Happy 4th of July!
oday is our Independence Day, our nation’s 129th birthday(plus 100, thanks RandomCarbon). Go out and celebrate. I wanted to go to the mall, but I’m still not finished with my paper. So I’m stuck at home. But I’ll celebrate with sausage, a beer and a baseball game: Washington Nationals vs. the New York Mets. Speaking of which….
ast week, I was pleasantly surprised to find that many in my class–including most of the female students–enjoyed baseball. This is cool because I love talking sports and they are willing to chime in. But I know that there are very few baseball fans among my subscribers. Indeed, when I start talking about sports, I have had my share of unsubscribers. I’ve never unsubscribed from someone unless the site is abandoned or the other person unsubscribes first. Oh well. Can’t win ’em all…
Unless you’re the Washington Nationals. Hahahahha. Just kidding.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to a Nationals game at RFK to see Ichiro and the Seattle Mariners. M and Chip, being Japanese I guess, wanted to root for the Mariners, but I had to root for the home team. And they won their 10th straight. Now, the Nationals are not a powerhouse–they are the former Montreal Expos, are owned collectively by the MLB owners, and are on a shoe string budget. I think their payroll is $48.6 million. This pales before the Yankees $208.3 million. Players like Livan Hernandez and Jose Guillen are known commodities and perform relatively well, but they are not the superstars of some other teams. But they do know how to win.
And it is amazing. Yesterday, they played the Cubs at Wrigley Fields and the Cubbies outhit the Nats 8 to 5. Indeed, that monster of a first baseman, Derek Lee, hit a home run and a triple. I mean, in any game, a Mr. Lee homer and triple usually spells W-I-N for the Cubs. But not against Washington. We won 4-2–sorry Sam. (You are reading, right?) And today, they win again. They led 2-0 for most of the game, the Cubs tied it in the ninth. The Nats take a 4-2 lead in the 11th and the cubs tie it again. But they finally won in the 12th on a homer by the catcher Schneider. These guys just don’t quit.
What I really like about this club is that they play baseball the old fashion way. Solid–if not spectacular–pitching and good defense. for the most part, the starting pitching is adequate, usually reliable for 5-6 innings–except for Hernandez who will give you 7 to 8 strong innings. They have strong middle relief and Chad Cordero (29 saves) as our closer–although he gave up the 2 run homer that tied the game in the ninth. This is Frank Robinson’s way of managing when the players he has at his disposal are not superstar caliber. The pitching and defense. I tell ya’, I am amazed at how this team wins. In June they were outhit for the entire month (.273 to .261) and yet they went 20-6. Defense and pitching will take you a long way.
I could go on, but I’d just bore you guys. And besides, they are truly over achieving. If I say too much, it’d be that much more crow I’d have to eat. I give the Nationals their due, but I’m not sure they can keep it up. I hope for the best but expect… well, you know. I’ll just enjoy the ride while it lasts.