March 2013

It’s Cards-Nats Split Squad Action!

I went to the Nationals vs. Cardinals Spring Training game yesterday in Jupiter, Florida.

Before we left, I checked on MLB.com to see who the Nats pitcher would be in Jupiter because it was a split squad game.  In a split squad game, half of the team plays in one city and half of the team goes to another.  I saw on MLB.con the picture of Double A Hagerstown Sun pitcher Jordan Taylor. Then, to my right, I saw Jaime Garcia pitching for the Cardinals. WHAAAAT?!?!?!?!?! Advantage alert! It looked like Ross Dewtiler was playing with the big league team in Viera and that the minor leaguers were playing the Cardinals in the game I was seeing.

When I was in the car for the drive up, I tweeted to Washington Times writer Amanda Comak asking her if she knew the lineup down in Jupiter. She responded, saying, “sorry, Matt. Don’t know the lineup. Only minor leaguers heading there.” So we were outnumbered as Nats fans at a Cards home game, and no one on our 40 man roster was playing against the major league Cardinals, who are a very good team. This did not look good. It was like watching a bunch of random guys calling themselves the Nationals and wearing Nats uniforms, but not anyone I ever really knew or heard of (except for Jimmy Van Ostrand, Michael Taylor, and Destin Hood).

The game was stupid ugly. The Cardinals pulled ahead 9-0 in the first three innings. The Nats bunted into a double play. Ouch! Later that inning, they tried to turn a double play. They got the 6-4 part right, but the second baseman threw it away on the throw to first. And by “throw it away,” I mean the second baseman threw the ball past the first baseman over the Cardinals dugout like 10 or 11 rows back into the crowd. Some fan got a really weird souvenir.

I tweeted with F.P. Santangelo during the game because he said he was watching it on TV. He mentioned something that we were discussing ourselves at the same time: that it was good that these minor leaguers were getting playing time against a big league squad and the game was televised. It is a career highlight for them to be playing against guys like Pete K _ _ _ _, Allen Craig and Matt Holliday.

During the game I met Dan Hellie from NBC News in Washington. We sat with him for a few innings to watch the game with his family and friends. We talked baseball and I told him about Matt’s Bats. He seemed very interested.

We left the game early, but the good news is that the big league Nats crushed the big league Braves yesterday 11-2. ONE MORE THING IS THAT I CANNOT WAIT UNTIL MONDAY! I WISH THERE WAS A TIME MACHINE THAT COULD TAKE ME THERE!!!


Spring Game 2: Nats-Marlins

Welcome, fans, to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. On Tuesday, March 26, the “Triple A Miami Marlins” took on the Washington Nationals at the Marlins’ last spring training home game and the Nats’ last full-squad spring training away game.   It was Dan Haren vs. Henderson Alvarez.  The Nationals fell to the Marlins 8-5.

OK, here’s your recap!!!!

Jupiter is about 20 minutes north of West Palm Beach on the east coast of Florida.  The Montreal Expos once shared Roger Dean Stadium with the Nats’  current rivals, the “St. Loser Cardinals.” It was beautiful weather– no clouds and a high of about 69.

Before the game started, shortstop Ian Desmond was stretching on the field. When he was practicing, my dad asked him why he wasn’t wearing his socks up (“Rally Socks”).  Ryan Zimmerman, who always wears his socks up for day games, was warming up next to him and my dad shouted “Zim’s got it!”  Desi saw my dad was wearing a Matt’s Bats t-shirt with the logo “@FakeFP” designed for me and then he said “Nice shirt. Where’s Matt?” My dad pointed to me and Ian started to talk to me. He asked me, “What are you writing about today?” I was embarrassed because I didn’t write anything that day! I was too rushed and I was on vacation!  But I said I would write a post about the game,which is this post.

Ian game over to all the fans lined up on the sidelines and started signing autographs for everyone.  That is why he is so great– he loves the fans.  When he came over to our section, my dad asked if he wanted a Matt’s Bats shirt too. We are going to send one t-shirt to him soon. I got his autograph on a ball right on the sweet spot.  (Even though I am a journalist I still like meeting the players and getting their autographs.  It’s OK because I am a super-fan and just a kid).

We were watching Ryan Zimmerman and Danny Espinosa stretch.  I was hoping they would see the Matt’s Bats shirt and come over too, but they didn’t.  Jayson Werth was there, and so was Denard Span, Adam LaRoche, Kurt Suzuki, Steve Lombardozzi and others.  The game was about to begin and an usher said “OK, everyone go back to their seats!”  Jayson Werth yelled back “No!  Everyone stay there!”  It was so funny.  Everyone laughed and I tweeted it from my dad’s phone when we sat down for the game.

One of the best things about spring training is that the games are not formal, and the stadiums are small and the players interact with you.  During the game, I walked over to the Nationals bullpen. We were sitting right in the middle of the bullpen, 4 rows back, so it was cool seeing the pitchers warm up. I walked over to the bench next to the berm, and I said hi to bullpen pitcher Ryan Mattheus. Mattheus follows me on Twitter and I write to him sometimes.  I gave him a fist bump and took a picture with him.  He asked me if I was going out to Opening Day next week. I am, alright! (Too bad the tix aren’t in out season ticket plan. We got upper deck tickets for Opening Day because it was too expensive to get seats for my whole family). Mattheus also liked the shirt, but my dad didn’t ask him if he wanted one. (Ryan, if you are reading this and you do want one, let me know and I can give you one)

Here are some game highlights:

  • Da-nah! Danah Danah Danah!’ (that is the music from Jaws).  When OF Roger Bernadina stepped up into the batter’s box in the 5th, I told my mom I hoped that a Great White found his dinner in a school of Marlins. I was right. Bernadina swung at the 3-2 delivery from Michael Dunn and crushed it next to the Cassidy Cool Zone out of the park. The place, surrounded by Nats fans, cheered for the shark. And then, I started the shark chomp thing but it didn’t catch on around the park.

  • Bryce Harper’s on fire! Entering the game, he hit in 7 out of 7 plate appearances. At the end of the game, he got on base 10 times in 10 plate appearances. Bryce went 2 for 2, with a walk in the 5th and 2 singles. I love seeing Bryce play because he inspires me to run faster and take longer strides, but he is showing the country that you can be any age to do almost anything. 

  • Tyler Clippard continues to have an amazing spring.  This spring, he’s got a 0.00 earned run average. Tyler is almost always good in tight matches like this game.  (My dad took my little brother to try to meet Tyler Clippard and get his autograph near where I met Ryan Mattheus, but he said he would sign after the game.  But I think he just went into the clubhouse and onto the bus after the game)

  • Last year, Ryan Zimmerman‘s arm was acting up. But he looks good now.  He had the signature submarine style throws and the bare hand pickup throw combined. It was Zim-O-Mania!

  • When I think of Carlos Maldonado, I think of a catcher on AAA Syracuse, not 1st base. Malonaldo played the other hot corner in the game, taking over Adam LaRoche and Chad Tracy’s job.

  • Another weird thing that happened was that Zach Duke almost pinch hit in the top of the 9th. But he didn’t get the chance because the game ended.

The Marlins might look bad on paper, but they played well yesterday.  Giancarlo Stanton hit 2 huge home runs yesterday off Dan Haren, while Chris Coghlan and Chris Vailaika each hit one too.

It was a good day, and I am going back to the Nats vs. Cardinals split-squad game back in Jupiter today.

How Good Are Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler?!?

I love listening to Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler’s broadcasts on WJFK radio.  There is one call that I especially love– the WERTHQUAKE.  That is Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS when Jayson Werth hit a walkoff home run against the Cardinals.  He had a 3-2 count in the bottom of the 9th and saw 13 pitches from Lance Lynn.

Check out what fans watching the national broadcast on TBS saw and heard:

Now check out what Nationals fans got to hear from Charlie and Dave on this awesome video of their radio call over the TV broadcast.

Jayson Werth Homerun Game 4 NLDS from TJ Cooney on Vimeo.

I can’t wait to listen to Charlie and Dave again, and maybe the Nats will have another postseason miracle!

Now that you’re getting excited, you have to watch this:

Washington Nationals 2012 Stadium Open from Maryam Parwana on Vimeo.

I’m having a great spring break in Florida and will be at the Nats vs. (AAA) Marlins tomorrow and Nats vs. Cardinals (SS) on Wednesday.  Both games are in Jupiter, FL.
As a snowstorm is hitting the DC area, I hope all of my readers stay safe and you are able to check out MattsBats even if you lose power.


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SPRING TRAINING- I’m Going to Florida!

Matt’s Bats will be traveling to warm and sunny Florida this weekend for Spring Training.  I probably will be live-tweeting the Nationals games that I go to if my parents let me use their phones.  We are seeing the Nats on the road at three games in Palm Beach and St. Lucie Counties.
Game #1: Saturday 3/23 at the New York Mets. Tradition Field,  Port Saint Lucie, FL
Game #2: Tuesday 3/26 at the (Triple A) Miami Marlins. Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, FL
Game #3: Wednesday 3/27 at the Saint Louis Cardinals. Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, FL
If you are at one of the following games, please tweet me!  Or just look for me in my Matt’s Bats t-shirt and say hi.
I have a few questions that maybe someone can answer.
1.  What time does the players’ bus usually arrive?
2.  Can you watch BP or warm ups before the game?  Where?
3.  Can you talk to the players or get autographs before the game?
4.  When does the bus usually leave after the game?

50 Things I Love About Opening Day

As we all know, the eagerly awaited Opening Day on April 1st is coming our way in less than 2 weeks. No April Fool’s Day joke!  That’s when the smell of the hot dogs and lemonade fill the air on Half Street. When the Nats hit a home run, the submarine horn’s sound waves will travel so far President Obama will ask, “What is that noise?”

Last year, our Nation’s Capital had our first winning season. This year, we are coming back with a more powerful lineup.  Here is a list of 50 things I love about Opening Day!

  1. Um, baseball begins!!!
  2. The beginning of every day MASN HD broadcasts so I can watch the games
  3. The family DVR will stop recording my parents’ shows
  4. Memories of the 2012 season will be played on the jumbotron
  5. The beer and peanut men shouting PEAANUUUTS! BEEEEEER! sound basebally to me
  6. The high pop fly getting lost in the starry night of DC
  7. Maybe seeing Barack Obama throw out the first pitch
  8. The addition of President Taft to the President’s Race
  9. After always losing, Teddy’s a winning racer now (like Vannelope in Wreck-It Ralph)
  10. The third-inning welcome home to the troops is very patriotic 
  11. “Thunderstruck” by AC-DC sounds like it’s already a blowout game
  12. TheNationalsArchive.com is opening!
  13. Sometimes missing school for games
  14. Pups in the Park is always fun to watch on TV (or maybe actually to go)
  15. I love collectible promo items, especially bobbleheads
  16. Lots of new things to write about on MattsBats.com (sometimes it’s very hard thinking of topics for posts during the offseason)
  17. Chipper Jones and Martin Prado are not Braves anymore; Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonafacio, Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, and Josh Johnson are not Marlins anymore; R.A. Dickey is not a Met anymore; etc.
  18. We play the Triple-A Miami Marlins on Opening Day and for the first series, so we should start the season with a sweep
  19. Spring and summer officially begin
  20. We actually play games that count
  21. We have the best rotation in the MLB
  22. Same as #21, but with lineup
  23. Quick Pitch is on MLB Network. It is my main score source for games I can’t stay up to watch
  24. We can finally forget about October 12, 2012
  25. I have high hopes that one Presidents Race will feature the Harlem Shake
  26. On the dance cam, they should also play the Harlem Shake so we can watch people freak out
  27. We’re now season ticket holders!
  28. Easy Division (like what’s 4 divided by 2)
  29. The Cardinals still have Lance Lynn, so we know Jayson Werth can take him deep when it counts…
  30. The taste of Ben’s Chili Bowl, Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, Flippin Pizza…
  31. “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack”
  32. Matt’s Bats and the Nats’ bats will both be hot
  33. The NatMobile trivia questions on Twitter
  34. More podcasts from my favorites like Nationals101, Red Porch Report and Citizens of Natstown
  35. Outfield spells “WSH” what is the Nats’ three-letter code
  36. Scoring the games in my new scorebook
  37. Inside Pitches
  38. Welcoming Denard Span, Dan Haren, and Rafael Soriano to Nats Park
  39. Welcoming back Wilson Ramos
  40. The only time I can bug my parents for a soda and actually get it
  41. My baseball practice begins the next day
  42. Spring Break!!!!
  43. The possibility of them announcing the 2017 All-Star Game coming to DC 
  44. Talk of the season: Can we beat the Dodgers in the NLCS?
  45. Lots and lots of cheering Nats fans at each game
  46. Des-pinosa to LaRoche for a 6-4-3 double play!
  47. Analyzing stats
  48. Getting the chance to meet more followers at “tweet-ups”
  49. Baseball almost every day until at least September
  50. Charlie Slowes saying, “Bang! Zoom! go the fireworks! Another Curly W is in the books!”
DID I MISS ANYTHING?  TWEET ME YOURS AT @MATTSBATS

SEE YOU AT NATIONALS PARK ON OPENING DAY!
Remember to IGNITE YOUR #MATTITUDE!

Let other baseball fans know about my blog (www.mattsbats.com) and Twitter (@MattsBats).  I love getting new followers and RTs.  If you want to receive an email whenever there is a new post you can SUBSCRIBE HERE.

    Matt’s Bats Chat with Meggie Zahneis

    Today’s Matt’s Bats Chat is with the incredible 16-year old Meggie Zahneis, MLB’s Youth Correspondent and winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest sponsored by Major League Baseball and Scholastic. She writes a column for MLB, which you can read HEREMeggie is a huge Cincinnati Reds fan.  She has met lots of players and other celebrities and has reported for MLB from the World Series and the All Star Game. 

    Off the field Meggie is really remarkable too.  As she explains in the interview, she was born with a extremely rare medical condition that only 50 people in the world have.  She showed that even when you are thrown a curveball, with a lot of natural talent, hard work and good luck you can still smack it out of the park.  Meggie has been a good friend to me and supporter of MattsBats.com, so I am happy to introduce her to Nats Town.  Make sure you read her columns on www.MLB.com/meggie and follow her on Twitter @MeggieZahneis.

    * * * * 

    Matt’s Bats:  Hi Meggie.  Thanks for doing the interview.  Can you tell us about being the official Youth Correspondent for Major League Baseball? 
    Meggie Zahneis:  Well, exactly what the Youth Correspondent does is sort of uncharted waters – I am the first one they have had. Essentially, I report on baseball as a columnist – mainly about the Reds, since I’m based in Cincinnati. I try to bring a kid’s perspective to things and help people to get to know their favorite players off of the field.   I’m also a representative of the Breaking Barriers program. 
    MB:  How did you become the Youth Correspondent? 
    MZ: When I was in 8th grade, I entered MLB and Scholastic’s Breaking Barriers essay contest. It’s inspired by the late, great Jackie Robinson, who of course broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. I ended up winning the contest out of about 10,000 entries by writing about my life with HSAN II. From there, I won a trip to the 2011 All-Star Game in Phoenix, Arizona. After that, Sharon Robinson, daughter of Jackie, invited me back to the World Series (Game 3) that year to meet Commissioner Bud Selig. That day, Albert Pujols hit three home runs and I spent an inning watching the game with the Commissioner in his suite! He called me a few weeks later to offer me a job as Baseball’s first Youth Correspondent.  That’s when I was a freshman in high school.  Now I’m 16.  I will be the Youth Correspondent until 2015, when I graduate from high school.
    MB: You mentioned HSAN II.  What is that?
    MZ:  HSAN II (Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy, type 2) is a very rare neuropathic disorder that I was born with.  I don’t expect you to understand what that means – I don’t understand it all, either! But basically, I don’t feel pain, temperature and touch to the same degree that everyone else does. I’m also deaf without my cochlear implants (like hearing aids). For example, when I was little I scraped my foot on the bottom of a kiddie pool while swimming and had no idea until my mom saw blood in the water and took me out. Gross, I know! Only about 50 people in the entire world have HSAN II.  
    MB: That’s very fascinating.  But it sure hasn’t stopped you from getting to the top and doing some really cool things.  What are some of the best experiences you have had as MLB Youth Correspondent.
    MZ: Every experience I have as Youth Correspondent is a cool one! Getting to go to the All-Star Game and World Series last year “on the job” were definitely highlights. And I love going to Spring Training! I’ve gotten to meet many baseball players, like Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce here in Cincinnati, plus guys like Chipper Jones, David Wright, David Ortiz, Lance Berkman, R.A. Dickey, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Ryan Braun, Buster Posey, Barry Zito, and C.J. Wilson, to name a few!  I interviewed Gio Gonzalez once.  Not counting baseball players, I’ve also met Josh Hutcherson (Peeta in The Hunger Games), Zooey Deschanel (I loved her in Elf), Matthew Perryfrom Friends, Jon Hamm from Mad Men and Paul DiMeo from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
    Meggie with 2012 Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey

    MB: What kinds of questions do you ask the players when you meet them?

    MZ: First of all, it’s hard not to be starstruck.  But my job is to be professional and not seem biased.  I try to ask them questions that other reporters wouldn’t ask.  I ask them about what they do off the field and what goes through their head in certain situations.  I ask them things that other kids– and adults–would be interested in and what other people are probably wondering about.

    MB: Do you want to be a journalist when you grow up?

    MZ: I do.  I would like to be a sports journalist.  But I am also interested in psychology.  Whatever I do, I want to do something involving writing.

    MB: Do any of the famous people you’ve met follow you on Twitter?

    MZ: One of the first people was Brandon Phillips.  He’s big on Twitter.

    MB: I follow him!

    MZ: A few others famous people follow me too.  A bunch of the players tweet to me when I post an interview with them.  I have a couple of broadcasters following me too, like John Kruk.

    MB: Lots of Nats fans follow me, including a few of the Nats players.  I bet if they read this, they’ll follow you too!

    I also bet you have an amazing collection of baseball memorabilia if you get to meet all those players!  What’s the highlight of your collection?

    MZ: I have a pretty decent collection from collecting almost 10 years.  I really can’t pick one.  I have a picture signed by the members of The Big Red Machine and a collection of bats and autographed baseballs.  One of my favorite items is one of the jerseys the Reds wore on Jackie Robinson Day that is signed by all the members of the 2012 Reds.  It’s significant to me because I got the Youth Correspondent job because of my Jackie Robinson essay.

    Also, I have 2 seats from the old Yankees Stadium.  That was a Christmas present from Bud Selig.

    MB: I have a small collection too.  The highlights of my collection is a Stephen Strasburg autograph, a Bryce Harper autograph, a game-used bat that former Nat Willie Harris gave to me, and a picture signed by Mickey Mantle that is really my dad’s.  You’ll also be interested in this– I have a ball signed by Johnny Bench.  That’s also from my dad’s collection when he was younger.

    MZ: Cool.  I have one of those too.  Tell your dad he’s the best catcher in baseball history.

    MB: You may be right, but I also like Pudge Rodriguez.
     
    If you could interview anyone in the world, who would you want to interview?  It can be baseball-related or not, and anyone living or dead.

    MZ: If I could interview Jackie Robinson, I would.  I know his daughter Sharon, and I appreciate his legacy.  

    If I could pick someone from history not baseball-related, I would pick Mahatma Ghandi.  Both Mahatma Ghandi and Jackie Robinson are similar because they led whole groups of people to stand up against bullying and discrimination.  Lots of naysayers did not think they could do what they did.  They both made significant accomplishments in history without fighting back.  Ghandi led a peace movement without shooting a gun or punching anyone.  Same with Jackie Robinson.  I really admire both of them.  The only thing that would be tough is that I don’t know if Mahatma Ghandi spoke English.
     

    MB:  I know you’ve gotten to meet a lot of celebrities, but how many ballparks have you been to? Any favorites?

    MZ: I’ve been to Great American Ball Park, Progressive Field, old and new Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium and Citi Field, PNC Park, Busch Stadium, Chase Field, Wrigley Field, Comerica Park, Citizens Bank Park, U.S. Cellular Field, and Rangers Ballpark. That’s 14 in all. I have also been to a few Spring Training parks in Arizona. I guess one of my favorites is Great American, since I practically live there every summer! The history at the old Yankee Stadium was phenomenal. Same at Wrigley Field. I hope to make it to Fenway – I really want to see the Green Monster in person!
    Meggie interviewing Joey Votto

     MB: Talking baseball, how do you think your hometown Reds will do this year?  What about my hometown Nationals?  Who do you think is going to the World Series, and who will win?

    MZ: The Reds and Nationals both look great for this year. With the Reds adding Shin-Soo Choo this winter and converting Aroldis Chapman to a starter (I like him in the bullpen, but having him start could reap huge benefits), I wouldn’t expect anything less of the Reds than a playoff run. I’m hoping the World Series is partially held right here in town – that way I can go to more games and miss less school. And I think everyone in the D.C. area certainly has a right to have some Natitude (or Mattitude)!
    MB:  I know you just got back from Arizona for Spring Training.  I am going to Florida for Spring Training next week.  What are some highlights of the Spring Training experience?
    MZ: You’re going to love Spring Training! Everything there is so much more low-key than it is in the regular season. The players are extra-friendly and are usually willing to stop and chat or sign autographs. It’s easy to watch workouts in the mornings. Things are so relaxed that players will run laps in the outfield during the game! I also like Spring Training because you get a glimpse of a lot of the players that will eventually be the future of your team, but are currently in the farm system.
    MB: Who is the star player (or players) of your baseball dream team?  It can be current or historical players, but if you say a Reds player, I’m going to make you give another one.
    MZ: Jackie Robinson, for sure. He was chosen to be the guy to break the color barrier for a reason! He was a five-tool player and I wish I could’ve seen him steal home.
    A close second would probably be Lou Gehrig, another one of my idols. I’d probably also play Frank Robinson, Stan Musial, Johnny Bench…I could go on and on.

    MB: There is interleague play every month now.  Do you think this will affect the standings or how do you think fans will like it?

    Meggie with 2011 Cy Young winner and MVP Justin Verlander

    MZ:  I think fans will love it. I know I do. It’s neat to see teams and players you wouldn’t normally. I think the players like it, too. I remember talking to Justin Verlander last season when the Tigers came to Cincinnati and he was trying to get his first big league hit, since he never gets to bat in the American League.

    MB: OK, if you had to give a title to the 2012 season, what would you call it?

    MZ:  I wrote a column for MLB about the Reds season right after they lost the NLDS.  That was painful.

    MB:  Oh I know about painful!  The Nats’ loss in the NLDS against the Cardinals was really painful!  It was the first time the Nats franchise was in the playoffs and we were so close!

    MZ:  I know.  I called my Reds column “Year That Begins With Promise Ends With Disappointment.”  (You can read it HERE).


    MB: Do you have any hobbies other than baseball?
    MZ: Well, I obviously like to write! I’m also an amateur photographer. I have a “fancy camera” that I’m learning how to use and like to play around with.
    I am a technology nerd and designed my own website when I was 7 or 8 and now I love playing on my iPad mini.

    MB: Here’s a question for you: the Nats players have songs they play when they walk up to bat.  What would your walk-up song be?

    MZ: Wow!  That’s a great question.  I never thought about that.  I guess my favorite song now is Daylight by Maroon 5.  So that’s what I’d pick.

    MB: Thanks, Meggie!  I really enjoyed talking to you.  I hope to see you in DC soon– like when you’re here covering the Nats in the 2013 World Series!

    Meggie with Nationals ace and 2012 Cy Young contender, Gio Gonzalez

    * * * *

    Let other baseball fans know about my blog (www.mattsbats.com) and Twitter (@MattsBats).  I love getting new followers and RTs from people with #Mattitude.  If you want to receive an email whenever there is a new post you can SUBSCRIBE HERE.

    Stephen Strasburg- Four Pitch Army (Part 2)

    As I wrote about in Part 1, Stephen Strasburg made his MLB debut on the evening of June 8, 2010 in front of a sellout crowd at Nationals Park. He absolutely shut down the Pittsburgh Pirates. IN 7 INNINGS PITCHED, 14 OF THE 21 OUTS RECORDED WERE STRIKEOUTS!  HE STRUCK OUT EVERY PLAYER IN THE PIRATES LINE-UP AT LEAST ONCE!

    But about 2 months later, on August 22,  the Nats played the Phillies.  Strasburg threw a 1-1 change up to Domonic Brown. After that, Strasburg seemed hurt and shook his wrist. The trainer came out and manager Jim Riggleman came out. He was pulled from the game.

    Stephen went to see the Nats’ team doctor Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, and Dr. Wiemi reported that Strasburg torn his ulnar collateral ligament.  He would need Tommy John Surgery to repair it. That would mean the end of his season and he would have to sit out the next season too while he got better.  On August 28, the Nationals held a press conference to announce that Strasburg needed the surgery.  (On the bright side, Jordan Zimmermann was just coming back from his rehab following his Tommy John surgery).

    The Nats were without Strasburg until September 5, 2011 when the Nats took on the L.A. Dodgers, an event that people call “Stras-mas.”  Even though Nats fans were happy to have Strasburg back, he was the losing pitcher that night (7-3). GM and President of Baseball Operations (“POBO”) Mike Rizzo said, though, that he would put Stras would be limited on innings in 2012, like he did with Jordan Zimmermann after his surgery. 


    On April 5, 2012, Stephen Strasburg finally made his comeback and was the Nationals’ Opening Day starter versus the Cubs. He opened the season at Wrigley Field in Chicago.  It was the first time he ever played at that ballpark and also the first time he ever went to Chicago.  The Nats won the game and went on to have their first winning season in franchise history.  As we all know, the Nats won 98 games in 2012 and had the best record in baseball in 2012.  Strasburg was a big part of the winning record.  He dominated until the SSSD (Stephen Strasburg Shutdown Day). 

    On September 7, 2012– exactly a year and 2 days after his return– Strasburg’s season was over.  He pitched against the Marlins but did not have a great game. The Nats lost 9-7 and Stephen Strasburg gave up home runs to Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonofacio. After the game, Davey Johnson told him he was being shut down, as the doctors had agreed.  The Nats were right in the middle of their best season ever and on the road to the MLB Playoffs for the first time in history, without their ace pitcher.

    Nats fans from Montana to Maryland were expecting it but were still shocked. Most fans thought he would be shut down after his next start or 2 like the POBO (Mike Rizzo) planned, but after his bad game against the Marlins they thought it was better to do it then.  A lot of people started debating whether that was the right move.  Strasburg didn’t pitch in the Post-Season.  Instead, the Nats called up John Lannan to take his rotation spot.

    Eventually, the Nats lost the NLDS with no Stras, and that’s that.  No one will know whether he would have been healthy or strong enough to continue to pitch in October, but also no one expected the Nats to make the Playoffs last year.  People still have different opinions about whether he shut have been shut down.  (I wrote a post in January when the Redskins let RGIII play in their playoff game even though he was injured and it may have been the wrong move.)

    Now Strasburg is back for 2013 with no limitations.  Yesterday he was named the Nats’ Opening Day starter for April 1, 2013 against the Marlins.  I hope Stephen Strasburg can carry us into the postseason again in 2013, and be our ace!

    GO NATS!  IGNITE YOUR #MATTITUDE!

    P.S. You may be wondering why I called this post “Stephen Strasburg- Four Pitch Army.”  It is because Seven Nation Army by the White Stripes is Stephen’s walk up song. What’s better than calling the post Four Pitch Army, because he has 4 pitches in his arsenal!

    Let other baseball fans know about my blog (www.mattsbats.com) and Twitter (@MattsBats).  I love getting new followers and RTs.  If you want to receive an email whenever there is a new post you can SUBSCRIBE HERE.

    Stephen Strasburg- Top Prospect (Part 1)

    What a performance by Stephen Strasburg! In 7 innings, the rookie has struck out 14 batters in his Major League debut! The Nationals right hander, despite the 2 runs he gave up, has dominated Pittsburgh!” 

    That  is what you may have heard if you tuned into Charlie Slowes’ and Dave Jageler’s broadcast of the Nationals vs. Pirates game on WFED radio on June 8, 2010.  The Nationals’ rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg made his major league debut and crushed Jeff Karstens and his “mateys” on the Pirates 5 to 2. It was a packed house at Nationals Park with 40,315 fans cheering on Strasburg.  The Nationals swept the Pirates in the series.

    This post tells you how he got to the big leagues.  Next, I will write about his major league career.

    * * * *

    Stephen James Strasburg was born on July 20, 1988 in San Diego, California.  His parents Kathleen Swett and Joe Strasburg didn’t teach him how to play baseball; Stephen credits his maternal grandma for playing catch with him. She even helped him pitch.

    In the 1980s and 90s, the San Diego Padres were one of the best teams in the MLB, so Stephen had a good hometown team to root for. His hero must’ve been Tony Gwynn, like any other kid in SoCal in the 90s. Back then, he probably loved baseball as much as I do now.  But I would bet you a million dollars that he had no idea that there would one day be a baseball team in Washington again called the Nationals and that he would grow up to be their ace pitcher.

    Stephen attended West Hills High School in Santee, California. He posted a 1-10 win-loss record in his junior year. Can you believe that?  That means the Stephen Strasburg that you see every five days pitching for the Nationals and shutting down hitters like a lion eating a zebra, posted THAT losing record! By his senior year, however, he was the Nolan Ryan of all of high school baseball. He had 74 strikeouts, 62 1/3 innings pitched, and 7 complete games. That’s right, 7 complete games!

    Stephen did not get drafted right out of high school in 2006. Instead, he enrolled at San Diego State University in the College West District of San Diego. If he instead attended Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA like he originally wanted, he would have been teammates with Drew Storen.

    Stephen moved out of his dorm 5 days after he started college. He moved in with his mom instead. Most kids look forward to living in a college dormitory, that I know of. Stephen later explained, “I wasn’t the most mature guy out of high school, and moving to my mom’s gave me a place to sleep and relax. The dorm was an overload, too much, too soon.”  It’s hard to think of Stephen Strasburg as being crazy in college because now he seems so calm on the Nationals.

    He had a big dream to fulfill– pitching in the major leagues. He lost 30 pounds (he used to be 250 pounds in high school), because he went on a workout regimen. He became the San Diego State Aztecs’ closer. Opponents only hit a low .141 batting average against Stras in a Aztecs uniform. During the summer, Strasburg played for the Torrington Twisters of the NECBL (New England Collegiate Baseball League).

    When he was a sophomore in ’08, he was converted to a starting pitcher, and he punched out almost everyone he faced. His collegiate coach was Padres great Tony Gwynn. He was one of the biggest influences on Strasburg. Gwynn was probably Stephen’s idol growing up. It must’ve been a dream for him to be playing with him.

    Stephen was drafted by the Nationals in 2009, first overall. He played in the AFL (Arizona Fall League) for the Phoenix Desert Dogs. In April 2010, he made his MiLB (minor league) debut as part of the Harrisburg Senators against the Altoona Curve.  ESPN broadcasted the Senators’ win over the Curve.

    A few months later, he made his big league debut for the Nationals.

    Stay tuned to Matt’s Bats to learn about Stephen Strasburg’s major league debut and the surprising injury that took him off the mound for a year.  I’ll also talk about his come back in 2012 and my expectations for 2013.

    Let other baseball fans know about my blog (www.mattsbats.com) and Twitter (@MattsBats).  I love getting new followers and RTs.  If you want to receive an email whenever there is a new post you can SUBSCRIBE HERE.

    A Matt’s Bats Chat with Matt Nadel from Baseball With Matt


    Hey Nats fans!  Did you hear about the kid named Matt who writes a blog about baseball and who just made his first ever live TV appearance?  I’m talking, of course, about Matt Nadel. 
    Who?
    I bet you were thinking I was talking about myself, but there is another Matt who is 14 years old and is the youngest MLB pro blogger.  He writes a blog called “Baseball with Matt” and was just a guest on MLB Network’s Hot Stove.  Matt is an expert on baseball history and has memorized all the World Series winners.  Matt is from New Jersey and is a big Yankees fan.  He has interviewed the Brewers owner Mark Attanisio, and Yankee greats Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry.   
    Because you all enjoyed my interview with Heather Zimmerman so much, I asked to interview Matt Nadel for my second Matt’s Bats Chat.  So now, let’s get the scoop on this blogger. 

    Matt’s Bats: Hi, Matt.  I know you are getting pretty famous, but maybe some people haven’t heard about you yet.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.
    Baseball With Matt:  I’m a 14 year old 8th grader from Springfield, NJ who loves video games, chocolate ice cream with Rice Krispies, and especially baseball. My favorite team from the 21st century is the Yankees, but I also love the whole history of the game, including the great old timers, teams, ballparks and events of the past. My goal in life is to one day become a baseball journalist and historian. I’m also the youngest Pro blogger on MLB.com.
    MB: Why did you decide to write a blog?
    BBWM: I started my blog because as I learned more about baseball, I found that most of my friends knew very little about baseball history and I thought that a blog would be a fun way to teach kids (and even some adults) about the history of our national pastime.
    MB: How long have you been writing Baseball With Matt
    BBWM: I started my regular blog by using Google Blogger in April 2012 and I currently have about 25,000 views. I got interested in blogging when I realized that none of my friends knew anything about baseball history. So I thought to myself and said: what better way to teach kids about baseball history than to start a blog about it?
    MB: Now, you say you are a “professional” blogger on MLB.  How did that happen?
    BBWM: I talked on the phone with the head historian of MLB, John Thorn. He was impressed with my baseball history knowledge, so he made me an MLB Pro Blog. 
    MB: How did you get invited onto Hot Stove?
    BBWM: I got on Hot Stove because I met up with MLB Network analyst, Greg Amsinger, at a meeting. He was also impressed with my baseball history knowledge, so he asked me to come on the show and I said yes.
    [Watch Matt’s appearance HERE]
    MB: Other than being a guest on Hot Stove, have you gotten to do any other cool experiences with MLB?
    BBWM: I haven’t really been involved with MLB except with my MLB blog. However, I am getting press credentials to the Hall of Fame Classic in Cooperstown. It’s a baseball game played by some Hall of Famers and other retired players and before the game.  I will get to interview some of them.
    MB: You said you are a big Yankees fan.  Have you been able to meet any players? 
    BBWM: I’m a die-hard Yankees fan!  I’ve been to a lot of their games and their record with me in a seat at one of their games is 13-3, so I think I bring them a little bit of a good luck. I’ve met Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera and they were both really nice guys.
    MB: How many ballparks have you been to?
    BBWM: I’ve been to Yankees Stadium, Citi Field (Mets), Citizens Bank Park (Phillies), Fenway Park, Kauffman Stadium (Royals), Wrigley Field, and U. S. Cellular Field (White Sox). That’s a total of seven.
    MB: Maybe we can go to a Nationals game together.  Let me know if you ever come down to DC.  I would love to talk baseball with you.  I am a huge Nationals fan, and I bet you could tell me a lot about the history of DC baseball—the Nationals, Senators, the Grays.  There’s probably so much I haven’t learned.
    You have been able to interview a lot of famous baseball players.  How did that happen?
    BBWM: Mostly, I reach out to the people I interview and ask them if I can ask them a couple of questions. Sometimes, I get introduced to them by other people. In Yogi Berra’s case, I reached out to his museum in Montclair, New Jersey. They said that I should email the head of the museum, Dave Kaplan, some questions, so that he could ask them to Yogi himself, considering Berra doesn’t have an email. 
    MB: Did you get to hear any of his famous “Yogisms”?
    BBWM: Sadly, I couldn’t hear any of his Yogi-isms because we did the interview by email through Dave Kaplan, but I’m sure that he would have said at least one if the interview was via phone call.
    MB: Who is your favorite baseball player (current or historical) and why?
    BBWM: Today, Derek Jeter is my man. He’s the greatest contact hitter today.  Historically, I love Mike Schmidt of the Phillies in the ’70s and ’80s. He was a great power hitter and had an exceptional mustache.
    MB: Ha!  My readers are going to love that answer!  Beards and mustaches are very popular topics here in Nationals Twitter-land.  
    Moving away from the past, I want to hear your prediction of the future.  Who do you think will make it to and win the 2013 World Series?
    BBWM: I personally think that it will be the Tigers vs. the Reds and the Reds will come out on top in seven games. The Reds have a great lineup and a more experienced pitching rotation than in years past.
    MB: I just did a series on MattsBats.com with my predictions for each Division. I agree with you that the Tigers and the Reds will be at the top of the AL and NL Central Divisions. I’m still holding out hope that my Washington Nationals make it to the Series this year.  That would be the first time since 1924, but I bet you already knew that….  
    * * * *
    I had such a great time talking with my friend Matt Nadel from Baseball with Matt.  Make sure you follow Matt on Twitter at @BaseballwMatt!   You definitely need to watch the video of him on Hot Stove at because he was excellent!

    I love hearing what readers of Matt’s Bats think about my posts.  You can leave a comment on the blog, or write to me on Twitter at @MattsBats.  You can also email my editors–I mean, parents–at web[@]mattsbats.com.  Also let other baseball fans know about my blog (www.mattsbats.com) and Twitter (@MattsBats).  I love getting new followers and RTs.  If you want to receive an email whenever there is a new post you can SUBSCRIBE HERE.

    2013 Preview-AL West

    This is the final post in the Matt’s Bats 2013 Preview Series. If you missed any of the earlier posts, you can click on the links below to see my predictions for the NL East and Central Divisions and the AL East and Central Divisions.

    5. Houston Astros

    The newest team in the AL West has a redesigned logo for 2013. The Astros also have a redesigned roster, adding former Nationals OF Rick Ankiel and former Rays 1B Carlos Pena to the squad.  They acquired Nationals third base coach Bo Porter to lead the team as manager.  There is a train at Minute Maid Park that moves at every start of the game, and after every Astros homer run and Astros’ wins. I doubt the train will be moving a lot this year.  The Astros don’t look good to me. 

    4. Seattle Mariners

    The team in TOCBTB (The Other City By The Bay) added Kendrys Morales and Michael Morse to the roster and still has their ace Felix Hernandez.  They traded other key players Jason Vargas and Mike Carp during the offseason.  Those guys were really important for the Mariners. The Mariners have a very good team, but the AL West is a very tough Division.

    3. Oakland Athletics

    The A’s have a good lineup. They have a good starting rotation. They have a good bullpen. And they even have a good farm system.  Nothing’s great about Oakland.  They’re definitely solid and have very talented players like Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Reddick, Coco Crisp and lots of former Nats up-and-comers who were traded to Oakland in the Gio Gonzalez deal.  Again, they are in a competitive Divison loaded with superstar talent, but they have enough talent to compete for the AL Wild Card.

    1. Texas Rangers/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

    This is controversial, but after 162 games, I am predicting that the Texas Rangers and the L.A. Angels will end the season with the exact same record and compete in a head-to-head 1 playoff game for the AL West title.  The rivalry between the Rangers and Angels is becoming like the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry in the AL East. The Angels keep buying players to compete with Texas, like Albert Pujols, and buy players from Texas, like Josh Hamilton, to weaken the Rangers. However, Texas never recruits from Anaheim, which makes no sense. If you owned a team, and your biggest rival bought your talent, wouldn’t you try to acquire their star talent from them? Yu Darvish is the star of the Texas team, while former Ranger Josh Hamilton and AL ROY Mike Trout are the stars of Anaheim. I think the playoff game will go to Anaheim, bringing good luck to southern California. It’s very possible that we see a Southern California World Series, with the Anaheim Angels playing the L.A. Dodgers.  If that happens, I think the Dodgers would win.

    Let me know if you agree or disagree with my predictions.  You can leave a comment at the bottom of the page, or write to me on Twitter at @MattsBats.  You can also email me at web[@]mattsbats.com.  

    Let your friends and other baseball fans know about my blog (www.mattsbats.com) and Twitter.  I love getting new followers and RTs.  If you want to receive an email whenever there is a new post you can SUBSCRIBE HERE.