April 2015

A Wild Win

Washington Nationals v Atlanta Braves If you were to travel back in time to the third inning of last night’s game and tell a Nats fan that the Nats would come back from a 9-1 deficit, they would stare at you like you were from Venus. Well, you’re not from Venus.  By the end of last night’s game, a miracle happened in the Big Peach. Backed by homers by Jose Lobaton, Denard Span, and the eventual game winner in Dan Uggla, the Nats won a wild one down in Atlanta.

Bryce Harper got things started in the first inning by doubling in Denard Span, but as quick as you can say “Coca Cola”, things got ugly. A.J. Pierzynski hit a sac fly to bring in Nick Markakis, and Alberto Callaspo doubled in Freddie Freeman. Then, Atlanta got 7 runs to make it a 9-1 game by the third inning, making it look like the game was a total bust.  That’s when I tweeted:

 

and I turned off the TV.

After that, Jayson Werth and his beard drove in Span to make it a 9-2 game.  The Braves and Pierzynski drove in a run to make it 10-2, basically a 3rd inning win for the Braves, right? No. Werth got another sac fly, and Jose Lobaton cranked one over the left field wall to make it a 10-6 game in the 5th. The next inning, Denard Span unleashed a solo shot over the scoreboard on the right field fence to make it 10-7. Pierzynski made it 11-7 by doubling in Freeman, but in the 7th, Dan Uggla doubled in two to make it 11-9.  Right after that, Reed Johnson hit a ground-rule double to make it a 1-run game. (Pitcher Doug Fister pinch ran for Johnson because he injured himself of the play– another injury for the Nats!)  Pierzynski got ANOTHER RBI and made it 12-10, but that’s when the miracle happened. In the 9th inning, Uggla took Jason Grilli’s pitch and sent it soaring over the left field fence for a 3-run blast.  The Nats were leading in the top of the 9th 13-12.

FLASHBACK!– It’s a Friday, July 20, 2012, and you are at Nats Park. You were treated to a good game, with Stephen Strasburg on the hill and the Nats leading 9-0 after 5 innings. The Braves have a big 6th scoring 4 to make it 9-4. Another 4-run inning makes the game 9-8. Then, when things couldn’t have gone more uglier, Michael Bourn tripled in Dan Uggla and Paul Janish to make the game 10-9. Ugh! They were winning 9-1 and now losing 10-9! You saw Danny Espinosa homer to left off Kimbrel to tie it up, but Janish drove Uggla in on a weak pop fly to Ian Desmond. Soon later, Atlanta won.

Last night we got our revenge.

Watch the comeback video here!

Nationals fans needed this win!  This was the biggest deficit they’d overcome since the Montreal Expos franchise moved down to Washington. Even when they struggle, they always get back on track. Hopefully this sparks a turning point in this bad season so far.

The Baseball Players Who Invented the High Five

April 16 is a special day in baseball history.  On April 16, 1941 Bob Feller threw the only Opening Day no-hitter.  Also, on this day, people celebrate National High Five Day.  What does National High Five Day have to do with baseball?  Well, the first-ever high five occurred on the field at Dodger Stadium.

On October 2, 1977, Dodgers outfielder Dusty Baker (maybe better known as the recent former Reds manager) hit a home run off of Astros pitcher J.R Richards. It was Baker’s 30th big fly.  When Baker got back to home plate, his teammate Glenn Burke raised his hand up in celebration.  Not knowing what to do, Baker just slapped it, and that became the first ever high five.  It started as a mistake by a Dodgers outfielder, but became a tradition for when celebrating you do something good.

firsthighfiveHere’s a link to a cool story on Grantland about the high five.

(Glenn Burke also has an interesting history as the first and only MLB player to be out as gay.  He faced a lot of bad prejudice and left professional baseball when he was 27).

Baseball high fives are still in the news.  About a month ago, pink eye was spreading around the Milwaukee Brewers spring training facility in Peoria, Arizona.  The team banned high fives so that players wouldn’t catch the contagious disease.  They gave fist bumps instead.

There is still some dispute over who invented the high five. Some people say that it was invented at a University of Louisville Cardinals basketball practice, when Wiley Brown and Derek Smith gave a low five to each other, but quickly changed into a high five. I like to believe that it was invented by Glenn Burke and Dusty Baker.

The “holiday” National High Five Day was started in 2002 at the University of Virginia. A group of students set up shop on the main quad of the campus and gave out high-fives and lemonade.  You can celebrate National High Five Day just by giving out high fives or tweeting with the hashtag #NH5D.

National High Five Day was celebrated by the Washington Nationals Presidents:

I hope that National High Five day is a reminder to the Nats to get back on track and that we see a a lot more of this kind of post-game celebrating this year!DSC_0521

 

 

50 Things I Love About Opening Day

5012 od Baseball fans have been eagerly awaiting the start of baseball season. Opening Day is Monday!  My hometown team, the Washington Nationals will play the New York Mets at Nationals Park. Nats newbie Max Scherzer will take on Bartolo Colon.

 

As is an annual tradition, to celebrate Opening Day, here are my 50 favorite things (not in order) about the start of the baseball season.

1. Um, baseball begins!!!
2. The beginning of MASN HD broadcasts so I can watch real, live games, not Nats Classics
3. The family DVR will stop recording all my parents’ shows
4. Lots of new food options to try at Nationals Park like Virginia Biscuits, gourmet Grilled Cheese and Mac and Cheese, and New York-style Pizza.
5. The sounds of baseball – “crack!” of the bat. “whoomup!” of the ball hitting a glove. “peanuts! cracker jack!” shouting vendors.
6. Rob Manfred, the new MLB commissioner, will throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day
7. The high pop fly getting lost in the starry night of DC
8. Listening to DC Washington (who has a pretty awesome name) sing the Star Spangled Banner
9. Seeing how players deal with the new speed of play rules against stepping out of the batter’s box
10. Welcoming Max Scherzer, Casey Janssen, Yunel Escobar, and Matt den Dekker to the team
11. Waving your caps for the troops in the 3rd inning
12. Quick Pitch is on MLB Network. It is my main source for games I can’t stay up to watch
13. 6-4-3 doubleplays!
14. Scoring the games
15. Inside Pitches
16. Opening of the new team store at Nats Park this season
17. Seeing the train scoreboard in the Norfolk Southern Club in action
18. Replacing the rivalry with the Atlanta Braves with the Marlins or Mets
19. Counting down days until the Jayson Werth Chia Pet giveaway
20. Now that I’m older I get to stay up later to watch more of the night games
21. We’re season ticket holders again!
22. All of the major sports magazines have us winning the NL East – NO JINX
23. Finding out what song will play at Nats Park during the seventh-inning stretch
24. I can’t wait to see what they do at TheNationalsArchive.com this year
25. Sometimes missing school for games
26. Pups in the Park and Nats Pets Calendar
27. Commemorative bobbleheads to collect this year (I can’t wait for the Stras bobblehead!)
28. Lots of new things to write about on MattsBats.com (sometimes it’s very hard thinking of topics for posts during the offseason)
29. Seeing how the 2:05 clock in centerfield for TV commercials actually works (part of the new pace of play rules)
30. Seeing 10th Anniversary commemorative patch on the Nats jerseys
31. Waiting for summer to officially begin
32. Baseball games that actually count
33. Proving that the Nationals have the best rotation in the MLB
34. Seeing Ryan Zimmerman play games at first base
35. Reading articles by some of my favorite reporters like James Wagner and Mark Zuckerman
36. “Buy me some peanuts and Cracker Jack”
37. Bob and FP on TV, and Charlie and Dave on the radio
38. Ryan will hit homers to Zim-bomb-we
39. More posts and podcasts from my favorites like Nationals 101, Red Porch Report, The Nats Blog, The NatsGM Show, and Citizens of Natstown
40. The Nationals outfield spells “WSH” (Werth-Span-Harper) (but only Harper will be playing on Opening Day)
41. Listening to baseball on the radio during car trips and while going to bed
42. Lots and lots of cheering Nats fans at each game
43. The only time I can bug my parents for a soda and actually get it
44. I might get my 1,500th Twitter follower this season
45. Nats Dogs
46. The possibility of MLB announcing the 2018 All-Star Game is coming to DC #DCISREADY
47. Turning eleven!
48. Getting the chance to meet more Matt’s Bats readers and Twitter followers at “tweet-ups”
49. Baseball almost every day until at least September and hopefully October
50. Charlie Slowes saying, “Bang! Zoom! Another Curly W is in the books!”

What are your favorite things about the start of the baseball season? Leave a comment or tweet me at @MattsBats.

 

My 2015 Predictions

The baseball season is about to begin! And because of that, I have decided to publish my predictions for the season. So with out further adieu, here are the official MattsBats.com previews and predictions for the 2015 season!  (If you want to see my 2014 predictions, click here.  I published them as separate posts, but this one has a link to them all).  Read my predictions for which team will win each Division, plus Post-Season and World Series predictions, and Awards predictions.  Also, at the bottom of the page, I’ve included my 2014 post-season predictions.  Hopefully, my predictions for 2015 are more accurate!

NATIONAL LEAGUE

2013 Preview- NL EastNL EAST

5. Philadelphia Phillies

4. Atlanta Braves

3. Miami Marlins

2. New York Mets

1. Washington Nationals

I think the Nationals have this division locked up because they have a great rotation, unanimously the best in baseball. Their past struggles give them a deep, deep farm system. The Mets and Marlins, with their good pitching and hitting, will be the biggest contenders to the Nats’ division title.  I’m predicting the Nats win 99 games this year.

 

nlcentralonlynonhatsNL CENTRAL

5. Milwaukee Brewers

4. Cincinnati Reds

3. Chicago Cubs

2. Pittsburgh Pirates

                                                                       1 . Saint Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals will take the division again here in 2015, but a late-season run by Pittsburgh puts them in a close second. I’m predicting Kris Bryant will break out for the Cubs. He will start the year in the minors, but I’m predicting he’ll be called up to the delight of the MLBPA and fans early on– like by April 29. I’m also predicting Bryant will come away with a big award (see end).  The Cardinals to do well this season, but I’m saying they will barely come up with the title.  If you like baseball, this is the Division to watch in 2015.

 

2013 Preview- NL WestNL WEST

5. Arizona Diamondbacks

4. Colorado Rockies

3. San Diego Padres

2. San Francisco Giants

1. Los Angeles Dodgers

In another close battle, I’m predicting the reigning West champs will take it. Even with the new and improved team, A.J. Preller’s Padres will come in third in a tough battle between the Dodgers and Giants. LA, with Yasiel Puig, Joc Pederson, and Carl Crawford in the outfield and Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, and Adrian Gonzalez patrolling the infield, has a slight advantage over the Giants.  Again, this is a great Division to watch, even though here on the East Coast we don’t get to see too much West Coast baseball because of the time difference.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

2013 Preview- AL East            AL EAST

            5. Tampa Bay Rays

            4. Baltimore Orioles

            3. New York Yankees

            2. Boston Red Sox

                                                                               1. Toronto Blue Jays

This is a tough division to choose from- it’s either you have Toronto winning the Division and Tampa Bay coming in last, or Tampa Bay winning the Division and Toronto coming in last.  I’m predicting each team in this Division will have a winning record, so it will be very close.  The Tampa Bay roster looks a lot like Toronto’s.  I think you can be pretty confident, however, picking, Boston Red Sox to finish in second. Falling under the radar will be the Orioles, who will fall in fourth after losing Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz. So I’m asking you, don’t buy anything expensive at Marlo Furniture these next few days (their promotion is that if Nationals play the Orioles in the World Series, everyone gets a refund– I don’t think the O’s are World Series contenders this year).

2013 Preview- AL CentralAL CENTRAL

5. Minnesota Twins

4. Chicago White Sox

3. Kansas City Royals

2. Cleveland Indians

1. Detroit Tigers

Even though the Nats and Red Sox stole their entire rotation (except for Anibal Sanchez) and Justin Verlander is on the DL, I still have Detroit winning this division. Ian Kinsler will go 20/20 for the team this year and finally have his breakout season. Sports Illustrated has the Indians winning the Wild Card, but I don’t (read my AL West prediction below to see who I think gets the WC spot). The rejuvenated White Sox will finish behind the Royals, last year’s runner-ups.

AL WEST

5. Houston Astros2013 Preview-AL West

4. Texas Rangers

3. Oakland Athletics

2. Seattle Mariners

1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

This is going to be a very interesting dogfight come September. I’m predicting the Mariners will have a strong lead, until Mike Trout literally gets plunked by Felix Hernandez in July. Although Trout stays fine, the team makes a huge push to take the Division. I’m guessing they end in a tie– 91-71–and the tiebreaker, in LA, on October 5, ends up in a win for the Angels.  That’s pretty specific, isn’t it?  I’m saying Seattle takes the Wild Card.

POST-SEASON

NL WILD CARD

2nd Place NL West San Francisco Giants

2nd Place NL Central Pittsburgh Pirates

WINNER- Pittsburgh Pirates

AL WILD CARD

2nd Place AL Central Cleveland Indians

2nd Place AL West Seattle Mariners

WINNER- Seattle Mariners

NLDS

Washington Nationals versus Pittsburgh Pirates-WINNER- Washington Nationals

Los Angeles Dodgers versus Saint Louis Cardinals- WINNER- Los Angeles Dodgers

ALDS

Seattle Mariners vs. Detroit Tigers- WINNER- Seattle Mariners

Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Angels- WINNER- Los Angeles Angels

NLCS

Washington Nationals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers- WINNER- Washington Nationals

ALCS

Seattle Mariners vs. Los Angeles Angels- WINNER- Los Angeles Angels

ws16WORLD SERIES

Washington Nationals vs. Los Angeles Angels- WINNER- WASHINGTON NATIONALS

WE WILL BE PARTYING DOWN PENN THIS NOVEMBER!!

 

 

2015 Award Predictions

NL MVP- Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)

AL MVP- Mike Trout (LAA)

NL ROY- Kris Bryant (CHC)

AL ROY- Andrew Heaney (LAA)

NL Cy Young- Clayton Kershaw (LAD)

AL Cy Young- Felix Hernandez (SEA)

NL Manager of Year- Mike Matheny (STL)

AL Manager of Year – John Gibbons (TOR)

NL Comeback Player of Year- Ryan Zimmerman (WAS)

AL Comeback Player of Year- Evan Longoria (TB)

World Series MVP- Anthony Rendon (WAS)

 

* (2014 Post-Season Predictions)

AL:
West– Texas Rangers
Central– Detroit Tigers
East– Boston Red Sox
WC1– New York Yankees
WC2– Oakland A’s
*But the Tampa Bay Rays are contenders too!
Pennant– Detroit Tigers

NL:
West– Los Angeles Dodgers
Central– St. Louis Cardinals
East– Washington Nationals
WC1– Atlanta Braves
WC2– Cincinnati Reds
Pennant– Washington Nationals

World SeriesWashington Nationals over Detroit Tigers

 

Matt’s Bats Becomes Official Braves Youth Blogger; Welcome #BravesBaby

tedturner

I am happy to announce the exciting news that Mr. Ted Turner, CEO of Turner Enterprises, has invited me to join the Atlanta Braves team as their Official Braves Youth Blogger.  I have enjoyed following the Nationals since 2012 on my Matt’s Bats MLB Pro blog.  I will still be writing my weekly guest blogger column for MASN, but I will only write about how much better the Braves are than the Nationals.

The Braves have also given me the opportunity to announce this MONSTER trade: the Atlanta Braves have traded 1B Freddie Freeman and RP Craig Kimbrel to the Washington Nationals for Younaifred Aguero, a prospect playing for the Gulf Coast League Nationals.  Braves fans everywhere are excited to welcome Younaifred to Atlanta, and they wish Freddie and Craig best of luck in DC.  The team will celebrate Younaifred’s call-up to the big leagues by treating all fans to a celebration of Venezuelan delicacies on Opening Day at Turner Field!  Come hungry for authentic Cobb County, Georgia arepas!

Also, the Braves are giving me the honor of announcing their brand new new official team mascot.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet “Braves Baby!”

bravebaby

The Braves official Twitter account wants to know what you think about the new mascot Braves Baby.  Send a tweet to @Braves and use the official hashtag “#BRAVESBABY”  Let’s get #BravesBaby trending!

Finally, I wanted say this one last thing before I say goodbye to all of the fans in Natstown who have supported me over the years:

APRIL FOOLS!