From the Desk of Mark Lerner: Road Tripping
Hello Nationals fans. I am blogging today from north of the border, where your Nationals are about to wrap up the most successful road trip since arriving in D.C.
The trip began with a three-game sweep of the Red Sox. When Tyler Clippard posted his third save in as many games on Sunday, Washington became the first NL club to sweep a series at venerable Fenway Park since the Braves did so way back in 2002.
While the memories of the Beantown sweep will remain for a long time, my immediate thoughts reside with Jesus Flores, who has taken undue punishment behind the plate. Whether it be foul tips or the inevitable pitch cross-up, Flo’s arms, legs and hands sport bruises representing every color of the rainbow. Yet, he keeps on blocking balls and putting himself in harm’s way. Luckily, there are no mental dings for Flores, however, as his game-calling skills have helped unite a hot pitching staff.
Fenway was not immune to the ever-increasing number of Curly “W” hats, shirts and logos that we have seen on the road. I can also tell you that the players have noticed. I have never seen more Nationals gear for a road series. Yet another bit of evidence that our fans are realizing that this is shaping up as a special summer.
And what about our favorite 19 year-old, Bryce Harper? His play is nothing short of stellar. And, from my seat, it is contagious for teammates and fans alike. While his talents are obvious to all, his energy and undying passion for the game is what sets him apart. Oh, … and his prodigious power! That homer of his to center field on Tuesday night at Rogers Centre will not soon be forgotten.
I am looking forward to this weekend’s upcoming Yankees series at Nationals Park. The Bronx Bombers are playing very well the last three weeks and find themselves currently atop the AL East standings (they’ve also been very helpful in winning five straight from the Mets and Braves). It appears we will miss C.C. Sabathia’s turn in their rotation, but Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte and Ivan Nova will undoubtedly provide a stiff weekend test.
I have to think tickets for this weekend are the hottest in D.C. this year.
I also urge all fans to plan your departures and arrivals to Nationals Park 45 minutes earlier than normal if you want to see all the action from first to last pitch. Sellout crowds, rush hour traffic (Friday), road construction and previously-scheduled Metro track maintenance will all be part of weekend equation.
While it is easy to focus on the big Yankees weekend, let’s remember that Tampa Bay is set to invade Nationals Park next week. The Rays’ ability to compete and often beat the Yanks and Red Sox in that division is equal parts commendable and inspirational.
Lastly, I am hopeful that our increased fan presence on the road can extend to our series at Camden Yards on the weekend of June 22-24. Let’s have some fun with this pennant race thing!
I hope to see you all at Nationals Park this next week … Don’t forget to Vote Nats!