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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Nats Buzz

Nationals outfielder Justin Maxwell has another Fall League journal out today. In it he talks about his competitive nature - he loves to win, an impressive fireworks display before last weeks game, and what it was like to play against the Chinese National Team. He also recounts a bizarre incident during that game, involving a swarm of bees. Its a good read.

Other news involving the Nats roster...

Robert Fick has opted to become a free agent. It's the fifth time in six seasons Fick has gone through this process. It sounds like Robert wants to stay in DC. "I hope to be back with the Nationals. They are my guys. I like them. I enjoy it there a lot. I'm sure we'll find out the next month or so." We'll see what happens.

Additionally, the Nats have signed lefty Mike Bacsik to a non-guaranteed Minor League contract. Bacsik will head to Spring Training in February, and try to earn a spot on the Major League roster. "I know I'm coming in on a non-guaranteed contract. I have to work hard to fight for a spot. I have to go on my good games and eliminate my bad ones."

We wish them both the best.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Birthday Lenny!

We just wanted to send out a quick Happy Birthday to the Nats hitting coach Lenny Harris. Thanks Lenny for all your hard work this season, we are excited to have you back next year!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Vote for Ronnie!

You knew this was coming --

Ronnie Belliard's amazing play in July was nominated for Best Play by This Week in Baseball.

You can vote here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Happy Birthday #3

Thanks for a great rookie season!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"Nationals Insider" Live from ESPN Zone

The radio show was broadcast live last night from the ESPN Zone in DC. Both Nationals President Stan Kasten and GM Jim Bowden were there to participate in the radio event. Nats fans were invited to listen to the live broadcast, and to place deposits for season tickets next year. Stan and Jim spent most of their time in the radio booth taking call in questions from fans. Catcher Brian Schneider also called into the show and took a few questions from fans. The Racing Presidents, Clint, and the Nat Pack made appearances as well.

Nats fans were aplenty last night – it was one of the more crowded events. Those late fans that hadn’t reserved their season tickets yet were treated to a gift bag if they put their deposit down last night. Lots of people took advantage of the promotion; it seemed to be a successful event. Clint did his regular trivia questions, some about the inaugural season, and some about the new stadium. We didn’t win anything sadly, but still had a great time!

The restaurant was pretty loud so it was difficult to hear the whole broadcast of the radio show. We especially had difficulty hearing the questions called in and Schneider’s contributions. We did hear a bunch of comments about the parking situation next year. It was a hot topic as the Nats had just announced that every season ticket holder would be able to purchase a parking spot next year. Big news! According to the Nats, those fans who don’t have season tickets next year, and who opt not to take the metro will be able to park at RFK and take a free shuttle to the games. Sounds like an ok deal, however according to the Washington Post, the whole plan hasn’t been totally worked out with the city, and the announcement of the shuttle with RFK parking might have been premature. Goodness it sounds a little messy huh?

Stan and Jim stuck around for a bit after the broadcast and mingled with fans. We were able to chat with Stan for a few minutes, which was pretty nice. We were also informed that there would be plenty more events this winter to keep us busy with baseball, we can’t wait. Great to see so many familiar faces again!

It must have been a busy night for the front office, because they also announced the selection of the contracts for four guys to be added to the 40 man roster. The Nationals selected, Garrett Mock (RHP), Justin Jones (LHP), Josh Whitesell (1B), and Roger Bernadina (OF).

Jack McGeary in the SF Chronicle

Tom FitzGerald at the San Francisco Chronicle details McGeary's signing by the Nats and the unique deal that allowed McGeary to study at Stanford.

"The Nationals were the only team willing to do this. Most teams want players with them 100 percent of the time," said McGeary of the situation.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"If It Ain't Broke Don't Fix It"

As news continues to emerge regarding the Nationals' broadcasting team, many of us are left wondering "Why is a change even being considered?" We understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but a majority of people have grown to respect, admire and most importantly, enjoy the Nationals broadcasting team both on TV and the radio.

In today's Washington Examiner, Jim Williams writes that the front office should, "stick to building a winning baseball team and let your broadcasters alone - they are already winners." We couldn't agree with Williams more. Dave and Charlie are an excellent team who clearly have fun with their jobs and with each other. Their enthusiasm for the game is easily conveyed over the airwaves and the fact that they do not have contracts for upcoming seasons yet is disturbing. Whether I am driving in the car, or listening between innings of an away game, I truly enjoy hearing Dave and Charlie's take on the game.

As for the TV side of the broadcasting team, we have always been impressed with Bob Carpenter's work. In a recent Washington Post article supporting the return of Bob, there was confirmation that fans had written into the Nationals and MASN to support Bob. We are certainly hoping that he will be back for many more seasons to come.

Dave, Charlie, Debbi and Bob are all great broadcasters who have done a great job of drawing in the occasional fan (like myself) and turning us into devoted, season-ticket holding fans. While work does need to be done on the field, the broadcasting booths should be left alone.

ESPN Zone Tonight

Don't forget to come down to ESPN Zone at 7 PM for a night with Stan and Jim. The team is offering a special package for you slackers that haven't put down your deposit for season tickets next year (note: and nothing for those dedicated fans that have).

It's alright. We're still looking forward to hearing about next season from the GM and the Prez (and Brian Schneider via phone). We've got lots of questions (parking...Charlie and Dave...among other things) and hopefully, some answers soon.

Other Stuff:

Bill Ladson's weekly notes have some great stuff this week - including a discussion about the Young/Johnson dilema.

We haven't wrote anything yet about the return of Manny's entire coaching team, but we were very happy with this news. Randy's role in our organization can not be understated. Further, we had the opportunity to interact with all of the coaches at the Baseball 101 Clinic and really enjoyed their lessons.

Where would Jesus Flores be without the patience and guidance of his mentor, Pat Corrales? And, Aponte deserves much credit for maintaining our steadiest component --for some periods of the season, one of the best bullpens in the league. We had some concerns about Tim Tolman after a few bad decisions, but he was gracious and humorous during his lesson at the clinic and we quickly forgave his errors. Continuity is great - great for fans, great for the team. We're looking forward to seeing them all back next year.

Also, J-Max has another article up. Did you know he wanted to be a vet or a dentist?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Discovery Channel heads to new Nats park

Build it Bigger's Danny goes into the Nats dugout at RFK (and plays with Mike Bacsik's helmet and bat) before heading to the new park to learn about construction of our new stadium.

The trip to the new park is the weekly webisode featured in the right-hand corner of their website. Danny helps install seats and cupholders in the featured clip.

The full episode re-airs on Tuesday, October 30 at 10 am.

Thanks for the tip, Ryan.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Off-Season Baseball Roadtrip

It's no secret that the Hampton Roads area of southern Virginia grooms some of Major League Baseball's finest young players.

One of the local high schools, Grassfield High, is hosting a special MLB Home Run Derby featuring a number of MLB's most talented young stars, including Nationals Third Baseman, Ryan Zimmerman.

The Home Run Derby is set for Saturday, November 3 at 2 PM in Chesapeake, VA. Tickets are $25 and proceeds benefit the Grassfield High's athletic program and a charity of each player's choice.

The event will feature:

David Wright, New York Mets
Michael Cuddyer, Minnesota Twins
B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Ryan Zimmerman, Washington Nationals
Mark Reynolds, Arizona Diamondbacks
Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks

The six players generated 113 homeruns collectively in the 2007 season. They will wear Grassfield High uniforms (with their names and numbers) for the first rounds and their MLB jerseys for the final rounds.

We're heading down -- and we'll be sure to post a thorough recap and lots of photos.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Congrats Dmitri!

D will take home another great award for his amazing 2007 season. The Sporting News has named Young their Comeback Player of the Year as well.

Congrats to the Rockies on sweeping the Diamondbacks and advancing to their first World Series.

The Indians continue to look good. Lindsey is happy.

Keep voting for This Year in Baseball's awards...so far you can only vote for Starter, Manager, Performance and Closer. Sadly, Manny was overlooked and none of our guys are in the running for the other categories. Still unannounced are nominees for Rookie, Play, Defense, Hitter, Post-Season Moment, and Blooper.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Where everybody knows your name

I realize this is long overdue. I wanted to save my last weekend at RFK to combine with the end of the season Phillies trip, but I never anticipated I'd wait this long to finally sit down and reflect on such a wonderful summer.

For now, I'm hesitant to be too emotional; it's hard to convey how much this summer meant to me in words. I looked back at our first post – dated April 4. I remember drafting it while casually listening to one of my last lectures as a grad student. I spent March following the spring training games and counting down the days till the exhibition game in Norfolk. Baseball season had finally arrived. I tried in that post to explain what baseball meant to me. Looking back, I had no clue what it would end up meaning to me after just one season of being a serious fan.

250 posts and 80+ games later, I do know what it means and I know why so many of us live and breathe it. As far as rules and stats go, I learned a lot this summer. We didn't always get it right. At times, we all disagreed. That's life and that's baseball. But we did learn and we appreciated the challenges, debates and disagreements.

This summer, we learned about the game, the team, this great organization and this blogging community. We've had the honor and privilege of meeting so many of you this summer. Please know how much we appreciate what is happening here in Washington. Many of you have warmly welcomed us into this big family. Sitting through the final series in Philly and watching the sold-out crowd go crazy with every pitch, it was electrifying. I know we'll have that soon in Washington and I can't wait to be there with you for it.

More importantly, I can assure you, we've all learned a lot about ourselves. Sure, I've watched these other ladies grow in their knowledge and love of the game. But there's something bigger than that at work.

For me, this summer and this game brought about a number of challenges. It's funny that baseball, a way to escape life and relax, can became part of your life in lots of ways. Through a lot of twists and turns, I had two other girls with heart to get me back to that park, night after night to make dozens of new memories. All in all, I must say that I have only gained a deeper respect for the Washington Nationals – and all of their hard work, talent and heart.

Most of my closest friends couldn't join us at the park each night, but they certainly put up with me and, in the process, learned a lot about baseball themselves. Thank you for joining us when you could and for understanding that I'm a better friend (and daughter) in the off-season.

On that note, I can't believe how many wonderful, amazing people I have met this season. I have never felt so much like I had a family away from home until this summer. Doug, Jeanne, Larry, Carlos, Michael, Chuck, Marty, Laura, Joe, Bob, Debbi, Antonio, Cathy, Joe, Jimmy, Coach…and countless others purposely or mistakenly left off this list, you know who you are. You've helped to make this the summer of my life. Thank you.

On that Sunday, I left Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium with a bittersweet feeling. Having been to PNC Park so many times, I am so very excited about the new Nationals park. I know how tough it was for people to say goodbye to Three Rivers Stadium, but PNC is so beautiful. I know I can handle this transition because, unlike some of you, I have no memories of baseball here in Washington as a child. I can appreciate your rich baseball history, but my first trip to RFK was in 2005 to see the Nats.

That's not to say I won't miss that place with all my heart. I was there for so many of the most important plays of this summer and last. Sure, I saw Soriano steal his 40th base last year, but that was nothing compared to Zimmerman's late night Mother's Day walk-off grand slam, Austin's in the park homerun. There are so many memories that will always be part of RFK's charm. So will its people. I was so comfortable there, so at home. I can only hope the new park will be as wonderful, as memorable, and as special as this summer of 2007 at RFK Stadium.

Be glad there's one place in the world
Where everybody knows your name,
And they're always glad you came;
You want to go where people know,
People are all the same;
You want to go where everybody knows your name...

JMax in AZ

The Nationals 2007 minor league player of the year, Justin Maxwell is playing Fall baseball for the Peoria Javelinas. This fall, one player from each team has agreed to keep a weekly journal documenting their experiences. Lucky for us, Justin is writing the journal for his team.

In Maxwell's first article he recounts his cozy plane ride - he had the middle seat - he's a big guy! He also loves the Arizona dry heat, and is very excited to get to play baseball everyday. The Javelinas are off to a great start going 4 and 1 for the first week of play.

Fans can email JMax with questions at jmaxwellafl@gmail.com and he will try to answer them in upcoming journals. We wish Justin and the rest of the Peoria Javelinas good luck in their Fall season.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Happy Birthday #19

"When it comes to heart, we are up there." -- Ryan Church

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happy Birthday #21

Celebrating a great year for our own Dmitri Young! Happy Birthday!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Having Heart

With the season over for the Nationals, reviews of 2007 are everywhere. The New York Times did a piece on the Nats yesterday. It's an exciting time in Washington, the team that was supposed to lose 130 games in 2007 played .500 from mid May to September. With a young team, its time to look to 2008. I wonder how different media predictions will be prior to 2008 Spring Training. With Manny's optimistic attitude, and a young team that's only on the rise, anything can happen. We love what Manny said yesterday, "Despite our shortcomings, these kids showed a lot of heart."

These boys played every game with a determination to be better than predicted. Manny's positive attitude was reflected on the playing field. The Free Lance-Star, says "The Nats beat the odds, and the predictions and finished the season with their heads held high." We think Ryan Church said it best though, " When it comes to heart, we are up there. It goes to show that it starts with the manager. It shows what kind of team we are. We battle."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Happy Birthday #38!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

With a Tear in My Eye, I Gave the Sweetest Goodbye

I said goodbye to RFK with a bit of a heavy heart. Granted my story is a bit different from those who grew up loving the Senators and had to say goodbye to RFK twice, but that last game was still a monumental moment for me. I fell in love with baseball under the lights of RFK. I learned the game, made great friends, and finally have a team to call my own. My transition to becoming a Nats fan did not happen over night. I attended only a handful of games in 2005. My 25 games in 2006 seemed excessive at the time. I had no idea what the summer of 2007 would bring, but 82 games later, it’s still hard to believe the summer I had was real.

This summer RFK became my home away from home, and strangely most of the time I felt more comfortable there. I know the stadium is old, and not suited for baseball, but you have to admit it has a charm that you can’t deny. For me its like that old pair of ragged weekend jeans that you just can’t seem to throw away. They, like the stadium are comfortable, probably not that flattering, but serve their purpose well. I think it’s always hard to say goodbye to a place where you have made so many great memories. When we left the stadium on Sunday it was like we were graduating from high school, saying goodbye to something that in the blink of an eye becomes your past is difficult. It’s not just the old stadium I will miss, but mostly the friends I have made. After spending so much time at RFK this summer, I now have a summer family and I am really going to miss them all during the off season.
Sunday’s game was just about perfect. Could we have hoped for a more beautiful day? The ladies and I splurged for the last game and sat in the first row of 225, all game in the sun, and we had a great view. I think it was during the top of the 7th inning that I took a moment to look around. The stadium was packed and I really noticed a sea of red. I got goose bumps, its something I won’t forget. My emotions ran high from then on. While, standing with the ladies and singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” one last time at RFK, I shed my first tear. When the Chief came in for the 9th to close the game and the stadium, my heart lept, I don’t think I will ever forget that final out. The Nats closed RFK the same way they opened it in 2005, a win with a score of 5-3. Manny’s words during the post game ceremony were heartfelt and made me proud to be a Nats fan. The video of 2007 moments flashed my summer before my eyes. I was there for most of them. From opening day, to that horribly cold April, to our first win, to that memorable Mother’s Day, the 4th of July, our winning month of August, and countless games in between. For the past two summers RFK has been like my vacation home. I am truly sad to see it go. When home plate was removed I had a bittersweet feeling, sad to say goodbye to something that had been such a big part of my life, but excited for something new.
The next weekend, K and I traveled to Philly for the last series. For the first time this season, we attended three sold out games. I felt like an outsider for much of the weekend, but I couldn’t escape the feelings of excitement and anticipation in the hearts of the Phillies fans. Their energy was electric. With Hamels stellar performance on Friday night – 13 strike outs – thousands of white towels waved in the air, and every time a Nat struck out, the stadium erupted. When the Nationals won on Saturday, thanks to Chico, the atmosphere was just as exciting. The Phillies were on the verge of October baseball, and everyone in Philly loved them that weekend. Sunday’s game was a blur of white and red. K and I had really great seats behind the Nats dugout, and were happy to see a solid number of Nats fans made the trip. As the game wore on, the excitement for the Phillies grew. When the scoreboard in the outfield flashed the final score of the Mets vs. Marlins game, the whole place went nuts. I have never heard anything like it in my life. I had such goose bumps, the emotion these fans felt for their team was overwhelming. The place got even louder when Wily Mo struck out to end the game. Fans were standing, crying, cheering; the players mobbed each other on the field. This was it, October baseball, playoffs, what they had worked so hard all season for. In that moment K and I felt a bit out of place, so we quickly and quietly left the stadium and let Philadelphia celebrate their successes.
Despite loosing the game we walked to the taxi with smiles on our faces. To be a part of that, to taste the excitement, gave us a glimpse of what we will have in Washington soon. Although saying goodbye to RFK was difficult, traveling to Philly and seeing the magic we will have someday, only made me excited for the future. If the new stadium brings me half as many wonderful memories as RFK, then it will be well worth the move. Thanks to everyone who made my time at RFK so special!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Door Isn't Closed

An article on today's WashingtonPost.com reports that the door isn't entirely closed for Bob Carpenter and the Washington Nationals. Carpenter, who has remained professional throughout the final weeks of the season despite being told he was released, was informed on Friday that there is a chance he will return as the play by play television announcer for the Nationals!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Dmitri Young - NL Comeback Player of the Year!

We wanted to congratulate Dmitri on his well deserved award. Young had a fantastic comeback season batting .320 with 13 homers and 74 RBI's. His determination and enthusiasm helped his team a great deal both on and off the field. Those of us at We've Got Heart admire D for his successes this year, and can't wait to see him back next year!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Adios 2007, see ya in 2008

We spent our last baseball weekend in Philly. Pretty amazing trip, filled with some great baseball. We promise we will have more later. Thanks Nats fans for a great summer!