A fan's observations on the Washington Nationals, from across the virtual divide.

Mining Entertainment From the End of the Season

Filed under: Fan Experience — Tags: , , — Wigi @ 9:21 am September 27, 2010

The Phillies magic number is one.

Not that I care about the Phillies winning the division – actually, I care about the Phillies NOT winning the division – but here is a way that Nationals fans can glean a little satisfaction from the last six games.

  1. The Nationals have to sweep the Phillies. Sounds like a tall order. Sounds like hitting the lotto. But for my pie-in-the-sky improbable end to the 2010 season, it has to happen. If the Nats do their part, the best the Phillies can do is back into the division title with a Braves loss, which brings me to…
  2. The Braves have to sweep the Marlins. They are playing in Atlanta, so there is some home-field advantage there. On the down-side, the Braves didn’t look like giant-killers during their visit to DC, but you have to admit, a Braves sweep of the Marlins is a more likely outcome than a Nats sweep of the Phillies. If those two things happen, then…
  3. The Braves have to sweep the Phillies in Atlanta over the weekend. The Braves have three games to get their giant-killer game in order before facing the them.
  4. The icing on the cake would be a Nats sweep of the Mets over the weekend.

If those four things happen, the Braves and Phillies have to play a one-game playoff, the Nats finish with 73 wins and a seven game winning streak (also, eleven of their last twelve).

In the Nats favor is today’s weather. The Nationals and Phillies have some historic rain-enhanced games in their history. For it to work in the Nationals favor, they have to get the game in, but they need a long and messy rain delay that chases all but a hundred of us fans from the stands. A rainout doesn’t work – a doubleheader just about guarantees at least one Phillies win.

Is that going to happen? Are you going to win the Pick-Six at Santa Anita? Probably not.

I think it says something a little sad about the Nats season that I’m relying on the least-likely scenario to bask in some schadenfreude. If the Nats had won just one or two more of their games against the Phillies this season, this series would be a critical one all the way around. The Phillies have to be liking their chances. Even if the outcomes were coin-flips, they only need one heads out of six.

But you gotta admit, it would make for one awesome end of the season.

Half a Loaf (plus some notes)

Filed under: Fan Experience,Teams — Tags: , , — Wigi @ 10:21 am October 28, 2009

My love for baseball was formed when I was about eight or nine years old. I had a first baseman’s mitt (any idea how hard it was to find a first baseman’s mitt for your left hand in 1968?) and a bat, and baseball was pretty much all I did as a kid. And while playing was fun, what made me a fan was going to the games – especially the big ones, such as Opening Day, 1971. I remember the experience like it was yesterday.

I was reminded of that when I got a note from a friend in Virginia today. Her son’s tenth birthday is tomorrow, and a family friend got him two tickets to the World Series… so he and his father are headed to New York tomorrow for game two (or game one, if it keeps raining).

Another baseball fan is born. That is good.

On the flip side, the game he’ll remember for the rest of his life will be one between the Yankees and the Phillies. How unfortunate.

There’s a silver lining there, however. I am pretty sure I already know where the neophyte’s baseball loyalties will fall. His mother is from Philadelphia, and even though she professes not to like the Phillies, I think the connection will be hard to shake… and even if he did look past his family connection to the City of Brotherly Love*, the alternative is… well… the Yankees. The difference is small, but there is a difference.

I have to admit a reluctant admiration for the Phillies. Part of that may be that I’ve seen the Phillies more than any other team, except for the Nats… But even so, of all the teams I’ve watched this year (and I have seen them all), the Phillies are the one that I was most impressed with. So for no other reason than my gut (and the fact that they’re not the Yankees), I am rooting for the Phillies.

So to my buddy, Andrew… happy birthday! Enjoy the game… but here’s some advice: remember the experience. Find some other Phillies fans and share the high-fives. If you can, get a baseball and head down to the Phillies dugout before the game, and get an autograph or two. When you’re old (like me), you’ll remember every detail, and you’ll be a part of history.

… and lets go to a Nats game this spring.

* Someone has a sense of humor.

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From the “Something to Look Forward To” department:

It is snowing today in Anchorage, so it is not a moment too soon that I head to Arizona on Saturday, where I will take in two Phoenix Desert Dogs games Monday and Tuesday of next week. If the stars have aligned, I believe Strasburg will start one of those games. I am bringing the camera and the computer, and I hope to provide at least a couple dispatches from the desert.

All the Eggs in One Basket

Filed under: Games,Organization,Teams — Tags: , — Wigi @ 12:15 pm October 20, 2008

I don’t think that most Nats fans have any trouble figuring out who to root for in the World Series.

Back a few weeks ago, I posted a blog about my Dream Matchup, and lo and behold, I got my wish.

Forget about the Rays for a moment. As a red-cap-at-home, blue-cap-on-the-road wearing Nats fan, can you really watch the Phillies and root for them? I can’t… in fact, back a few months ago I had this to say about the Phillies. Had Boston made it to the World Series, I would have lost interest – for no other reason than they couldn’t both lose (which is one of my recent laments about a lot of playoff series).

But the Rays bring two things to this series that should be of interest to Nats fans. First, their last-to-first turnaround is certainly historic, and gives Nats fans some reasons to believe that strange things can happen… and lets just hope they start happening on Half Street next year. But more importantly, the Rays are part of a movement of small-market, post-steroid-era teams that seem to find themselves in the playoffs almost every year (think Arizona and Florida)… the model the Nats seem to be trying to emulate.

The problem that I have with this small-market post-steroid model is its sustainability… but I think this is less of an issue in Washington than in other places, because the in other places, the small-market model is forced on the team, whereas in Washington, the team isn’t really small market, so there isn’t a need for a fire sale after you win the World Series.

There will be a lot for Nats fans to watch this World Series. Not only is it an ‘Anybody-but-the-Phillies’ series, it will be a proof-of-concept for homegrown, post-steroid baseball. So, sit back and relax, and enjoy the games… and let the schadenfreude begin!