I Think I’m Going to Like Chico Harlan

Those of you who get your Nationals news from blogs and feed readers may have not have noticed a big change in Nationals coverage over at the Washington Post.

Barry Svrugla, who had covered the Nationals beat since the team first moved to DC, recently moved on
to cover the Redskins.

Barry is great at what he does, and helped bring the
Post into the 21st century with his frequent and candid posts on the Nationals Journal blog. I was sad to see him move on from the Nats beat.

However, in just a few short weeks, Svrugla’s replacement Chico Harlan has proven to be razor sharp with the pen. In today’s Post Harlan paints a painful picture of pitcher Odalis Perez’s day, battling through 6+ innings just hours after undergoing an emergency root canal. Great stuff.

Some of the other memorable gems Harlan has given us in this short season:

On a 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the Phillies:

Certainly science has a name for this, the kind of implosion too vast for common math to quantify.

On the trials of starting young players:

Milledge and Dukes are both 23. Peña is 25. Whether they flourish or flounder, they will play. Sometimes, they will play games like this one.

On the anemic Nationals offense:

With the season 47 games old, they’re still waiting for the offense to break from its sleepwalk. They’re still waiting for a lineup to produce with runners in scoring position. They’re still waiting for results to catch up with logic, because an entire roster of hitters can only flounder below their career averages for so long, right?

On Manager Manny Acta’s shaved head:

With a razor, using the same technique that Carlos Delgado once taught him, Acta shaved the stubble from his head. He was ready for a clean start. Head fully Mr. Cleaned, Acta then turned to his next cleanup job — the team outside his office door.

On Shea Stadium:

Shea Stadium, decrepit and months from demolition, deserved a game like this one — filled with both trash and trash talk.

Yes, I think I’m going to like Chico Harlan.

Nationals T-Shirt Tuesday Schedule Set

The Washington Nationals have finalized which Tuesday home games will feature free t-shirts with images of the racing presidents.

The promotion is part of T-Shirt Tuesdays, in which the first 10,000
fans to arrive at Tuesday night home games at Nationals Park receive a
free t-shirt courtesy of a Washington Nationals’ sponsor company.

All of the racing president’s T-Shirt Tuesdays are sponsored by tickets.com.

Thomas Jefferson will be featured
on T-Shirt Tuesday, June 3rd against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Abe Lincoln will be featured on T-Shirt Tuesday, July 8th against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Finally, Teddy Roosevelt will be featured on T-Shirt Tuesday, August 12 against the New York Mets.

Our first president had his big day last Tuesday against the Philadelphia Phillies, when fans received a free t-shirt with George Washington on the back and the phrase “Who’s Your Founding Father?”

George won the presidents race on his night. Coincidence? I can’t say, but if Tom and Abe win on their t-shirt Tuesdays, I’ll be circling August 12 on my calendar.

The Nationals Presidents Race Gets Political

Today the always entertaining Washington political blogger Howard Mortman used a little digital photoshoppery to encourage his readers to visualize opening day at Nationals Stadium in April, 2009.

Middle of the 4th inning.

Once again, Teddy comes in last, embarrassing himself while losing
to Abe, George and Tom.

But who’s that new President with the big ears and winning smile?

Howard, you may have gotten just two things wrong with your prediction. One is that instead of “Nationals Stadium,” you’re more likely to be reporting from Geico Field. Two is that regardless of opponent, Teddy, with his eternally sunny outlook, does not ever appear to embarrass himself.

Teddy and the Nats Collapse at the Finish Line

Presidents Race Photos - Teddy Falls & Loses to Abe at Nationals Park, May 26, 2008On a sunny Memorial Day afternoon at Nationals Park, the Washington Nationals completed their home-
stand with a bittersweet extra-innings loss to the the Milwaukee Brewers, failing to hold the lead after another great outing by pitcher Jason Bergmann who stretched his string of scoreless innings pitched to
19 2/3.

Teddy Roosevelt kept his less auspicious 145-game streak alive as he took a big lead into the final stretch of the presidents race for the second time this holiday weekend, only to collapse — literally — before reaching the finish line.

While the result was the same, it was nothing like Saturday night’s loss. On Saturday, Teddy seemed to have the presidents race in hand and high-stepped as he approached the finish line; but he slowed up just enough to be passed by the speedy Abraham Lincoln before they crossed the tape.

There would be no such premature celebrating at today’s presidents race. A serious and determined-looking Teddy grabbed the early lead and was still ahead of the pack as they reached the first base foul territory. Then suddenly, Teddy grabbed his neck and collapsed. As has become so common this year at Nationals Park, Abraham Lincoln was there to run past Teddy to grab his 14th presidents victory of the young season.

Is Teddy OK? Fans in section 128 were crying of foul play by Abe, who has been on a suspicious tear and taken 9 out of 14 presidents races in May. Teddy did walk off the field on his own. With the Washington Nationals now heading on the road, Teddy has until the next home game on June 3rd to recover.

Teddy Roosevelt Panther Attack Video

It took a couple of weeks, but alert youtube user squidpants has finally emerged with a video of the end of the April 27, 2008 presidents race, in which a person in a panther suit raced out of the stands to tackle Teddy Roosevelt as he approached the finish line.

The footage is grainy and there is a problem with the sound, but this has definitely earned its place on the Presidents Race Videos page.


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Consider Parking This Weekend at Nationals Park

You’ve heard the ads on the radio. The umpire calls “Strike One. Strike Two. Strike Three. You’re Out!” and the voice over intones “Now you know how it feels to try to find parking at a Nats game.”

Regular readers know that I’m a bit angry about the DC Metro’s horrible negative ad campaign, which has convinced people to stay away in droves by telling them that going anywhere near Nationals Park in a car is a recipe for disaster. You’ve also learned that it’s a complete myth.

In fact, after 6 weeks of ball games, I think it’s fair to say that parking at Nationals Park is at least as easy as taking the Metro.

On Tuesday, I took 20 people from my office in Reston, Virginia to a night at our Nationals’ new stadium. Most had never been, and the reason cited was the perceived transportation hassle. In fact, some said they had turned down tickets previously because it wasn’t worth the transportation nightmare.

We all had a great time. The close game vs. the Phillies kept everybody on the edge of their seats, but the thing that got the most comments from the first-timers was how shockingly easy it was to get in and out. Some took Metro, but most followed the easy parking directions at Nationals.com.

On a weekday evening, using the free Nats Express parking and shuttle from RFK Stadium, it took about an hour from the time we left Reston to standing inside the park at our meeting spot in the centerfield plaza. My boss, who couldn’t get out of the office until after 6:00pm, raced downtown, drove right up to National Park, paid for the cash valet parking and reported it was the easiest stadium parking he’d ever seen.

The Milwaukee Brewers are coming to town tonight for a Memorial Weekend series. The weather will be spectacular, and I can’t think of a better excuse to load the family in the car and drive to the ball park. See for yourself how easy it is, then join me in pleading with Metro to kill this horrible ad campaign.

Teddy Roosevelt Says “Bring On the Sausages!”

Given Teddy Roosevelt’s pitiful record
in the Washington Nationals’ presidents race, he can hardly afford
to be thinking ahead to the next series, but that’s what he did on Wednesday night at Nationals Park.

At the start of our favorite 4th-inning ritual, a self-assured Abraham Lincoln once again spotted the other presidents a big lead, giving Teddy a chance at victory, but as the racing presidents came down the first base line, Teddy stopped and posed for Dave the videographer with a sign reading “Bring On the Sausages!”, and Thomas Jefferson raced on to beat Abe to the finish line.

In addition to disappointing his rooters in the stands, Teddy’s move also confused those in right field who couldn’t see the sign, including youtube user tsbicca:

The reference on the sign is, of course, to the Memorial weekend series which begins Friday night at Nationals Park against the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers’ Miller Park is home to the famous Sausage Race, which deserves credit for starting this whole racing mascot thing back in 1995 (it started at the old Milwaukee County Stadium as a promotion for Milwaukee’s Klement’s Sausage Company).

Earlier this month, when the Pittsburgh Pirates came to town, they brought the Racing Pierogies to Nationals Park. Could it be that we’ll see the original racing sausages in town this weekend?

Photos by flickr users Liliang and Philgarlic

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