Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Doug Fister was the Pitcher

I have to say I am so impressed with Doug Fister. I thought for a minute we were going to get another Dan Haren (he started out so badly but did finally settle down but a little to late).

Fister had a really bad first start and I thought oh no. But wow he has come on like gang buster. And when he takes the mound his goal it to get the ball across the plate as fast as possible. He is amazing. He's also 6'8" so he towers over people.

One of the most impressive things I've seen him do while I was at a game was cover first base. He literally did the splits while going for the ball. I don't even remember if the runner was out or not. When I saw the replay when I got home I was even more impressed.

Here's more from the Post:

Over the past three-plus months, Fister has displayed the traits that made him one of the most consistent and underrated starters in baseball in recent years. Although his season didn’t start until May, he is tied for the team lead in wins (11) and has the best ERA (2.49) in the rotation. The Nationals are 12-4 in games he has started.

I think he and Jordan Zimmermann are my favorite Nat pitchers. They just never seem to get rattled no matter what happens in the game.

Here's Fister on the mound.

Wilson Ramos and Doug Fister head to the dugout from the bull pen.

Fister winding up for the pitch

Notice how intense Anthony Rendon is in these three shots.

The Nats Warm Up for the Game

The seats Mark and I had were just so close to the field they were amazing (thanks once again Diane).

Here are some pre-game warm ups from the team.

Ian Desmond

Bryce Harper

Bill helping to throw out the first pitch

Asdrúbal Cabrera and Harper

Desmond signing autographs

The Racing Presidents!

Yes, I love these guys. They really add to the experience of the game at Nats Park.

Sunday was Bill's bobblehead day.

I waited for them to emerge from the stands before they go out and greet people at the center field gate. But I got hungry so I headed upstairs to get something to eat. When I reached the second deck, I took a quick peek and sure enough they were coming. I raced back downstairs and got these shots.

Can you say bobblehead.

Abe reacts to a Pittsburgh fan.

Abe, George and Tom head out to greet fans

The man of the hour

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wonderful Wednesday in New York City, Part I — In the tckts Line

Waiting in line for the tkts booth to open up

I had expected that the heavens would open up when we were there. It was one of the reasons that I decided to wear dress pants instead of blue jeans because the dress pants would dry off quicker. Turns out I didn’t have to worry about that. There was some ran but none that really impacted us.

Along comes Wednesday. We get up and have breakfast. Denis had eggs Benedict and I had french toast at a place not too far from our hotel. Once we were done we headed off to the tkts line. There were about five people in line ahead of us. We were in line about an hour and a half before the booth would open. About as long as we had waited the day before.

This time the weather was not as nice as the day before. It had rained some and it was sprinkling on and off as we waited. Nothing terrible but just enough to be annoying.

As often happens when standing in lines you got to know the people around you. The woman in front of us had just gotten into the city the day before. I’m not sure from where exactly. She was thinking of seeing Kinky Boots. I said it was really good and I think she would like it.

Behind us was a group of women from Madison, Wisconsin. At least the one we did the most talking with said that was where she was from. I assumed that the rest were from there too. They had done a great deal of walking the past couple of days. They had several shows on the list that they wanted to see. Chicago and Les Misérables being two of them. Denis talked them into seeing Les Misérables because he thought they would enjoy that the most.

As it got closer for the booth to open an employee of the booth came out and started talking about what was going to be on the board. We asked about A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. He said it was not going to up on the board. He said might get some tickets sometime during the day for it but he wasn’t sure. He added that sometimes theaters will wait until later in the day to make a decision.

We were both disappointed. We started talking about what we would do. We looked on line for tickets to it but they were way too expensive. They we thought we could go to the theater and see what they had there. Or we could pick another show entirely. We decided to go with Pippin.

The line moved forward as the booth got ready to open. We then noticed that there was another line that people were in. This were people that had bought tickets in the last week from the booth. You’d show them and be able to jump to the front of the line. (Denis pointed out in jest, if we done our home work, we could have been in this line. He added it to the list of the things I’d done to “ruin” his trip. The fact that the outlet on the bus didn’t work and the air conditioning. Also that both Kinky Boots and Gentleman’s guide had been listed the day before. Also that Billy Porter was off the night we saw Kinky Boots. This became the joke of our little group of line standers). But things took a different turn in our favor

The booth opened. There’s one big long time to get up to the booth. Once it’s open there are individual lines for each of the windows. We ended up being on the next to last window to the right as you face the booth. The woman who’d been in front of us was in the farthest line to the right. She could see the list of shows that were available. All of sudden she said it’s up. It’s up. Gentleman is on the board. We both said great and thanks. I said I think that deserves a hug. And gave her a big hug.

It seemed to take forever for it to be our turn to get tickets. We asked for a Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder. The guy said that’s not available and we said it had just gone up. He checked and said it sure is up. So we got our tickets. It turned out to be the last row in the orchestra. It also turned out that most of the people in our row were people who were in line at the booth.

With this huge success, we headed back to our hotel to rest up and plan our next move.

Wonderful Wednesday in New York City, Part II — Top of the Rock

We got back to our hotel a little after 10:30. We were trying to figure out what to do until the show.

Denis found a walking tour of Broadway but upon further investigation found that it would it end at 1. We both thought that would not allow us enough time to get lunch and get to Guide on time. He looked a little further and said maybe we should go to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. I thought that was a good idea.

We checked out of the hotel. We also had them hold our luggage and we didn’t have to pay for it either.

With that done we were off to Top of the Rock. The weather had started to clear. It wasn’t exactly bright and sunny but the clouds were starting to lift.

It took us a little while to find the entrance to Top of the Rock (we were a street off) and we also had to navigate around a tour that was outside the entrance. Paid for our ticket and was warned that visibility was not the best. I guess they had to do this so people wouldn’t be angry when they got to the top and couldn’t see anything.

Top of the Rock has three different levels you can go to at the top of the rock. All three are outside. It was a really cool perspective of the city. It was also really cool that while we were up there the clouds continued to lift. The tower on the Empire State Building was in the clouds when we got up there but by the time we got to the second level it had cleared. In fact out toward Wall Street and the Statue of Liberty the sun was coming out.

We ran into a really nice guard on the top level of the Rock. His name was Giovani and yes he had a very typical New York accent. He took several pictures for Denis. In fact he walked up to Denis and offered to take a picture.

I then had my famous person sighting. But not exactly the sighting I thought I would have. I walked over to the other side of the top level. I noticed this tall guy with a goatee. It was Stephen Strasburg from the Nationals. The Nats were in town playing the Mets. And he obviously was doing some site seeing. He was with his wife and young daughter. They were with a couple of people who were showing them around. I had to think they were probably with Top of the Rock

By this time Denis had joined me and I pointed out Strasburg. Denis asked if I wanted to have a picture taken with him. I said I did but didn’t think it the right thing to do. I’ve read in several articles he really does not like being recognized in public. Also he was with his wife and daughter. If he’d been by himself I might have asked but not with them there. I took a couple of quick pictures. The first couple I got away with but the last two he definitely knew what I was doing.

We then walked back to where Giovani was so Denis could take his picture with him. I told Giovani who’d I seen. He was really excited but I told him Strasburg had left. He was a little disappointed at that. He then pointed out for us the various stadiums that you could see. I asked how long he’d been working there and he said about a year and a half. I asked if he liked and he said he loved it. He added he was a people person and that certainly showed. I’m going to send a quick not to Top of the Rock mentioning how great a guy he is. He even recommended a great place for us to have lunch.

Wonderful Wednesday in New York City, Part III — A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder

What an hysterically funny show this was from start to finish.

Here’s a little about the show:

Charting the rise and fall of the social climbing Monty Navarro (Bryce Pinkham) and his bizarre quest to off all that stand between him and the coveted D’Ysquith Earldom, this Edwardian caper is based on the classic Ealing studios hit Kind Hearts and Coronets, which starred Alec Guinness in the multi-character role now inhabited marvellously by scene stealing Tony nominee Jefferson Mays.

Add to this web of murder and deceit the extra complication of love rivals, the passionate and vain Sibella and the innocent and pure Phoebe, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder is an irreverent and hilarious new musical that is sure to make a wonderful evening out!

This from the New York Times:

Despite the high body count, this delightful show will lift the hearts of all those who’ve been pining for what sometimes seems a lost art form: musicals that match streams of memorable melody with fizzily witty turns of phrase. Bloodlust hasn’t sung so sweetly, or provided so much theatrical fun, since Sweeney Todd first wielded his razor with gusto many a long year ago.

The seriously squeamish needn’t fear entering the Walter Kerr Theater, where this frolicsome operetta opened on Sunday night. Although our antihero, played with brash innocence lightly sprinkled with arsenic by Bryce Pinkham, eventually piles up a stack of corpses to rival that of dear old Mr. Todd, he’s a much cuddlier fellow. A gentleman indeed, whose only wish is to secure his fortune by bumping off a few inconvenient relatives in Edwardian England.

There is a point where there is only one D’Ysquith left. And all the major characters attend a dinner party at his home. At one point during the dinner D’Ysquith says he dislikes the food and literally spits something out of his mouth that goes several feet across the table. There is the appropriate gross out reaction of the audience and then laughs. As Denis and I said afterwards, this is something they would have had to practice to get right.

Just a wonderful show. We waited outside after the performance. I got autographs of all the major characters and pictures as well.

Lisa O'hare who played Sibella Hallward Monty's mistress.

Lauren Worsham is Phoebe D’Ysquith. Who ends up being Monty's wife.

Jefferson Mays plays all of the D’Ysquith.

Bryce Pinkham is Monty Navarro

Monday, August 18, 2014

An Exciting Day at Nats Park

Diane, who I volunteer with at Food and Friends, offered me seats that her husband got from work. Mark and I went (she and her husband unfortunately could not make because he was out of town longer than expected). The seats were great. Very close to the field so I have a whole lot of pictures of the game to post. I’ll post them over the next couple of days. I also have to finish up the trip to New York as well.

This sums up what the game was like:

Sunday at Nationals Park was not for the faint of heart. The Washington Nationals put themselves in a hole thanks to sloppy defensive play. They took the lead late when the Pittsburgh Pirates made defensive miscues of their own. Struggling closer Rafael Soriano erased all of that with a three-run ninth-inning meltdown. But, only fittingly, Pirates closer Mark Melancon blew a save in the ninth, too, sending the game to extra innings. Four lead changes in all.

The Nats clawed there way back scoring three runs in the bottom of the 7th after some very bad fielding on the part of the Pirates (each team had two errors and two wild pitches). I turned to Mark in the bottom of the 8th and asked if it was going to be Soriano. He said yes. Adding we just have to grin through it. He been to the game on Friday and Soriano had problems that night too. From the Post:

The game, however, wouldn’t have reached that point had Soriano not faltered. The Nationals scored three runs in the seventh inning to take a 4-2 lead, and Soriano inherited that cushion when he took the mound to start the ninth. Sunday was his fourth appearance in five days. And from the start, he was off.

My problem with Soriano is that he allows too many people on base. He’s been having problems since the break and this is not a good time for your closer to be having problems. But thankfully the Nats were able to battle through this:

This set the stage for the final innings of theater. When the Nationals had a two-run lead before Soriano’s collapse, Williams didn’t want to use Werth, who hadn’t swung a bat in a week until this weekend. With the Nationals trailing in the ninth, however, Werth was needed. Werth tested his shoulder in the indoor batting cages and felt he could contribute. And he did, scoring both the game-tying and game-winning runs to extend the longest winning streak of the season.

Werth, who entered the game in the ninth inning for his first action in a week while resting a balky right shoulder, hit a rocket double off the left field wall to lead off the 11th and spark the winning rally. Denard Span then battled reliever Brandon Cumpton for a hard-fought groundout to first that moved Werth to third. (Scott) Hairston, the last non-catcher position player on the bench, lifted a high first-pitch fastball to left field to win the game.

And that was the day at Nats Park.

Scott Hairston reacts to the Gatorade bath he got for hitting in the winning run.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Columbus Circle

After getting our tickets for Kinky Boots we checked into our hotel. We rested a little and then Denis wanted to get a look at Columbus Circle before heading off to dinner. Before we left the circle we decided to see Rockefeller Center and the Lego Store.

Denis in Columbus Circle.

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At Rockefeller Center

If you go to New York one of the places you have to go to is of course Rockefeller Center. If you get a chance you should go to Top of the Rock. And of course there is the Lego Store which you cannot pass up.

At Rockefeller Center is Split Rocker by Jeff Koons:
Rockefeller Center has a new centerpiece — all 37 feet and 50,000 flowers of it.

It’s Jeff Koons’ “Split-Rocker,” a mammoth topiary the Public Art Fund unveiled Wednesday at 30 Rock, right where the Christmas tree usually stands.

Inspired by his son’s rocking horse and a toy dinosaur, Koons melded the two heads into one Picasso-like asymmetrical whole, with “handles” protruding from each side. Live flowers — begonias, geraniums, petunias and more — color the sculpture, watered by an irrigation system within its stainless-steel armature.

It is rather interesting to see.