Monday, March 31, 2008

Nats' Opener: Best. Night. Of. 2008.



From the front page of today's Washington Post:

No grass was ever greener than the Kentucky blue that spread out across the field at dazzling new Nationals Park last night. No popcorn ever smelled so delicious. No beer ever tasted so refreshing, no hot dog so juicy. The senses were overloaded and overwhelmed on an Opening Night unlike any ever witnessed in these parts -- in a $611 million, taxpayer-built palace in a formerly blighted part of the District, in front of a national television audience.

And no roar ever washed over a building like the one that built and soared and then exploded from the crowd of 39,389 as the final pitch of the night arrived from the mound and landed, following a mighty swing from Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, over the wall in left-center field, a walk-off home run that gave the Nationals a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves and provided a fitting end to a memorable night.

"Storybook ending," said Mark Lerner, the Nationals' principal owner. "It was the end of a perfect day. You can't write a script like that."
It was the best season opener anyone could want (and I've been to 3 of the Nats' 4 so far, with bronchitis regrettably holding me back two years ago.) It was the best ending to a game I can ever remember attending, out of the few dozen or so I've probably been to in my life. It was the perfect way to kick off the new ballpark and the new season. And I still can't believe I was able to be there to see it happen.

For weeks I'd been frustrated that I was unable to buy tickets to the game when they first went on sale online, then watched as $%^&ing scalpers proceeded to sell tickets at outrageous prices--upper-deck seats going for $70, $80. Yesterday morning, my friend and I woke up early, and in a last bid to secure seats, tried bidding on virtually every eBay auction and Craigslist posting, only to see them get out of reach.

Finally at noon, we decided to just go empty-handed to the stadium and try our luck at picking up the limited number of walk-up seats that the team was reserving for the day of the game. The Nationals had said on their website that they would not allow people to camp out for them, so we figured we could just show up and try and get lucky.

Well, we got there a little after 1pm to find lines wrapped around the block. I later read in the Post that people had camped out since 6am. Even after we joined the line though, the crowds grew exponentially, and after two hours of waiting in line we realized our chances weren't good, and that we'd probably wind up forking triple-digits in cash to a last-minute scalper.

Right then came my luckiest break...ever? I heard someone far, far ahead in line call my name. It turned out to be my friend Tolu, from my fantasy baseball league, who had got there with his buddy much earlier. Right in the nick of time--the walk-up tickets were released ten minutes later--he invited my friend and I to get seats with him so we could all sit together.

How much did I wind up paying for admission to the game? $5, baby!

Five dollars from seats that, although up high, were much closer to the field than their RFK counterparts. There was no problem at all with the view from the bleachers--heck, you could see the Capitol dome right up close from our seats.

The new stadium is flat-out amazing. It's a beautiful, mesmerizing, absolutely perfect temple of baseball. You can read about all the great features elsewhere, but it's impossible to not point out the closeness of the seats, the wide concourses with open views of the field, the giant HD scoreboard, and the elegant architecture throughout. We spent almost 2 hours before the game just walking around, pretty much in awe.

The game itself...read the recap. Basically, a magical night was almost tarnished when Lo Duca let up a passed ball to let the Braves tie it in the top of the 9th. With two outs in the bottom of the 9th, right when all of us frozen-to-the-bone fans were steeling ourselves to go into the wee hours of the night, up came the future of the franchise. At that point, the Nats hadn't managed a hit since the 1st inning.

When his bat connected with the ball, people cheered, likely thinking it would be a solid double. But it kept carrying...to deep center...and over the wall. Ensue pandemonium. I've never felt such ensuing delirium at a stadium before. The night was saved--no, immortalized. I jumped into my friend's arms, into strangers arms, high-fiving and hugging anyone around. During a brief pause to catch my breath, I noticed a video camera man focused right on us--we may have been on the Jumbotron (or ESPN?), but I was too busy to notice.

The Nationals may not have a good year this year, but anyone who saw last night's game felt something special. A storybook ending, indeed.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

There is No God

...or else, The Almighty has a perversely cruel sense of humor: forcing me and all other Patriots-haters to root for Elisha Manning and the Gints of NY to win a Super Bowl.



Storyline for the next two weeks: can I forget how the Patriots' thrashed my favorite team (the Redskins) and beat my old hometown team (the Chargers) twice? Is it better that New England affirms its perfect season, its truly superior play this year, and its modern dynasty....rather than have ****ing Eli win a ring? Maybe. Just maybe...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

9 Reasons Why the Giants Will Lose

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Playoffs? Let's Talk About Playoffs!


Wondering which religion is the true path? Pray to the Super Best Friends, and you'll get the results you want! I know I did: Washington Redskins 27, Dallas Cowboys 6 (Box score | Article)

Win our 4th straight game and we're in the playoffs? No problem!

Doesn't matter if the #2 offense in the league decides to give its starters a lot more playing time than expected.

Doesn't matter if the Redskins are on the wrong side of 4 instant replay challenges in the first half.

We got the hottest QB in the league (Todd Collins), we got C.P. running well again, we got Santana Moss burnin' it up (8 catches, 115 yards, 1 TD), we got our defense clickin' (holding the Cowgirls to 1 [ONE] yard rushing and no touchdowns.)

Congrats to St. Joe and the 'Skins, we're going to the playoffs, and we EARNED it!


Todd Collins leads 'Skins to 4th straight victory, hasn't turned the ball over this season


Clinton Portis has 4th straight game with 100+ combined yards


Gregg Williams appeals to Iowa caucus voters because he is a Washington insider who is strong on defense.


Next Saturday's wild-card playoff matchup: Redskins at Seahawks!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Super Mario's Revenge


Super Mario and his brother Luigi sack Jay Cutler. (...man, what a dumb graphic.)

Two years ago the Houston Texans shocked the sports world with a stunning display of idiocy when they used their #1 overall draft pick to select not superstar USC running back Reggie Bush but rather, a UNC defensive end named Mario Williams.

The general consensus was that the multi-talented offensive threat Bush was the greatest thing since sliced bread and swimsuit calendars. I'm happy to note that I sounded the cautionary alarm well before the draft, saying then:

"I'm just not sure he's going to be the huge-impact player in the NFL that he's projected to be. NFL defenses are a lot faster and stronger than any Bush has run against, and with him being a speed runner as opposed to a power runner, that could cause problems. Splitting carries with [LenDale] White at USC, Bush hasn't really had to be a workhorse before...I think [drafting Bush is] a risk and not in Houston's best interest."
Of course, at the time I advocated they draft Vince Young to satisfy their QB need, but a year later they have found both Matt Schaub and backup Sage Rosenfels can win games for their team. Meanwhile, Reggie Bush isn't Reggie Bust yet, but this guy was like Herschel Walker in college. While HW's pro career was a let-down, I think Reggie would be happy to wind up with numbers like that guy's.

This season, Mario Williams is second in the league wtih 13 sacks. He's forced a couple fumbles and scored a TD. His Texans, despite playing in the most difficult division in the NFL (two games each against the Colts, Jaguars, and Titans), are still 7-7.

Reggie Bush has struggled this year, especially with the loss of his power-running complement Deuce McAllister to injury, and Saints fans are wondering whether Aaron Stecker might be a more effective option. Bush himself may be done for the year with his own injury, and the numbers he put up were not impressive: 581 rushing yards on a 3.7 avg (though he did have 417 receiving yards), 7 fumbles, and a then-league-high 10 drops.

So far, advantage: Texans.

Remember Shaun Hill?


QB Shaun Hill led my Maryland Terrapins to an ACC Championship and a BCS berth in the January 2002 Orange Bowl. (Scott McBrien after him was even better, but since then the QB position has been a talent vacuum.) Post-UMD, Hill went missing like Jimmy Hoffa, his entire pro career consisting of two kneeldowns in garbage-time for the Minnesota Vikings in the 2005 NFL season.

Hill finally got his break last week when he replaced injured 49ers QB Trent Dilfer (himself in for an injured Alex Smith) mid-game, going 22-of-28 for 181 yards and a TD. He also lost a couple fumbles, but hey, who's counting?

He will be starting for the 49ers in a Saturday night matchup against the Bengals which no one will be watching. (Because it's on the NFL Network, not because both teams really suck, though that's another good reason not to watch.) Nonetheless, congrats, dude!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Mitchell Report - Graphic Summary

Yesterday, the much-anticipated Mitchell Report investigation into steroids use in baseball came out, excoriating dozens of players. In case you've been in a coma for the past 24 hours, here's what you missed out on (hat tip to Microsoft Paint):













Still role models: Tony Gwynn, Cal Ripken, Ken Griffey Jr., Greg Maddux, et al.