Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Diary: Washington D.C.

Monday, May 21

“You say that money isn’t everything
Oh but I’d like to see you live without it.”

Alright, so we’re actually staying in the same area today, a first on the trip. First, let me recap the “Battle For The Beltway” between the Nats and the O’s. What was bizarre was that the O’s had a bigger draw than the Nationals, and you would think that a series like this would draw a bigger crowd, but RFK was at about 50-60% capacity yesterday. Erik Bedard was outstanding and pitched seven strong innings, striking out a ton of guys (not sure how many) and had tremendous control (at one point, through 75 pitches, he threw 60 strikes and 15 balls…in case you didn’t know, normally, pitchers like to get around a 75/25 ratio in terms of strikes to balls…Bedard yesterday was at 80/20…also, if you’re getting a lot of strikes, the hope is that you’re keeping the ball in the park, because although strikes are good, too many can lead to a bad thing). Once Bedard left though, his bullpen let him down, especially Danys Baez, who allowed two runs in the bottom of the eighth to give the Nats their first lead of the game, at 3-2, which would ultimately be how it ended. Chad Cordero came on in the ninth (“Chief” as they know him in D.C.), and although he looked a little shaky, was able to record the save (fantasy points!). Our view sucked though. We were behind the plate, but in the upper regions, meaning the view was obstructed by the press boxes and suites above. I don’t know what they were thinking when they put in those additions on to the stadium. My thinking is that basically, RFK is going to be left to rot away while the Nats move into their new stadium. It’s too bad, because there’s a lot of history with the park, unfortunately very little of it has to do with baseball.

So yesterday, I was watching the outfield scoreboard about as much as I was watching the Nats game, and every time they flashed the score, there was an “R” by it, of course referring to the fact that the game was in a rain delay. Then, as the Nats game progressed, the scoreboard then flashed the game was at 2:05…but it was 4:30! So I just assumed the game was rained out…then we go back to the hotel…and they won 6-3! What the hell?! Anyway, Gabbard looked good in the limited amount I saw him (by the way, it is really tough for me to comment on all of this without NESN now that I have it…which is something to look forward to…in-depth Red Sox analysis! Yes!), and the offense was able to bounce back after getting decimated by Smoltz on Saturday, going off for six runs in four innings off of Tim Hudson, who has been solid this year. Youk continued his frantic hitting by blasting another homer, and ‘Tek chimed in with three RBIs of his own. It was totally bizarre how many parallels were drawn between the last two games in terms of the Red Sox and Yankees games. Think about it: On Saturday, the Yanks and Sox both threw out rookie pitchers (Resner and Hansack), and both got hit in the hand and had to leave their respective games early, then gave way to their bullpens, who then imploded. Then, on Sunday, again, the Yanks and Sox put in rookie pitchers, but this time, both looked outstanding, especially Tyler Clippard for the Yanks (does anyone else find it absolutely unbearable that if this kid is any good for a longer period of time, the “Yankee Clipper” references will never end…the future is bleak my friends), who looked like he was breaking his elbow off on every pitch. Because the Yanks were on ESPN, I had a lot more to go by on him than I did Gabbard, although I’ve seen Kason pitch a couple times. Clippard’s motion totally baffled the Mets, and even hit a line-shot double to right-center to help his own cause. Clippard has average stuff though, and this is being fairly bi-partisan, because he did have a low-90s fastball, and decent command, but I’m not sure that he can continue that kind of success in the long-term.

Anaheim is one win away from reaching the Stanley Cup finals to meet up with Ottawa, who dispatched Buffalo in five games, easily the biggest surprise of the hockey postseason. The Ducks are up and down though, especially the play of Giguere, who has been all over the place in terms of consistency. The Ducks pulled off a thriller last night at the Joe, scoring with around 40 seconds left in regulation to tie up the game, then winning it on a tremendous backhand from Temmu Selanne in OT. So the series now moves to Anaheim, where Detroit’s resolve will be put to its ultimate test, down 3-2 in what is likely to be a hostile environment. On the other side of the pond, Ottawa, who has one of the best lines in hockey, led by Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredson, who were both integral in scoring the final goal of the Buffalo series against Ryan Miller, one of the best in the biz. It’s going to be tough to stop the Sens, even if the Wings are able to pull off a miraculous comeback and win their next two games. I have always liked Heatley. He was kind of ostracized after the DUI case that followed him around while he played for Atlanta. Now that he’s in a new place, and has Alfredson on the same line, he is flourishing under Ottawa’s system (bear in mind he did have Kovlachuk in Atlanta as a line-mate, so although his stats were very good, but right now, he’s playing the best hockey of his career in Ottawa). The Finals will be very intriguing despite who wins in the West.

Switching up to the hardwood the Jazz and Spurs played last night in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, with the Spurs prevailing 98-90. What was interesting was the fact that the Spurs dominated play in the first half, then seemed to almost let Deron Williams run wild in the second, as he was a few boards and a couple of assists from a triple-double, scoring 35 points, most of which was scored in the final quarter. The Spurs backcourt was the difference in the game, with Parker and Ginobli each scoring over 20 a piece. However, Tony Parker did make remarks after the game, basically saying that what Utah put out on the floor in the second half is much more representative of the kind of team you will expect for the remainder of the series. Also, Boozer and Okur each had respectable games, and still, the Spurs don’t really have an answer for how to stop both of them. The way the Spurs really stuck it to the Jazz was probably the timely shooting of Michael Finley, who always seems to hit those shots, much like he did in the final game of the Suns/Spurs series that really turn the momentum around in favor of San Antonio. Keep watching for Finley, as he is one of the unsung guys on the Spurs that help them get to where they are today.

Tonight we’re in Bowie, MD to see Bowie (Orioles) take on New Briton (Twins). Tomorrow, it’s off to Camden Yards. Keep it real! Peace.


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