Great day at the park today and this goes well beyond the result, which was pretty sweet. My brother and his wife, my sister and her husband and My Son The Braves Fan and his girlfriend were there with us in section 317. I enjoy it when they're all able to go. Only my daughter and her boyfriend were missing in action.
We were giving my wife endless grief about her Nats' boyfriend being traded. The rest of us minus the kids are going to Pittsburgh next month. I told my wife I bet she'll cheer if Lastings Milledge hits a game winner for his new team (assuming he's up there by then).
"Daggone right I will," my wife said. "I'm a loyal girlfriend."
So the game was a lot of fun and the Nats WIN again. Bang, zoom go the fireworks - uh, wait - he's not out and the game isn't over yet. But they eventually won and I could abuse my son and we had a grand time. Amazing what some speed, defense and using only two pitchers will do for a team. "They look like an actual major-league team," my wife said.
We got out of there quickly enough. Per usual, my wife was asleep by Woodbridge. Not per usual, she woke up south of Fredericksburg and mumbled "It was a good deal."
What? She's a sleep-talker so I'm trying to make sure exactly what she means. Is she really awake?
"The trade for my new boyfriend."
Nyjer Morgan? I just want to be sure she doesn't mean Sean Burnett. She was into her fifth margarita by the time he pitched on Friday so I don't think she realizes he's on the team.
"Yeah him," she said. "I can't always remember his name just yet."
(my brother-in-law swears the first name comes from his parents wanting to name him after New York and New Jersey. Nyjer, get it? He's a jokester with more stories than Bayer has aspirin so who knows? But it is creative even if it may not actually be true)
Back to our story. My wife is pretty observant when she isn't sucking down Uncle Stan's overpriced booze. She talked about the plays we saw today that we never saw out of JimBow's lovetoys the Nats tried to turn into center fielders. Going back and back and back to catch one way over his head. The play to throw out Prado at second (the only time the Nats got him out). Real, live speed. Lord. He doesn't chug into second on those doubles. He glides. He just gets there so fast.
I know, I know. It is a very small sample size. I'm not enough of a stat head and I don't understand ORP, VORP, GORP, DORP, FORP and FLOPIDOP. That stuff is way too deep for me. I'm sure someone with knowledge can point out many ways I'm wrong about this. Plus, we both fall in love too easily.
I just know what I see and I see a team where the dynamic has changed on offense and defense. I think the old phrase is "where doubles go to die." Pitchers have to love having him out there. And it doesn't take something in the gap to score him from second. Third baseman deep? He'll lay it down and beat it out. Third baseman in? He'll slap it over his head and be into second before the left fielder realizes he's around first.
My wife wants ME to break the news to Milledge. I think he has enough other things on his mind right now. He'll get past this. In the meantime, I have to find someone who can take all my wife's No. 44 jersies and turn them into No. 1s.
Some other thoughts:
*I'm not as bothered as I thought I'd be by Manny letting Olsen start the ninth, though if it had all blown up I might be taking a different approach. I was all for leaving him in to finish the eighth and thought the strikeout of Anderson was the perfect to end his day. The kid still needs some shots of confidence and that was a terrific, positive ending. But I'm OK with taking the chance, too, and it all worked out.
*Chico (the writer) mentioned something about Bard's ankle or foot or something in one of his recent updates. Based on what I saw today, he needs to go on the DL now. He's hurting the team running that way and, more important, maybe hurting himself worse. I'm warming up to Bard as his bat warms up. This is not me taking a roundabout cheap shot to "hope" him out of the lineup. His gait looked ugly as he legged out that double. Get him on the DL now, he'll miss fewer games with the all-star break coming up.
*Nice job with the fireworks today. Cripes. How bad would that have looked if the Nats had lost?
*The record with The Big Guy in the house is up to 6-18. But it is 2-0 in the past two and 5-4 in the past nine. Yep, they were 1-14 with me there at one point. I have seen nine of the Nats' past 15 games. Yes, I need a life.
*I haven't seen the full All-Star list yet but I'm not going to complain. You can make a case for 1-2 others, particularly Dunn, but a team that already has 50 losses really can't expect two spots.
*I'm very glad I was going south today. Traffic was thicker than usual but we still made it home in good time. Going north, 95 was basically a parking lot from Ashland north.