Results tagged ‘ F.P. Santangelo ’
Baseball players are creatures of habit. They have to be, by necessity. Success in this sport is defined by consistency, by the ability to produce at a high level continuously over the ups and downs of a six-month grind.
So one can imagine that it might take a while for players to get into their groove upon the beginning of a new campaign. Spring Training is easy – every day is almost the same – a morning workout, usually a mid-day game, and the evening off, with the same bed to sleep in for six weeks. The regular season brings something else entirely.
From the beginning of April until whenever the season comes to an end, the team jets north and south, east and west, zigzagging the country every few days. Most road trips – of which the Nationals will take a dozen during the regular season – include at least two different stops, meaning a new city, a new opponent for which to prepare, a new ballpark, and a new hotel bed.
It’s no wonder it can take a while for players to settle in.
“It usually took me the whole month of April,” recalled Nationals television color man F.P. Santangelo, who played parts of seven big league seasons with the Expos, Giants, Dodgers and Athletics.
For the Nationals, the month of April includes the recently concluded trip to Cincinnati, an upcoming week split between Miami and New York, and a trip to Atlanta and Pittsburgh that rolls into early May. While that is a fair amount of travel, Santangelo pointed out that the Nats lucked out in one regard.
“At least they only have one Opening Day,” he explained, referencing the April 1 opener in D.C. “Sometimes we’d have two or three. You’d have to stand out on the line for a half-hour for introductions. It would take you totally out of your routine.”
Quite often, teams will play in both their own home opener as well as one or more on the road, as Washington did last year in Chicago. The Nationals were spared the extra pomp and circumstance by a quirk in the schedule this year that saw them play three at home, travel to Cincinnati for three, then return again to D.C.
Now behind the mic, Santangelo is still subject to the same schedule as the players. Having played through it during his career, he knows not to invest too much into the highs (like a three-game, opening sweep of the Marlins) or the lows (such as a 15-0 loss to the Reds on Friday) this early in the season.
That’s the beauty of the game – while each individual result stands on its own, the teams that can get into the habit of winning for the long stretches are the ones that get to keep playing in October.
Following another stellar pitching performance, the Nationals are off to a 2-0 start for the second straight season. And while Gio Gonzalez’s sparkling outing and solo home run stole the headlines, there was another play in Wednesday night’s game that requires a bit more examination.
Danny Espinosa stood at third base with Roger Bernadina at first (having pinch-run, following a Chad Tracy walk) with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning. Denard Span was at the plate, and pulled a ball slowly towards Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano. The fielder and ball converged directly in the base path, just as Bernadina arrived en route to second base. Solano was able to make the tag, but the two collided, with Espinosa scoring from third before the throw could be made to first base.
In the moment, we described the play as a “fielder’s chomp,” as Bernadina was tagged out, but the action allowed Span to reach first safely. On the air, F.P. Santangelo called it a “shark attack” on the air, and while that’s good, we’ve used it before for some of Bernadina’s feats.
#Nats tack on a run on a fielder’s chomp by Span/Bernadina. Shark tagged out, Espinosa scores, Span safe at first
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 4, 2013
And so, as with anything Bernadina-related, we’re deferring to the folks at Sharkadina for the final call. They took “shark attack” to the next level, combining it with “tackle,” which is exactly what happened. And, as a bonus, the unassisted putout by the second baseman is scored 4U in baseball.
So there you have it. A Shark Attackle 4 U.
Now, here’s the fun part. Take the screenshot below and use your glorious Photoshop skills to replace Solano with whatever you think The Shark should be chomping. Email your submissions to email@example.com and we’ll post our favorites!
TOP 3 FAN SUBMISSIONS
From @zachlwood: Dinner Is Served
From @ambp77: RGIII Approves
From @FakeFP: Shark On Waterskis
Sports are full of “firsts” and “lasts,” the types of facts and figures that allow us to place events in appropriate historical context. One of the most noted of these facts in baseball is that the Chicago Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908. What’s often forgotten is that the Cubs have also not won a pennant since 1945, a stretch of 67 years.
In that spirit, let’s go ahead and get the historical facts surrounding where the Washington Nationals stand today out of the way. The club will enter play this 27th of July, 2012 with a 59-39 record, matching the New York Yankees for the best record in the game. This marks the first time the Nationals have stood 20 games above the break-even point since their return to Washington in 2005. It is also the first time a Washington-based Major League Baseball team has been in such a position since the 1945 Senators finished their campaign at 87-67, the same year as that last Cubs pennant.
In fact, at 59 wins the Nationals have already matched their season total from both 2008 and 2009, with 64 games still left to play.
And while all that is notable, games are still won day-to-day, moment-to-moment. It is the little things that continue to have a big impact for the Nationals. Take Thursday night’s game against the Brewers, for example. There was one very loud moment, which you probably remember, and a much quieter one that you may have missed, which turned the game.
The Nationals scored their first run on an Adam LaRoche solo shot, his third home run in as many games, coming on Yovani Gallardo’s first pitch of the second inning. That feat alone was impressive enough, but the fact that it came in lock step with MASN’s highlight package made it even more incredible. F.P. Santangelo had just finished detailing LaRoche’s previous blast as he stepped to the plate, describing the opposing pitcher’s location mistake as a “fastball right down the middle for a home run…” and crack. The ball sailed over the right-center field wall, LaRoche trotted around the bases, and Santangelo continued. “You are looking live, this is not the highlight package that we just showed.”
But it was when Roger Bernadina drew a two-out walk that the Nationals sprung at the opportunity to do some real damage. With the runner at first, the Milwaukee defense played batter Jesus Flores to pull the ball, moving the shortstop into the hole, and pulling the second baseman farther up the middle, assuming coverage of the base on a possible steal. Davey Johnson put on the hit-and-run, drawing the second baseman to the bag and opening up the right side of the infield for Flores, who swatted what would normally be a routine ground ball through the vacated infield dirt, Bernadina racing around to third on the single.
Following the play, Bob Carpenter and Santangelo remarked that Flores had already done his job in the inning. No matter the result, by reaching, Flores had gotten the pitcher to the plate, meaning that at the very least, leadoff man Steve Lombardozzi would lead off the third inning. But Gallardo was flustered by the turn of events, falling behind fellow pitcher Edwin Jackson at the plate 3-0 before walking him to load the bases. Lombardozzi then yanked a clutch, two-out triple inside of first base and down into the right-field corner, and the Brewers never responded.
Meanwhile, LaRoche’s bizarre kinship with his former teammate Jackson – with whom he also played in Arizona – continued, as he hit the seventh of his team-leading 19 home runs in a game that Jackson started. And Jackson continued the trend of superb starting pitching of late. In the last turn of the rotation, Nationals starters have allowed just three runs in 34.0 innings pitched, good for a 0.79 ERA.
For their troubles, the Brewers get lefty Ross Detwiler tonight, who is 1-0 with a 1.89 ERA this month. On Saturday, they will face Jordan Zimmermann, who will make his homecoming start in his native state of Wisconsin and currently sits at an otherworldly 3-0, 0.87 through his first four starts in July.
The Nationals, meanwhile, are looking at uncharted waters, a chance to not only push more than 20 games above .500 for the first time ever, but also to notch their seventh straight Curly W, which would mark the longest winning streak of the season. The Nationals have not won that many consecutive games since taking eight straight from June 10-18 of last year.
All of that talk can wait, though. For now the Nats will focus on getting one more baserunner on offense, one more out on defense, doing what they have done all year long. The best part? You can watch it all again tonight.
Baseball is a game loaded with more odd traditions and superstitions than any other sport. With 162 games in the regular season, everyone goes through boons and swoons, streaks and slumps. And when they want to find a way to keep a hot streak alive, or break out of a cold one, players will try most any type of ritual or routine that they can believe in, in order to help them find the magic that got them to the big leagues in the first place.
The Nationals entered Tuesday night’s game in Colorado having dropped seven of their last 10 contests, posting an average of just 2.5 runs per game. That included just two runs of offense with Stephen Strasburg on the hill in the first of a four-game set on Monday, as the Nats took a rare loss behind one of their top two starters. That sputtering offensive output came despite playing in the rarefied air of Coors Field, the hitters’ paradise, where curveballs come to die.
Enter, The Rally Napkin. With Washington leading 1-0 in the top of the third inning on Tuesday night, Danny Espinosa stood at first base with two outs. Nationals television color-man F.P. Santangelo pointed out a piece of trash from the stands, a white ballpark napkin, that had escaped a fan’s grasp and wisped across the field, coming to rest against Espinosa’s leg. Santangelo dubbed it “The Rally Napkin,” and immediately after he did so, Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse came through with back-to-back doubles to put the Nationals ahead, 3-0.
The offense was hardly done there, though. Ian Desmond rapped out four hits, including a trio of doubles, and now leads all Major League shortstops in extra-base hits. Zimmerman, whose double in the third was the 999th hit of his career, came through with his 1,000th in his next at-bat, and later homered. LaRoche, who opened the scoring for the evening with a solo shot in the second, went deep again in the sixth for Washington’s final score. Tyler Moore launched perhaps the longest home run of the year, a back-breaking three-run shot, measured at 462 feet straight into the teeth of the Denver wind.
When the dust had settled, the Nationals had racked up a season high 12 runs. They tied a franchise record with 21 hits. When Mark DeRosa’s ninth-inning double rattled into the left-field corner, they set a new club mark with 11 extra-base hits. They even spawned a new Twitter account. By the end of the sixth inning, Santangelo was holding court on camera with a napkin tucked into his collar.
In a Nationals season full of big moments – and the memes that follow them – it was just the latest to come along. You can be willing to bet tough-luck starter Jordan Zimmermann, who has just three wins despite a stellar ERA of just 2.89, will be looking for some floating paper around Coors Field to spark the offense when he takes the hill Wednesday night.
Hey, whatever works.
During every game at Nationals Park, after the hometown nine have finished batting in the third inning, fans are directed to the landing behind the homeplate screen, where a group of military veterans are recognized. The Nationals are the only team to carry this tradition at each game, and fans and players alike – both home and away – respond the same way every time, with a standing ovation. The moment is always touching, as is the show of solidarity as we all take a moment away from the game to remember what really matters.
At the same time, each of those veterans has his or her own individual story. Following the preseason exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox, both players and fans were introduced to the group that comprises the Washington Nationals Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. Nationals players had a chance to meet a few of them and get to know some of our more recently wounded warriors better in a recent trip to Walter Reed. But there was another story, one that flew under the radar for most, that played out at Nationals Park earlier this year.
Petty Officer Christopher Karnbach, an intelligence specialist in the Navy Reserves, was set to take off on deployment to Cuba last July when he began looking at special services to help his two children, Abby and Christopher Jr., while he was away. Unfortunately, with his deployment running into May, he would have to miss Opening Day at Nationals Park, something he had attended with his son the year prior and intended to become a father-son tradition.
“I managed to sneak in Abby’s birthday before I left and Christopher’s birthday was in February so I bought him tickets for Opening Day,” said Karnbach. “We had played hooky from school last year and we came in and saw the game. With me being gone, I had called my wife up and asked, ‘if I get him tickets for Opening Day, will you take him?’ She called in sick and they had a blast.”
Even though he couldn’t be there in person this year, Karnbach was following the game from Cuba. He was able to pick it up on television just in time to see the game go into extra innings.
“I ran home as fast as I could just to see Ryan Zimmerman score that last run,” he recalled. “Then I started texting (my family) like crazy.”
Without baseball to bring them together, Karnbach looked into other programs available for his children through the military’s family services. Both Abby and Christopher Jr. enrolled in martial arts, and Karnbach’s wife Ann-Marie would keep dad updated on their progress. Little did he know that the Navy would find out about his family’s involvement in the programs and decide to award them Military Family of the Year.
Karnbach was not set to return to the states until May, but it was arranged for him to come home a few weeks early to attend a special ceremony in which he would receive the honor. The only catch, was that he could not tell his family in advance, as the ceremony – and family reunion – would be a surprise.
There was just one problem – Karnbach arrived home a day early, and found himself stuck, unable to go home for fear of ruining the festivities planned for the next day. So, he hid out the one place where he knew he could relax, calm his nerves, and blend into the crowd.
“I had a full day in Maryland, and I’m this close to home,” Karnbach explained. “I was like, ‘I am going to see the Nats play.’”
The baseball side of Karnbach’s story could have ended there. After all, little did Karnbach know that Nationals television broadcaster F.P. Santangelo would be present at his family’s reunion the next day.
“It was probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen,” said Santangelo. “There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I’ve never seen behind the scenes what it puts a family through. To see kids without their fathers, without their mothers who have been deployed, then to watch him come home, it was really touching and moving.”
Santangelo was so touched by the whole experience, he offered to bring the whole family out to the ballpark as his personal guests that night.
“(After I) watched the game Wednesday night I thought ‘alright, I got my Nats fix in,’” said Karnbach. “And then when we met, (Santangelo) said ‘here’s my number, call me and I can get you some tickets.’ My wife was like ‘we’re going.’ I said ‘I haven’t even been home yet.’ She said ‘we’re going.’ So I was like ‘OK, we’re going.’”
As a result, Karnbach got his proper welcome home with his fellow vets at the end of the third inning. Right on cue, before the military salute, Zimmerman blasted his first home run of the season, a three-run shot into the visitor’s bullpen that sent Karnbach cheering. It was obvious he was still a bit overwhelmed and just amazingly grateful for everything that had happened to bring him and his family back together that night.
“To me, this is just the coolest thing ever,” he said. “Everything the Nationals have done for my family, and me, this is great.”
For the Nationals, it is stories like Karnbach’s that make everything else worthwhile.
For more on Karnbach’s story, watch the video of his family’s reunion here.