Capitol Dugout

Rich Tandler's Nationals blog.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Zimmerman starting to hit

It was looking for a while that my prediction that Ryan Zimmerman would not have a breakout season this year was going to be all too true.

While he never was flirting with the Mendoza line as were some of the other supposedly big bats in the lineup were, Zimmerman still struggled. He was swinging at bad pitches and leaving runners in scoring position in key situations.

He came into May batting .245 and while he's not hitting a lot better this month, his .265 average for May is carrying a lot more pop. He already has 5 homers and 12 RBI this month after tallying two and 11 up until the end of April.

Yesterday at Camden Yard he delivered exactly what the Nationals need him to do on a regular basis. In the eighth inning of a 1-0 game he came through with an opposite-field shot for a double to drive in Felipe Lopez with an insurance run. It turns out that the insurance paid out as the O's posted a run in the bottom of the inning.

The Zimm ship still needs some work before it's sailing right. He needs to be more patient and draw more walks (he has just seven this year). That would help get his on-base percentage up from .276. It should be at least 100 points higher.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Live Blog Nationals vs. Marlins

OK, here we go. The Cover It Live interface here is pretty easy to figure out, you can scroll up if you want to read earlier content. You can hit the button to leave a comment as you desire.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Live blog coming Monday

I'm going to be doing a running live blog commentary during Monday's game vs. the Marlins. I won't be at the ballpark, I'll be sending along my observations as I watch the High Def broadcast on MASN.

The live blogging interface has the capacity to take comments, so I look forward to hearing from you if you're going to be hanging around.

If you don't want to forget, just enter your email below and select how far in advance you want a reminder sent and you're set. (I don't even see your email, so you don't have to worry about it being used for any other purpose.)

See you Monday!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Football at the ballpark?

I hadn't heard much about this before, but apparently a football game could be played at Nationals Park later this year.

According to, the Congressional Bowl is slated to kick off on December 20, 2008. The participants would be an ACC team and one of the service academies. Navy has signed to play in the inaugural event, which will be televised by ESPN.

The game will be played at either RFK Stadium or at Nationals Park. The latter, of course, is a newly-opened facility designed for baseball only. How would they fit a football field there?

The answer is not very well. Any configuration would have some drawbacks.

Playing around with some scale drawings, there would be three ways to fit the field into the ballpark. There's the right field option:

This would make the first-base line seats, the ones with the view of the Capitol dome in the upper deck, the prime location. However, it would leave the center field pavilion, aka the revenue center, too distant to be of much use.

The center field option probably would be the best in terms of the field itself—more room along the sidelines and in the end zone with the exception of the corners. However, it's obvious that it wouldn't work as the sideline seats are too distant.

The left field configuration probably would work best:

That puts the CF pavilion into the action and the Red Porch as well. The press box would be in the corner of the end zone, just like it is at FedEx. There are plenty of sideline seats, the ones for which you can get top dollar.

But just because they can fit a football field in there, does that mean that they should? I'm sure that most readers here would rather they didn't.

However, there are 611 million reasons why the DC government would be inclined to do so. They need to recoup the massive investment in the ball park and a bowl game that can draw 25,000 to 35,000 three months before the baseball season starts can bring in some cash to help pay for the ballpark.

You can like it or not, but the reality is what it is.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

W’s reception at Nationals Park

One of the few controversies to emerge from the Nationals' opener on Sunday was the greeting given to President George W. Bush when he threw out the first pitch. As I mentioned in my live blog, there were folks posted outside of the Metro station urging everyone getting out of the Navy Yard station to boo Bush, just in case we didn't have minds of our own.

At the park, I definitely heard a strong undertone of booing mixed in but it didn't strike me as being a particularly hostile noise.

I was somewhat surprised, then, the next morning when I heard the event on TV. The booing was much more pronounced. I was talking with my parents later in the day and they commented on the boos. A Navy veteran in California who, presumably, watched on TV wrote a letter to the Post protesting the protest of the president.

I recorded the first pitch with the video feature on my camera. I finally got around to transferring the video off of the card and, since some people have asked me about the reception for W, I went ahead and uploaded it to You Tube. The video isn't too good but you get a pretty good idea of what it sounded like.

In case you're wondering, I was not in a section that had a particularly high population of Republicans. I wasn't in a section at all at the time, I had stopped on the ramp on my way up to the seat and viewed the first pitch from one of the concession areas that overlook the field down the left field line.

You can compare it here to the sound as it came across on ESPN:

I'm certainly not an expert in audio recording equipment, but I am an authority on hazarding a guess. I would think that the ESPN microphones are better at picking up the low end sounds while the tiny mic on my HP Photosmart M547 records the high sounds. The high-def Dolby equipment is going to capture the lower booing sound while the camera purchased at Target for a hundred bucks is going to get the higher-range noise of the cheering.

Anyway, no dramatic conclusion to draw here, just a different perspective.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Bloggers are supposed to voice a different take on events, to look at events from different angles and reward their readers with a different point of view

Sometimes, however, this is impossible.

There is no other way to discuss Ryan Zimmerman's game-winning home run against the Braves than the take given by the Post, the Times, the AP, Bill Ladson, Nationals Inquisition, or anyplace else.


Some air came out of the balloon in Nationals Park when a passed ball allowed the Braves to tie the game in the top of the ninth. After Christian Guzman and Lastings Milledge became the 23rd and 24th consecutive Nationals batters retired by Braves pitchers it seemed like it would be a long, cold night going multiple extra frames.

But the next batter was Zimmerman, who has a flair coming through in clutch situations on special occasions. He had 18 game-winning hits in 2007 (accounting for nearly 25% of the team's wins) including a number of walk-off jobs. There was hope, I thought as I stood on a landing halfway between the upper and lower decks at Nationals Park watching Zimmerman come up to bat.

As the ball left his bat it immediately was apparent that it was over the center fielder's head. The only question was whether or not it would make its way out of the park.

It did, with a few feet to spare as the truly lucky fan in the first row of the Red Porch snagged a quite the souvenir.

As I was heading to the exits and to the Metro station I thought back to the opening of FedEx Field in 1997. The Redskins' opponent was the Arizona Cardinals and, like the Braves, the Cards tallied a late score to knot a game that the Skins had led most of the way.

All was well, though, as Gus Frerotte threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Michael Westbrook early in overtime and the Redskins won 19-13.

Frerotte turned out to be little more than a journeyman QB and Westbrook, of course, was a major bust. It looks like Zimmerman is headed in a much more positive direction in his career than either of those two.

Zimmerman wasn't the only hero yesterday. Odalis Perez deserved to get the win after allowing just one run over five innings.

Nick Johnson tallied the first RBI with a hustle double in the first inning. The extra base he took with two outs became critical as Austin Kearns singled him home to give Washington a 2-0 lead.

Kearns made a great play off the right field fence on Brian McCann's scorching liner and easily threw out the batter (with help from a quick relay by Ronnie Belliard) as he tried to make it into second base.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Red Porch

Not bad deal here. Food, beer, and a nice outfield seay. You just walk in get your stuff and pick a seat. Don't know how long this will last as I think that comparable seats go for about $35.

The neighborhood does need work

Not a bad seat

. . . For $20. I'm looking straight down at the pitcher and I can survey the whole field while barely turning my head. Of course seeing the whites of anyone's eyes is out of the question and even the cannon can't get a t-shirt up here, but still not bad.

Prett good game, too. I'm assuming that everyone is watching on TV so the focus here is on the park. It's 2-1 Nats bottom six. Some nice glove work on both sides.


That's the theme of the between innings promos. This is the ESPN Zone lucky row. We also had the lottery and Pappa John's select lucky fans all in the lower deck, of course.

BTW, I'm aware that many of the pictures here don't add much, but the way I have it set up I can't post without one.

Nick drives in first run

Nick Johnson leads off of second after driving in the first run. He scored moments later on Austin Kearns' hit.

The Nats take the field

Complete with fireworks.

A nice opera rendition of the national anthem. It was accompanied only by red rockets and bursting bombs at the appropriate moments.

And, to my dismay, there was a smattering of those who emphasized the "O" at that moment. Just knock it off people.


This pic needs no introduction.

Easy in

It couldn't be much easier to get here from Metro (that's after two changes of trains, of course). You take an escalator up exit the station and in two minutes you're there.

Had to get past some protesters urging everyone to boo President Bush. At this point most of us may not get inside in time to have that option.

The first glimpse

Season predictions

While on the Metro, here are a few predictions before things get started.
--Elijah Dukes will not act up, but he won't light it up, either. He may even do a stint in Columbus.
--A pitcher now in AA or lower will be the staff bell cow by the end of August.
--Assuming that Nationals Park is at least moderately hitter friendly, two Nats will hit 30 homers and neither will be Ryan Zimmerman.
--Zimmerman will play well but he won't have the breakout season everyone is looking for.
--The team will win 82 games and be in the Wild Card race until the lack of an inning eater on the mound finally gets to the bullpen.

I 95 Ugh

My hopes of being there when they open gates for the first time are fading. I 95 traffic is awful. Already 45 minutes lost and not out of Richmond yet.

Capitol Dugout is back!

On the spur of the moment, I made two decisions. One was to attend the Nats' season opener so I went on Ebay and got a $20 ticket for thirty bucks (no shipping, ticket was emailed to me).

Then I decided to revive this Blog after about two years of inactivity. I'm going to live blog the opening game from Nationals Park on my BlackBerry. That's assuming that I'll be able to operate the keyboard with my gloves on.

I plan on going Springfield Metro and taking the train to the ballpark. I'll report as much as I can every step of the way.