Friday, May 4, 2012

Nats ready for weekend with Phillies

US Presswire file photo
The Phillies have celebrated at Nationals Park far too often over the years.
As much as the Nationals have tried to promote this weekend's "Take Back Our Park" initiative and get local fans to overtake the hordes of Phillies faithful who traditionally make the trek down I-95, there's really only one way to accomplish their mission.

Win.

If the Nationals consistently beat their hated rivals to the north, more of their own fans will watch in person and fewer Philadelphia loyalists will invade South Capitol Street.

And if ever the stars were aligned to do such a thing, this would be the weekend.

When the two teams take the field tonight, the Nationals will reside alone in first place in the NL East, a full 3 1/2 games ahead of the fourth-place Phillies.

They'll also have their top three pitchers lined up for the weekend: Stephen Strasburg tonight, Gio Gonzalez tomorrow afternoon, Jordan Zimmermann in Sunday night's nationally televised finale.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, won't send ace Roy Halladay (who just pitched Wednesday night) or veteran Cliff Lee (on the disabled list) to the mound. Manager Charlie Manuel also won't have first baseman Ryan Howard or second baseman Chase Utley (each on the DL) in his lineup.

True, the Nationals are dealing with their own spate of injuries and are likely to be without Ryan Zimmerman (shoulder), Michael Morse (lat) or Adam LaRoche (oblique) all weekend. But they enter this series feeling good about themselves and feeling like they're ready for their toughest test of the young season.

"I would say so," right fielder Jayson Werth said. "I think everyone knows what type of team they are. They are definitely banged up, and so are we. I think, all things considered, it's still going to be a good test because it's still pretty equal ground. We've got our horses going for us, and we'll see what happens."

Inside the Nationals clubhouse, players and coaches are trying to downplay the significance of this series.

"You know what, as a manager and as a ballplayer, every game's a big game," manager Davey Johnson said. "You're only as good as your last at-bat, the last pitch you threw, the last game you managed. I don't put any more significance on if it's April or September. They're all important. I try not to get too high or too low."

That said, the Nationals do feel like they stack up better against the five-time NL East champs than they ever have. They also enter the weekend a confident bunch after winning last season's series against Philadelphia, 10-8.

"Did it make a whole lotta difference in our season? Probably not," Werth said. "Did it make a difference in their season? I don't know. We played good ball in September and we showed the type of team that we are coming down the stretch. I think that kind of set the tone for this season. So in that regard, it's good."

68 comments:

Marty said...

Here's to some good baseball and a focus on that instead of on the DC/Philly thing.

Tcostant said...

For those who don't have tickets yet, you can get them with this link (including Saturday, which seem to be all gone at the regular link at nationals.com).

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/was/ticketing/take_back_park_form.jsp

They support these guys!

JaneB said...

What Marty said. I want a great game. The better the game, the more we have to distract ourselves from the phillie phans. I'm giving the Take Back Our Park a real try.

natsfan1a said...

Good baseball, and several curly w's, would be awesome.

Donald said...

I've got tickets for tonight's game. The first one I'll have been to this year. Very excited. Strasmas! Harperkah!

whatsanattau said...

good weather tonight would be good too

whatsanattau said...

If they have the strasburger, should they have a cheeseharper or Bryce Dog? Can't name a drink after him, he's too young.

natsfan1a said...

It's pouring right now in NoVa. That's right, weather g*ds, get it all our of your system. :-)

natsfan1a said...

How about a Harp-smoke? :-)

alm said...

Going tonight also. 3rd game this year but firt Philty game since the opening day disaster.

Go Nats!

natsfan1a said...

We'll be there tomorrow afternoon.

rmoore446 said...

I'll be there Saturday afternoon in Section 111. Can't wait!

whatsanattau said...

Firday & Saturday (and if I can get away with it ...)

UnkyD said...

Well... My broom still has its wrapper and price tag on it...

Jes' sayin'......

GeneralCornRowWallace said...

I have my doubts about this series, I think the Nationals come back to earth and get swept.

LaRoche you KNOW is going to be out at least 3 - 4 months minimum. The Nationals training staff is HORRIBLE and need to be fired TODAY.

Rizzo also needs to GO now! He built no depth on this time therefore these injuries leave us scoring 1 - 2 runs a game.

Time to sell high in Zimmerman and Detweiler, trade them for a vet like Moureaou in Minnesota so we can get some hitting on this team.

Fire Rizzo, bring in a real GM.

peric said...

Hurrrumph, well we'll see if the heart of the Syracuse Chief's lineup with Moore and Harper are as good as projected. Seems like as good a replacement as you are going to find ...

As for Rizzo? Gee, last I looked most free agents did not want to come to the Nationals. Yes, there were a few ... and Fielder sure sounded excited about playing with Harper ... but a lot depends on these "bench guys" saying yes. Noting that Jerry Hairston opted to go to LA?

Before we make comments about a team and its GM that is currently in first place it might be nice if you found out who would have said yes if asked. The only guy on record is Fielder. And you saw the contract he received? Its fortunate its an AL team since he projects as a future DL.

If they continue as they are they will have plenty more choices next season. Unfortunately, its like attendance, first you have to win.

UnkyD said...

General Poopty-Doop....

peric said...

If they have the strasburger, should they have a cheeseharper or Bryce Dog? Can't name a drink after him, he's too young.

Hmmm, I think someone should ask his sister Brittany what she likes to eat at the ballpark and name that after Harper. She is his #1 fan.

peric said...

General Poopty-Doop....

Sounds like McPoop? Better get my Abruzzes paesano DeNunzio after him ... Poop is running from the law ... RLMAO!

Grandstander said...

Bless everyone braving the Philthy Phans at the park this weekend. Hopefully you can shove it in their face.

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Need a new post. This one is infested with flies.

Sean Kelly said...

Natsfan1a - I second the Harp Smoke at Ben's Chili Bowl as long as it is Andray Blatche that eats too many and not Bryce.

While this whole campaign is a little embarrassing, it will be a bit of a test this weekend to see if any of the bats can come alive with the added pressure from ownership and the city to win.

natsfan1a said...

Troll feeding = not a good idea. But we already knew that, right?

natsfan1a said...

Thanks, Sean. ;-)

SBrent said...

Just bought tickets for Sunday night -- my first at the ballpark this season, since I'm living in NY right now. Sweep the Phillies! (And every other team we play -- I don't much care if they're from Philly, St. Louis, or Kansas City).

peric said...

T_MO12 the Magnolia Muscle must start Davey!!!

Gonat said...

Just went online for Saturday. Most tickets selling at double face and probably will come down. Sunday looks like you can get them on StubHub for cost.

joe9 said...

And in the meantime Mark's old colleague (rival), Svrluga has unleashed the attendance wars on the Post website once again. A certain troll who will go nameless is probably in a sugar coma from all the excuses for non-attendance being flung over there. My personal favorite is smelly Metro trains.

alm said...

Responding to last post

NatsJack in Fl - Colavito is the image that has come to me also on Harpers arm.

a BIG NO on "the kid" for Harper. Carter was the kid because of his love for the game. It would be wrong, unimaginative and boring to use it for Harper just because he is young.

He sounded very humble to me on his pre-game interview with Christina where he talked about trying to learn something every day. She followed-up in her post-game and asked him what he had learned today. He blew a great opportunity by saying he learned that he loved to win - he already knew that. He should have said he learned that he needed to make sure he touched the bag on an overthrow to first base.

Isn't Christina doing a great job - loved here pre-game inteview with Harper.

Doc said...

@ GeneralCornRowWallace:

You must be a Philthy twerp trying to mess with Nats' fans. Now that your team is on the skids, you are trying to a find an outlet for your frustration.

You continually say goofy and ignorant stuff that reflects limited understanding of baseball, much less the Nats.

Justin Morneau, by the way, is still in recovery from a concussion.

Dave said...

I'm there Saturday. Had a tough time scoring even a single as late as Wednesday evening. I wish I could be there tonight, though. I really want to see the park filled with Nats fans.

GYFNG!

Tom in AR said...

General Corn-row-Wallis is not a true troll but is clearly screwing around being the doom and gloom voice of desperation. Notice he (or she) intentionally spells names wrong and makes over-the-top complaints about everything.

Poopy McP, on the other hand, just enjoys being nasty and making people angry.

Tcostant said...

You can still get Saturday tickets though the link I posted at the top of the comments. I just tested when I saw the stubhub comment. As a test I put 3 in RF/LF Feild Reserved and it just gave me Secition 112 Row BB, plus you get another gane free. Try it folks...

TheManBearPig said...

@Doc 1:31 p.m.
Did you miss CornRowWallace's sarcasm @12:15, or did I miss yours?

A DC Wonk said...

I have my doubts about this series, I think the Nationals come back to earth and get swept.

Wanna bet?

Tcostant said...

Philly media is trying to start a fight with us -->

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/20120504_Phils_fans_set_for_march_on_Washington.html?viewAll=y&imageId=73642365

Candide said...

alm said...a BIG NO on "the kid" for Harper. Carter was the kid because of his love for the game. It would be wrong, unimaginative and boring to use it for Harper just because he is young.

Well, Carter wasn't the first: http://www.baseball-reference.com/pl/player_search.cgi?search=kid

Ted Williams, and Ron Moeller, plus a host of others who incorporated "Kid" into their playing names, such as Kid Baldwin, who played 1884-1890.

And then there was, of course, "The Say Hey Kid."

baseballswami said...

I have to admit that I am a little nervous about the team backing up the bravado being expressed. I am also a little apprehensive that there may be some ugliness among fans - I hope not. This phils team is not the team of the past. They have been having a lot of trouble scoring also - except for their hitting festival with the Braves, which they lost. I am personally annoyed with Barry "the backstabber" Svurluga for his snarky article. Yeah - one homestand with 3 not very popular teams in April is enough to judge? Oh - plus 2 days in early May. pretty shallow reporting. Nothing at all interesting going on to write about.Hoping for the best this next three days. Oh - and thanks to the metro board in advance for making the weekend as crazy as possible for everyone. Saturday will be a nightmare for traveling.

Ann Ominous said...

"And in the meantime Mark's old colleague (rival), Svrluga has unleashed the attendance wars on the Post website once again."

You have to wonder why someone who works for an organization that continues to see dramatic decreases in its own paid attendance feels the need to complain that another organization's paid attendance is not increasing fast enough.

Washington Nationals paid attendance up 25.6% in the first 13 games of 2012 as compared with the first 13 games of 2011.

Washington Post weekday circulation plunged 9.8 percent to under a half million in the first quarter of 2012 as compared with the first quarter of 2011.

NatsLady said...

Sorry if this was posted before, but here is a thoughtful and respectful article from a Phillies fan on "Take Back the Park."

phillies-fans-psa-stop-it

http://crashburnalley.com/2012/05/04/phillies-fans-psa-stop-it/comment-page-1/#comment-131934

Gumbo in Gotham said...

I am very excited for this series. Of course it is just three games in May, but a lot of eyeballs will be watching what happens and the whole thing has the feel of an "event". DC loves an event. The organization has heavily promoted the weekend. It was a needed correction after the incredibly dumb blunder a few years ago of "inviting" the Philly fans down to DC.

I'll be at the game on Saturday and I am expecting to have a good time. I hope the Nats fans come out in large numbers and I hope the team can back it all up with good play in the field.

It is a great opportunity for the Nats and the fans to perform well on a large stage. Building a solid organization and fanbase is a long process, but this could be a nice brick in the wall. On the other hand, if the team bombs or if the fans stay home it will not be the end of the world, but it will be a distressing missed opportunity.

Go Nats! Let's win at least 2 out of 3 and put 100,000 fans in the seats for the series!

joe9 said...

Svrluga's article compares average attendance to date for 2012 with average attendance for prior entire seasons. Really unfair, and if you read Boswell's analysis of 2012 attendance, just plain wrong. Nats attendance to date is way of ahead of comparable games last year for instance. Having said that, if the team doesn't have a pretty big spike next year (assuming this season is a good one) then I might get a little concerned that we've become Miami or Tampa Bay - good teams, lousy draw. And it is an important issue, of course, because attendance=enhanced revenues=higher payroll=keeping those great cheap young players when they become expensive.

Tom in AR said...

Ann - great post.

NatsLady said...

Got this from Twitter. Sorry to say, he has a chance of sticking on this "major-league" team.

#Twins claim Erik Komatsu off waivers from #STLCards, who took him in Rule 5 from #Nationals, who got him from #Brewers for Jerry Hairston.

Wendell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NatsLady said...

I haven't seen "Moneyball" (read the book).

From Kilgore--

Rizzo on boycotting the movie Moneyball: "It depicts baseball people as dummies who sit in a room and spit tobacco and say stupid things."

Tcostant said...

Thanks NatsLady for that wonderful blog link. A great read!

joemktg said...

Mike Rizzo's presentation at the NPC:
http://www.c-span.org/Events/Baseball-GM-Mike-Rizzo-at-National-Press-Club/10737430428-1/

natsfan1a said...

Agreed re. NatsLady's link, and a hat tip to the author of the post over there.

Speaking of links, good work by Ms. Ominous re. the Post story and attendance changes. Speaking of which, if I'm reading the chart correctly, BAL (2504) has a lower uptick in attendance than WAS (4795) to date. So I'm sure that the Post article and related Bog items mentioned Baltimore attendance issues as well, right? What? They didn't? I'm shocked, shocked!

Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...

Rizzo on boycotting the movie Moneyball: "It depicts baseball people as dummies who sit in a room and spit tobacco and say stupid things."

To be fair, so did Warren Zevon.

Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...

It's not PmcP, it's Baghdad Bob moved to Philly...

Priest Kristoph said...

Going on Sunday night! It'll be my second game of the season, and my second time at the park! First was on 4/20 against the Marlins, 2-0 shutout.

I keep thinking, Bryce loves the lights, he loves the crowds; he's gonna thrive this weekend.

Go Nats!

NatsLady said...

It is SO cool to see the Nationals pennant on top of the pole at Wrigley field. Wind blowing IN and Jerry Hairston just hit a homerun.

Traveler8 said...

Mark, thanks for the tweet about the scoreboard - love it!!

Soul Possession, My PFB Hitterish Sofa said...

btw, Dave Chappelle, is that really you?

carolync said...

Could be an interesting alumni reunion too. Laynce Nix helping to fill in for Howard at 1st hit a homer last night and batting .341. Pete Orr helping to fill in at 2nd and batting .291. Always worry about alumni with something to prove.

All things considered, we should sweep the Phillies rather easily. But they are well aware of the importance of this series to the changing of the guard in the NL East. They are a proud team and will not go quietly into the good night.

Not a negative post, just observations. I fully expect to be gleeful late Sunday night.

NatsJack in Florida said...

Carolync.....shame on you......exactly WHAT has come easy fot the Nats?

Ghost Of Steve M. said...

Uh oh, Matt Kemp is 0-2 today and may fall below the double Mendoza line at .402

natsfan1a said...

See, this is where being able to post as "Fake Jayson Werth" would have come in handy. ;-)

Always worry about alumni with something to prove.

alm said...

Forget Kemp, I have Ethier on my fantasy team, how is he doing?

do1teach1 said...

I will be there for all three games.

Make no mistake, this is a big series for Washington. Not just the team but the city.

If we blow this series and the Philthies a**clown fans rule the park, we are going to look like idiots to the entire country.

More than wins and losses riding on this series. The entire franchise, top to bottom, has raised the stakes.

FakeJaysonWerth said...

I got nothing to prove. And last season was not that bad.

alm said...

Love it Soul.

natsfan1a said...

Showoff. :-D

natsfan1a said...

Dang. I dropped this -

Tcostant said...

Are best case is get a lead and keep those Phils fans to a whisper...

baseballswami said...

Do1Teach1 - I agree with your feelings. I have butterflies - how pathetic is that? I keep telling myself it's just a game, but - well, you know. I refuse to answer my sister's email until Monday morning - that would be the taunting one from Pa. Anyone familiar with the term "hubris"? I almost feel like we are insulting the baseball gods and I hope they don't choose to teach us a lesson. Maybe, instead, it's just our turn for some good stuff to happen!

natsfan1a said...

And, see, this is where I'd have posted as "Nemesis." (Paging sec3. Sec3 to the white courtesy phone, please.)

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