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Monday, August 29, 2005

 

We'll Take It.

In a season of unusual games, one can't really make a statement with any certainty that an individual game is the most peculiar of them all. However, I present for your consideration, the Cards vs. Washington Nationals, Sunday, August 28, 2005, RFK Stadium, Washington, DC. Getting the field early, I had no idea that the game was going to be a bullpen start. How could I have know? I left the apartment at 11 a.m., just enough time to get some breakfast and scan the morning news. My quest was to be at the ballpark early, to see the boys take batting practice and maybe grab an autograph or two from a memorable team in the midst of a memorable season. Batting practice was a sight to see, but it seems the bench (i.e. the new starters) were taking most of the hits. Walker worked first getting the relays from the OF via Grudzy, looking most jovial, my assumption was that he would be in the lineup that day. Tony talked to some people on the field, and I pondered "how in the hell did they get down there, who are they?" Anyway, I quickly lost interest in them when one Reggie Sanders began taking BP, and he was hitting the ball pretty well, putting to the warning track at RFK, which would be in the stands in the other band boxes around the NL. The clock wound down, and the players began to make their way into the clubhouse. I moved over above the dugout, narrowly missing Matt Morris who signed a few items and then seemingly chatted with someone familiar before retiring inside. They disappeared for a bit, and reemerging first was none other than John Rodriguez. After asking for us to duck down for a moment so he could look for his family in the stands (a large group we sat next to the day before), he signed a few balls, mine included. Of course, I now feel in someway inclined to make him something of a sentimental favorite, and was duly rewarded with a solid performance yesterday. Personally, if he's on our bench next year, we could do a lot worse. Eldred and Duncan popped out on their way to throw some down by the bullpen. I knew something was up, as Duncan seems to spend some quality time with the starting pitcher before the game, saw it with Marquis on Saturday too. In one of those "day at the office" moments that major league ball players no doubt have, Eldred and J-Rod began wondering which hat they were supposed to wear that day, Cal caught by surprise by the Bird on Bat hat J-Rod was wearing. Ahh, marketing departments are confusing the players too, not just us fans. Overpriced soda in hand, I headed up to my seat to watch one exciting, albeit strange, game. Eldred looked sharp, Thompson did too. And while the bullpen padded their stats, the rest of the team got in a little baserunning practice. We were completely taken off guard by the argument at first base between Albert and the ump. From our vantage point (above 3B), it was tough to tell if he was out at second or not. Nevertheless, it got heated real quick down there, and I assumed Pujols was tossed when TLR and Oqeundo came over to restrain him. He was mad, really mad, and even from our side you could see the veins in his neck pulsing. I doubt he said the magic word to the ump to begin with, but before the whole thing was over, I am quite positive that someone should have said it to him. I am not going to go into the detail of the game here, you can get that elsewhere, just a few notable things from the perspective of someone in attendance. When Edmonds didn't get up after stealing home, there was a huge gasp from the Cards fans in the place. I swallowed a pretty big lump in my throat, but it sounds like JEd's going to be just fine. I am assuming they are holding back on some of the guys a little bit in anticipation of this week at FLA and at HOU, hence Walker only playing one game of the series. I'd also be lying if I said I wasn't worried about the team's offense, but the record seems to indicate otherwise and an analysis at Beyond the Boxscore of our team Net Runs Above Average has us way out ahead of most others. Eckstein's two doubles were huge, going to the same place in LF where he smacked the HR on Saturday. Anyone else notice that LF seems to be where a lot of his big hits go? The last HR I saw him hit in Busch went there as well. The game ended, with only a one gasp inducing moment from Ray King, but it wasn't really that exasperating in context. We had a nice walk out the stadium as most Nats fans had cleared out in the 8th. A lady in front of read the Wall Street Journal, and I'd like to make a public service announcement in light of that. Stay home. If you're going to read the paper (which can block the view of those around you) or you can't muster enough interest for a couple hours of baseball, just stay home or go grab a latte while the rest of your party enjoys the game. Should be a good week for baseball. Florida and Houston will be solid tests for the various incarnations of our lineup. Thursday is September 1, any bets on Reggie being back by then? I saw him play catch and take BP, so I can by no means judge him qualified. Even so, if it's not Thursday, I predict it will be soon thereafter.
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