July 2013

What a Weekend!

The Nats had an exciting weekend! They played a day-night double header against the Mets on Friday and two more games on Saturday and Sunday.  Smushed in between, they held the Season Plan Holder Appreciation Day event at Nationals Park.

My last post was called “The Nats Need to Snap Their Skid.”  I thought that was going to happen, because the day after I posted that, Bryce Harper hit his first career walk-off home run to beat the Pirates and prevent them from sweeping the Nationals at home.  But then in the first game of the doubleheader, the Nats lost badly to the Mets, 11-0.  That seemed like they were going back into the skid.

Things changed starting Friday night.  First, Ryan Zimmerman‘s walk-off home run split the day-night doubleheader with a 2-1 score. The excitement was back!  Two walk-offs in 2 days!

Then, on Saturday, the Nats held a season ticket holder event at Nationals Park.  I went with my dad and brother.  Everybody got a t-shirt, a free hot dog, and a chance to go on the field and meet the players.  We saw everyone on the team as they walked by.  A few players stopped to talk, high-five, take pictures or sign autographs.  I got autographs from closer Rafael Soriano, 2B Anthony Rendon, RHP Ryan Mattheus, and broadcasters Charlie Slowes, and Bob Carpenter. I also said hi to Dave Jageler, who was with Charlie, but I already got his autograph.  (Click here to read my interview with Dave Jageler, if you haven’t already).  It was great that Ryan Mattheus, Charlie Slowes, Dave Jageler and Bob Carpenter all recognized me and remembered me; they signed pictures that we took together last year or earlier this season.  My brother got an autograph from Soriano on a baseball card, and I got most of mine on pictures or on a bat.

That night, the Nationals cruised to a 4-1 victory over the Mets due to dingers by Denard Span, Ian Desmond, and Bryce Harper.  That was Denard Span’s first home run in a Nationals uniform!

Yesterday, was one of the best and most historic Nats games ever!  Wilson Ramos hit his first career  grand slam, Taylor Jordan finally got his first win, and Ian Desmond had a great 4-hit day at the plate, getting the honor of the hitting the last RBI that drove in the Nats’ final run in the biggest win in Nats history. (However, on that RBI, Ian Desmond was TOOTBLAN— a term I just learned thanks to Dan Kolko’s twitter).

Desi scored Lombo in the bottom of the 8th, and was caught at third second on a 9-4-5 relay.  The Nats weren’t trying to run up the score, but they basically had no choice but to score Lombo even though Trent Jewett told him to hold up at third for a second.  Here’s the play.  ). The 14-1 win was the highest win margin in Franchise History. The Nats held the Mets to 1 run in 3 of the 4 games, and took 3 of the 4 games in the series after a bad homestand against the Dodgers and Pirates.

This win proves the Nats are ready for Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder in Detroit. The Nats are 2-0 vs. the Tigers in 2013!

TUESDAY’S NATS GAME

NATS @ TIGERS

STEPHEN STRASBURG (5-8, 2.85 ERA) VS. ANIBAL SANCHEZ (8-7, 2.68 ERA)

#CatchTheTigersByTheirToes

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


IGNITE YOUR MATT-ITUDE!


The Nats Need to Snap Their Skid

The Nationals are on a 5 game losing streak and Natstown is FREAKING OUT!

A five game losing streak is no way to start the second half. The Nats have fallen to 4 games below .500 and 3rd in the NL East.  To make things worse, the Nats have a very tough schedule ahead: they are going to Detroit in a week, have the Giants coming here, and go to Kansas City.  In September, they have a 6 game road trip to finish off the season IN ARIZONA AND SAINT LOUIS, by the way.

The good news is that the Braves and Phillies are losing games too.  This would have been the best opportunity of the season for the Nats to make up some ground on the leaders.  But the Nats are just not hitting, and when they do, they fill the bases up but don’t bring any runners home.

There are some bright spots for the Nats.  Despite their hitting struggles, the team is 7th in ERA in the major leagues. Fernando Abad has the lowest ERA on the active roster at 1.66, and Gio leads the starters with a 2.89.  Tyler Clippard is having a career year with an ERA below 2 and he strikes out at least 1 batter per inning pitched.  Ian Desmond is repeating his 2012 performance and Jayson Werth has belted multi-HR games this week.

The next best chance for the Nats to make up ground is the first week of August– they play 3 games each against the Phillies and Braves.  If they can sweep those series (and that is a BIG IF), they can gain ground in the standings.

There’s also a way into the Playoffs through the two Wild Card spots.  But Pittsburgh and Cincinnati look like the competitors for that spot in 2013, assuming the Cardinals win the NL Central and the Braves win the NL East.

I won’t lie and say that this has not been a disappointment.  This Nats team is better than they are playing, and have been playing all season.  So that is why I am still positive.  But time is running out, so they need to get going!!!! 

But, mateys, the Pirates tonight are stranded on the oceans. The are facing Stephen Strasburg’s Nationals. Strasburg fires a cannonball to McCutchen. Strike Three! Strasburg is 3-0 vs. Pittsburgh lifetime, and that’s something I’d love to see him repeat tonight. I’m going to the game!

PIRATES VS. NATS
FRANCISCO LIRIANO (9-4, 2.44 ERA) VS. STEPHEN STRASBURG (5-7, 2.97 ERA)

#TheBucsStopHere

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


IGNITE YOUR MATT-ITUDE!


Product Preview: LINEDWEAR

Use Promo Code “mattsbats” for a discount.

If Bryce Harper, Gio Gonzalez, and John Wall all want to wear your new product, you must be becoming a big hit! That happened to a company named LINEDWEAR (now known as LineUp), which makes DC-theme socks.

Will Simon, the founder of LINEDWEAR, started playing around with the design for these cool socks about 6 months ago. DC has some of the most recognizable monuments and buildings in the world, and while he was on his balcony overlooking the city, he got the idea to create something that captured the great DC skyline on something everybody could wear. The name LINEDWEAR came from a combination of the words SKYLINE and WEAR.

But why did he decide to make socks instead of hats or shirts or something else? It turns out he did some research and found that so many people love socks. And with guys like RGIII making unique socks so popular, landing on socks just made the most sense to him. He’s also found that designing socks gives him a lot of freedom to make countless color combinations possible.  He has designed socks in Nats, Caps and Redskins colors, as well Hoyas and Terps and other local college colors.  He started with DC sports themed socks because after living here for a few years, he noticed how DC has some of the most passionate and dedicated fans in all of sports. He noted that even if they’re not originally from the area, people still love supporting the great teams here. And even if you’re not a sports fan, there’s a sense of pride living in DC, so these socks give people a great way to express their patriotism and support for not just the teams, but the city too.

So how do you get these cool socks?  He’s still making them, but they should be available soon.  (Keep reading below for a chance to win them).  Will promised to send me a pair as soon as they’re ready.  For now, you can go to his Kickstarter page to help him raise the money he needs to finish making the full line of products.  If you do, he is offering good deals to people who support him.  Soon you will be able to buy the socks online and even in the Nationals team store, according to his Twitter.

LINEDWEAR socks now come in “one size fits most,” but soon he plans to make knee-high socks and even baby socks.  He also wants to add winter knit poofball hats, shorts, and wristbands to the collection.  He even plans to make socks for Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Dallas, Boston, New York, New Orleans, and Miami.  Also, Will is planning to help charities with pink socks for the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and camouflage socks for the Wounded Warrior project.

Check them out at LINEDWEAR.COM KICKSTARTER and on Twitter @LINEDWEAR.

HERE ARE 2 SPECIAL CONTESTS TO WIN A PAIR OF LINEDWEAR SOCKS OR 2 PRESIDENT’S CLUB TICKETS TO A NATIONALS GAME!

  •  I am going to put out a link to this post on Twitter.  All you have to do is retweet the link.  BUT you must follow both @MattsBats AND @LINEDWEAR.  Next week, LINEDWEAR will pick 5 winners and give them a free pair of socks!
  • ALSO, if you back his project on Kickstarter, he will pick someone to win 2 Presidents Club tickets for a Nats game.

  
TONIGHT’S GAME
DODGERS @ NATIONALS

ZACK GREINKE (8-2, 3.49 ERA) VS. GIO GONZALEZ (7-3 3.03 ERA)

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


IGNITE YOUR MATT-ITUDE!

 

Bryce’s First Home Run Derby

Bryce Harper took part in the 2013 Home Run Derby. Harper was the first National to ever participate in the Home Run Derby!

Bryce started Round 1 with 8 homers, the most of all National League hitters.  But A’s OF Yoenis Cespedes hit 17, the third highest in a single round in Derby history.  After that, there was a sense in the air that the “Cuban Missle of Hitting” would pull off a stunning victory.   The team captains put on a bad show in the first round, with Wright hitting 5 shots and Cano with 4; even past winner Tigers 1B Prince Fielder was eliminated in the first round after only hitting 5 home runs.  In the second round, Michael Cuddeyer hit 8 HRs, Chris Davis hit 4, Cespedes hit 6 and Harper hit 8. The Final Round was between Harper and Cespedes.  Bryce did an amazing job, jacking homers out of sight  – he was so close to getting the trophy! But you got to respect Yoenis Cespedes – he hit second and wound up hitting one more HR than Bryce. After that first round show, Cespedes kind of deserved the crown.  But Bryce tried his hardest, and showed baseball fans what NatsTown is all about.

I think it is special that Ron Harper, Bryce’s dad, pitched to him in the Home Run Derby. If I am ever a MLB player and I get selected to the Home Run Derby, I would want my dad to pitch to me.
AL VS NL

MAX SCHERZER (13-1, 3.19 ERA) vs MATT HARVEY (7-2, 2.35 ERA)

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


IGNITE YOUR MATT-ITUDE!


Matt’s Bats Chat with Dave Jageler


Matt’s Bats readers know Dave Jageler as one-half of the Voice of the Nationals, along with Charlie Slowes. His voice is very familiar to Nationals fans who listen to the games on the radio at WJFK, 106.7 the Fan, but people may not know a lot about him and what goes on behind the scenes in the broadcast booth.  That is why I asked him a bunch of questions about these topics for this Matt’s Bats Chat with Dave Jageler.

Matt’s Bats: Thanks for answering some questions for me.  First of all, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?   

Dave Jageler: I am 41 years old, married with 2 kids (Jared-13 yrs old and Sarah-9).  I was born in Hartford, CT in 1971 and grew up in Windsor Connecticut as a die-hard and suffering Boston Red Sox fan.  I went to college at Syracuse University from 1989-1993 as part of the well-known Newhouse School of Public Communications that has turned out many great sportscasters like Bob Costas, Marv Albert, Mike Tirico and many more.  

MB: How did you get into broadcasting?

DJ: My broadcast career as a professional started in Morgantown, WV.  I worked there before moving to Charlotte, NC.  There I broadcast college basketball, hosted talk shows and did my first baseball for the AAA Charlotte Knights (then a Marlins affiliate).  I even called Livan Hernandez’s first professional outing after he came from Cuba.  After 7 years there, I moved to Boston and did a talk show and fill-in play by play for the Boston Celtics.  I then shifted back to baseball in 2005 as I worked for the Pawtucket Red Sox.  Then, I joined the Nationals in 2006 and have been with the Nats for the last 8 seasons.  I split the year living in Barrington, RI in the offseason (I moved there while doing Pawtucket) and Reston, VA during the baseball season.


MB
Did you know what you wanted to be when you were my age?   

DJ: I started being interested in broadcasting when I was in high school.  I had a friend who talked about it a lot and I thought it was really cool.  So I joined a cable access channel in our town and broadcast my high school’s basketball games.  That was my first on air work.  When I was your age, I really wanted to be an MLB player more than a broadcaster.  But I watched all kinds of games and memorized stats which helped me later in my career.

MB: When did you become a baseball fan?  

DJ: My first memory is when I was 7 and the Red Sox lost a 14 game lead to the Yankees and then a 1 game playoff in 1978, back when there was no wild card.  So the Red Sox won 99 games and didn’t make the playoffs.  Ouch.  

MB: Are you a Nats fan? The reason I am asking that question is because journalists aren’t allowed to be fans when they cover the team.  Are you allowed to be a Nats fan?

DJ: I am a Nats fan.  I am not a journalist like if I worked for the Washington Post.  So I want the Nats to win and it is OK for me to want them to win.  But I do need to be professional on the air.  I don’t openly cheer on the air like a couple announcers do, but I definitely want the Nats to win.

MB: How do you describe the job of a radio broadcaster?  Are you supposed to be just the narrator of the game or are you supposed to entertain the fans too?


DJ: I describe a radio broadcaster as a painter and the broadcast is the blank canvas.  My job is to paint the picture so the listener knows what is going on.  You have to give the score often and details the listener can’t see.  You have to be the listener’s eyes.  But it is important to entertain too.  Broadcasts are 3-4 hours long, so if you are talking 100 percent about the game only, it can get boring, especially if the game is dull.  So it is a combination of all those things.

I love the way Dave described the role of a broadcaster.  I never thought about some of those things before.  When you are listening to a game, you do need to be reminded of the score and count a lot more than when you are watching on TV or able to look at the scoreboard at the game.  

MB: What is a typical day like for you?  

DJ:I get to the park 3-4 hours before the game and do an interview either with a player or the manager.  Then I get the starting lineups for both teams and fill out my scorebook.  That includes the starting lineups plus a few stats about each player.  I may talk to a few players and watch BP and then eat dinner before the pregame show a half hour before first pitch.

MB: What is the coolest thing you get to do regularly or the coolest one time experience you have had in this job?

DJ: I think it is cool to do a game every day.  So I think my whole job is pretty cool.  As far as I one time experience I remember standing at the batting cage between Hall of Famers and teammates Jim Palmer and Frank Robinson and listening to them talk back and forth about old memories.  It is a thrill to meet players now that I watched on TV when I was your age.  

Also it was neat to be in person when Barry Bonds broke the HR record in 2007 and Randy Johnson won his 300th game against the Nats in 2009.  We may not have another 300 game winner for a long time.  So it was special to witness baseball history in person.

MB: What’s your best Nats memory?

DJ: I have four–
1.  Jayson Werth’s HR [in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS]
2.  Ryan Zimmerman’s walk off HR in first game at Nats Park
3.  Zim’s walk off HR to beat the Yankees in 2006 (his first walk off)
4.  My first game- Opening Day 2006

MB: What are the best and worst things about your job?

DJ: The best part of the job is calling an exciting moment like a HR or a big strikeout with the bases loaded with the crowd going crazy.  Not much is bad about the job except the huge amount of time away from my family.


MB: That brings up the topic of travel.  I know you travel with the team.  Do you like traveling?  What is your favorite ballpark or city to visit?

DJ:Traveling with the team is great.  We have our own plane and we stay at really nice hotels.  I like San Francisco’s ball park for the views but San Diego for the weather.


MBWhich ballparks have the best and worst facilities for you?  The broadcast booth at Nats Park is on the 7th floor, which makes it the highest press box in MLB.

DJ:Nats Park is tough with the high press box but I am used to it now after 6 years.  Philadelphia has a great facility…nice view, good booth and great press dining food.  Wrigley Field is the worst because the booth is so small.  I have to literally climb over Charlie to get out of the booth.

MB: I know I’m interested in what goes on in the booth during a game.  What do you do during the game (when you’re not calling the game)?  Do you score the game?  Do you check Twitter? Do you watch on TV or talk to other people?

DJ: I always score the game.  In fact I write down every pitch so I always know if someone is having a long at-bat (like Jayson Werth in Game 4).  So I watch closely when Charlie is calling play by play and I will chime in if I notice something important.

MB: This is one of my biggest questions: How do you tell what kind of pitches the pitcher threw?  Especially from where you sit, up high and behind the batter.  Usually I need to see the replay from the centerfield camera with the radar gun and still I don’t really know them all.

DJ: I use the radar gun, but I can also tell sometimes by how the Catcher catches the ball or how the hitter swings at it whether it is a Changeup or a Slider, etc. 

[Dave gave other details at the Nationals Tweet-up a few weeks ago.  He said he uses the radar gun to see how fast the pitch was.  He knows how fast each pitcher’s pitch usually is.  For example, he knows that Tyler Clippard’s fastball is in the low to mid 90s.  His changeup is in the 80s.  His slider or curveball is in the 70s.  Then he made a joke and said that even if he totally guessed, nobody would know because they are listening on the radio and can’t see the pitch]


MB:What do you think will be the biggest story about the Nats 2013 season?

DJ: I hope the biggest story will be how they have a great second half comeback to repeat as NL East Champions.  If they fall short, the story will be how the team ended up in the bottom of the league rankings in offense and in errors.  I am surprised by both as it stands in early July.

MB: What would you say to upset Nats fans who thought the team would be in 1st place by the All Star Break, or at least well above .500?

DJ: I would say that each season is different.  Just because the Nats won 98 games last season doesn’t guarantee a repeat.  Many teams have struggled early and rallied to win a division title or a wild card spot with a great August or September.

MB: What do you like to do in the offseason?

DJ: I do a couple college basketball games here and there.  Sometimes they are on MASN or on the Big East Network.  But who knows what I will do with the changes in the Big East?!  I coach my kids’ basketball teams and do a lot of house work, like laundry and cleaning that I am not around to do during the season.

MB: Last question: What is something not baseball-related about you?

DJ: I try to work out every day.  They only days I miss are when we have a day game and then have to travel.  I also love to play golf.  I refuse to go on Facebook and I am stunned that I am on Twitter but thanks to you I have a decent number of followers!

Dave is talking about the time in April when I talked with him on the field before a game.  He had a bunch of Twitter followers, but not a lot. I took a picture with him and then tweeted it out and all of the sudden he had like 300!  Now he has over 2,000, which is a lot more than I have– about 1,500 more!



ENJOY THE ALL STAR BREAK!
WATCH BRYCE HARPER TONIGHT IN THE HOME RUN DERBY.
WATCH TOMORROW AS HE STARTS THE ALL STAR GAME.
AND CHEER FOR JORDAN ZIMMERMANN WHO IS AN ALL STAR BUT NOT PITCHING.

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


IGNITE YOUR MATT-ITUDE!


If Ian Desmond Isn’t An All-Star, Then Who Is?

So, after all our voting and tweeting and texting, Ian Desmond did not make the All Star Team from the Final Vote by the fans.  There is still a chance he gets a spot by someone having an injury or something like that.  But even if he doesn’t, he is still a fan favorite in DC and he can have a few days off with his family.

This is a post about some of the players who have already been selected to play in the All-Star Game this year.  Most of these players will be a little nervous when they take the field in New York next week, because it is their first time playing in an All Star Game.  Others, like Justin Verlander, might be perfectly fine, he’s a six-time All Star and even started last year’s game.  So today, I am highlighting a few of the 2013 All Stars and what makes them special.

MEMBERS OF THE AL TEAM
ORIOLES 1B CHRIS DAVIS

I guess if you have 33 home runs before the All-Star Break, tying your total from all of 2012, and 85 RBIs, you basically booked your ticket to the All-Star Game before the voting even started. But, as we all know, Chris might be the best all-around hitter in the Major Leagues this year. Yes, that includes Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, and Prince Fielder. This guy, with 33 homers, is destined for the Silver Bat after Monday’s Home Run Derby.

TIGERS 3B MIGUEL CABRERA

“Hello, Miguel Cabrera! We were expecting you here.” is what the hotel doorman will probably say to Miguel when he checks in. On Sunday, Miguel Cabrera hit a solo shot against Cleveland that was close to hitting the scoreboard. And again, he just came off the first Triple Crown in 45 years.  He deserves his spot on the lineup.

RED SOX DH DAVID ORTIZ

Ortiz’s memorable stance, capping off with a high leg kick, brought him to his 8th All-Star Game. Ortiz has been clutch is other roles, too- he hit a pinch hit home run in Anaheim on Friday.  He’s a fan favorite in Beantown, so he was an obvious choice.

MARINERS RHP HISASHI IWAKUMA

The rule is, every team gets to send at least one player to the All Star Game.  If you knew that the Seattle Mariners were sending a pitcher, you would guess it would be Felix Hernandez.  And you would be right.  But if you also guessed that Hisashi Iwakuma would be voted an All Star, well, that would be a surprise. He is a good pitcher but his 7-4 record doesn’t shout it.

YANKEES RHP MARIANO RIVERA

I don’t think that I need to write much about Rivera, because he’s a no-doubter in his last season in the bigs.  He’s also going to the Hall of Fame as soon as possible, even though he has a lifetime batting average of .000.  19 years in the major leagues and he has never gotten a hit.  He has been up to bat a few times, but went 0-3 with a walk.  Just like Chipper Jones got on the All Star team last year before he retired, it is obvious that Mo is going to play on this year’s team too.  I bet whether or not the AL team is in a save situation, he will be pitching the 9th.


TIGERS P MAX SCHERZER

What do you do with a 13-0 pitcher? You send him to New York!

ORIOLES 3B MANNY MACHADO

The Orioles 3B’s year has been overshadowed by the 1B Chris Davis’s 2013, but Machado can fire a fastball from foul territory to first base and STILL get the runner out. Manny has been consistent at the plate for the O’s, too.  He’s making his All Star debut in his first full year in the majors.  He could have gotten the starting job, but how do you argue with Miguel Cabrera getting it?

MEMBERS OF THE NL TEAM

ROCKIES SS TROY TULOWITSKI

Tulo started the year on fire, but when the Nats came to Denver earlier this year, he slid for a grounder and broke his rib. That was about 4 weeks ago, and he just returned. Would NL Manager Bruce Bochy start the fan’s choice so soon off the DL?  He may have to sub in Padres SS Everth Cabrera or Brewers SS Jean Segura, who were also named to the team.  These guys are both pretty good, but they probably got on the team because of the rule that every team needs to send at least one player, and these are the only representatives from the Padres and Brewers.  This may be the best chance for Ian Desmond to get on the team: if Tulowitski sits out, Cabrera or Segura will get the start, but there may be room to put Desi in the lineup too.


NATIONALS OF BRYCE HARPER 

Do you think it is crazy that a 20 year old is the starting right fielder for the National League in the 84th All-Star Game? He will be the youngest starting position player in history, and this will be his second trip to the All Star Game in his second year of play.  Bryce, though, has lived up to that spot. The youngest MLB player was named Rookie of the Year last year, and has been having a stupendous sophomore season.  He homered on his first 2 at bats of the season, and in his first at bat coming off the DL. He will also show off his stuff in the Home Run Derby.

MARLINS RHP JOSE FERNANDEZ

Well, bite the line, Miami, because you only got one representative. But your representative is the best rookie pitcher in the big leagues. Fernandez has never faced the Nats, but he will on Saturday.  If Giancarlo Stanton were healthy all year, he would probably be the Marlins’ rep, but this year we’ll get to meet Jose Fernandez.

PIRATES RHP JASON GRILLI

If Jay Bruce hadn’t hit a 9th inning bomb in a 3-2 game on June 19th, Jason Grilli would be 29 for 29 in save opportunities in 2013. Grilli, a clutch defender for Pittsburgh, has dominated out of the ‘pen.  He might get the chance to close an NL win.

PHILLIES OF DOMONIC BROWN

Flashback to May, when Brown hit 20 HRs and was looking like an All-Star. Well, Brown lived up to his dream, getting selected for his historic May. He joins Cliff Lee as Philadelphia’s representatives.


Click here to see all of the 2013 All Stars.

TONIGHT’S GAME
MARLINS VS. NATIONALS
STRASBURG VS. EOVALDI

#SQUISHtheFISH

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

IGNITE YOUR MATT-ITUDE!

Why I Am Voting #DesiIn13

 Ian Desmond deserves to be named to the 2013 All Star team.  He has been the Nats most valuable player this year, like he was last year too.  He was named to the All Star team last year, but he couldn’t play because he was injured.  So it is only fair that he get his chance in the spotlight this year.  Also, the rule is that every team sends at least one player to the All Star Game, and other shortstops Everth Cabrera and Jean Segura were named the only representatives from the Padres and the Brewers, so they basically took Desmond’s spot.

There are 3 ways that fans can help him get to the All Star Game this year.  First, you can vote online by going here: VOTE HERE.  Second, you can text N1 to 89269.  Or, third, starting at 10:00am, you can go on Twitter and send a tweet that has the hashtag #DesiIn13 and it counts as a vote.  The voting ends at 4:00pm.
As of right now, Ian Desmond is 4th in the fan Final Vote behind Freddie Freeman, Yasiel Puig, Hunter Pence and Adrian Gonzalez. That is a little strange because Desmond is the best player compared to the other contenders.  Here are his stats as of Wednesday morning compared to the others:

Candidate AVG HR RBI SB OPS
Desmond .278 15 49 10 .815
Freeman .305 9 56 0 .848
Gonzalez .298 13 57 0 .829
Pence .267 13 43 13 .768
Puig .407 8 19 5 1.101

The Braves have a lot of fans across the South; Puig is a fan favorite because of all the hype he gets; I learned on my trip to San Francisco that Giants fans love Hunter Pence and they have a lot of people on Twitter; and Gonzalez, well, he’s in last place but probably has a lot of Red Sox fans who vote for him.  Here is a chart that shows how the country is voting and Braves Country gives him a lot of votes.  

SO NATS FANS NEED TO DO EVERYTHING THEY CAN TODAY TO GET DESMOND IN THE LINEUP.

Everybody has their own reason for voting for Ian Desmond, but my reason is because Ian Desmond is a role model for me and has encouraged me like no other player has!  Here are some examples of how good Ian Desmond has been to me and the support he has given to my sportswriting, and why I think you should vote for him too.  I said on Twitter earlier this week that if everyone across America knew how good Ian Desmond was to his fans that he would get 100% of the final vote.  This is the proof.

In January, Ian started reading my posts on MattsBats.com and helped me get noticed by other fans and by famous sportswriters.


Ian Desmond reads my posts and gives me encouragement to work hard and be the best.
 I met with him at NatsFest and he introduced me to some people.

Back in February when I was in the green room before my first ever live TV interview, Ian Desmond gave me some tips on how not to be nervous.  
Then, at another game after I did another post-game show interview on Fox, Ian Desmond told me that he saw me on TV in the clubhouse and that I did great.   

I talked with him at Spring Training and before some games.  He signs autographs for fans before almost every home and road game.  
He wore a Matt’s Bats t-shirt on TV when being interviewed by the media after a game.

These are some of the reasons I voted for Ian Desmond like a million times to be an All Star.  I would be very thankful if you did the same.

 


Everyone who reads this should tweet to me @MattsBats with a copy of the link and use #DesiIn13, I will retweet you.  That will count as 2 votes: your first tweet and my retweet.

P.S., the Nats are teaming up with the Yankees, who have relief pitcher David Robertson in their final vote.  You can vote for him the same way (online, texting A3 to 89269, or tweeting #HighSocksForVotes).

 

#DesiIn13

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

IGNITE YOUR MATT-ITUDE!

Highlights of the July 3 VoteNats Tweet-Up

If you are a reader of Matt’s Bats, you were probably at last Wednesday’s Nats-Brewers game because it was the 2nd annual #VoteNats Tweet-Up. .

When I arrived at Nats Park, the first thing I did was check in behind section 141, near the picnic tables.  One reason they had the Tweet-Up was to encourage fans to vote the Nats into the All-Star Game.  The Nats staff had set up iPads on the picnic tables to get Twitter fans to vote right away!  Last week, Bryce was behind Andrew McCutchen and Justin Upton, but enough people voted for him that he actually got the 3rd starting spot in the outfield for the NL All Start team. 

At the tweet-up, I voted for the All-Star Game the maximum allowed 35 times. In the National League, I voted for Adam LaRoche, Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Jayson Werth, and Wilson Ramos.  (I was so excited to see Bryce Harper and Jordan Zimmermann named to the All-Star Team!  Hopefully the fans vote in Ian Desmond too – Click here to help send Desi to the ASG!  If everyone knew how great Desi was to his fans, he would definitely win the fan vote!) #DesiIn13

After we voted, the Nats set up a special Q&A session with F.P. Santangelo (@FightinHydrant), Julie Alexandria (@JulieAlexandria), Dave Jageler (@DaveJageler), and Tyler Clippard (@TylerClippard).  Earlier in the day, @Nationals asked followers on twitter to submit questions for the Q&A.  I asked Julie a question on Twitter, and she answered it.

At the tweet-up, they asked her the question again in front of everyone. I was so surprised they asked my question!  When they announced my name, everyone cheered, which was great. 

I wanted to know if Julie Alexandria is more afraid of getting hit by a ball or getting hit by a tidal wave of Gatorade.  She answered, obviously, a ball (a ball probably hurts a lot more than Gatorade!). She also said that if she gets Gatorade dunked on her, that means that Nats won.

Since they asked my question, I got an official Tweet-Up poster autographed by Tyler Clippard.  (Actually it was a 2012 Tweet-Up poster, since Clippard’s picture wasn’t on the 2013 poster).

FP also told the story of our funny conversation when I was on vacation in San Francisco.  I asked FP on Twitter what was fun to do at AT&T Park, because he used to play for the Giants and was a broadcaster for the Giants before he came to DC. He replied, and told me to jump the rail with two outs in the 3rd inning and run on the field. I knew he was kidding!  I answered with my own joke – “I am not spending my vacation in Alcatraz!”

One of the reasons I love Twitter is that I get to interact with my baseball heroes!  I also got to see a lot of the people who I communicate with or follow on Twitter like:

  • @AshburnNatsFan
  • @LauraRoose
  • @DCSportShopped
  • @NLBeastNats
  • @JackOBeam 
  • @jonfeng1
  • @nextyeardc
  • @courtney_hsieh
  • @NothinButNats
  • @MHeller
  • @Cindysterp
  • @NatsFamily
  • @TracyTran
  • and others

During the game, the Nationals had other Twitter contests for fun prizes.  I guessed who was going to win the President’s Race, but I was wrong.  I was glad I stayed for the game – I got to see Anthony Rendon hit a home run!  It was a bummer the Nats lost, though.

I loved the tweet-up, and I can’t wait for next year’s when we vote to send the Nats to the 2014 ASG in Minneapolis!


TONIGHT’S GAME
NATIONALS VS. PHILLIES

DAN HAREN (4-9, 6.15 ERA) VS. JOHN LANNAN (1-3, 5.15 ERA)

#PhlattenThePhillies
 

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

IGNITE YOUR MATT-ITUDE!

Bryce Returns with Some Early Fourth of July Fireworks

Bryce Harper has achieved many accomplishments in his young career. He was awarded the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2012, along with the Nats Heart and Hustle award. He was a #1 overall draft pick in the 2010 MLB Draft, on the cover of Sports Illustrated at age 17 and 20, and hit a home run on a 1-0 count in the first inning on Opening Day.

As we all know, on May 13, that Bryce went down chasing a fly ball hit by Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis in the bottom of the fifth inning. He required stitches, but everyone said he didn’t have a concussion.  He also hit the wall chasing down a fly ball in Atlanta and bruised his left side.  If you don’t remember, you can read this post

Bryce returned on May 15th, pinch hitting in the ninth inning of that game. He started the next night in San Diego, highlighting the night with a home run in the 7th off Tyson Ross.

Not everything looked right.  Bryce played at home against the Phillies on May 26 of Memorial Day Weekend, a game I attended. Bryce stole third base in the first inning, capping the steal with an awkward slide that hit his knee. In the 7th, Bryce fouled the first pitch off the same knee. After Bryce walked, Roger Bernadina pinch ran for him.  Little did we know, Bryce would be out on the DL for more than a month.

You may think that when a player returns from a long stint on the DL, he might go 0-for-4 or 1-for-4 with a simple bloop single.  But in BryceWorld you never think that! Flashback to Opening Day, April 1, 2013. Bryce took a splitter from Ricky Nolasco for ball one, and on the next pitch, a curveball, Bryce hit it into the stands!  A home run in his first swing of the 2013 season.   And then in his next at bat, Bryce did the same thing!  2 at bats, 2 home runs!

On July 1, three months later, Yovani Gallardo threw him 2 2-seamers, one high for ball one, and the next pitch, a homer to left center. All that Bryce needs is a train ticket to Citi Field for the All Star Game!

TONIGHT:
BREWERS VS. NATIONALS

WILY PERALTA (5-9, 5.58 ERA) VS. STEPHEN STRASBURG (4-6, 2.41 ERA)

#SkewerTheBrewers

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

IGNITE YOUR MATT-ITUDE!

 

Ballpark Bash: AT&T Park vs. Nationals Park

As many readers know, I just came back from a trip to San Francisco.  While I was there, I went to see a Giants game at AT&T Park.  I noted a few things at the ballpark that I wanted to share with my readers who usually watch games at Nationals Park and to compare the game-watching experience between AT&T Park and Nationals Park.

As they always say, everything is different on the other side. That is true on the other side of the country at AT&T Park:

  • The deepest part of the park is in right field.
  • The bullpens are sandy and on the side on the foul lines near the dugouts. The relievers actually sit in the dugout, not in the bullpen. 
  • There are kayaks in McCovey Cove behind the vast sea of orange and black!
  • You don’t drink from Coke bottles, you slide down them!
  • There are freaks and pandas!
  •  There are smiling cars and smiling fans in the left field bleachers!
  • There are walk-off inside the park home runs!

On the other side, in Washington DC…

  • The deepest part of the ballpark is in center field. 
  • There are separate bullpens behind the outfield walls, and the relievers sit in chairs in them. 
  • Behind the sea of red inside the stadium, there isn’t a Cove, but there is the Anacostia River and a giant DOT  (Department of Transportation).  
  • There are Werthquakes, #untucks, and Racing Presidents. 
  • Our broadcasters can summon walkoffs out of thin air. 
  • You eat half smokes “all the way,” #steak and of course you #EatFace. 

 But for some things about both stadiums, you need to visit them to know them.

MUSIC

At Nationals Park, the players get to choose their own walk-up songs (the songs they play when the batters come up to the plate).  (Also, check out the complete list on District Sports Page). The most famous, is A-Ha’s 80’s hit “Take On Me,” which Michael Morse used in 2012 when he strolled to the plate. Now the Nats use that song after the 7th inning stretch and the fans all sing “I’ll be gone in a day or twoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!”

Other Nats players with walk-up music that fans really get into:

  •  Firework by Katy Perry (Mattheus)
  • Warehouse by Dave Matthews Band (Werth) (Fans yell “Wooo!”)
  • Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor (Stammen)
  • Bad Company by Five Finger Death Punch (Storen)
  • And, of course, the custom walk up song for the closer Rafael Soriano called “El Rey de Monticulo” (King of the Mound) that goes “Pitch it, Soriano, pitch it, Soriano! Strike him out, Soriano, strike him out, Soriano!” in Spanish.

The Giants also say that their players pick their own songs, but when I visited AT&T Park, it didn’t seem like that.

ADVANTAGE: NATS PARK

ACTIVITIES FOR KIDS

Nationals Park has plenty of options for kids. They reserved an area called the “Family Fun Area,” including a playground, the Exxon Strike Zone, complete with 2 batting cages and two pitching simulations and facts of the game, and a Build-A-Screech Workshop.  The Nats Racing Presidents and Screech also are always around taking pictures and giving high fives to kids.

But AT&T Park is the home of the famous Coke bottle and baseball glove on the promenade, which are actually play areas for kids.  Kids can actually slide down the inside of the Coke bottle.  There is also a miniature version of AT&T Park that kids can play whiffle ball in.  Also, there is a Ghiradelli Cable Car that you can sit in and take pictures. It is actually a cable car that was used to roam the streets of San Fran, but it was retired and brought to the stadium.

Food stands at AT&T Park have special kids meals, which the Nats don’t have.  The Nationals have one Rookies food stand near the playground that sells cheaper hot dogs and other food kids like, but they don’t have kids meals.  They also sell Nats Value Packs (that is not just for kids) at the Nats Dog stands for $8.00 that comes with a hot dog, chips, and a soda. AT&T has a special kids meal for $5 that includes a hot dog, raisins, a juice box, and a prize that all comes in a souvenir pail. The prize in my kids meal was a Giants cape, which sounds a little weird but was actually kind of cool.  Nats Park’s option is more appealing, but at AT&T you get a souvenir. 

Finally, this is not really a kids activity, but it is a really cool feature.  AT&T Park takes their luxury box experience to 35,000 feet. To get to the Virgin America Club Level, fans go through a mood-lighted escalator resembling a Virgin America airplane.  We didn’t sit in the club level, but we saw the escalator.

How can Nats Park improve their kids fan experience?  The can install some umbrellas to make the kids area more shady and maybe some misters or fountains that kids can play in and cool down.  A special kids meal would also be good.
 
ADVANTAGE: AT&T PARK

 VIEW

San Francisco is arguably the most beautiful city in California. Looking down the hill from Hyde & Chestnut Streets, you have an amazing view of the bay and Alcatraz. In the SoMa area of SF, where AT&T Park is located, you will never miss a kayak or sailboat in the cove and the view of the Bay Bridge. 

In terms of the beauty of the city, Washington DC is up there with San Francisco in that column, with our monuments and memorials.  But Nats Park was “sent down to AA” because Ted Lerner built the Red Porch and Parking Garage A that block the view of the Capitol from left-centerfield.  

ADVANTAGE: AT&T PARK

FOOD

AT&T Park is famous for its garlic french fries that you get from the Gilroy Garlic Fries stand.  They also serve regular fries, too, but it’s their Garlic Fries that are the most popular. They even come with mints!

Here’s a secret though.  The garlic fries are the same ones you can get at Gordon Biersch!  So now that there is a Gordon Biersch across the street from Nats Park (see this post where I write about my lunch there after Nats Park tour), you can have the same San Francisco experience in D.C.

I think the many food options at Nats Park make it even better, like the Red Porch restaurant and famous chili dog restaurant, Ben’s Chili Bowl. The Nats’ version of Ben’s isn’t the complete version, but the Nats put the items most people like on the menu. At the Red Porch in center field, fans enjoy the game from red seats while hanging out in the restaurant. And this is no concession stand. It is a full restaurant.  

Also Nationals Park has a Shake Shack, Blue Smoke and El Verano Taqueria upstairs.

ADVANTAGE: NATS PARK

IN-GAME ENTERTAINMENT

“The pitcher, number 37, Stephen Strrrrrrrasburg!”  “Number 48, Pablo Sondoval!”

They might look the same when you see them written out, but they sound very different when announced at the ballpark.  The voice of the Nats PA announcer is a man named Jerome Hruska.  The Giants use a woman named Renel Brooks-Moon.  I am more used to hearing Jerome announce players, but there is really no advantage here to either team.

The Nats also have a group of cheerleaders called the Nat Pack.  I really like them, because they do the t-shirt toss and do a dance on the dugout when they play Take On Me.  They also pump up the crowd before the game.  The Nat Pack also run the Kids Run the Bases at Nationals Park on Sunday, which is a very cool thing to do and not something they allow at AT&T Park.  Sometimes in the middle of the game, Terrence, one of the Nat Pack, runs around like a maniac, which is kind of good and kind of bad.  The Giants don’t have anything like that. 

They also don’t have an in-game host who plays games on the scoreboard with fans like Lindsey does at Nats Park.  And, you know what, I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  I mean, if you’re coming to a baseball game, you should be entertained by the game on the field instead of the silly games on the scoreboard.  I admit that like I was 3 or 4 years ago I used to like those games.  But now I keep my eyes on the field!  But I like Lindsey better than Clint, but that is just my opinion.

ADVANTAGE: NATS PARK (but it’s a close one)

CONCLUSION

People say that AT&T Park is one of the best ballparks in the US.  I agree.  There are some things that are much better than Nats Park, like the old-fashioned feel, the amazing views and atmosphere, the activities, and the great fans.  But in my Ballpark Bash, Nationals Park comes out ahead 3-2.  No matter what, I still love Nats Park!

A lot of my readers are into Twitter, so here’s one last thing that AT&T Park had that Nats Park doesn’t: a social media lounge called @Cafe.  You can charge your phone or iPad there, meet up with people, and follow along with what people are saying with TVs that show tweets people are sending.  AT&T Park also has very good wifi.  Nats Park has free wifi, but it doesn’t usually work.

NEXT NATIONALS GAME 

NATIONALS VS. BREWERS

YOVANI GALLARDO (6-7, 4.20 ERA) VS. JORDAN ZIMMERMANN (11-3, 3.28 ERA)

#SkewerTheBrewers

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

IGNITE YOUR MATT-ITUDE!