Today, after 18 years as a full season ticket holder of the Washington Nationals, I informed the Nats that I am terminating my annual contract with the team and its owners.
Let me explain.
I love baseball.
Ever since my wonderful grandfather took me to Fenway Park and introduced me to the game, it’s been an important part of my life, including playing it in the street in front of our house and then moving on to Little League, listening to games on the radio, then watching on TV, and of course attending as many games as I could. (I use to gather baseballs hit over the fence at Tinker Field in Orlando, FL so I could turn them in for free entrance to Minnesota Twins Spring Training games.)
I’ll spare the reader any of the many baseball related stories with which I’ve burdened my children, my wife, and my friends over the years. Suffice it to say, as my favorite T-Shirt proclaims, “Any Team Can Have a Bad Century.”
In 2005 when the Montreal Expos were relocated to DC and became the Washington Nationals, I quickly teamed up with some friends to get season tickets to RFK Stadium (where they played until moving to their new stadium in 2008). So it’s been 18 years that I’ve been attending Nats’ games – and enriching its owners – largely because I simply love what baseball offers, even if it’s not watching the Red Sox. (In fact, attending Nats’ games is sometimes more relaxing than watching the Red Sox, where I am on edge on every pitch, etc.)
So why my decision to abandon my season ticket status?
Primarily, I do not want to continue to support a franchise that consistently refuses to keep players like Bryce Harper (not my favorite guy), Anthony Rendon, Trey Turner, Max Scherzer, and Juan Soto. The ownership’s model of largely acquiring outstanding players when they are young and relatively inexpensive and getting rid of them when they are reaching free agency and have become expensive may be financially smart for the owner, but is terrible for the fans. (My Bosox did that with Mookie Betts, and while I have still not forgiven them for that, at least they have not made it a way of continually ‘doing business’ as have the Nats.)
Try explaining to my perfect three eldest grandchildren**, one who ‘loved’ Bryce Harper, one who ‘loved’ Trey Turner, and one who ‘loved’ Juan Soto, why none of these players are still playing for the Nats. Although it’s not the only reason, none of these grandchildren have kept up interest in baseball, while they continue to be fans of other sports, particularly football.
The Lerner family paid $450 million to purchase the Nats. They are now in the process of considering offers to sell them, likely for perhaps as much $2,000,000,000 or more. Yes. two billion dollars.
The team has been decimated and is “rebuilding” for the future. But not with the help of my three ticket, full season income.
I will no doubt attend a few games next year, largely because I still love baseball. I enjoy going with others for an afternoon or evening at the park, and with the new schedule of every team playing every other team starting in 2023, there is the opportunity to see any team or player in either the American or National League.
I don’t think I’m the only baseball fan that is choosing to terminate their season plan or to reduce the number of games they will attend.
Caveat Emptor – Let the Buyer (of the Nats) Beware.
**My two youngest perfect granddaughters, six and five, perhaps wisely have chosen to live 1,055 miles away from DC, and so I have only just begun to work on their full baseball indoctrination. Unfortunately, on a recent trip to Kansas City where we attended a game together, the lowly Royals creamed the Sox 13-7. But then, as I learned from experience with my own daughters, it’s probably better not to instill too high expectations concerning my Bosox heroes.
I’m going to be away for many Nats’ games in August and would be glad to pass on some tickets to those of you who (still) want to see a Nats’ game.
Here are the dates that are available, on a first come, first serve basis, with no cost to you, The seats are quite good, Section 127, Row Z, Seats 1, 2, & 3., about 20 rows off the field between the catcher and first base.
Friday, Aug. 12, 7:05 vs Padres, 7:05, three tickets
Saturday, Aug. 13, 7:05 vs Padres, 7:05, three tickets
Sunday, August, 14, 1:05 vs Padres,t hree tickets
Monday, August 15, 7:05 vs Cubs, three tickets
Wednesday, August. 17, 1:05 vs Cubs, three tickets
Friday, August 26, 7:05 vs Reds, three tickets
Saturday, August 27, 7:05 vs Reds, one ticket
Sunday, August 28, 1:05 vs Reds, three tickets
Tuesday, August 30, 7:05 vs Athletics, three tickets
Wednesday, August 31 vs Athletics, three tickets
If you are connected with an organization that could use tickets to give to staff and or students, you’re welcome to these games also.
You do need to have the MLB Ball Park App on your phone as the ‘only’ way I can forward tickets are through this AP. No more printed tickets. (In an ‘extreme situation,’ I could go to the Box Office and get a set printed out, tho I would have to do that soon as I’ll be away for most of the days above.)
Let me know if you’re interested in any of the games above. And if you only want one or two to a particular game, that’s OK as I can try to sell the remaining ones…
As I sat at Nat’s Park on Thursday, April 7th awaiting the start of the 2022 baseball season, I kept hearing the same comment all around me: “It’s so good to be back.”
And indeed it was.
No matter the rain which had delayed the game from 4:05 PM until the first pitch was finally thrown about 8:30 PM.
No matter the cold. I was wearing three layers and had a fourth, a knitted hat, and warm gloves close by.
No matter that Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, Ryan Zimmerman, Steven Strasburg, etc., etc. were nowhere in sight.
No matter that the Nats were simply awful, except for a 425 foot ‘useless’ home run from Juan Soto.
It was simply delightful to be back at the park with the green outfield, the freshly swept infield, and enough fans to cheer for either the Nats or the Mets.
And I went again two days later.
The weather was still cold.
There were fewer fans. Probably more Mets fans than Nats’.
The Nats were even worse..
But It was baseball again.
Plus, this was not my beloved Red Sox, who were soon to lose their first two games against those thugs from NY.
Watching the Nats is more relaxing. I want them to win, but if they don’t, it’s not a big deal.
It’s still baseball.
And I think there are some changes coming that will make things better. Wunderkid Theo Epstein (Red Sox and then Cubs GM) is heading an MLB effort to collaboratively evaluate the State of the Game, to look at the rules and institute some changes. His effort is how to make the game better for fans, to restore some action, some drama by putting more balls in play and speed up the game.
*Already there’s no Designated Hitter in the National League.
*Some teams are already using the electronic system between the pitcher and catcher to signal what pitch is to be thrown.
*And there’s a lot of experimenting going on in the minor leagues to evaluate a variety of changes, and some of those will likely make it to the majors during this season.
If you have the time, I high recommend you listen to the interview with Theo where he discusses what is being considered and why:
Whether you believe that nothing should change in baseball, that somethings need to change, or you’re somewhere in the middle, I think you’ll find Theo’s thoughtful approach could just be the best thing to happen to baseball in the foreseeable future. (You can skip the first part of the link above and go to the 13 minute portion of the broadcast. The most important part begins about 23 minutes into it.)
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MillersTime Baseball Contest Update:
It appears that more than 30 MLB sportswriters as well as those from The Athletic have been looking at what the brilliant (?) MillersTime Baseball Contest contributors have predicted for the 2022 season.
Everyone, it seems thinks the Dodgers and the Blue Jays will face each other in the World Series, with the Dodgers the more likely winner. There were a few scattered votes for the Rays and Yankees making it and possibly winning.
But I suspect that both the professionals and the MillersTime contestants will once again be surprised come October/November.
Like last year. Who predicted the Braves would win it all?
As for the first question on the MillersTime contests, there many thoughtful and informed submissions and only a few ‘Homers’. It seems many of you know your team and follow them without blinders (not so Chris E).
But I don’t think anyone will match the brilliance/luck of what Chris Ballard was able to ‘foresee’ last year (see2021 Contest #2 results).
Baseball is back
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If you’re interested in joining me for a Nats’ game this year, email me and indicate if you have a particular game that interests you and/or a particular say or time that works best for you.
Also, if you’re interested in purchasing seats for a game, I have a full season plan in Section 127, Row Z, Seats 1, 2, & 3. They are terrific seats, just about 20 rows off the field, between the catcher and first base. I also have parking next to the stadium. We can negotiate a good price, especially if it is not a game that I already plan to attend (e.g., Dodgers, Orioles).
When I last posted on this topic of baseball – my beloved obsession forever (at least 70+ years), this life giving and taking, romantic, heart-breaking, exhilarating, logical and illogical, and occasionally magical game – I wrote about a dilemma, whether it was better for my grandson’s learning if the Nats won or lost the final game of the 2019 World Series.
I knew, as FH reminded me in an email, that I had no choice in the game’s outcome. But I was leaning towards the benefits to him of a loss.
Wisely, a number of you reminded me that he could learn from a victory as well as a defeat, although the lesson(s) would be different ones. (See these Comments from readers like Charlie, Tim, Janet, Brian, Hugh, etc.).
Even (even?) my son-in-law who hasn’t even reached his mid-30s yet had some wise counsel:
“While exciting, I hope tonight isn’t a pivotal moment in Eli’s life. Win or lose, the lesson he should take is that when a champion is crowned, it is final. If it’s the Astros, it isn’t unfair, it’s unfortunate (for him but not for the Houston version of Eli). If it’s the Nationals, he will probably be happy, and he will go to school tomorrow with a nice memory. Hopefully, he learns to appreciate the ecstasy the champion feels and recognizes the hard work that was put into the accomplishment.”
Plus, I had told Eli the moment the Nats had lost the third straight game in DC that ” it’s not over yet.”
But I knew the Nats were now facing two hurdles, as a loss in either of the final games in Houston would mean the end of this dream. And in my heart and soul I thought the Astros would win. (It’s hard to overcome the ‘schooling’ of being a Sox fan. Tho, I guess I may have forgotten the full lesson of that ‘schooling,’ – that when the win does comes, and it eventually will, it’s an overwhelming joy.)
Hell, I even forgot, ignored (?), to some degree, what my then 21-year old daughter had written to me fifteen years ago and I had posted about lessons I had taught her about “never say never” and the importance of believing in miracles (more on that word below).
So as everyone everywhere now knows, the Nats did win that final game, coming from behind in the 7th inning, to complete a simply amazing series of comebacks and five months of truly extraordinary achievements.
I shoulda known.
I shoulda believed.
And for those of you who have a few more minutes to devote to this important topic, even if you’ve read, listened to, and talked about what the Nats achieved, I’m posting below an article that sums up how truly extraordinary what the Nats have done. It’s written by Jason Stark in the The Athletic.
He writes that this was a truly magical event.
If you remove ‘divine intervention’ from the definition of magical and stick to simply supernatural, then I totally agree with Stark.
Actually, maybe there was some divine intervention. See what you think.
HOUSTON – Do you believe in miracles? You should. Here’s all the proof you need that miracles happen in sports: The Washington Nationals just won the World Series. Just don’t try to explain how. That’s the miraculous part.
They just completed a journey unlike any that has been completed before. They just spent their season and their October doing things that no team has ever done. And then, for their final act – in a wild Game 7, on a shocking Wednesday evening in Houston – they won one more game they couldn’t possibly win, which finished off one of the greatest upsets in the history of the World Series. That’s all.
Do you believe in miracles? Well, when it’s the seventh game of the World Series and you’re getting one-hit in the seventh inning by a future Hall of Famer – against a 107-win juggernaut that needs just nine more outs to start comparing itself to the ’27 Yankees – you don’t need to consult the Win Probability charts to understand what a preposterous formula that is for winning that game, let alone that World Series.
But “preposterous” is actually an excellent way to describe the wild and crazy ride of the 2019 Nationals. So of course Anthony Rendon launched one more staggering home run into the Crawford Boxes in left, off Zack Greinke. And of course the apparently ageless Howie Kendrick then sliced a game-changing, Series-changing, life-changing home run off the foul pole in right. And of course the Nationals would perform their latest elimination-game magic trick and turn one more near-certain defeat into one more death-defying victory.
Because this is what they do. A little over four weeks ago, the Nationals were four outs from not even advancing past the wild card game. And now they’re the champions of baseball. Because if ever there was a baseball team you just couldn’t kill, this was it.
“OK, this is now the most 2019 Nats thing to ever happen,” said reliever Sean Doolittle, as the champagne dripped from his championship goggles after one final 6-2 stunner of a win over the mighty Houston Astros.
For two weeks now, Doolittle has been spinning off variations of that quote, all while we’ve been carrying on a running dialogue about whether this team qualifies as miraculous. He instructed us at one point to come up with some sort of metric to determine what constituted a true miracle. Weighted Miracles Created Plus maybe? That sort of thing. That part of this project didn’t go well. But Doolittle continued to weigh this heavy-duty topic.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this,” he said – but he still wasn’t sure, even as the champagne flowed. So we were forced to turn elsewhere. We then asked this team’s hitting coach, Kevin Long, if he thought what this team has just done could be called a miracle.
“Yeah, I do,” Long said instantly, then realized tears were welling in his eyes. “I’m going to get emotional. But the stuff and the things that these guys have overcome, it’s truly amazing.
“I really do think this was a dream team,” he said. “I really think this was one of the most amazing feats that any team has ever accomplished. If somebody had said that we’d beat the (2017) world champions in Houston tonight and they’d crown us world champions, I don’t think anybody would believe that.”
But there’s no choice but to believe it now, because they’ve done what they’ve done. So why do we think it’s safe to call these men the Miracle Nationals? It’s our mission today to make that case to all of you. It’s not as hard as you’d think.
The miracle of the elimination games
When we say that no team has had an October like the October of the 2019 Nationals, that’s not an opinion. That’s a fact. Let’s lay out those facts for you now:
Other teams in baseball history have won five potential elimination games in one postseason. But the Nationals put a slightly different twist on that feat – because they trailed in all five of them at some point. And how many teams in history have ever come from behind to win five elimination games in the same postseason? That would be none, says STATS LLC.
That feat is miraculous enough, but now let’s move along to the three winner-take-all games this team played. The Nationals trailed by two runs in the eighth inning of the wild card game against Milwaukee, with the fearsome Josh Hader on the mound. They trailed by two runs in the eighth inning of NLDS Game 5 in Los Angeles, with the great Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Then on Wednesday, they trailed by two in the seventh inning of this Game 7, with Greinke dialing up the most dominant postseason start of his life. So what happened? Yep. The Nationals roared back to win all three of those games.
So how many other teams have ever won three elimination games — let alone winner-take-all games — in one postseason after trailing by two runs or more in the seventh inning or later? How many do you think? There are no other teams that have done that, according to our friends from STATS. Ever. In fact, just one other team — the 1980 Phillies — has even won two potential elimination games like that.
We were down in the wild card game,” Long said. “I mean, are you kidding me? We were down five times (in elimination games). Really? I can’t say that enough. We were down in all these games late, and just continued to fight and come back and stay together. And the pitchers knew if they just stayed close, we’d find a way to win. And we certainly did.”
The miracle of the World Series
Now let’s think about the team the Nationals just beat in this World Series. The Astros won 107 games this year. That’s the most in baseball. But even that doesn’t adequately capture how good they were.
Teams like that don’t lose the World Series. Teams like that normally dominate the World Series. But that isn’t how this World Series turned out, is it?
Their powerhouse pitching staff had an Adjusted ERA-Plus of 127. Their deep, talented offense had an adjusted OPS-Plus of 119. That’s nuts. Want to know how nuts? Over the last 100 years, there has been only one other team that had both an OPS-Plus and ERA-Plus of 119 or higher. That team was Babe Ruth’s 1927 Yankees.
The Astros won 14 more games this season than the Nationals. And only two other teams in history ever had that large a win differential over the team they played in the World Series and didn’t win it. One was Vic Wertz’s 111-win 1954 Indians, who lost to Willie Mays’ 97-win New York Giants. The other was Three Finger Brown’s 116-win 1906 Cubs, who lost to Jiggs Donahue’s 93-win White Sox.
So just based on the history, this goes down as one of the biggest World Series upsets of all time.
There’s also the Vegas take on how large an upset it was:
Yet from the first inning of Game 1, the Nationals played like a team that never bought either of those narratives. And even after they lost Games 3-4-5 at home without ever leading for a single pitch, they still thought of themselves as 100 percent alive — because they never looked at the Astros as the unbeatable behemoth that Vegas thought they were.
“There was something going on,” Doolittle said. “We totally felt it. We totally fed off it. We kind of thought coming into the series that the pressure was on them. We could tell right away from the questions that they got on Media Day, versus the questions we got on Media Day. There was a totally different vibe to those questions.
“They were getting asked, ‘What are you gonna do after you win the World Series? What are you gonna buy?’ And people were asking us, like: ‘What does it mean to be in the first World Series ever in Nationals history?’ And we were like, ‘I don’t know. It’s cool. We’re happy to be here.’ So we were very aware that they were the team to beat and we were the biggest underdogs, according to Vegas, in the last — what? — 15 years? Something like that? But you know what Han Solo says: ‘Never tell me the odds.’”
The road-field advantage miracle
The 2019 Astros didn’t merely run up the best home record in baseball (60-21) this season. They were one of the most unbeatable teams at home in modern times.
In fact, in the nearly six decades since baseball went to a 162-game schedule, just four teams won more home games in any season than the Astros won this season:
So just winning a World Series in which the Astros had home-field advantage would have been a sensational feat. But as you might have heard, that isn’t all that happened, right? In a very weird World Series, in which the home team won zero games, the Nationals did something unheard of:
They became the first team in the history of any of the four major professional sports to win a championship by winning all four games of a best-of-seven series on the road. How many times did the Astros lose four in a row at home all season? Yessir. That would be never. In fact, they didn’t lose four games at home over the course of the entire season to any team except the A’s — who beat them four times, but needed 10 games in Houston to do it.
“Remember the other night, when I said after Game 5, ‘Hey, we’re just fine. The road team’s winning every game?’” Doolittle said. “I was just joking. But hey, look at us now.”
The “Fall of the Titans” miracle
Before the Nationals wiped out those 107-win Astros, they pulled another monumental upset — by beating the 106-win Dodgers in the NLDS. So who does that — wins a World Series by upending two teams that won at least 106 games in the same postseason? Nobody does that, naturally. Or at least nobody did it until now.
“We believed in ourselves from the beginning,” said catcher Kurt Suzuki. “You know, everyone always says that to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best — and we beat ’em.”
The miracle of 19-and-31
Back on May 23, the Nationals were 50 games into their season — and somehow found themselves 12 games under .500 (at 19-31), just like the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers went on to lose 114 games. The Nationals went on to win the World Series. You don’t see that much.
OK, to be honest, you don’t see that ever. No team in history had ever had that bad a record after 50 games and gone on to win a World Series. But the Nationals did. And only one team had ever been 12 games under (or more) at any point in any season and gone on to win a World Series. That, as you also might have heard, was Possum Whitted’s 1914 Boston Braves – who have been known throughout history as the “Miracle” Braves.
So if there’s only one other team that has followed this path and their nickname is “Miracle,” doesn’t that automatically qualify these Nationals as a miracle unto themselves? We’ll get back to that in a moment.
What’s more important than what we call it is how they did it. And they did it by reminding themselves, as they finally started to get healthy, that they were way too talented to be hanging out with the Marlins and Tigers in the standings.
The road back from 12 games under began with a team meeting, in a conference room off the clubhouse in late May. All the coaches and position players were there. The message from the veterans in the room was firm and clear.
Long’s everlasting memory of that session: “I remember these guys saying, ‘We can do this, and it will be the greatest accomplishment of our lives.’”
Maybe that resuscitation alone — from life after 19-31 to triumph in October — isn’t enough to make you believe we should hang that “miracle” sign on this team. But now add in all of it — the elimination games, the upset of the Astros, the upset of the Dodgers, the four World Series victories in one of baseball’s most intimidating environments — and think about this one more time.
Also remember that this is a franchise that had never won a single postseason series since moving to Washington. And remember that no team from Washington had won a World Series in 95 years.
So now add all that up. Has there ever been any World Series champion — any league, any town, any year — that did all of that on the road to the parade floats? You know that answer. That answer is: No way.
And even if you weren’t sure about these guys before Wednesday, how could you have watched the final chapter in this story and not believed in this miracle?
Their starting pitcher, Max Scherzer, went from having to fall out of bed on Sunday to gutting his way through five innings Wednesday. That’s not a miracle?
One minute on Wednesday, Greinke was making the Nationals’ lineup look so overmatched that Long said that when he saw Gerrit Cole begin to throw lightly in the bullpen midway through the game, his reaction was: “‘Please bring him in,’ because that’s how good Zack Grinke was.”But next thing you knew, Rendon was lofting a Greinke changeup into the left-field seats, for just the Nationals’ second hit of the day. And even that seemed like a miracle at the time.
“You know, momentum’s tough to change,” Long said. “And something like that really, really lifted everyone’s spirits in the dugout. You could see it on the field. It was almost like those (Astros) said, ‘Oh no. Here they come.’”
Yep. Here they came, all right. Juan Soto would walk to end Greinke’s day. Kendrick would welcome Will Harris to the festivities with a what-just-happened two-run homer. And in a span of only eight pitches, the Nationals had gone from nearly dead to somehow leading. You mean that wasn’t a miracle?
“I had a flashback — to the wild card game,” Suzuki said. “I said, ‘This seems kind of familiar.’”
They were eight pitches that changed a game and changed the World Series. But if they seemed miraculous to those on the outside, they seemed like business as usual for the Miracle Nationals.
“It was just fitting for our season,” Suzuki said. “We’ve been playing elimination games since the middle of May. At least it feels like it. We had to fight for everything. So what a fitting way to end this season.”
We understand that your definition of a miracle may be different from ours, or Sean Doolittle’s, or Kevin Long’s. So when we ask, one more time, if you believe in miracles, the answer doesn’t really matter. What matters is that this somehow happened. In real life.
And so, on this one last crazy evening at the ballpark, it was the Washington Nationals standing on a makeshift podium in Houston, kissing their trophy and wiping away tears. It was all so powerful an experience that even they don’t completely understand how everything it took to hoist that trophy was even possible.
“You know, I was just talking to a friend of mine,” said right fielder Adam Eaton. “He was talking about all the things (that happened to us). He just went through, like, six or seven or eight different things. And when you hear them, it’s like yeah, it’s remarkable. If I was not here, I’d be home watching it. That’s for darned sure.”
“And if you weren’t here, if you hadn’t seen it and you hadn’t lived it, would you believe it?” we asked.
“No,” said Adam Eaton. “And that’s why I’d be watching.”
Good idea — because how can you believe in miracles unless you watch them with your very own eyes?
I awoke two days ago to the brief email below following the third World Series loss in a row by the Washington National’s to the Houston Astros in DC:
“I think I was happier when I didn’t care. It’s terrible to want something you have no control over. How about that, Dr. Miller!” – FH
The author is a long time friend who use to look askance at my interest in baseball. After listening to her for years, I invited her to attend Nats’ game with Ellen and me (she had never been to a MLB game in her seven plus decades!). Under my ‘light tutoring,’ and despite her skepticism, she found herself intrigued and interested, and surprisingly, to her and to me, she began to follow the Nats. Sometimes, intensely, it seems.
And that, FH’s quote, contains two of the many life’s lessons that baseball teaches.
First, some comments about last night. When facing elimination from the World Series, the Nats found a way to win game six (it often seems game six is a big deal (Buckner, etc.).
So now we go to the one game World Series, in Houston, that will determine who takes over from the Boston Red Sox as the new World Champions. (Yes. as of this writing, the Sox are still the World Champions!)
But it doesn’t matter who wins tonight.
Well, I guess it matters to the players for the two teams and for their fans and their two cities, including my 10 year old grandson who went to the fifth (disastrous) game with Ellen and me and stayed up until midnight – on a school night! – only to see his favorite team lose. (I did tell him after the final out to remember, “It’s not over yet.” But in my mind and soul, I felt the Astros would probably win the WS. After all, I was ‘schooled’ by my seven decades of following the Sox.)
But if the Nats lose tonight, at least there’s some solace. They didn’t give up. Even when they were behind and when that horrific umpire call seemed to change the direction of the Nats’ comeback chances. As they’ve done for much of the season, they found a way to win.
In fact, for all those of you who were sure the Nats didn’t deserve to be in the World Series, perhaps some rethinking is in order. After all, they had the best record in ALL OF BASEBALL since their horrendous 19-31 start to this season in May and that includes being better than the Yankees, the Dodgers, the Astros, etc. Plus, they did win the Wild Card suicide game and went on to defeat the Dodgers and the Cards, coming from behind in almost all of the games they won.
So if they lose do lose tonight in what hopefully will be a memorable game with Scherzer against Greinke in this winner take all game, the solace for Nats’ fans will be enough to take them into 2020.
Now, back to FH’s wise words and my dilemma with my grandson.
First, baseball’s life lessons, starting with the importance of caring and the wanting of something so badly yet you have no control over the outcome, two realities that baseball has taught me, and also my younger daughter. (If you’ve never read what she wrote when the Sox won the World Series in 2004 for the first time in 86 years and in my lifetime, read The Email on the Kitchen Table, written for / to me by my then 21 year old, daughter which said, in part:
“Being a Sox fan prepared me for disappointment; it taught me that there are some things that no matter how badly you want something, sometimes you just can’t make it happen. I think my perspective on life has truly been shaped by the virtue of my fanaticism for baseball. It’s taught me that life isn’t fair, you don’t get what you want, and other people can just be downright heartless.”
“More than anything, my father taught me to believe. And not just in the Red Sox, but in myself. Because if my team can come back from down 0-3 to the Yankees, and sweep the Cardinals in the World Series, really, there is no such thing as never. “
“I guess in the end, my obsession ultimately taught me that good things do come to those who wait. So I sit back and say to the rest of Major League Baseball, sit down; wait ‘till next year.”
And, finally, my dilemma.
Is it better for my grandson for the Nats to lose tonight so he learns these two lessons than to experience the joy he would have if they win it all? After all, he’s only 10.
I’m not sure I know the answer.
But I know I have no control over what will happen.
I. Some Predictions from MillersTime Baseball Contestants
Contest 1: MillersTime contestants say it will be the Dodgers vs either the Red Sox or Yankees in the 2019 World Series, and they believe the American League team will win it in six games.
Contest 3: No doubt here. Overwhelming choice is the American League to win the All Star game. Scherzer (or maybe Sale) will be the first pitcher to win 12 games. Harper, Stanton, and Judge all tied for first to hit 25 home runs.
Contest 4: Contestants split evenly between those who think the Yankees will win the AL East and those who don’t, but they seem to think the Nats will definitely not win the NL East. Everyone seems to think one of my ‘grand’ children will see at least one of the following: a grand slam, a triple play, a no hitter, Teddy winning the President’s race, will go home with a foul ball, will have his/her pix taken with an MLB mascot, or will be on the TV screen at an MLB stadium. (Has happened yet, but I’m working on this one.)
Other Contest Predictions: Too complicated to post here. But thanks to all who participated.
II. Baseball Notes and Two Questions:
***Check out this article that looks at a different, but easy way to judge who are the best hitters in baseball: Secondary Average by Victor Mather, NY Times, April 5, 2019. (Hat Tip to Joe H for alerting me)
***There’s a new book out by one of today’s top baseball writers, Tyler Kepner of the NY Times. A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches. Reviews have been outstanding, and I’ll let you know what I think as soon as I finish it. (It’s due to arrive at my house April 7.)
***Every time I attend a baseball game, I’m looking for something I never saw before. A few days ago this: Tie game between the Phillies and the Nats in DC. Bottom of the 9th. First man up for the Nats gets a single. Then the the Phillies’ pitcher walks the next two batters. Bases loaded. And he does it again. A third walk. Walking in the winning run for the Nats. What do we call that? A Three Walk Walk-Off? A Triple Walk Walk-Off? A Walk-Off Walk? Bad pitching? Terrible managing? Let me know what you would call it. And I suppose you all know the actual definition of ‘Walk-Off’ win. It’s not the winning team walking off. It’s about the losing team having to ‘walk off’ the field after they’ve ‘blown’ the game.
***Not sure if it’s my getting older (which is certainly happening), but I’ve already attended four games at Nats’ Park, and I’m sure they’ve cranked up the loud speakers, making it difficult to talk and hear each other between innings. one of the enjoyable aspects of seeing a game with a son, daughter, wife, father, grandfather, grandchild and/or friends. Is this increase in noise level happening elsewhere too? Or am I just getting more like my parents did at a similar stage in their lives?
III. Repeating History
***Finally, heading to Boston with the three females in my life – wife Ellen, and daughters Annie and Elizabeth – to ‘treat’ them to Opening Day, April 9 in Fenway where the World Series flag will be raised, a huge banner will be dropped across the Green Monster, and the WS rings will be given out. I took them in 2005 (see photo above) when the Yankees had to sit in the Visitors’ dugout and watch the ceremonies after the best ever WS win in my lifetime. Now, with this fourth WS victory in this early part of the 21st century — eat your hearts out Yankee fans — my only regret is that my daughters and grand children will never truly understand what I had to go through for most of my baseball life – though I think Elizabeth kind of understands. If you’ve never read this, don’t miss: The E-Mail on the Kitchen Table,posted 12.19.08 on MillersTime but written just after the Sox finally won it all in 2004. A must read.
***You can look forward to an upcoming post, Opening Day Thru Ellen’s Lens, with commentary attached.
Finally Opening Day is close, at least closer than it’s been all year.
Below you’ll find some Washington Nationals’ games at which you can join me or go with someone else. See each game for what’s available, conditions, costs, etc. Most of the games are in Section 127, Row Z, Seats #1, #2, #3., just 20 rows off the field, between home plate and first base.
UPDATED – 4/4- Several additions and a few subtractions:
Sunday, April 8, 8:08 PM vs Mets – Three free tickets available. I can’t attend this game.
Monday, April 9, 7:05 vs Braves – Two or three tickets available. I can attend, and you can get two tickets for the price on one ($50).
Thursday, April 12, 7:05 vs Rockies – Three free tickets available. I can’t attend this game.
Friday, April 13, 7:05 vs Rockies – Two or three tickets available. I can attend, and you can get two tickets for the price on one ($50).
Thurs. May 3, 1:05 vs Pirates – One free ticket in Section 127. I’m in Sec. 117 then.
Wednesday, May 16, 7:05 vs Yankees – Two tickets for sale in Section 114, Row T, Seats 15 & 16 @ $88 each (cost to me).
Friday, May 18, 7:05, vs Dodgers – Two tickets for sale in Section 115, Row V, Seats 15 & 16 @ $80 each (cost to me).
Monday, May 21, 7:05 vs San Diego – One or two tickets available to join me. No cost to you.
Tuesday, May 22, 7:05 vs San Diego – One ticket available to join me. No cost to you.
Wednesday, May 23, 4:05 vs San Diego – One free ticket available in Section 127. I can’t attend.
I’ll have lots more seats available in June, July, and August and will post those some time in May. If you have interest in a particular game or team for the summer, let me know now (Samesty84@gmail.com).
The 2017 season isn’t over yet, at least for about 10-12 teams, yet there’s news about the 2018 season. It will start earlier, all teams will open their season on March 29, a Thursday, and the season will end Sept. 30 (for all but 10 playoff teams). There will be more off days scheduled, as a result of a collective bargaining agreement between league and the player’s union. More 2018 details.
And, of particular importance to this fan, the Boston Red Sox will come to Washington for a three game series, July 2-4. (For those of you who care about such things, the Yunkees come to DC for two games, May 15th & 16th). Also, as previously announced, the 2018 All Star game is in DC next year!
Cheating Red Sox:
Speaking of my heroes, the Sox have been caught red handed (wristed) using an Apple iWatch to steal and relay catchers’ signals about what pitch is coming, probably using TV to send this illegally gained info from the clubhouse to the dugout to the runner on second and then to the batter. Dustin Pedroia, one of my long time favorite Sox players, was instrumental in this violation of MLB rules (it’s OK to steal signals, say for a runner on second to relay what pitch is coming to a batter, but it’s not OK to use binoculars or electronics to do so).
Pedroia says stealing signals has always been part of the game and is no big deal.
The Sox admitted it when MLB confronted them, following evidence of the Sox perfidy being transmitted from the Yankees to MLB. (The Sox also said the Yankees are doing it, using their YES TV network in the process).
MLB is “reviewing all the evidence” and will announce any action in the near future.
So what do I say to my grandchildren about this when they learn of it and asks me?
Winning and Losing Streaks:
The Cleveland Indians, those bad guys who knocked the Sox out of the playoffs in the ALDS last year, have of this writing won 20 straight games with their complete game win last night by Corey Kluber. Twenty straight is quite a feat. It ties Cleveland for the American League record with the 2002 A’s. Now, if they win tonight, they will tie the 1935 Cubs for the MLB record at 21. (The 1916 New York Giants had a 26 game winning streak, but that was ‘marred by a tie game in a 27 game stretch.)
The Los Angeles Dodgers just barely held on over the Giants last night by striking out the final two batters in the bottom of the 9th with bases loaded. For those of you who don’t follow the West Coast Bums, the Dodgers seemed headed for 115+ wins until the ‘regression to the mean’ struck. They were 91-36 (.716) and had gone 25-5 without losing consecutive games. Then they lost the next 16 out of 17 games. With last night’s ‘win,’ they are currently 93-52 (.642).
And for the really important update, the Sox won last night, the Yankees lost, giving my cheating boys a four game lead over the Bronx cheaters going into the final 18 games.
Isn’t baseball wonderful?
Final Free Nats’ Tickets for the Asking:
Since I will be in Seattle for a wedding of a good friend of more than 50 years, you can benefit from my absence from DC. Let me know if you’re interested in two good seats (free if you take a kid, broadly defined) to the Nationals Sept. 29th game against the Pirates (7:05).
Email me at Samesty84@gmail.com if you’re interested. First shot to anyone who hasn’t used my tickets this year, then to anyone who will take a kid to the game.
Fortunately and unfortunately I’ll be traveling in September, which means I have some Nats’ tickets available for MillersTime ‘readers.’
The seats are terrific, Sec. 127, Row Z, Seats 1 & 2. They are about 20 rows off the field, between home and first base, closer to home.
As in the past, the two tickets for four of the games are free if you meet the conditions outlined below. Otherwise, one ticket is free and the second will cost you $60.
If you have not used my seats so far this year, you’ll have first shot at them. But don’t let that stop you from requesting them. Also, you can give me two dates/games that would work for you as I will juggle requests.
Let me know your interest by Tuesday, Aug. 29, 7:37 PM.
Thurs., Sept. 7, 7:05 vs Phillies – Both free if you take a kid, broadly defined.
Sun., Sept. 10, 1:35 vs Phillies – Both free if you take a kid, broadly defined.
Tues., Sept. 12, 7:05 vs Braves – Both free if you take a kid, broadly defined.
Thurs., Sept. 14, 7:05 vs. Braves – Both free if you take a kid, broadly defined.
Fri., Sept. 29, 7:05 vs Pirates – One free. One for $60. (Parking next to stadium available but not necessary. $40.)
Sun., Oct. 1, 3:05 vs Pirates (Final game of the season) – One free. One for $60. (Parking next to stadium available but not necessary. $40.)
Email me – Samesty84@gmail.com – with your requests.
I have tickets available for ten Washington Nationals’ games in July through mid-August, most of which I cannot attend because of summer commitments. The seats are good ones, Section 127, Row Z, Seats 1 & 2, 20 rows off the field, between the catcher and Nats’ dugout.
So, here’s the deal:
*For each of the games below that have two tickets available, they are free to you if you take a kid (broadly defined) or an older person (broadly defined). Otherwise, your ticket is free but you will have to pay me my cost of $60 for the second one.
*For the two games I think I can attend, your ticket is free.
*Tickets will go first to anyone who has not already gotten tickets from me this year. (Even if you’ve attended a game already, still make a request.)
*Give me two choices of games you are interested in attending so that I can juggle various requests.
Here is a list of games available in April, May, and June at Nationals’ Park, DC, either to join me or to get two seats for yourself.
Mon., April 10, 7:05 PM vs the Cards – Two tickets (without me) four rows behind the Visitors Dugout. Free if you take someone of a different generation, otherwise $75 per ticket.
Tues., April 11, 7:05 PM vs Cards – Join me at no cost to you.*
Wed., April 12, 4:05 PM vs Cards – Join me at no cost to you.
Wed., May 3, 7:05 PM vs Diamondbacks – Join me at no cost to you.
Wed., May 10, 7:05 vs Orioles – Join me at no cost to you.
Fri., May 12, 7:05 PM vs Phillies – Two tickets at no cost to you if you take someone of a different generation, otherwise, $57 per ticket.
Sat., May 13, 7:05 PM vs Phillies – Two tickets at no cost to you if you take someone of a different generation, otherwise $57 per ticket.
Tues., June 13, 7:05 vs Braves – Two tickets at no cost to you if you take someone of a different generation, otherwise $57 per ticket.
Fri., June 23, 7:05 vs Braves – Two tickets at no cost to you if you take someone of a different generation, otherwise $57 per ticket.
Thurs., June 29, 4:05 vs Cubs – Join me at no cost to you.
*I will accept, however, a bag of peanuts (for sharing).
Email me (Samesty84@gmail.com) if you are interested in any of the above games, whether to join me or to take the two tickets for yourself.
Let me know of any interest by Monday next (Nats’ Opening Day, April 3). If possible, give me two games so I can juggle any requests as this will not be decided solely on a first come, first serve basis.
I’ll have other tickets, many more, for July and August and will post those dates probably some time in May.
We had heard a good deal about the new Nationals/Astros spring training facility — The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Thus, when I saw that the Sox would be playing the Nats there, I of course got tickets and met my cousin and some other friends there Mar. 7th.
We had tickets behind the Sox dugout, and, for some reason, the Sox brought most of their starting players. The weather was perfect, and we got to see both first string Sox & Nats players as well as those trying to make the teams. The Sox won, of course, and even if it doesn’t matter who wins Spring Training games, if you’re a Sox fan, you never want them to lose.
Indeed it’s a good park. I don’t think there’s a bad seat in the place. It has 6,500 seats and another 1500 spectators can sit on a grass berm beyond left and right field. The stadium seats are largely in the shade, thanks to good planning and to some over hanging shade structures. There’s an open air concourse that goes from the left field fence all around to the one in right, and you can walk along it without missing a pitch. The only fault I could find with the park was the small scoreboard in the outfield which made it hard to see the names of the players, etc. (But that could also be a factor of my aging eyesight.)
The facility is on 160 acres of what use to be a landfill, trash dump. There are 12 practice fields, six for each team. The Astros have one which is the exact dimensions of their home field, and the Nats have two that are similar to their park in DC. The facility was built quickly, in 15 months, and cost about $150 million, $50 from the state and $100 million from a new county hotel tax. We had heard horror stories about the traffic getting into the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, but thanks to advance word and advice from my cousin, we approached it from the north (?) and had no trouble parking.
There are now four teams that have their Spring Training facilities in the area – Nats, Astros, Cards, and Marlins – so if you have the time and interest, spending a week or so in the Palm Beach area in the month of March will allow you to see those teams as well as ones that come across the state from the West Coast.
Then it was on to the West Coast to see other friends and three Sox games, one against the USA World Baseball Classic team, one against the Os, and one against the Rays. Of course, the Sox won all three, and even if the games don’t count for much, if you’re a Sox fan, you always want to see them win.
But the real reason to go was to see Fenway South, i.e.,Jet Blue Park, where the stadium is said to be a replica of Fenway Park in Boston. Built five years ago, after much negotiation with the ‘powers’ in Ft. Myers, the Sox got a new $77.9 million stadium outside of the city on 126 acres, including six practice fields (one with the same dimensions as Fenway) and a rehabilitation center. The funding came, in part, I think, because Lee County was afraid the Sox would move away, and involved some kind of public-private partnership, where much of the public outlay came from a “bed tax” on hotel rooms in the area.
While the main ball park itself has the same dimensions as the one in the north, it didn’t feel so much like Fenway in Boston. Yes. It has a Green Monster, with seats and a net in the middle of the wall, a former Fenway scoreboard that has to be manually updated with the use of a ladder (there’s no room behind the scoreboard to change the score between innings, etc.), a Pesky Pole, a triangle in center field, and a lone red seat (longest HR in Fenway).
The 11,000 seat stadium is quite open and shady, but it didn’t feel anything like Boston’s Fenway to me. I couldn’t tell exactly, but the right field configuration didn’t feel like the Fenway I know and sitting on/in the Green Monster (game vs. the Rays) only faintly resembled the one in Boston. In the game vs the USA team, we sat just to the left of home plate and had an enormous amount of room in which to stretch out. Against the Os, we sat beyond first base and by the end of the game our necks were sore from looking to the left.
Still, it’s the spring home of my heroes, and, like most spring training facilities these days (15 in Florida and 15 in Arizona), you feel close to the players, the weather is delightful (away from the cold and snow of the north), and you get the opportunity to see both starting players and those who are trying to be starters, or will be in several years.
I’ll definitely return. Anyone want to plan next year’s trip with me?
You may also know of my two favorite current sports’ writers, Joe Posnanski and Thomas Boswell, from whom I learn something every time I read one of their columns.
And so, check out Posnanski’s latest column, wherein he writes about the best age to get your kids/grandkid involved. While the article does focus on Theo Epstein, I post a link to it primarily for the discussion about getting the next generation involved.