March 2010

President Obama to throw out first pitch on Opening Day


President Obama First Pitch c.jpgThe entryway in the Presidents Club right behind home plate chronicles the storied history of past Presidents throwing out ceremonial first pitches.

 

The Nationals will be able to add another photo to the iconic display when President Barak Obama throws out the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park prior to the 2010 season opener against the defending National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies on Monday, April 5 at 1:05 p.m.

 

“Opening Day of the baseball season is a special event for our country and its importance has been reinforced by the 100-year history of Presidential participation,” Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig said , who will be in attendance for the historic First Pitch. “I am proud that President Obama will continue the long Presidential tradition of throwing out the first pitch of Opening Day in Washington, DC”

 

Obama’s appearance will mark the 100th anniversary of the first time a U.S. President threw an Opening Day first pitch and the 48th time a President has done so in Washington, DC.  On April 14, 1910, William Howard Taft began the tradition before the Washington Senators went on to defeat the Philadelphia Athletics 3-0 behind a one-hit, complete game shutout by Hall-of-Fame Pitcher Walter Johnson.

 

It’s only fitting that 100 years later, Washington once again faces their neighbors to the north in a highly-anticipated Opening Day showdown.

 

“Across the country, Opening Day is a celebration of the return of hometown baseball and the glorious days of Spring,” Nationals Owner Theodore N. Lerner said. “It’s a time of renewed hope and optimism for fans everywhere. The Lerner and Nationals family are honored that President Obama will mark that moment with us at the home of the National Pastime in the Nation’s Capital.”

 

President Obama will add to the impressive resume of Presidents who have helped promote the National Pastime in the Nation’s Capital:

·         Presidents Ronald Regan, George H. W Bush and Bill Clinton all threw out first pitches for the Baltimore Orioles

·         When the Expos became the Nationals in 2005, President George W. Bush threw out the first pitch at RFK Stadium 

·         President John F. Kennedy threw out the first pitch for three consecutive seasons for the Washington Senators

·         Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Woodrow Wilson and Dwight Eisenhower all threw out first pitches at Griffith Stadium

·         President Roosevelt tossed an unprecedented eight Opening Day first pitches at Griffith Stadium

 

Countdown to Opening Day: 10 till ’10

Opening Day on April 5 at Nationals Park is just one week away. Spring Training is winding down and we are counting down the final few weeks of the offseason highlighting 10 memorable moments, jaw-dropping catches and walk-off wins. You have seen them before but you’ll want to see them again.

 

Last week we highlighted Ryan Zimmerman doing what he does best–coming up big in big situations.

 

This week we highlight the newly named starting shortstop rookie Ian Desmond’s memorable Major League debut on September 10, 2009. Desmond recorded his first Major League hit and RBI in his second at bat, a double to left. He hit his first home run in his next at-bat, a three-run blast to center field. Desmond earned the spot over veteran Cristian Guzman with an impressive spring. He batted .298 (17-for-57) with one home run and 14 RBI in 21 games. Click here to view it on NatsHD or here…
20091010 Desmonds Debut_Hi.mpg …to view Desmond blast the ball to the Red Porch restaurant.

 

2010 could be the year of John Lannan


John Lannan Spring Training.JPGThis could be the year of John Lannan. While everyone has been focused on Stephen Strasburg’s every move and pitch, Lannan has done what he has always done best–traveled under the radar like a stealth bomber. The cool-headed, hard working
pie master, low maintenance man is having his best Spring to date: 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA (3 ER/ 11 IP), one walk, six strikeouts and a .190 BAA. The kid that keeps defying odds is entering his third full season in the Majors–not even he thought he would ever make it to the pros– and he could be the Nats first 15-game winner since Livan Hernandez in 2005. 

A few thoughts from Lannan…

On the additions of Jason Marquis and Chien-Ming Wang:

“We got a lot of guys that have won and know how to win. Of course I am happy with what the front office has done.”

Marquis and Lannan are the only two Native New Yorkers to beat the Mets and Yankees in the same season:

“There is something about pitching in front of your family and against the team you grew up watching. It is a great feeling just to pitch there and have your whole family and friends cheer you on. That’s a pretty cool fact.”

On victories:

(Every pitcher has pitched well enough to get a victory but for whatever reasons walked away with the loss. It seems to happen to Lannan more frequently than others though. The sum of his outings weren’t indicative of his overall record last season. First, he had a 3.71 run support average, the second-worst RSA in the Majors last season with at least 200.0 IP. Second, just look the numbers between CC Sabathia and himself. It begs the question: how many wins would have Lannan had if he pitched for the Yankees in 2009?)

Number of games started allowing three earned runs or less:

Sabathia: 23 Lannan: 23

ERA in those games:

Sabathia: 1.78 ERA (32 ER/ 161.2 IP) Lannan: 2.24 ERA (39 ER/ 156.2 IP)

Individual Record in those games:

Sabathia: 18-0 Lannan: 9-5

Team Record in those games:

Sabathia: 20-3 Lannan: 12-11

“I am taking my lumps right now. It doesn’t really get to me. There have been plenty of times when I have given up more than three runs and have walked away with the win. It evens out. You can’t really look too deep into that. You want to go out there and put up wins. But you have to look at how many games the team wins when you are out on the mound. That overall record is more important than my individual record.”

(As you probably could have guessed, it doesn’t quite even out. During his two-plus seasons in the Majors, he has just two wins when he has allowed four runs or more and he has 13 losses when he has allowed three runs or less. In the losses, he has a 3.10 ERA but a 1.22 run support average and that explains it all.)

On being the de facto ace last season and how he sees himself entering 2010:

“I am just going to do what I do… the title of ace didn’t really fit my attitude with where I was with my game last year. But hopefully one day I can feel comfortable with that title, but right now I am comfortable with where I am at.”

On losing the twitter battle–first person to garner 1,000 followers–to teammate Collin Balester:

“He had a two week head start. I lost and I will give him that but look at who has more followers now.”

(Balester was the first to 1,000 followers but Lannan has taken a commanding lead. As of right now the score is: Lannan 1,968 to Balester 1,408)

On 2010 goals:

“You don’t want to put a cap on what you can do. No one has won 33 games but you don’t want to say you can’t do that. That mentality has really helped me out. As far as numbers go, I just want to improve on last year, little by little and just have fun. Go out there and compete and just improve every year.”

Countdown to Opening Day: 10 till ’10

There are now just two weeks until Opening Day on April 5 at Nationals Park. Spring Training is winding down and we are counting down the final few weeks of the offseason highlighting 10 memorable moments, jaw-dropping catches and walk-off wins. You have seen them before but you’ll want to see them again.

 

Last week we highlighted Josh Willingham defying the odds when he hit two grand slams in one game.

 

This week we highlight Ryan Zimmerman doing what he does best–coming up big in big situations. Click here to view it on NatsHD or here…
20090906 Zimmerman Walkoffh.mpg …to view Zimmerman walk it out.

Countdown to Opening Day: 10 till ’10

There are three weeks (four Mondays) until Opening Day on April 5 at Nationals Park. Spring Training games are in full swing and Stephen Strasburg pitched three scoreless innings yesterday to extend his scoreless streak to 5.0 innings. Ian Desmond continues to show he should be an everyday shortstop. In nine games, he is batting .455 (10-for-22) with one home run and leads the Grapefruit League with 11 RBI. We are counting down the final few weeks of the offseason highlighting 10 memorable moments, jaw-dropping catches and walk-off wins. You have seen them before but you’ll want to see them again.

 

Last week we highlighted John Lannan’s complete game shutout against the Mets on July, 21.

 

This week we highlight Josh Willingham defying the odds. The Hammer turned July 27, 2009–a mundane Monday in Milwaukee–into a magical memory when he hit two grand slams in one game. For perspective, there have been 17 perfect games, 15 four home run games but just 13 players have hit two slams in the same game. The odds are nearly impossible–there is a better chance you are randomly selected from a hat filled with every American’s name. “It was pretty unbelievable,” Willingham said. “That’s about all I can say really. You don’t get a chance to do something like that often.” And by often, he means next to never. Click here to view it on NatsHD or here…
20090727 Wilingham Two GS_h.mpg …to view Willingham’s magical night in Milwaukee.

Nationals-Yankees Grapefruit League contest cancelled due to rain

The rain continues to fall in Viera but after the 2009 season which saw 22 games affected by rain… it doesn’t really come as a surprise that a Nationals Spring Training game has been cancelled for the second straight day. Today’s 1:05 p.m. Nationals-Yankees Grapefruit League contest at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, FL has been cancelled due to rain.

If you are holding tickets for either March 11 vs. Houston or March 12 vs. New York (AL)–both games were cancelled by rain–you can exchange those tickets for any other Nationals 2010 or 2011 Spring Training contest, subject to availability.

Nationals Spring Training season ticket holders will be notified in the coming days as to policies affecting their tickets for both March 11 and 12.

The Nationals’ next home game is Sunday, March 14 vs. St. Louis. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.

Countdown to Opening Day: 10 till ’10

There are four weeks (five Mondays) until Opening Day on April 5 at Nationals Park. Spring Training games are in full swing and while the Nats are still looking for their first win, Ian Desmond is playing himself into a roster spot. In four games, he is batting .545 (6-for-11) with one home run and seven RBI. We are counting down the final few weeks of the offseason highlighting 10 memorable moments, jaw-dropping catches and walk-off wins. You have seen them before but you’ll want to see them again.

 

Last week we highlighted Adam Dunn hitting his 300th career home run.

 

This week we highlight John Lannan’s complete game shutout against the Mets on July, 21. The native New Yorker loves pitching against his hometown teams and he seems to save his best for the Mets. He has two career complete games, both coming against the Mets last season. He pitched against the Mets five times in ’09 and went 2-2 with a 2.43 ERA (10 ER/ 37.0 IP) and a .220 BAA. The numbers get even better if you exclude his first start. In his last four starts against the Mets, he went 2-1 with a 1.41 ERA (5 ER/ 32.0 IP) and a 1.85 BAA. Click here to view highlights from the July 21 game on NatsHD or here…
20090721 Lannan CG SO_hi.mpg …to view Lannan being locked in.

 

Don’t miss Strasburg pitch tomorrow: You will be able to watch Stephen Strasburg make his first Spring Training start tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. MASN HD–the television home of the Washington Nationals–will televise Tuesday’s Nationals-Tigers contest. Bob Carpenter, Rob Dibble and Debbi Taylor will call all the action live on MASN HD from Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Fla. This is the first of five Nationals Spring Training contests to be televised on MASN HD.

First Ladies walk with a purpose


Ashley Balester.jpgBefore the Washington Nationals took the field for their Spring Training home opener in Viera against the New York Mets, the Nationals First Ladies and the Central & North Florida Alzheimer’s Association teamed up for the Space Coast Memory Walk, that took place on Saturday.

 

For those not familiar with the First Ladies, the group consists of the wives, girlfriends and fiancés of Nationals players and coaches and they help out with different community events throughout the year.

 

Ashley Balester, wife of Nats reliever Collin Balester, is very involved with the First Ladies and helped coordinate the Space Coast Memory Walk with the Alzheimer’s Association.

 

“I think it’s just good for us to be able to say on behalf of the Nationals, to the fans around here to say, ‘Come with us and walk with us at the stadium,’ to kind of get the community involved with the Nationals more,” Balester said.

 

Last year’s walk took place at Erna Nixon Park in Melbourne and in order to increase awareness and visibility in the community, the event was moved to Space Coast Stadium.

 

“The support we received from the Washington Nationals First Ladies last year made us feel that Space Coast Stadium would be the perfect 2010 home for [the] Memory Walk,” said Joan Giovanni, Events and Community Relations Coordinator of the Central & North Florida Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

 

The First Ladies have gotten the word out to friends, family and the community to pledge money to their team for the walk and they have already doubled their total donation from last year.

 

“I think we raised just over $2,000 last year and this year we are already at $4,000,” Balester said. “It’s been really good.”

 

The money raised helps those affected by the disease locally and funds research grants nationally. The Alzheimer’s Association also lobbies to Congress to increase funding nationally, to assist caregivers and those diagnosed with the disease.

 

The First Ladies have multiple programs to benefit the community in the Washington, DC area, but are now looking to increase their impact on the community during their time in Brevard County, as they plan on coordinating other fund raising efforts as well.

 

“I want to organize a bake sale, to benefit Share Our Strength, which is a national organization to fight childhood hunger,” Balester said. “I want to do that and we are getting involved to collect non-perishable food donations for a local organization in Melbourne.

 

“I am always open and available to do anything in the community, if anyone ever wants our help for anything.”

 

Countdown to Opening Day: 10 till ’10

There are five weeks (six Mondays) until Opening Day on April 5 at Nationals Park. The first Spring Training game is this Thursday, a split-squad scrimmage against the Marlins and Astros. We are counting down the final few weeks of the offseason highlighting 10 memorable moments, jaw-dropping catches and walk-off wins. You have seen them before but you’ll want to see them again.

 

Last week we highlighted Willie Harris hitting a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 12th inning against the Blue Jays the night after Dunn hit a walk-off single.

 

This week we highlight Adam Dunn once again. On a day known for fireworks and freedom–that would be the Fourth of July–Dunn created his own fireworks when he blasted his 300th career home run to left field. He finished 2009 with 38 home runs, ending his five year streak of hitting at least 40 home runs. He currently sits in17th place among active players with 316 home runs, one behind David Ortiz. Click here to view it on NatsHD or here…
20090704 Dunn 300th HR_hi.mpg …to view, as we like to say, Dunn getting it done.

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