This summer-beginning, barbequing weekend was not the same as past years for me. I spent most of it at one place- Nationals Park. I spent three straight days at the ballpark. One day I went to a youth baseball clinic sponsored by MedStar Health, and the other two days I was there for Nats games. I saw the Sunday game against the Phillies and the Memorial Day game against the Orioles.
MEDSTAR HEALTH YOUTH CLINIC
- I registered, and was put in a group of other 8 and 9 year olds called the Teal Dots, because the design on my wristband was, well, teal dots. It kind of looked like we were doing a 1993 Florida Marlins clinic. Yes, that teal.
- MedStar gave all participants a National hat the MedStar logo on the back near the adjust strap. Then we headed down to the field.
- When I arrived on the field, we stretched with trainer Steve Gober. We ran from the right field foul line to the “#Natitude” sign in center field before doing the same stretches that the players do before the games. Then, we split up into groups.
- First, I did baserunning with Nats 1B coach Tony Tarasco. We weren’t allowed to go on the infield, so we did the exercises in left field. We ran as fast as we could to “first base,”then Tony pretended to be the pitcher while we “stole” second. All of us were safe (there was no ball nor any catcher). Tony also called me a “tough guy” during stretching because I collided with another runner but got back up and ran.
- We next rotated to ground balls in center field with 3B coach Trent Jewett. Trent rolled grounders to everyone either 5 or 6 times. I was 5 for 5 there, one having to turn 360 degrees but setting myself in just the right position to still get it stuck in the leather.
- Next, we did fly balls in right field with bench coach Randy Knorr. We did regular pop flies and also practiced playing fly balls off the outfield wall.
- After that, we threw in the bullpen with the threesome of Steve McCatty, Jim Lett, and Octavio Martinez. I struck out a “batter” by throwing three pitches into Jim Lett’s mitt. My throws weren’t as ear-popping as Clippard’s or Storen’s, but I threw pretty hard.
- Next, I followed the Warning Track into the Nationals dugout for a water break and time to talk nutrition with Steve Gober. He was talking about staying healthy, but he was answering questions about his life for most of the time.
- From the dugout, we went downstairs into the clubhouse area to the Nationals’ indoor batting cages. Walking down the ramp, I touched a quote from Joe DiMaggio, the same thing Bryce did on his home debut vs. Arizona. I was instructed by BP pitcher Ali Modami in one cage with Rick Eckstein in the other cage. Ali told me to not crowd the plate, which I do a lot.
- We then had lunch. I had a turkey sub with lettuce and mayonnaise. It was so good. We knew they were going to bring out a player to meet. Who would it be? #34 (Harper)? #29 (Soriano)? #11 (Zimmerman)? It was……SHARKADINA! They gave out pennants that I asked him to sign. I told Roger about MattsBats.com and he said he’s going to check it out.
We watched the Nats game from home that night, but the next day, we were back at the stadium because one of the things they gave out at the Youth Clinic was 4 tickets to the next day’s game!
MAY 26– NATIONALS VS. PHILLIES
- I saw the last of the three game series against the Phillies. The Nats needed to win to stay in second place. Our seats were in the Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk area, section 239, last row. The seats were OK, but I didn’t like that you couldn’t see RF and CF and you couldn’t even see the scoreboard! But you could see which pitched were fastballs and which were breaking balls, which you cannot see when you sit on the baselines.
- It was a pitchers duel for most of the game, until the awesome 7th inning. Ryan Zimmerman began the inning with a single. Adam LaRoche singled, too. Ian Desmond laid down a sacrifice bunt, advancing Zim to 3rd and LaRoche to 2nd. Tyler Moore walked.
- Then Jhonatan Solano hit a broken bat dribbler that third baseman Michael Young had. He threw it to catcher Humberto Quintero at the plate to get Zim as the force out at home, but Quintero couldn’t handle it and the ball scooted behind him. That scored Zimmerman and LaRoche. The Onion had a 2 RBI infield hit didn’t go past the pitchers mound.
- Then, Steve Lombardozzi hit a triple (or a double and a fielding error that allowed him to take third) that scored Solano.
- Denard Span then hit a double, scoring Lombo.
- Bryce Harper walked, but Roger Bernadina came on to pinch-run, because Bryce’s knee was all banged up.
- Ryan Zimmerman then came back out for the 2nd time in the same inning. That meant we had to move over a column in our scorebook. However, he made the last out with a swining strike.
- Tyler Clippard came on for the 9th to close it out. Freddy Galvis flew out to Denard Span, Michael Young struck out, and then Delmon Young popped out on a foul fly that was near the net that Jhonatan Solano somehow handled.
MAY 27– NATIONALS VS. ORIOLES
- This was a nasty game all along. We sat next to some rude Orioles fans who kept drinking beer, getting up every few minutes (we sat in aisle seats) and saying dumb chants like “O-O-O-O-O-O” to the tune of Strasburg’s walk-up song “Seven Nation Army.”
- I went to the game with my mom. The best part of the day was when we shared a “Werthcake” from Fluffy Thoughts.
- I got soooooo mad at one point I wouldn’t clap or anything. I was just kind of in a bad mood because the Nats offense was not taking advantage of having RISP. I’ve been to 5 games in person, and this one had the biggest loss margin so far, 6-2. (I saw a 3-2 loss to St. Louis, and a 5-2 loss to Cincinnati). The Nats are 2-3 when I go to the games. The only wins I’ve seen were Opening Day and Sunday. The only wins have been when my brother goes with me to the game. (I am predicting we win on June 23 for that reason).
- The good side was the goon squad. Roger Bernadina FINALLY got a hit- a double-and Tyler Moore got an RBI double. Even Gio got a double. Lombo went 2-for-4. Span hit a triple and later scored.
- Darren O’day came on in the 9th. He struck out Tyler Moore, got Roger Bernadina to ground out to Alexi Castilla, and got Kurt Suzuki to fly out to left. The Orioles won, but I left in the top of the 9th with the Nats down 6-2.
The Battle of the Beltways continues today at home, then 2 games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Wednesday and Thursday.
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