Monday, March 19, 2012

Opening Day: A Retrospect

This is my 5th year in a row attending opening day for the Washington Nationals. I got my Opening Day fetish from my friend Chris, we attended Opening Day for the Capitals in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the good old days before demand rose and prices rose as a result. I've attended  opening days for other sports, but it doesn't feel the same as baseball

2008

Hands down my favorite Opening Day. My 10 favorite games has this game in the top 5 of games I attended. Since this was a Stadium Opener, "fans" bought tickets in advance and were reselling them with an enormous markup, so me and Jesse got to the park real early to make sure we got our 5 dollar tickets. Randomly while waiting in line, I met up with my old friend Jay and his friend. We let them cut, cause it was questionable whether there were enough 5 dollar tickets for their place in line. We tried to get another ticket for our friend Raquel, but weren't able to cause the ticket office was strict about ticket sales and required all available parties to be present, some random person in line circumvented this rule by claiming his wife was parking the car.

I remember read online that a condition of the ticket was that you had to enter immediately, to prevent scalping. No one was enforcing it, so we went to the Ugly Mug to drink and watch NCAA tournament games. If they were, I would have faked having diabetes and needing to go back to College Park to get my insulin pump. When done,still 2 hours before gametime, we went back to the park, Jay and his friend went inside, Jesse and I waited for Raquel. She came anyway, even thought we couldn't get her a ticket. We tried to scalp but had no luck, but somehow Raquel bought a ticket from a random person she struck up a conversation with on the metro at face value. All of us sat together in the 5 dollar section all the way up on the 3rd base side and were ecstatic with the Zimmerman walk-off.

Going into the season, I had the Nats as a .500 team. We overachieved last year with 73 wins, and I expected a healthy John Patterson and Christian Guzman and a young Lastings Milledge in CF to make a run at 500. No! I was very wrong. 59 wins and 102 losses.

2009

This was a loss against the Phillies, and I don't remember it being that bad. Might have been because I started drinking at 10 in the morning. I was able to buy reasonably priced tickets from the box office a week before the game. I got 4 tickets to the game, but the fourth backed out at the day before the game. Ended up putting the ticket on Craigslist and the first person who got back to me was a Phillies fan, so I sold it to him. In this day and age, knowing that I have a lot of twitter followers that follow the Nationals, I would have made some sort of an announcement on there, but I digress... Steve, the Phillies fan, was a lawyer, and not an ass.. Anyways, me and [name redacted] got to RFDs as soon as it opened, we mainly stuck to beer but there was a J├Ąger shot at the end, and we had a solid 2 hours of pregaming. We got there before first pitch but we weren't able to get the free giveaway. I didn't feel too drunk but [name redacted] must have cause he started chanting "10,000 losses" at Phillies fans and told a man and his young son that the "Phillies lead the league in taking the most dick up their ass."

The game wasn't too bad , sucked that the Nationals lost but they were in the midst of a 7 game losing streak. Surprisingly Daniel (Wild Pitch) Cabrera pitched decently but the team was undone by what was a reoccurring theme from 2008-2009 seasons, errors and bad bullpen performances.I thought since Brad Lidge went 48-48 in save opportunities the year before, he was bound to blow one in exciting fashion soon and with the heart of the order coming up, today would be the day.I was not right.

The Phillies fans around us weren't too bad, but I do remember telling a pair to kill themselves. Ryan Zimmerman hit a 2 run homer to cut the lead to 1. Of course I was happy, I clapped, I yelled my support, didn't do anything obnoxious but they said something snarky. I don't appreciate opposing fans telling me what I can and can't do in my home park during a close game so I told them to kill themselves. If you're out there and are somehow reading this, I don't apologize and I hope you will take my suggestion and kill yourselves.

I don't remember what my prediction was for the Nats that year. I remember most of Manny Acta's assistant coaches were let go, so I knew he was pretty much a dead man walking. I think I just wanted not to be the worst in the league again. Didn't get what I wanted, 59 wins, 103 losses.

2010
 
This was bad. So many Phillies fans. This was like the Washington Phillies were playing the Philadelphia Nationals. The infamous Bus Trip Game . Individual tickets sold out in 7 minutes, because Philly fans got the jump on us and organized bus trips to see their team play on opening day and group tickets were available before individuals. I was very close to going down real early to make sure I had a 5 dollar ticket, but my friend Sherri had an extra and sold it to me at cost. We were blown out 11-1. It was nice getting an RBI double from reining Silver Slugger and Gold Glover Ryan Zimmerman in the 1st, and staring some Phillies fans down, but it quickly went downhill from there.

The few bright spots of the game was me getting an Abraham Lincoln bobble-head from one of my twitter followers and me eating 5 feet of hot dog. One of the new few items at the park were NL East themed foot-long hot dogs. Philly was with peppers and onions, Atlanta was with cole slaw, Miami was a cod dog, New York was with mustard and sauerkraut and D.C. was with chili and onions. My plan was to try all of those hot dogs, and this would lead the Nats to victory that day. Did not work but I still had fun. I hate fish, so I had 2 D.C. dogs. My favorite was the Philly dog. The NY dog finished 2nd and the D.C. dog finished a very close 3rd.

2011

I used the presale to make sure I got my tickets early. I went with my friend Matt. Once again, I started the drinking way early. Had an innocuously looking coke bottle on the metro with a very strong Rum and coke in it. Had a nice time drinking and hanging out with Nats fans from twitter before the game. The weather was horrible. I'm convinced that home openers against the Phillies are always sunny for some reason...


Game was exciting but another loss . I love watching Livan "Not so Fast My Friend" Hernandez pitch. I don't care if he probably is older than documents say he is, but who doesn't love a guy who uses a 61 MPH pitch effectively. There weren't many exciting moments in game. No new food items that I tried or any ornery fans that I wished death upon. After the game, did some more drinking at Rocket Bar and used my free happy hour at Sign of the Whale. I felt weird going into a Philly bar with a Nationals shirt on, but drinks were free for me. Afterwards my friend and I went to some random bar to meet some girl, I was wasted by then.

I had the Nationals pegged as a 70 something win team. There was a potential of a Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg sighting at the end of the season, the team looked like they were on the path to improvement and it looked like the brain trust was willing to spend big money to get free agents. We actually did better and finished with 80 wins and 81 losses.

2012

I ordered a mini plan. I pay for 4 tickets and got a voucher for a 5th game. I'm planning to use that on the day Bryce Harper makes it to the big leagues. Tickets arrived a couple days ago. I'm hoping to see another opening day win. As for win prediction, I'm going with 85 games. We will be in contention for the wild card. I will try real hard to not tell opposing fans to kill themselves. Don't know what will be in my belly for this game. There is an 8 pound Strasburger that I want to try, but I might save that for Stephen Strasburg Bobblehead Night.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Redskins Offseason thoughts.

This was supposed to be a post about whether it would be wise to trade up to get RG3, but since that already happened, and I still want to use some of the material I had and make this a post about the Redskins off-season moves.

1. The RG3 Trade

This is a bad trade until it becomes a good trade. 

During the season, I was staunchly against trading up for Luck or any of the top QB prospects, but after the Superbowl, I reluctantly became a "By Any Means Necessary" guy to get our QB.

The "econ major" part of me is against trading up. It thinks that the draft is kind of backwards. Bad teams should never trade up to get a player because they are bad because they have multiple holes; they should trade down in order to acquire more players and build depth. Good teams should always be trying to trade up because they can make the claim that they are 1 player away from winning a championship. Also, you should diversify in order to decrease risk, you should trade down and acquire many low round picks, that way if a player doesn't work out due to injury or lack of talent, it's not a big deal.Tom Brady was a 6th round pick, Kurt Warner went undrafted, look for one of those, not a first round stud. We should get a mediocre QB, surround him with good talent, and he will perform just as good as a stud QB. Donovan McNabb was a so-called franchise QB, that ended well...

The "football fan" part of me knows that QB is the most important position on the field. If you have a team has a franchise QB, they are never letting them see free agency. The last 20 Superbowl winning teams, 18 of them either have QBs in the Hall of Fame (3-Aikman, 2-Elway, S. Young) or debatable Hall of Fame (3-Brady, 2-Eli Manning, 2-Rothlisberger, Peyton Manning, Brees, Favre, Rodgers, Warner). You can get good value at other positions later in the draft or through free agency, but if a team falls in love with a QB, they will never see free agency, unless there's something physically wrong with them. Mark Sanchez who was drafted to be a franchise QB, just got an extension, even though its arguable that he has lived up to the hype.

In the end, the "econ major" and the "football fan" in me looks at the Eli Manning draft day trade between the Giants and the Chargers. In getting Rivers, Merriman and Kaeding, you could say talent-wise the Chargers won the trade. In getting Eli, who has won 2 Superbowls and MVPs for the Giants, you could say they won the trade. I'm in this to win Superbowls, not assemble really talented teams that sit at home in February. For all we know, Les Snead, the GM of the Rams, is really bad at evaluating talent. Maybe he blows the 4 high draft picks he acquired from the Redskins, and we look really smart drafting RG3. In the end, nobody's going to care what we gave up if Robert Griffin III wins a Superbowl or 2 but if he's a bust, the future is fucked.

2. What Wide Receiver we should go after?

Fans have been talking about either going after Marques Colston, Vincent Jackson or Mario Manningham, the top 3 UFA Wide Receivers on the market. I choose option D, none of the above. I know, the Redskins have a ton of cap room and we need to surround the new QB with talent, but we have 4 wide receivers on our roster that are younger than 25, 5 if you count Brandon Banks. I want to see if they can play first before we fill that position with an expensive free agent, especially with the FA blunders the Redskins have had. What's the point of drafting players if we won't give them the opportunity to start?

3. Redskins have a ton of cap room, now what?

Hmmmmm. Seems like we've solved the QB spot with RG3, we have 2 young RBs, 4 young WRs, Davis and (maybe Cooley) at TE. I like our front 7 (Bowen, Cofield, Jenkins or Carriker up front and Kerrigan, Riley, hopefully a Fletcher and Orakpo). So I would go with improvements on the offensive line, defensive backfield and maybe a kicker to challenge Graham Gano in the preseason.

Trent Williams is good when not smoking weed, Montgomery just got resigned and Chester didn't have the benefit of a full off-season, so I'd target RT and LG, Jammal Brown battled injuries this season and Kory Lichtensteiger is recovering from a torn ACL and a free agent. LG Ben Grubbs played in a zone scheme in Baltimore and is only 28 so I like him. Not sure who I like at RT though, maybe we address that through the draft.

With LaRon Landry likely gone, I like DeJon Gomes and want to see what he can do with more playing time. He put up 30 tackles and 2 interceptions in 5 starts but I could understand bringing in a veteran to compete for playing time at SS. OJ Atogwe dealt with injuries last year, so I'm willing to give him a mulligan. DeAngelo Hall has made big plays but sometimes acts like a jackass, not sure if I want to cut him or sign Brandon Carr to be my top corner and move Josh Wilson to nickel.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Guys and Sexdolls

So I got blocked on twitter by some dude named Davecat. If you do not know about him, you need to immediately stop what you're doing and watch Guys and Dolls. The documentary, not the Broadway show. If you have 50 minutes to spare, please, watch this.





Now, I'm not going to knock a guy for being horny and solving his hornyness with inanimate objects. And if someone bought me one, I'd probably use it, and LOVE it. But I would never admit to having one, let alone agree to being in a documentary about it, nor would I develop the attachment level these guys have.

But at 6 grand, I'd rather hire a professional instead of fucking a big piece of plastic.And that's not even including shipping or maintenance. If I had an extra 6 grand lying around and my goal was to find "companionship", I would rather try my chances with Backpage and hope one of the girls was hot enough to keep seeing again. I would rather sign up for all of the dating sites that require payment. I could probably find a matchmaker for 5800. That's also enough $ to go to 200 speed dating events. If I can't find a companion after 200 rounds of speed dating, I don't deserve it. But I digress....

So Davecat has a twitter account for himself AND a twitter account for his sexdoll. I don't know what drove me to follow them but I did. Week later, I have no idea what set me off, probably boredom but I tweeted at the sexdoll and called him/her/it/idontknow a pervert. Doll tweeted back "Yes, yes. And you're a twat. Cheers!" and like that, I was blocked by both accounts.

I'm all for being nice to people no matter what their dysfunction is, but the day I'm nice to a person whose claim to fame is him fucking dolls is the day I do not want to see.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Top Ten Sporting Events I've Attended

I'm going to attempt to create a list of the top 10 sporting events I attended live. Being that, I do not keep a notepad and record the highlights of every game I go and I've probably attended 200+ college or pro events, you could probably take a time machine and find 10 events I went to that were better than the ones I listed. This is based on a combination of national relevancy, game drama and personal factors.

10. May 22, 2009 - Orioles beat Nats 4-2

You probably think I'm a nutcase putting a game in which my team lost on my top 10 list, but here me out. Both teams stunk so there was no national relevancy but I got to sit in the Diamond Club for only 10 bucks and it was an exciting game. My friend Megan and I were randomly selected by the Clint, the leader of the Nats Pack, and moved from section 420 to section 124 and I got 15 bucks in free food. First time I ever won anything from any sporting events. Game went into the 12th inning, and that's where it got weird. Danys Baez, a relief pitcher who had spent most of his career in the AL, got a hit and scored the game winning run.

9. December 30, 2007 - Redskins Beat Cowboys 27-6

This one makes it on the list more because of the importance of the game than the actual game-play. Yea, both units of the team performed well, but I was too nervous to actually enjoy it. Winner of this game was going to the playoffs, plus with the Sean Taylor tragedy, I was tense and I'm sure the rain didn't help, I'm glad I went to the game but I would've rather sat at home or at a bar in relative warmth so I wouldn't be as tense. My friends T, Elliot, Jesse and I tailgated for the game with chicken and biscuits from Bojangles and cheap beer

It ended up being HoF Joe Gibbs' last regular season game and win, the end of a 5 game winning streak that resulted in a playoff berth. The game was never close, scored a touchdown early on in the first quarter but I never really started to unwind and  enjoy the game until the 4th quarter, when Santana Moss' touchdown put the Redskins up 27-3.

8. May 11, 2005 - Terps Baseball beats Longwood 8-5

Honestly, I really don't remember the specifics of this game, I just remember it as a day I got to watch baseball with Sarah and Laura, two of my really good college friends. It was the home finale, nice weather, so of course we were there, because we went to a lot of Maryland baseball games together.

Maryland baseball wasn't that good that year (or ever) but what gets this game on the list is me winning a prize pack for knowing the answer for some trivia and I got to sing "Take me out to the Ballgame" during the 7th inning stretch. The announcer was a guy in my Sports Psychology class, we never talked but I knew who he was, and I was able to get him to let me sing for the 7th inning stretch. I was nervous singing it, but that's one of those songs where you don;t have to be a good singer to sing well. Part of my wonders if there is YouTube evidence of this happening but then the rational part of me knows I can't sing and wants no evidence of me doing so to ever exist.

As far as I know, the only player from that game that made it to the major leagues was Maryland's starting pitcher, Brett Cecil, and he pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays. P Seth Overbey and CF Truan Mehl made it to AA ball with the Bluejays and  Rangers Organizations, respectively. Pitcher Ryan Moorer played A ball for the Mariners and C Chad Durakis played A ball for the Orioles. 3B Matt Maropis was drafted by the Pirates but never played for them. RF Bryan Jaronsknski played in an independent league.

For Longwood, P Brian McCullough  played some independent ball and 1B Charlie Yarbrough played A ball in the Phillies system

7. March 6, 2006 - Capitals beat Islanders 5-2

I will be the first to admit that I don't know the ins and out of hockey or how to create a great hockey team, but I admire its fast pace and am willing to learn. Got the tickets at a blood drive for the Capitals, and theoretically I didn't even have to donate the blood as they gave me the tickets before I was asked a question about my donor eligibility. Even though this was a crappy season for my team, any time you get to sit 8 rows up from the ice for free and watch a rookie Alex Ovechkin get 2 goals and an assist and watch a win, it as a great game. I'm not hockey savvy but in my professional opinion, Ovi could have had a hat trick but I didn't see him on the ice the last 5 minutes of the game.

 6. April 25, 2008 - Nationals beat Cubs 5-2

This game was so good, they made a commercial about it.

I don't know who this guy is, but I deeply admire his mustache, but I digress...

Unfortunately, I arrived to the game late, so I was not able to see Nick Johnson's 1st inning home run. Coming down to the 9th inning, with a slumping/injured Kearns, utility player Willy Harris and Wil "No home runs" Nieves, I was resigned to extra innings,but my friend Sarah said something about how it would be great if the game ended with a walk off homer (her first game at Nats park, she's a huge Yankees fan from NY). When Kearns hit a single, and Harris striking out, I thought the only way we could get a walk-off would be next inning with the middle of the lineup coming, but somehow Wil Nieves hit a 2 run home run to win the game. It was my second game at Nats Park and the second walk off home run I had seen there. He has 5 career home runs, I've seen 2 of them live.

5. February 25, 2007 - Terps Basketball Beat UNC 89-87

Student section rushed the court at 2 basketball games I attended. The first time was when we beat Boston College. They were ranked 6th, we were ranked 17th, so the merits of rushing the court is highly debatable, but I still did it cause it was fun. Its one thing if BC was a division rival we'd never beaten or if this win got us off the bubble, but this was their first ACC game ever and the game was in December.

Second time was well worth it. When the Terps are unranked and they take down UNC, the 5th ranked team in the nation, you've earned that court rushing. Don't remember exacts, but I'm pretty sure I waited at least 2 hours just to get into Comcast Center, so I could wait 2 more hours until game time, but I was able to get great student section seats. And this was when smart phones were still expensive, so a 4 hour wait time meant talking to your fellow human being instead of zoning out on Pandora/Twitter/Facebook, but I digress...  Anyways, Jai Lucas, son of Maryland legend John Lucas, and McDonald's All American, sat near our section. I know he was in the middle of transferring, so I guess he was checking us out. Maryland kept it close throughout the game, but made their move at the end of the game, so we rushed the court, I lost a good hat in the process. Oddly enough, both court rushings, the person next to me didn't rush the court with me.

On the Terps, Greivis Vasquez was drafted by the Grizzlies in the 1st round, James Gist was drafted by the Spurs in the 2nd round. DJ Strawberry was drafted in the 2nd round by the Suns.

On the Tarheels, Reyshawn Terry was drafted in the 2nd round by the Magic. Tyler Hansborough was drafted by the Pacers in the first round. Wayne Ellington and Ty Lawson both were drafted by the Timberwolves in the first round. Brandan Wright was drafted by the Bobcats in the first round. Danny Green was drafted by the Spurs in the 2nd round. Wes Miller is actually now a head coach (interim) at UNC Greensboro

4. March 30, 2008 - Nats beat Braves 3-2

I'm not sure how 2 games from the 100 loss 2008 Nats made it on to my top 10 list, but it did and at least we got Strasburg in exchange for suffering through this season. "Fans" snatched up tickets for the home opener this year because it was the opening of the stadium, but luckily the Nats held back 400 tickets that were sold on game day and they only cost 5 bucks. I say "fans" in quotes because you're not a true fan if you buy a 10 dollar ticket from the Nats only to put it on stubhub for 80. My friend Jesse and I got there around 1 PM, 7 hours before gametime and the line was already 100 people deep. The Nationals didn't start selling tickets until 3. We played cards until then. We randomly met Wolf Blitzer before the game.

I missed a lot of the pregame ceremonies cause I was waiting in line to grab some Ben's Chili Bowl (took an hour), but I was able to get back to my seat in time for George W Bush's first pitch and the booing from my ensued. Close game all the way through, ended in the bottom of the 9th by a walk off by Mr. Walk-off, Ryan Zimmerman. First walk-off home run I ever saw in person. This probably started my obsession with going to Nats home openers cause I have gone every year since.

3. February 28, 2012 - Capitals beat Islanders 3-2

This was the most recent game I have been to. Most exciting hockey game ever attended. It's kind of flukey how both Caps v Islanders game I've been to made it on the list. I've only attended 1 other game that ended past regulation, and that ended in a shootout. I don't think this game was a sellout, lots of empty seats, and I actually got signal at the Verizon Center. Nabokov was hot, had 20 SOG in the first 2 periods, no goals. Somehow, in the last 4 minutes of the game, Troy Brower scored twice. People behind me and my friend Matt were Caps fans and called Ovi "The laziest player in the NHL." I'm not a hockey buff but I'm pretty sure the laziest player in the league could get 2 Hart trophies. It was as if Ovi heard that, cause he got the game winning goal in OT. I'm hoping when we look back on the season, this will be seen as a turnaround moment for the team.

2.  June 8, 2010 Nationals beat Pirates 5-2

Any true Nats fan knows this as the day of Strasmas. One of the few sporting events that I've attended that lived up to its hype. Later that year, I went to the debut of Cuban defector Yunesky Maya, the game was a huge dud and Maya hasn't really done well in DC, but did pitch well out of the bullpen towards last season, so who knows. Aside from Phillies games and a handful of O's v Nats games, Strasburg pitching was the only time I saw Nats Park packed. Not much for drama but who needs drama when your star prospect strikes out 14, almost gets a hit, and each of your 3 best power hitters hit a home run.

1. December 18, 2005 Redskins beat Cowboys 35-7

WHO NEEDS GAME DRAMA WHEN YOU WHOOP UP ON YOUR RIVAL AND GET TO TAKE HOME SANDWICHES!

This one has a bit of an asterisk on it. I attended the game but I watched most of it on a network tv if at all cause I was working in the ticket office, but I was inside Fed Ex Field when the game began so it counts for me. Two division rivals, both with playoff aspersions facing off, I was excited being there and not even watching the game live. It's very possible I was in the same room as Donald Rumsfeld. I did see a member of the Secret Service in the ticket office, and one of my coworkers did say she talked to him. Met Chris Samuels' brother too. The circumstances of us meeting wasn't ideal(ticket snafu, not my fault) but still very cool. Looks a lot like him. Plus I got to take home a tray of Subway sandwiches home.