a bench and utility player?  How about Mike Aviles or former Nat/fan favorite Michael Morse? Morse would be great filling in for Zimmerman at first or LF, and Aviles could be an everyday second baseman or fill in for Desmond. However, keeping Frandsen would give the Nats a lot more options to use him ; he can back up Zimmerman, 2B, Desmond, and Rendon, and also play outfield.

Danny Espinosa- Almost everyone thought Danny would be part of a trade last year.  I really like Danny Espinosa as a player, but I’m sorry to say I don’t think Danny will be in Washington for the entire season. I don’t know if Danny himself feels comfortable as a bench player, so he may want to be traded.  His defense is always amazing, but if he could just get his hitting down, he would be one of my top picks for the job out of everyone in the league.  However, I think the Nats will say that they have given him enough chances already, and I think they will make a signing this offseason for a new starting second baseman. Again, watch out for Mike Aviles going to DC or maybe a Kelly Johnson or Brandon Hicks.  Asdrubal Cabrera made a lot of fans in DC this year at 2B, but I think he will get a better offer from another club looking for a short stop.  Other options are Jed Lowrie from the A’s, Didi Gregorious from the from the D’backs, or Daniel Murphy from the Mets.  Danny may not be going anywhere- should the Nats fail to acquire a 2B, I am guessing that he and Will Rhymes will battle for the spot on Opening Day. I think Danny will start but the Nats will acquire a 2B while the season moves into the playoff hunt.

Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond- Two of the biggest questions are whether the Nats will sign long-term contract extensions with Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond.  Both have been amazing players.  Zimmermann threw the Nationals’ first no-hitter in the last game of the 2014 season, and Ian Desmond went 20/20 again this year.  I think Zimmermann will sign a long-term contract extension.  Pitching is not really a problem for the Nationals, but both Jaime Garcia and Jeremy Guthrie will be on the market in 2015 if they don’t sign extensions.  Having either of these veterans would be great additions for this ballclub.  If Zimmermann signed a 5-year deal, he would only be 33 by the time his contract expires.  It is a little controversial, but the Nats could trade Zimmermann this offseason.  He is coming off one of his best seasons and only has 1 year left on his contract, so if they got someone good in return, it may be worth it.  Desi, however is more likely to resign with the Nationals. The Nats don’t have a lot of depth in their middle infield positions, and Desmond is the rare Golden Glove and Silver Slugger at short stop.  He should get an extension because he is harder to replace.  Plus, Ian Desmond has done so much for our community, and is so nice, that seeing him put on a Tigers or Astros jersey would seem wrong– like a 3-dollar bill or the Braves winning the World Series.

The free agent market is ready to be exploding. The Winter Meetings are at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront between December 7 and 11, and lots of very important trades. Be ready- I’ll be writing about most free agent pickups and trades. Speaking of which…..

Thanks for reading!  Stay tuned with some amazing posts coming up.  For example, I will be attending the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award ceremony tomorrow and telling you about an exciting opportunity to play a game against a Nationals All-Star.

Only about 150 Days until Opening Day!

 

 

 

Photos From The LUNGevity Breathe Deep DC Walk

wash monuYesterday, November 2, was the annual Breathe Deep DC event on the National Mall to raise money and awareness for lung cancer, sponsored by the lung cancer charity LUNGevity.  This is the event I raised money for last year and this year because my grandfather died of lung cancerLung Cancer is the leading cancer killer in the US, but it is the least funded type of cancer.  It kills twice as many women than breast cancer does.

It was very windy and cold morning but it was great to see fourteen people that took time out of their Sunday morning to be part of Team Matt’s Bats to walk to help find a cure for this terrible disease.  I walked the entire 5K even though it was so cold and the wind was blowing so hard that it made it hard to carry my sign.

My team was pretty big this year.  More than a dozen people came out on Sunday and walked with my family, and there were many, many others who donated money online.  I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to them too!

So how did I do at my fundraising?  I set my goal this year to raise $5,000.  Last year, I raised an amazing amount– over $11,000!  So far, I am just under $5,000 this year: $4,684.  That is still a huge amount of money!  I want to thank each and every last person who donated.  Even though the walk is over, you can help me finish my goal by donating here.

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The event itself raised about $250,000!  Over the past 6 years, Breathe Deep DC has raised over $1.5 million!  I am glad that I have been able to be a part of it.

I promised to give away a Tyler Clippard bobblehead to my supporters who donate.  I am sending an email to the person who won, and I will announce the winner on Twitter when I do.

Take a look at some of the pictures:

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World Series Starts Tonight! Here’s My Prediction

1wslogoAt the beginning of the season, who would have thought that the Giants and Royals would actually make the Fall Classic? I definitely did not. I predicted a Nats-Tigers World Series, and both teams were eliminated in the Division Series!

The Series starts tonight in Kansas City at 8:07 PM ET. The pitching matchup is James Shields vs. Madison Bumgarner. You can watch it on FOX.

Now that we know the two contenders, here is my prediction:

The Royals were the “Cinderella” team in baseball this year. It seems right for a scrappy team like that to finally make the World Series after 29 years. That means there are lots of adults walking around Kansas City who have never seen their team in the World Series. Since the Giants beat the Nats in the NLDS, I’m definitely rooting for Kansas City.

But being a realist, I think that San Francisco will take the Commissioner’s Trophy home back to San Francisco. I think San Fran will win because of their ability to get the right hits at the right time and their World Series experience (3rd appearance in 5 years).  Kansas City has not yet lost a playoff game and has all the support of its hometown fans and new fans around the world rooting for the underdog.  They play small ball and run a lot, but I think the lack of power in their lineup versus San Francisco’s will be too much for them to win.  My prediction is that the Giants will win in 6.

Matt’s Annual Charity Fundraiser to End Lung Cancer

DSC_0080a In 2006, my family was struck by the terrible news that my grandfather had the deadly disease known as lung cancer. He was a man who never smoked cigarettes, which shows that anyone who has lungs can get lung cancer.  I was 4 years old when he died from lung cancer in March 2008. It was a very tragic loss in my family, and that is why we walk to raise money and awareness in his memory.

On November 2nd, a lung cancer support and research foundation named LUNGevity will hold its 5th annual “Breathe Deep DC” to support lung cancer treatment.  Please think about making a donation or joining “Team Matt’s Bats” at the walk on the National Mall.  It’s coming up very soon!

 

Last year, I wrote about the reason I support this charity and I asked people to come walk with my family and asked people if they would donate. I ended up raising a stunning amount: $11,259! Please read my post from last year about why this is such an important charity.

I was rewarded at the event last year with a bat autographed by Jayson Werth, given to me by NBC 4′s Doug Kammerer.  This was a huge surprise. Dozens of people, some I have never met, read about my fundraiser and donated. Please read my review post from 2013 Breathe Deep DC.  I thank everyone that donated last year.  Here are 2 pictures of some of my supporters from last year.

2013 Team MattsBats- Join My Team Here- http://events.lungevity.org/site/TR/2012TeamRaiser/General?px=1801824&pg=personal&fr_id=4580

2013 Team Matt’s Bats at Breathe Deep DC for LUNGevity

Imitating Bryce Harper's SI Cover From Spring Training 2013

The walk goes past all the monuments on the Mall.  Here I am imitating Bryce Harper’s SI Cover from 2013

 

I am raising money again this year.  Please visit this link to donate.  With about 2 weeks to go before the event, I have reached more than 30% of my goal of $5,000.  That is the same goal I set last year, but last year Matt’s Bats readers more than doubled it!  I would like to pass that goal this year, too.

Again, the event will be held on the Mall in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, November 2nd at the Sylvan Theater right near the Washington Monument.  You can sign up to join my team and attend the event and walk the 5K course or donate here. I want to honor my grandpa, who was a great man, by collecting donations for the disease. My grandfather was a great man who showed loving kindness to me, my brother, dad, mom, and wife.  When he was healthy, he was a doctor who helped other people get better, and he when he got lung cancer he also helped other cancer patients.

Each year lung cancer kills more people each year than breast, prostate, colon, liver, kidney, and melanoma cancers combined. More than 50% of people diagnosed with lung cancer have quit smoking, or, like my grandfather, never smoked at all.  I hope one day this terrible disease is cured, and the first step is to donate. You can help stop lung cancer, with a generous donation on this page:

http://events.lungevity.org/goto/mattsbats

Thank you for helping me end this horrid disease.

Winners of Derek Jeter’s Book Giveaway

Before the postseason began, I wrote a review of Derek Jeter’s new kids book “The Contract.”  Derek Jeter even put the post of his Facebook page!

Jeter Publishing and Simon and Schuster sent me several copies to give away to Matt’s Bats readers.  I ended up holding a contest to give away copies of the book to baseball-loving kids.

Here are the winners:

Liam from Maryland

Liam from Maryland

Garrett from Maryland

Garrett from Maryland

"S" and "A" from Virginia

“S” and “A” from Virginia

Samantha from Florida

Samantha from Florida

Christian from New York

Christian from New York

If you didn’t win, you can still buy a copy of this excellent book for only $10 through this link.

The Ride Is Over

IMG_0006The baseball Division Series are over and the Championship Series will begin soon. In the American League, the Royals and Orioles took their respective games in sweep style against the Angels and Tigers.  In the National League, the Giants and Cardinals will square off in the NLCS, both Division games ending on Tuesday with 3-2 wins. This was the first time since 2009 that none of the Division Series featured a decisive Game 5.

To recap last night’s decisive Game 4 between the Giants and Nationals: It was a disappointing end to the season for Washington Nationals fans, who came into the series as the favorite, after having a NL-best 96 wins during the regular season, the NL East crown, and the privilege to play the #4 seed.  Sadly, no one in San Francisco not named Bryce could figure out Ryan Vogelsong, who was on his game last night. It isn’t a surprise he was- he is career 3-0 with a 1.19 ERA in the postseason and helped the Giants win the World Series in 2012.

Although it ended in such disappointment, what an amazing season the Nats had. Bryce’s performance in the post-season was very special.  He hit 3 monster home runs (including a splashdown in McCovey Cove) and played excellent defense. Anthony Rendon also continued his hitting dominance. Most of the Nats pitching–especially Jordan Zimmermann– was unhittable.  Unforturnately, the rest of the line up forgot to pack their bats for the postseason.

There was a lot of sloppy defense yesterday.  Gio Gonzalez allowed 2 unearned runs in the second inning off some fielding errors that allowed the Giants to get on the scoreboard early.  Most surprising was Aaron Barret walking in a run with bases loaded, then trying to intentionally walk a batter but threw a wild pitch.  It ended in a play at the plate and an out, but it was very ugly.  The Giants took the win with 3 runs that the Nationals basically handed to them based on bad defense.

There will be more to say about this game and the season later.  This is just my morning post the day after the season ended.  I feel disappointed that the rest of the country saw Nats play some of their worst hitting baseball of the season these past 4 games.  I am looking forward to 2015 though. So now the Nats are out I’m rooting for the underdog Royals to win the World Series.  National League fans are tired of season the same 2 or 3 teams in the World Series every year, and with none of the usual AL teams there (like the Tigers or Red Sox or Yankees), there is a good chance to root for a team like the Royals who haven’t been there in 30 years.

Keep reading my blog and following me on Twitter.  I already have some great posts planned for the off-season, including some things in October and November.

 

 

I’m Proud to Be a Nationals Fan

2014-10-03 Fox5In case you missed my appearance on Fox 5 DC before the NLDS Game 1 on Friday, check out his link below.

http://www.myfoxdc.com/clip/10652177/matt-eisner-author-of-matt39s-bats-blog-natstober-fever-in-dc

After losing Games 1 and 2 in DC to the Giants, the Nationals are in San Francisco for today’s Game 3 at 5:07 pm ET.  The Nationals are not in very good position to win the National League Division Series.  If they lose one more game, they are eliminated from the post-season.

However, the Giants came back from 0-2 at home in the NLDS in 2012 to win the World Series, so advancing is definitely possible.

On the other hand, the Tigers and the Angels, got swept by the Orioles and Royals in the American League Division Series.  The Angels had the best record in all of baseball this year, and they couldn’t get past the wild card Royals.

Whatever happens, it is exciting to watch.  I am proud to be a Nationals fan and a fan of the game.IMG_0006

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