Results tagged ‘ Nationals Park ’

Uniting Through Baseball

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A momentous event took place among the crowd of 36,155 at Nationals Park last Wednesday night. While most fans settled in for just another evening of baseball along the Anacostia, some of the most powerful members of our government convened not to draft or debate policy, but to come together in a relaxed setting to get to know each other as human beings and take in a ballgame.

Partisan politics can hinder progress in Washington sometimes, which is why Representatives David B. McKinley (R – W.Va.) and Diana DeGette (D – Colo.) decided to try to bridge the two sides of the aisle through baseball. Admittedly, they didn’t know what kind of response they would receive for the first-ever Congressional Night at Nationals Park, but they were pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Congressman McKinley (second from left) and Congresswoman DeGette (third from left) spearheaded the bipartisan effort.

Representatives McKinley (second from left) and DeGette (third from left) spearheaded the bipartisan effort.

More than 100 Members of Congress RSVP’d for the event, along with more than 450 of their staffers. While Democrats and Republicans will face off against one another in the annual Congressional Baseball Game tonight, Thursday, June 13 at Nationals Park, this event gave both sides a chance to come together, as colleagues instead of adversaries, to enjoy America’s game.

As evidenced here, baseball brings people together in a special way like nothing else can. We sat down with representatives McKinley and DeGette as they arrived at the ballpark to discuss how this all came about, and what they think they may be able to accomplish through the common ground of baseball.

Curly W Live: What was the genesis of this whole thing? How did it start and whose idea was it?

Congressman David B. McKinley: We just thought we ought to get together. I think too often the American public doesn’t think we know each other, and I think we can do a better job of it; I don’t think we get along very well either. So, we figured let’s get together and break down those walls. Because it’s hard (to disagree) after you have a drink with someone, or have a hamburger, once you get to know them a little bit. This was a positive step and (Congresswoman DeGette) was our first choice. That’s who I wanted as the co-chair (for this event). And we’re going to have over 100 congressmen and 400 staffers, so we’ll have over 500 people here on our first effort.

DeGette: We’re on the same committee together (the Energy and Commerce Committee). It’s his second term, my ninth term, and we’ve been sitting there for a couple years thinking — and there are probably people on both sides thinking — there’s a lot we could do together if we only got to know each other better. So when Dave came up to me on the floor and said, ‘Hey, will you co-chair this game?’ it was really perfect. And, he didn’t know this, but I’m a huge baseball fan and I’m a Colorado Rockies season ticket holder.

A few of the attending Congressmen gathered in front of Nationals Park.

A few of the attending Members of Congress gathered in front of Nationals Park.

CWL: How did the specific idea for baseball come up?

McKinley: I think it’s just a good time, you get to be outdoors here and it’s convenient for Congress. We want our Congressmen to get to talk to each other.

DeGette: And, you know, baseball’s our national sport, so of course it’s the logical choice.

CWL: How long in the making has this event been?

McKinley: Probably a couple of months.

DeGette: And the Nationals have been very, very helpful to us.

CWL: This is a first-time event, but what do you hope to build off this to bring back to the Hill?

McKinley: (We want to) start to break down barriers, just so we talk to each other, because we don’t do that. There are not functions where Congress gets together. This is a beginning. DeGette and I first met when we went over to Normandy on D-Day to place a wreath there, and we realized that we can have a conversation. We don’t have to be adversaries. What we want to do is get more people doing the same thing.

DeGette: And, you know, we can’t agree on everything, but we have enough trust in each other now. When we disagree, we don’t have to beat around the bush. We can say, ‘Hey, you know, I can’t do that, but maybe we can do it this other way.’ I’ve found that in all my years in Congress that actually can be really beneficial.

CWL: Does the ballpark provide a safe haven where you can check that at the door and everybody can get along?

DeGette: Oh, absolutely.

McKinley: I think so. But again, I’m just so delighted. This morning, we had 101 guaranteed tickets of congressmen and at least 400 staffers. How many thought we would have over 500 people on the first time?

DeGette: For our first one! So what we hope is that word will get around about how great this is, and then next year we’ll have 1,000 people.

What to Watch for: 6.9.13 – Game 1

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Minnesota Twins (27-31) vs. Washington Nationals (29-31)

LHP Scott Diamond (4-4, 4.66) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (8-3, 2.16) 

The Nationals will play the second and third/final games of this series as part of a split doubleheader, with Game 1 beginning at 1:35 p.m. Washington will send Jordan Zimmermann to the hill, still in search of his ninth victory of the season after a loss and a no decision in his last two outings. The Nationals need wins in both games to secure a winning homestand before hitting the road for nine games, beginning Tuesday.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Kobernus CF

2. Lombardozzi LF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Werth RF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Rendon 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

SAINT ANTHONY, RAKING

Anthony Rendon has reached base safely in seven straight big leagues games, going 8-for-23 (.348) with five walks, two doubles and two runs scored. The seven-game surge spans a pair of stints with Washington. Incidentally, in between the big league stints, Rendon combined to hit .316 (25-for-79) with 18 walks, eight doubles, two triples, four home runs, 11 runs scored and 17 RBI in 22 games for Double-A Harrisburg (19 games) and Triple-A Syracuse (three games).

GOOD WOOD, SLICK LEATHER

Ian Desmond has hit safely in 10 straight games at a .308 clip (12-for-39) with a walk, three doubles, two homers, four runs scored and four RBI. Desmond now has five career double-digit hit streaks to his credit, two this season (also a 10-gamer, April 24-May 3). He is currently a game shy of matching the longest hit streak (11 games, June 5-17, 2011) of his career. Meanwhile, defensively Desmond has played a career-high 41 consecutive errorless games (164 total chances) since last committing a miscue on April 21 at New York (NL). This is currently the longest streak of its kind among big league shortstops. The longest previous string of errorless games during Desmond’s career was 39 straight games, May 5-June 21, 2011.

HOME COOKING

Jordan Zimmermann has been particularly strong within the confines of Nationals Park, where he has not lost since May 17 of last season, a span of 18 starts. Zimmermann is 10-0 over that stretch at home, and the Nationals have not lost a game he has started in his last 12 outings in D.C.

Desmond Driving Donations

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This Sunday, June 9 the Nationals will host a baseball equipment drive before they take on the Minnesota Twins at 1:35 p.m. at Nationals Park. The drive will take place at the Center Field Gates from when gates open at 11:00 am until the end of the third inning. During this time, fans are encouraged to donate new and used baseballs, softballs, bats, batting gloves, catcher’s equipment, youth batting helmets, bases, baseball pants and cleats. All equipment donated will benefit youth baseball in Washington, D.C. and will specifically help the Capitol Hill Little League.

The drive will be hosted in conjunction with The Baseball Tomorrow Fund, which will provide a $5,000 grant to Capitol Hill Little League. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is a combined effort between Major League Baseball and its players to promote and help fund baseball and softball.

Ian Desmond is again serving as the player ambassador for this initiative for the second season in a row. Desmond has a history of supporting youth baseball and has previously visited Capitol Hill Little League. Desmond will be on hand for Sunday’s pregame ceremonies as the Baseball Tomorrow Fund presents its check to Capitol Hill Little League.

What to Watch for: 6.4.13

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New York Mets (22-32) vs. Washington Nationals (28-29)

RHP Jeremy Hefner (1-5, 4.74) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (8-3, 2.37) 

After coming off a series loss in Atlanta, the Nationals look to turn things around at home with their most consistent starter on the mound. Jordan Zimmermann has paced the Nats pitching staff with a solid start this season and has not lost at home in his last 17 Nationals Park outings, dating back to May 17, 2012 vs. Pittsburgh. Jayson Werth returns to the lineup after over a month on the Disabled List with a hamstring injury and is joined by call-ups Anthony Rendon and Ian Krol. In nine games with High-A Potomac, Werth went 9-for-16 with two walks, a double and two home runs.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Werth RF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Bernadina LF

7. Lombardozzi 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

FIRST BLOOD

The Nationals are 21-5 when scoring first in ‘13 and their corresponding .808 winning percentage ranks second among National League entries behind only the Braves (24-3, .889).

‘TWAS A MERRY MAY

Despite barely sleeping in their own beds (18 of 28 road contests in May) and being burdened by an overpopulated Disabled List, the Nationals somehow went 15-13 in May. The Nationals winning May was especially impressive considering the weighted winning percentage of the their nine opponents on the month was .517 (using records at close of play on May 31). Dating to September of 2011, the Nationals have played winning baseball in eight of their last nine months.

GOOD WOOD, SLICK LEATHER

Ian Desmond has hit safely in seven straight games, notching a .308 clip (8-for-26) with a walk, two doubles, a homer, three runs scored and 2 RBI over that stretch. Defensively, Desmond has played 38 consecutive errorless games (153 total chances) since last committing an error on April 21 at New York.

The Reemerging Ace

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Baseball is a funny game to write about. Conclusions can be drawn from every minute action, but almost none of them are warranted. Those who have pontificated on Washington’s 3-0 start, or the Nationals ensuing ebbs or flows that have rendered them anywhere from five games over .500 (7-2) to a game under the break-even mark (13-14) since then have probably overreacted in both directions. As Davey Johnson loves to say, you’re never as good as you look when you win and never as bad as you look when you lose.

To that end, many of those who cover this game – and especially the Nationals – from afar were quick to jump to the conclusion this season that Stephen Strasburg was no longer the ace of Washington’s talented rotation. Never mind the fact that neither Strasburg nor the Nationals ever held him on such a pedestal above the rest of the staff. And certainly not to take anything away from Jordan Zimmermann, who has been arguably the most consistent starter in the game for the first two months of the season, but Strasburg’s dominance has slowly reemerged atop the rotation.

Strasburg has been a man on a mission since his return home to San Diego.

Strasburg has been a man on a mission since his return home to San Diego.

Ever since pitching in his hometown of San Diego two weeks ago, Strasburg has looked like a different pitcher on the mound. He tossed a career-long eight innings in that start, matching that workload again in front of 39,033 at Nationals Park on Sunday. Over his last four outings, the righty has allowed just three earned runs on 18 hits and eight walks in 28 innings (good for a 0.96 ERA) while fanning 27.

Only three times in his excellent 2012 campaign did Strasburg work seven full frames with nine or more strikeouts and no walks, in a loss April 28 at Los Angeles and in wins over the Braves on June 2 in D.C. and over the Mets July 25 in New York.

“It’s all about making adjustments,” said Strasburg of his game. “I didn’t start the year where I wanted to be, but all that matters is how you finish.”

Teammate Ian Desmond thinks Strasburg may be better than ever before.

Teammate Ian Desmond thinks Strasburg may be better than ever before.

The Nationals are certainly hoping Strasburg’s return to elite form can help guide their own rise. To that end, after being shut out by Cole Hamels through six frames, the offense scored five runs in the seventh, the team’s highest single-inning output since September 24 of last year. If the Washington bats can heat up with the weather, and Strasburg’s newfound dominance continues, it could be a lethal combination for NL East opponents.

Ian Desmond, who has been in The District ever since Strasburg’s heralded arrival in 2010, spoke the most telling words about the rise of the Nationals ace.

“This is probably the best we’ve seen him since he got to the big leagues,” said Desmond, despite noting his early high-strikeout performances.

The staff as a whole has already posted the third-lowest ERA in the league this month at 3.10, its ever-improving ace leading the charge.

Clinically Speaking

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Saturday morning, Nationals coaches held a youth baseball clinic, presented by Medstar Health, at Nationals Park in an effort to continue enhancing youth baseball programs in the D.C., Maryland, Virginia region.  The Nationals coaching staff provided major league instruction for children from King Greenleaf Recreation Center, USO Metropolitan Washington and MVP members of the Jr. Nats club.

The group kicked off the clinic with warm-up and stretching exercises that mirror those of the Nationals players, and took full advantage of the stadium’s facilities through various baseball drills. From taking batting practice in the batting cage and fielding balls in the outfield to working on pitching techniques in the bullpen, the young athletes took full advantage of their time at the ballpark.

The event wrapped up with lunch as well as a meet-and-greet and autographs with Nationals outfielder Roger Bernadina.

Check out a photo gallery from the event below.

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Capture the Caption: Magazine 1

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Flex your creative muscles and come up with a caption for the series of photos below from Nationals Magazine, Issue 1 featuring Tyler Moore and Jordan Zimmermann. Leave your response in the comments and we’ll feature our favorites in print in Issue 2, available at Nationals Park beginning in June!

Capture the Caption 1 (1)

Statement from the Nationals

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The Washington Nationals wish to announce that all fans who purchased tickets for Tuesday night’s postponed game with the Detroit Tigers will be guaranteed their same seats for Thursday’s scheduled 4:05 p.m. makeup game, or will retain the option to exchange their tickets – as they have in the past – for any remaining regular or value home game during the 2013 season, subject to availability. Due to increased attendance at Nationals Park, “rain check” ticket holders are encouraged to contact the Nationals ticket office by phone or online to better ensure seating for those games. The Nationals apologize for any inconvenience.

Tickets for Tuesday’s game may be exchanged at the Nationals Park Box Office for any Regular or Value game during the 2013 regular season. Exchanged tickets will be issued from available inventory in the closest pricing category of equal or lesser value to the original seats.* For more information on exchanging tickets purchased through nationals.com or the Nationals telephone charge line, please call 888.632.NATS(6287).

On game days, the Nationals Park Box Office is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. until 30 minutes after the end of the game, and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until 30 minutes after the end of the game. Box office hours on non-game days are Monday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

*Subject to availability. Available game dates subject to change.

20/20 Vision

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“We do not see things as they are. We see things as we are.”

Alright everyone, time for some perspective.

If all you read about the Nationals season so far were the comments left on various social media forums, you would probably surmise that the world had tilted off its axis, sending Nationals Park hurtling into an alternate universe where Bryce Harper was fighting off an alien invasion with nothing more than a bag of bats. At the very least, you’d think the District Nine were off to some frighteningly horrible start through their first 20 games – perhaps a league-worst 5-15 mark, or something of the like.

Ross Detwiler has turned in four straight quality starts to open the year.

Ross Detwiler has turned in four straight quality starts to open the year.

But no, through 20 games – during which the team has openly admitted it has not played its best baseball – the Nationals are 10-10. Through 20 games last season, they were 14-6 (before dropping to 14-9). While that 20-game sample may seem significantly better, it’s really just four games in the standings.

Conversely, there are signs this team is starting to improve its play. After averaging an error per game through the first 18 contests, the Nationals have played error-free ball the last two nights, over which their numbers four and five starters have combined with the bullpen to allow just five runs in 18 innings (2.50 ERA) against one of the top offenses in the National League. All they need is for the bats to get going, an adjustment they also needed to make early last season.

Still, through 20 games this season, the Nats have scored 74 runs. Through 20 games last year, they had scored 71.

Now, let’s put the opening of the season in some greater historical perspective. Here are the records of the last five World Series Champions through 20 games:

2012 San Francisco Giants: 10-10

2011 St. Louis Cardinals: 11-9

2010 San Francisco Giants: 12-8

2009 New York Yankees: 10-10

2008 Philadelphia Phillies: 10-10

Sensing a trend? Great, stay with us – it only gets better. We caught up with Yahoo! Sports Baseball Columnist Jeff Passan on Tuesday morning about what he thought of Washington’s start.

Bryce Harper has been the most consistent offensive performer so far.

Bryce Harper has been the most consistent offensive performer so far.

“A team’s last 20 games tells you a lot more than their first 20,” he explained. “By June 1, you should have a pretty decent idea of how good (the Nationals) are, and I think they’ll be right where everyone expects them to be.”

Passan picked the Nationals to go to the World Series. Last year. He’s been following the rise of the team for quite a while, and is not the least bit worried. However, even his deadline may be a bit premature. Here were the five eventual 2012 MLB Division Champions records (other than the Nationals) entering play on June 1 last season:

New York Yankees: 27-23

Detroit Tigers: 23-27

Oakland Athletics: 22-29

Cincinnati Reds: 28-22

San Francisco Giants: 27-24

Yes, that’s right. The other five Division Champions were a combined two games over .500 on June 1 (127-125), a full 30 additional games past the point where your Nationals sit today.

Baseball is a long season. It is not football. Every game does not make or break you. It seems we forget this each year, when baseball flows away from our conscious, hibernating in its cave until the earth defrosts again and spring arrives. We seem to take our frantic sense of football urgency with us into the beginning of the baseball season, to overvalue both wins and losses in dramatic fashion.

Last year’s Nationals lost three or more consecutive games eight times. They lost five in a row twice. There’s a pretty good chance this year’s team will endure similar stretches as the season goes on. These Nationals have also shown they’re capable of winning streaks, such as their resounding 3-game sweep to start the season. There’s every reason to believe that there are many more of those runs to come.

But for now, Nationals fans, it’s still just April 24 and your team is 10-10, sharing second place in the NL East. Sit back and enjoy the ride, we’ve still got quite a long ways to go.

A Close Second, With Number Two

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The Racing Presidents are off and running again in the 2013 season, with new addition Bill joining the daily scamper from the center field wall to the home dugout at Nationals Park. However, there was another participant present at one of the first races of the young season, marking the race’s first venture into Vice Presidential territory.

COVER PHOTO_VEEPOver the weekend prior to the Nationals-White Sox series, Teddy announced that the Racing Presidents would run their first relay race of the season since the field expanded to five. When George and Tom partnered up, then Abe and Bill formed their own pact, the lovable Teddy was left to his own devices to find a running mate. Searching online, he asked around for suggestions for #TeddysRunningMate, and offers flowed in from around the interwebs.

As luck would have it, Teddy found someone perfectly suited to run with – Selina Meyer, the fictional Vice President from HBO’s “VEEP.” The two were spotted around Washington in the days leading up to the race, and seemed primed for victory as Teddy stormed out to an early lead in the Tuesday night race.

But given Teddy’s less than illustrious history, combined with Selina’s propensity for finishing second, it should have come as little surprise that the two were unable to collaborate on a victory. They fumbled their baton exchange, leaving Selina with a ton of ground to make up in the race’s second half. And while she made a valiant effort, per the usual, she finished second.

That left Teddy – along with rival Bill – still winless for the 2013 campaign, as both continue to search for new and inventive ways to break the tape first…or at least ensure their counterpart’s defeat.

- SEE THE FULL PHOTO GALLERY HERE -

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