Monday, September 29, 2014

A Game Like No Other

That is the only way to describe yesterday’s no-hitter from Jordan Zimmermann. But I’ll add to that the last Nationals’ home stand saw some of the best pitching all year. Thursday it was Gio Gonzalez with a career high 12 strike outs. The next day Doug Fister pitching a complete game and a shut out no less. Saturday a dominating performance from Stephen Strasburg.

Then Sunday. Oh my Sunday. To have the game end that way with such an unbelievable catch was nothing short of breath taking. To have it be the last game of the season well it was beyond amazing. You couldn’t write it any better.

When the ball was hit there was a collective intake of breath by everyone in the stadium all 35,085 fans. On replays you see Zimmermann looking up and shaking his head. As he said he felt it was at least a double. Then Zimmermann looks around to left field and sees Steven Souza Jr. catch. Zimmermann reacts with the rest of the crowd. He goes nuts or as nuts as he’s able to. Zimmermann is one of the most level headed of all the Nats’s pitchers. He almost never shows any sort of reaction at all. Well he couldn’t stop smiling. He was still smiling during his news conference.

This from Tom Boswell from the Post today:
It’s hard to believe the first no-hitter by a Washington pitcher in 83 years could feel like the logical continuation of a trend, but Zimmermann’s jewel was exactly that. The Nationals’ normal five-man rotation has gone 13-0 in its last 13 starts with a 0.89 ERA. In their most recent starts, Doug Fister (complete game), Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez (career-high 12 strikeouts) allowed three, two and one hits. None allowed a run. Zimmermann added the “zero” in the hit-column progression.
The fact that a no-hitter was possible didn't really occur to me until the Nats were up in the 7th inning. Then all of a sudden I thought wait a minute here it's just possible. By the time Zimmermann had retired the side in the 8th it was very much a possibility.

Then along came the 9th and the magic began. It began as Zimmermann took the mound from a tremendous roar from the crowd. A crowd that was on its feet, yelling and chanting and clapping and sending as much positive vibes out to Zimmermann as possible. The first batter goes down. The second sends a long fly ball to center. He goes down. Up comes the third batter Christian Yelich and he hits the ball to left field. You could feel the crowd hold its breath. I know I certainly did. Then the catch and an eruption from everyone in the park. Just amazing.

I watched replays of it on and off most of the day. One of the best, as I mentioned above, is Zimmermann's reaction of disgust because he thinks it's going to be a hit. But then he turns and looks and sees well the catch by Steven Souza Jr. A catch which will follow Souza as long as he is in baseball. Then the celebration begins.

Here are a few pictures:

Zimmermann on the mound

The celebration begins

The Gatorade bath.

Souza is the one jumping in the air.

Here are a couple of videos from people at the game:

And the broadcast version:

A truly great day.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Metro at Its "Best"

If I didn't see this actually happen I would say this just couldn't have been. But then again it's Metro and well read on.

I went to the Rhode Island Ave. Metro stop on Saturday morning. There was, as always, track work on the Red Line. Wait times could be up to 24 minutes. I was going to the gym and left early.

I got to the platform and noticed this sign.

I thought well they're taking some initiative to let people know that all trains are using one side of the platform. I then noticed that the side of the platform not in use had a fence up. There was the orange plastic snow fence material blocking off the other side of the platform.

Here's a picture:

I thought wow that's a really idea. Now there won't be any confusion at all.

I continued to wait for a train going in my direction. A train going in the other direction to Glenmont started to pull into the station. Guess which side it pulled into?

Here are a couple of pictures to help out.

That's right it pulled into the side of the platform with the fence. So in order to exit the station, people had to get over the fence. Now the fence was about waist high so it wasn't easy for everyone to get over it. In a couple of places people were able to lift the fence over their heads.

One guy who'd been on the platform looked at the train as it pulled in confused. I said are you going to Glenmont. He nodded. Still looking confused. I said I think that's your train. He quickly got his things together and boarded the train.

All I could think was wow how incompetent is this. Other people on the platform just shook their heads. As I heard one women say leave it to Metro.

Several minutes after that there was an announcement over the PA system. It said for the station manager at Rhode Island Avenue should get in touch with central control. I thought to myself someone is going to be told to do something about the fence.

Sure enough when I came back from the gym the fence was down as seen here.

Most people had no idea this happened. Again I just have to say how incompetent can you get. I think I'm going to pass this along to the transportation editor at the Washington Post.

But for now I'll echo what that woman said leave it to Metro.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Home Field Advantage

The Nats win this afternoon and clinch home field advantage until the World Series. 

Fister threw a shut out and improved his record to 16-6. 

Going to relax for a few hours and then it's game two of the day. 

A Wonderful Day at Nats' Park

What an amazing day. A bright sunny afternoon. The first of my two games today. 

Doug Fister is pitching and doing his usual excellent job. I don't think I've ever seen a pitcher pitch so fast. As one of the beer guys at the park said: I love him but I wished he didn't pitch slower so we could sell more beer. 

If the Nats win this game they secure home field for the playoffs. 

Oh and Fister just got a double. 

And then scores. 

So go Nats!"

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Another Curly W for the Nats

The Nats returned home last night for their final home stand of the regular season. Already NL East champions but looking to secure the best record in the National League to have home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The magic number is at 2 with this win.

Last night they took another step in that direction.

But there was one little hiccup along the way:

And even though the Nationals beat the New York Mets, 4-2, on Tuesday night as Adam LaRoche continued his fine bounce-back season and Tanner Roark delivered another strong start, watching Denard Span walk gingerly off the field in the third inning may have been the most lasting image. After making a spectacular head-first diving catch, Span left the game with a right knee wound that, for now, isn’t considered serious.
“I wasn’t concerned with him hitting the wall,” Manager Matt Williams said. “The way he went down was concerning. But they’re going to play. You can’t play any differently. You have to go get it. You have to dive. You have to go in and break up two. All of those things. Like the way we’ve been playing all year. We can’t change now.”

 It was a very loud and very vocal crowd especially where I was sitting:

Fans cheered louder than normal for Roark as he walked from the bullpen to the dugout before the game and photos of the clinching celebration appeared on the scoreboard. They gave Zimmerman a standing ovation when he pinch-hit in the seventh inning, his first home at-bat in two months. They also gave Roark a standing ovation after departing in the seventh inning with one out and two on and the Nationals ahead 4-1.

 It was an exciting evening at Nats' Park and a great way to start my baseball marathon with a win. I have tonight off but on Thursday back to the park in earnest for the final five games of the regular season.

Starting line up

This little guy was enthusiastically waving Bryce Harper's number

Getting ready to start

Adam LaRoche touches home plate after his three run homer

Gorgeous Sunset

A few shots of a fantastic sunset from the other night. I was near the Monroe Street Market when I took these.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Nationals’ Final Regular Season Home Stand

And so the baseball regular season is winding to a close.

There are seven games left in the season. I’m going to six of them. The only day I’m missing is Wednesday. But I’m seeing two games on Friday. One is an afternoon game that is a make up for a rained out one.

The last two opponents are the Mets and Marlins. I figure the Nats should win four or five of those games. That should be enough to give them the best record in the National League. The best record makes sure they have home field advantage for the rest of the playoffs. Hopefully on to the World Series.

I have playoff tickets for the first two home games of the first series. I’m not looking beyond that.

In fact for right now I’m just going to enjoy the end of the season.

Lets go Nats.

Lets go Nats!

Lets Go Nats!!


Monday, September 22, 2014

‘Colossal’ at Olney Theatre — An Amazing Play

What an amazing show. I saw this on Saturday. It’s the first time I’ve been to the Olney Theatre. This show was well worth the trip.

This is a story about a star athlete, Mike, as he comes to terms with an injury that has left him partial paralyzed.

As you take your seats the play has already begun with the cast in the midst of practice running drills and urging each other on. It is really amazing. Hanging from the ceiling is a scoreboard. It has a working clock which counts down the minutes left in each quarter (the play is 75 minutes long which is four 15 quarters as well as 15 minutes for half time) and of course it tells the score as well.

The hit that caused Mike’s injury is shown several times in the play. Mike has a remote and plays the injury back and forth. The choreography of this is nothing short of amazing. As Mike presses stop and moves around the scene in his wheel chair. The players come to a stop and hold their positions. Mike presses forward and the scene moves forward. Sometimes it moves forward at normal speed some time it is in slow motion. But most impressive is when he presses reverse and the scene backs up. The actors move backwards in slow motion. It’s just fantastic to watch.

From the Post:
And by dividing the role of severely injured Mike between two actors, one playing him as a ripped athlete (Joseph Carlson) before the incident and the other (Michael Patrick Thornton) as a patient in a wheelchair soon after, the playwright is able to draw out the facets of Mike’s psyche, in ways far more complex than one anticipates. For Hinderaker wants us to understand how Mike makes peace with his body by coming to terms with his life, with all of its new limitations, all of its discomfiting desires of old.

From DC Theater Scene:
Colossal is a rare theatrical experience not to be missed. Director Will Davis guides the play with a sure hand in both the quiet moment and the many full-motion group sequences (aided by Choreographer Christopher D’Amboise and Fight and Movement Choreographer Ben Cunis). A special shout out should also go out to the committed ensemble (Sam Faria, Will Hayes, Jeff Kirkman III, Michael Litchfield, and Matthew Ward).

From DC Metro Theater Arts:
Hinderaker’s play allows us to experience two versions of Mike simultaneously, in that we are also privy to his younger self in Young Mike, performed with adroit physicality, boundless energy, and honest vulnerability by Joe Carlson. With the mirror acting as a steady motif throughout, the image of Mike and Young Mike coexisting in the same psychological landscape makes for a palpable struggle throughout the piece. Young Mike struggles with his identity as a homosexual, an athlete, and a dancer, and the ways in which that masculinity does or does not play into these three aspects of his identity.

I won't give away the ending but I will say it packs a real emotional punch. 

Colossal runs through October 5. Go and see it. It's a great show.

Sunday Searching Cemeteries

Actually I was involved in searching only one cemetery but cemeteries sounds better in the title.

I was helping Mark do some ancestery research. In fact this is the second time I've gone with him to Baltimore to do some gravestone finding. We went in August too. On the first visit we actually found some gravestones that proved to be helpful.

We'd also gone to the cemetery that we'd visited on Sunday in the last trip. But there wasn't enough information to do much of a search. We had in what section the grave of the people Mark was looking for were buried but there was no way to determine where those sections were. the first cemetery had signs posted to let you know which section you were in.

Mark sent away for a couple of books about this specific cemetery. The books showed how the cemetery was divided up into sections. Also a listing by name ofwhat sections people were buried in and the actual number of the grave.

We'd hope for some success but that was not to be the case. We looked in three separate sections but were never able to find any markers. But at least we found where they should have been. That was a little strange to say the least but Mark says that that is often what happens. You end up not finding anything.

The other strange thing was a guy driving into the cemetery asking us for directions. Or as Mark suggested for the blog post the only other living human (we saw some geese so I can't say only other living thing) we saw in the cemetery. Now we were in Baltimore and this guy was looking to get to Frederick as in Frederick, Maryland. Mark was able to help him out and send him on his way.

I have to say I rather enjoyed trying to figure out where the gravestones were. Also how the graves in the cemetery were numbered. It was a mystery which we really didn't end up solving. But like I said a fun morning.

After all who wouldn't enjoy spending Sunday morning searching in cemeteries.

This was from the first trip and the first cemetery we went to in August. I just found the sign amusing.

Interesting that there is a Confederate section in a Baltimore cemetery.

More of the Confederate section.

Mark happy to find some of his Ogle relatives

I'm assuming Minnie was buried some where else either that or she's 151.

More finds from the first visit.

The Sunday cemetery which was sort of a bust

The stairs up one of the small hills.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rhode Island Row Throws a Block Party

Rhode Island Row had a block party on Sunday. They put up a big screen TV and two of the restaurants sold food. I stopped by for a little while and watched. It was fun. There were some Eagles' fan there. There was face painting for the kids and some raffle prizes as well.

I hope they do it again some time.

Nice big screen and a great sound system

All the balloons were great.

The food looked great. Too bad I had already had lunch

This woman came prepared to enjoy the game

The great guy got to come too.

Laughing with Linus

Here are a few strips with Linus as the center of focus. As always very funny.

Monday, September 15, 2014

5j Barrow

I stumbled on to this band through one of the lead singers: Jason Hite. He was in the off Broadway show Bare that I saw a year ago in January. In his Playbill bio was information on the band he played with 5J Barrow. I went to a site (which one I’m not sure any more) and listened to some of the music. I really liked it. They had an EP called 5j Barrow. I downloaded it.

I really liked it. I then found them on Facebook.

I found out, too late it turns out, they had a Kickstart campaign for their first album and tour. Got the first full album. Then noticed that they would be in DC for part of their first tour. Thankfully was able to see them (see story below for reason I missed the first part of their show).

A little on the band:
Any Broadway fan (singers Eryn Murman and Jason Hite performed in Spring Awakening and Bare) should check out 5J Barrow for their fill of drama-tinged folk music. The band was selected as Best Manhattan Artist at WNYC’s latest Battle of the Boroughs. Taking their everyday experiences as evidence of the magic we overlook too often in NYC, first single ‘Talking My Soul’ discusses streets named after wheeping trees, and why it’s better to discuss your life while at sea... not to mention a fiddle freakout halfway through that could raise the dead.

Great interview here.

Here’s a little more about the band.

On their new album:
Brooklyn-based sextet 5j Barrow hits the ground running with “Talking My Soul,” the first track on the just-released From the Dim, Sweet Light. It’s clear from the outset that lead vocalists Eryn Murman and Jason Hite have a synergistic musical relationship that is only heightened by the collaboration with Eric Namaky (keys), Michael Hunter (violin), Ian Hunt (percussion) and Harden Frank (bass).

5j Barrow celebrates the dramatic, dynamic and collaborative nature of storytelling with the release of From the Dim, Sweet Light. From top to bottom, the players provide a wide and diverse range of skills and instrumentation that not only makes this album appealing to musicians, but accessible to fans. It’s a rollicking, energetic glimpse into a collective of performers that click when they play together, enhancing each others’ strengths in a way that’s exciting to listen to. There can be little doubt they would put on a hell of a live show, and I’d be surprised if this band didn’t pick up even more buzz with the release of this album. Take a listen, you’ll be glad you did.

Finally here's a video of one of their songs. They really are a great group so enjoy.

Saturday Evening Metro “Service”

I made the huge mistake of taking Metro on Saturday evening to hear a band that was playing at a bar in Chinatown.

I will admit that I left my house late. I knew I would not be able to catch the start of their set. I had no idea I would miss out on more than half of it.

The reason was the ever unreliable and undependable weekend “service” of Metro. I waited at the Rhode Island Avenue stop for 25 minutes for a train going in the direction I needed to travel. In that time four trains going in the opposite direction came through the station. Four trains. I was so pissed off.

And the next train signs were of absolutely no help. All they showed were the trains going in the other direction. Then again I guess the sign was correct because it is supposed to show the trains coming into the station. It turned out all of them were going in the opposite direction I needed to go.

This is the type of service we get from Metro. I can’t believe it. Imagine if I’d had to switch lines. And the ride back was just as bad.

I had decided I wouldn’t drive to the bar because I was concerned I would not be able to find a parking place. That finding parking would take too long. But after this charming experience I will be driving from now on. I’ll just add some extra time so I can find a parking place. Sort of like adding extra time for the Metro ride.

The thing that really gets me is that this is the type of weekend “service” Metro is going to be providing for years to come. It’s part of their as Metro puts it “rebuilding” program. If you could actually see some positive results it might be worth it. But you don’t see any results. All you see is the weekend after weekend after weekend of disrupted service. For now on the weekends, at least at night, I’m driving.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Looking to Sweep Atlanta

An afternoon game at Nats' Park. Hoping to sweep Atlanta. 

First pitch came in by skydivers.