A few more opportunities to join me at a Nats’ game or, in a couple of instances, get two tickets for yourself:
Now that we know the mighty Sox will not be 162-0 this season…
And now that 60 of you have responded to my incessant nagging to get in your 2014 MillersTime Baseball predictions (one-third of you doing so in the final 24 hours)…
We can proceed with the best six months (seven for some of us) of the year.
I’m listing below Washington Nationals’ games for which I invite friends, foes, fans and faux fans to join me for a game at no cost, save perhaps buying me a bag of peanuts and being captive to my baseball natterings for three hours.
These are just the games for April and May. Later, I’ll list some summer and September games.
As the 2013 MLB season winds down, or, for some of us, winds up, there are already three winners to announce for this year’s MillersTime Baseball Contests.
Contest #4 – Will Nats make the playoffs? If yes, how far will they go? If no, why not?
More than 90% of you said the Nats would make the playoffs, and some of you thought they’d make it to the World Series or even be the winner of the WS. Most seemed to believe the Nats would pick up right where they left off last year (98-64). With four games remaining, they are 84-74 and have been eliminated from the Wild Card.
Matt Gallati (“they will be plagued by injuries and thus lose more often than they win.”), Larry Longenecker (“Davey Johnson will eventually upset people by speaking his mind…”) and David Price (“…they won’t even be close…”) all thought they wouldn’t make the playoffs and seemed to understand that 2013 would be different for them than 2012.
But Randy Candea wins this contest with this prediction for 2013: “Nats (88-74) will finish behind Atlanta and not make the playoffs due to sophomore jinx. Unlike last year, they won’t win the close games.” He gets two tickets to a Nationals’ game of his choice in 2014.
Contest #5 – Predict the Sox-Yankee Split of the 19 games they play against each other. Since Jere Smith failed to take the opportunity to appeal my decision, Meg Gage wins the two tickets to Fenway in 2014. (See this earlier post for more details on the results of this contest.)
Contest #7 – Worst Prediction.
Actually this one was not one of the six original 2013 contests. In a moment of anxiety about how the Sox were doing, I distracted myself by going through everyone’s predictions and decided to add a category of the Worst Prediction for 2013. I found 15 predictions that were pretty wide of the mark and let you folks choose which one was the worst. (See all the 15 in this earlier post.)
Elizabeth Hedlund ‘won’ (got the most votes from you) with her prediction that “Stephen Strasburg wins 30 games, first since Denny McLain in 1986.” And because contestant Tracy Capullo encouraged Elizabeth to join the contests, these two Red Sox fans get to go to a Nats’ game of their choice in 2014.
Contest #3. Which League wins the All-Star game, what will the score be, and who will be the MVP?
I announced the winner of this contest earlier. Tim Malieckal and I will go to Minneapolis next summer.
Finally, there are still three contests to be decided: Best overall prediction (#1), Best Team Prediction (#2), and World Series Contestants and winner. We’ll have to wait until the end of October to see who wins these.
More tickets available. Baseball and a talk. Let me know if you’re interested.
Baseball – Tho the Nats are struggling mightily, what’s better than a summer evening at the park? Final games available at no cost to you, other than perhaps buying me some peanuts and having to listen to my baseball natterings:
Wednesday, August. 7 at 7:05 vs Braves
Tuesday, August 13 at 7:05 vs Giants
Friday, September 13 at 7:05 vs Phillies
Sunday, September 15 at 1:35 vs Phillies
Tuesday, September 17 at 7:05 vs Braves
Wednesday, September 18 at 7:05 vs Braves
Sixth & I – Lee Child
If you know the name Jack Reacher and have read lots of Lee Child’s books, then you might want to join me Tuesday, September 10 to see and hear Child’s talk about his newest book, Never Go Back.
For those of you who haven’t had the good fortune to read any of Child’s thrillers, he’s a British writer named Jim Grant (Lee Child is his pen name). His 16 or 17 books all (?) featuring the ‘detective’ Jack Reacher are some of the best escapist books I know. Grant/Child’s books have won numerous awards, beginning with his first one, Killing Floor, which won a best first novel award in 1997, and on to his 2012 A Wanted Man which won a National Book Award for Thriller/Crime Novel of the Year.
First to let me know via email (Samesty84@gmail.com) or by leaving a note in the Comment section of this post, gets the ticket(s).
Preseason predictions were for the Nats to win their Division. The only National League team with better Las Vegas odds to win the World Series were the Dodgers
So, what’s going on?
Expectations too high for the Nats?
Harper out for a month?
Strasburg not winning?
Failure to win close games like they did last year?
Yours truly, who earlier thought the Nats would not win 98 games and might not even make the playoffs again, has looked at the first half of the season, and here’s what the numbers show.
The Nats’ record at the half way mark of the season is primarily due to poor hitting. They are 13th of 15 teams in the NL, scoring only 295 runs. Only the Marlins (259 runs) and the Dodgers (294) have scored fewer runs. The team BA is .236, and other than Rendon, no position players is hitting close to .300.
Their pitching hasn’t been all that bad. They are 5th in the NL with an ERA of 3.54 and have done about as well as any other team converting 23/31 save opportunities.
And their fielding hasn’t helped at all. They are dead last in the NL and have made 59 errors (only the Dodgers have made more, 60). The Nats have given up 31 unearned runs compared to the Braves 20.
To be a bit more specific, if we look at Runs Scored vs Runs Given Up, The Braves are + 68, the Nats -20, and the Phillies -46.
And, unlike what I predicted, their weak showing has not been particularly a result of losing close games. They are 24-24 in games won or lost by two or less runs (16-13 in one run games). Last year at this time, they were 21-23 in games decided by two or less runs (15-10 in one run games).
Their Division is a tougher, as everyone expected, with the Braves starting off in spectacular fashion, tho they haven’t maintained the pace they had in April (.645).
Certainly not having Harper for the month of June has hurt the Nats, but perhaps not as seriously as some might think. In April and May, when the young phenom was playing, the Nats were 28-27. Without him in June, they were 13-13.
Yes. The season is only half over, but if the Nats don’t start scoring a lot more runs than they give up, all those ‘fans’ who thought a WS playoff was a near certainty, are going to (continue) to be disappointed.
June 8, 2013
July 2, 2009
Four years have passed between these two pictures, and tho grandson Eli may still be a bit young (4 1/2), I thought I’d see if he was ready for a trip to see the Washington Nationals and thus begin this important part of his education.
We made it through the end of the 7th inning, with Eli standing on his seat and singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” with 41,000 other fans. He was clutching his souvenir, a foul ball, flipped into the stands by a Twins on deck batter. His face was still covered with the remnants of the chocolate ice cream that had dripped all over him.
The only downside of the whole day was when we left, the Nats had lost their 3-2 lead, tho they were tied at 3-3.
More than anything, Eli wanted the Nats to win.
On the way home he said, “The game was awesome. When can we go again?”
He also told me that his “three favorite teams were the Red Sox, the Orioles and the Nationals.”
I was a bit older when my grandfather took me to Fenway (about 60+ years ago), but I remember it as if it were yesterday. He had box seats behind the Sox dugout for evening and weekend games, and all the players seemed to know him.
Imagine what it was like for a 10-year old kid to hear Ted Williams yell to his grandfather, “Hey Pops, where were you last night? You weren’t here?”
At least that’s my memory. Perhaps it wasn’t Williams, tho he was there. Maybe it was DiMaggio or Goodman or Piersall.
After that first time in 1952, trips to Fenway became a yearly ritual. The week school let out in Florida, where I lived at the time, I’d go to Boston before I went to camp, and Pappy would take me to Fenway, and we’d watch batting practice, yell to the Sox players, and talk baseball. I was hooked.
Some of you know that I passed on this obsession to my own daughters, mostly taking them to Baltimore because Fenway was too far away, tho we went to Fenway also. And if you missed the letter one of my daughters wrote me after the 2004 WS game, check it out:
The e-mail on the kitchen table, by Elizabeth Miller.
(When I returned home from St. Louis in October of 2004 after the Sox won the World Series in four straight, after being down three games to zero against the Evil Empire in the ALCS, I found this e-mail on the kitchen table, a letter my daughter had written, and my wife had printed out for me.)
If you are a parent, or plan to be one, definitely check out this reflection, written when Elizabeth was 21 years old.
Also, if you have a few more minutes to waste/enjoy, check out the letter I wrote to Eli after taking him to that first game when he was only six months old:
PS – Although we weren’t there to see it, the Nats lost the game in the 11th, 4-3. When I told Eli, his face dropped, and he got sad.
Thus begins another generation’s introduction to the joys and sorrows of what for me still remains one of life’s wonderful obsessions.
A few more Nats’ games in the next few weeks.
If one of these works for you, be the first to email me (Samesty84@gmail.com).
One seat is free. If you want two seats (and thus avoid my presence altogether), I’ll be glad to part with the tickets at face value ($50 a ticket).
Tuesday, June 4, 7:05 vs Mets
Thursday, June 6, 7:05 vs Mets
Saturday, June 8, 4:05 vs. Twins
Sunday, June 9, 1:05 vs Twins
Friday, June 21, 7:05 vs Rockies
If you’ve been a Red Sox fan as long as I have, 62 years, you no doubt understand the headline above.
At dinner last night, my wife of almost 45 years (and a ‘fair weather’ baseball fan — she only goes to games when the weather is fair) asked how the Sox were doing. When I told her they were 18-7, leading not only the AL East but also all of the majors, she said, “I guess they’re setting you up for their August fade.”
If they continued at their present W-L rate (.720), they’d win 116 games.
Won’t happen, of course. Tho if they simply played at a .500 rate for the remainder of the season, they’d end up winning between 86-87 games, almost exactly what I predicted on March 18, 2013: Don’t Bother Reading This Post.
Still, Continue reading »
Here are a few more games that I have available for fans to join me at a Nats’ game. Actually, you don’t have to be a big baseball or a Nats’ fan, just interested in a pleasant evening at the park.
Let me know (Samesty84@gmail.com) if you’re interested.
On a different note, I’m still working on a spread sheet of the predictions all 47 of you made in the 2013 MillersTime Baseball Contests. But it may take me another week before I can complete that and send it out.
Finally, thanks to alert reader Harry S, see this morning’s NYTimes article For 2 Unheralded Players, a 3-Point Shootout by Ben Shpigel. Terrific sports’ writing.
Here are a few games I know are available if you want to join me.
Update: Sunday evening, Mar. 17: These games have now all been ‘claimed’. But I promise there are more to come.
There’s no cost to you for the ticket, tho you may have to buy me a beer.
First to email me gets the game.
There will be more games available after I choose my last set of tickets and once I know more about my spring and summer schedule.
So if there is not one here that works for you, be sure to check back every so often to see what else will come available.
Also, if you live outside of DC but know you will be here sometime between now and the end of September and want to see a game (together), let me know the date. I can always exchange my tickets if I don’t already have tickets for that day. To see when the Nats are home, go to their website.
If you live in Washington, you know that there is a drama playing out over the Nats’ playoff picture. Even though they will be in the playoffs, it is not sufficient to get there as a Wild Card team as that would mean they’d be in a one game playoff.
So for the young Turks, along with a few older hands, the Magic Number is Four. That, of course, means that any combination of Nats’ wins and/or Braves losses that add up to four in 14 games the two teams have remaining means they will be a full playoff team. And also important, they want to be the top seed in the NL playoff picture to gain home field advantages.
So why are lots of folks in Washington nervous? How hard should it be to get four of 14? The Braves are four games out of first place.
Well, the Nats’ aren’t doing quite so well in this last, meaningful stretch. They are 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Braves are 8-2 over that same stretch and have won (their last) four games in a row.
Looking a little closer at the remaining games, the Nats play four games against the Phillies (including the final three games of the season). Those Phillies are no longer the whimpy team they were for much of the season. And the other three games the Nats have remaining are against the Cards, who are on an 8-2 streak and are also playing for a playoff spot.
The Braves last seven games are all against teams with records under .500. They have one game with the Marlins (2-8 in their last 10 games), three with the Mets (5-5) and three with the Pirates (3-7).
So the Nats have a harder schedule. Their present four game lead, however, is a big advantage.
Still, it is the final week of a very long season, they are without Strasburg, and even though their winning record is .606 (the only team with a record over .600), they have not yet been able to win their Division. Times are tense in this Capital City.
My sports’ writing guru Thomas Boswell has another good column this morning in the Washington Post in which he says the Final Week Isn’t for the Weak of Heart. See what he has to say.
Two opportunities to join me at no cost to you:
1. Washington Nationals vs Los Angeles Dodgers, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 7:05 PM in Washington, DC.
2. Zadie Smith, author, whose newest book NW was just published, will speak at Sixth & I Synagogue, Thursday, Oct. 18 at 7 PM.
If you are interested in joining me for either of the above, email me at Samesty84@gmail.com.
It didn’t look or feel as if it would be a 4 hour and 15 minute game.
In fact, the first seven innings were played in less than two hours.
I looked at the clock on the scoreboard and thought, “I oughta be home by 10 PM, beat my curfew, and probably be asleep shortly thereafter, as is my usual custom.”
Here is a list of the remaining games that are available for you to choose from to join me to watch the Nats in 2012.
One seat for each game is free to you, except you may have to buy me a hot dog and/or a beer and put up with my companionship for the duration of the game.
If you might want two tickets to any of the games listed below, I may be open to selling those to you. Note that the Friday, Sept. 7 Marlins game is definitely for sale.
As I prepare to head to the Nationals’ home opener today, I ‘note’ that my beloved Sox are in last place in the AL East with a 1-5 record, an improvement over last years opening of 0-6.
I also note that the Nationals are tied for first in their Senior Circuit Division with a record of 4-2. While the Nats, or any other team, could never replace my Sox infatuation/obsession, it’s nice to consider that my ‘home’ team may be competitive this year.
Anyway, neither the Sox nor the Nats seemed to impress the contestants in this years MillersTime Baseball Contests.
Here, then, the wisdom of those who succumbed to my endless nagging to participate in the six contests: