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Thanks for joining us! We write about sports, food, life and anything else interesting here in Ashburn and Loudoun County, all while cramming as many features into the site as possible.

Our staff consists of one old man and a dog named Maggie The WonderBeagle. Want to know more? Click on the icon below:

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How Only A Few Words Can Brighten A Rainy, Dreary Day

There aren’t many words that can immediately make me think of bright sunshine on a dreary, rainy Sunday morning.

But there they were on the schedule of today's sporting events:  “Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, FL, 1:05 PM.”

That's the site of the Washington Nationals’ first spring training game of the year today against the St. Louis Cardinals.

It was only two years ago in a world that feels like it's now thousands of miles away that my cell phone rang. “Hey,” said the voice of my oldest friend Doug from the high temps and humidity of Southern Mississippi, “have you ever wanted to go to spring training?”

Of course I did, as every kid who has ever thrown a baseball or swung a bat wanted to back in the day. But on the spur of the moment, you drive to a fast food joint or head to the grocery store. You don’t just pack up one day and head to West Palm Beach.

But Doug was ready. “I’ve booked the hotel, I’ve gotten a rental car and I’ve got a plane reservation in front of me from Dulles to Charlotte where we can meet, then we’ll fly the rest of the way together,” he said. “All you have to do is say yes.”

He had, in the words of The Godfather, made me an offer I could not refuse.

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Baltimore Apparently Has No Chance; You Hate To See It :)

It’s been a busy day, as I’ve been running around to grocery stores to stock up, since the local weather people are saying Thursday we could have anywhere between 2 and 103 inches of snow and ice.

Nice job of nailing that forecast down with precision, guys.

So as I'm catching up on what I’ve missed this afternoon, I came across a graphic from the good people at Fangraphs rating every Major League Baseball team’s postseason odds. At this time of the year, common wisdom has said, everyone has a chance. Everyone’s 0-0. Hope springs eternal.

Except if you’re a fan of the Baltimore Orioles.

Their chances are listed at 0.0 percent. Senator John Blutarsky’s GPA in Animal House. The membership fees on a Discover Card. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. You know that meme that says “So you’re saying there’s a chance?” They’re not. They are saying you have NO chance.

This may have brought a smile to my face. You see, if you don’t live up here in the Northern Virginia/DC/Maryland area, you may not be aware of the “special” relationship between fans of Washington and Baltimore professional teams. It’s a nice way of saying Baltimore fans can be one colossal pain in the backside to Washington fans, never just being happy with their own success. They’ve got to make sure you know about it, whether you want to or not.

Over the years if I post something good about how the artists formerly know as the Washington Redskins are doing, I can count on at least two fans from Baltimore telling me how much better the Ravens are doing. When the Nationals won the World Series, they jumped in my feeds to make sure you knew that all Nationals fans were at one time Orioles fans and were just front runners without any real character who abandoned the O’s for the Nats.

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You (Can't Be Let) Go, Dan Kolko

When it comes to making decisions about broadcast announcers for professional sports teams in the Washington area, it would seem the majority of owners of these teams are absolutely clueless.

They just don’t understand the bond fans end up having with these announcers. They are the voice you heard that told you everything would be all right when the team was going through a tough streak. They are the voices you rejoice with when the team has a huge win.

They are part of the experience, and to many, part of the family when they turn on the television and watch a game. You can't help but notice when the games are on network television, as it just seems strange without the locals. Those national guys don’t know what the local guys know, they act like they’ve discovered the theory of relativity when someone passes on a tidbit of information on the team, and they quickly become annoying.

Despite this bond, Washington owners seem to view them as interchangeable parts that no one will notice. What the Wizards did in jettisoning long-time announcers Steve Buckhantz and Phil Chenier was awful. Because of their consistent mediocrity, I had lost interest in the Wizards and the NBA, but still watched for years because Buck and Phil were like a comfortable old sweatshirt. They weren’t going to lie to you, but they weren’t going to be blatant homers. They understood the high points and heartbreak of previous season, and sometimes said things just as you were thinking the same.

But then the Wizards decided to make a change for change’s sake. Buck and Phil wanted to be back, but the team went younger and cheaper. My old friends were gone, replaced by two strangers.

I haven’t watched the Wizards since.

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Wake Up Maggie, I Think I've Got Something To Say To You....

Back in early September, it seemed like some magic was starting to happen to the Washington Nationals.

Turns out that magic went a little farther than baseball, at least for me.

The Nationals, as everyone knows by now, caught fire, went on a run through the playoffs and won the World Series. At the same time, it turns out, there was a tiny beagle puppy born somewhere in rural South Carolina.

If you’ve never spent any time out in the country, this can sometimes not be the best of things for a puppy. Out in the country, not all dogs are spayed or neutered. A litter of puppies can be born, and with not many people living nearby, nobody may want them.

In the case of this little pup, it wandered off and ended up in a shelter. A place, it turns out, that was considered a high-kill shelter. It was only 8 weeks old, but it needed to be wanted soon or it may not get to celebrate a birthday.

Meanwhile here in Ashburn, we had lost our two dogs of 15-plus years over the previous 9 months. My wife and I were crushed by all this, but we agreed we should wait some before thinking about a new dog. I thought we had agreed we’d at least wait until next spring.

Apparently “let’s wait until next spring” to my wife meant “start looking now.” For the last two months she’s been sending me emails daily with suggestions of dogs to be adopted. Not just one a day, either. At times there would be 4 or 5 emails, with links to 4 or 5 more dogs in each email.

We were having, as a famous line in a movie once conveyed, a failure to communicate.

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Another Day, Another Video, Another Batch Of Memories...

As you've been warned earlier, I'm posting every video I see that brings back any great memories of the past season for the Washington Nationals. So here's another.

This one not only captures the video highlights of key plays, it also includes some of my favorite lines by broadcasters this season, including (but not limited to):

"That wasn't a baseball game. That was an exorcism."

"And now...we clinch."

"(That's the) first time I've seen the nationals team actually look like they have tremendous joy and one heartbeat."

"If you walked out of this ballpark, YOU BLEW IT."

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We Are The Champions, We Are The Champions...

We're now at that point in the World Series after-party where the videos are being made and being posted online. The Washington Capitals set the bar pretty high with some of their video work after winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, so it will be interesting to see what the Nationals came come up with.

This one is now making the rounds, and it has all the key elements: The song "We Are The Champions" (although I'm partial to hearing drunk hockey players in the fountains of Washington, DC sing it acapella), highlights of key moments, video showing everyone celebrating on the field, and spraying of champagne like it was coming out of a fire hose.

And of course, a tagline at the end with some version of "Finish The Fight."

I've only watched it a dozen times today. So that alone makes it worthy of being posted here.

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Remember Where You Are So You'll Remember Where You Are

Remember Where You Are Remember Where You Are....

Every significant memory of a big event in the history of the Washington Nationals usually involves a signature play call by Nationals radio play-by-play man Charlie Slowes. His call of Jason Werth's home run in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS is still on my phone so in case I'm having a bad day and need something to make me smile, I can listen to it.

It always works too.

When the Nats made the playoffs for the first time, Charlie's signature call included "Remember where you are, so you'll remember where you were," something I've chuckled about ever since. So of course when the Nationals finally won the World Series, it was only fitting that after screaming in delight that the Nationals had won, he added almost those same words, instead saying "remember where you are so you'll remember where you are."

If you didn't hear the call, here it is:

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Sometimes, Lightning Does Strike Twice If You Wait Long Enough

It is wonderfully fitting for me this weekend that Virginia Tech travels to Notre Dame only a few days after the Washington Nationals won the World Series.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become less and less a fan of watching sporting events live. Part of it may be I was a sportswriter for a decade when I got out of college, so those hundreds and hundreds of days/nights in a press box or on a sideline may have fulfilled my lifetime quota. The other is the advancement of big screen HD televisions – of which I own far too many – that make it so much easier to see the action.

My wife would say the overriding factor is that I’m also cheap. At home, the food and beverage are far more reasonable.

She does have a point.

But back in college, I was ready to go anywhere at any time to see a live game. Promises were made to friends that if a certain event ever happened way out in the future, we’d go no matter how old we were. One involved the World Series with my friend Tim, which I mentioned yesterday.

The other was made when I was a freshman at Virginia Tech in 1974 and involved Notre Dame. The Hokies were in their first year under Jimmy Sharpe, and football at Virginia Tech was about as far away from the big time as the Nats were from the World Series when they were 19-31. Notre Dame dominated the airways of pre-cable television, and after one particularly festive and ambitious moment, my friends Rick and Doug and I proclaimed if the Hokies ever played Notre Dame, we were going to South Bend.

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After A Long And Bumpy Road, The Nats Finally Win The World Series

At 11:50 PM last night, there was an old man with tears in his eyes in Ashburn, watching the ending to a baseball game.

His wife will readily tell you that old man has always been a sap, so this isn’t surprising. But when the final pitch was thrown and the Washington Nationals had won the 2019 World Series, it was hard not to get emotional.

It wasn’t so much because of the sports accomplishment, although it has been a long bumpy road watching the professional baseball teams that have represented DC finally win a title. It was more for the people I met on the journey following baseball since I was 10 who are no longer with us that would have really enjoyed the moment.

My Dad was a baseball fan, but the notion he would ever get to attend a World Series game was as remote a thought as being an astronaut and landing on the moon. My close friend Paul, who literally kidnapped me every opening day and forced me to go to Nats games with him, fantasized about the team in a World Series. We sat together on opening day of 2012, four days before his death, and all he talked about was whether this would finally be the year the Nats made the playoffs.

You should have been here, Paul.

Then there was the group of people I met at spring training in West Palm Beach in March, when after over 60 years of waiting, I finally went. They were all in their 80s, many could barely walk, but they were the Boys Of Summer, coming back every year to see their team, hoping again that this might be the year their team finally won it all.

This year it finally was.

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It's Only Taken Seven Years, But I'm Ready To Forget THAT Game

Since the Nats are in the World Series, have two wins under their belt and everyone is all cheerful and happy, I guess we can now talk about a game played in 2012.

Yes, THAT game.

If you want to rank the games from top to bottom in terms of the ones that inflicted the most pain on fans, players and coaches, it’s at the top. Numero Uno.

Game 5 of the 2012 National League Divisional Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals. The game that shall never be spoken of. The game that turned Pete Kozma’s name into an obscenity for thousands of Nationals fans.

The most disappointed I’ve ever been as a sports fan.

Certainly if you follow sports long enough, you’re going to experience disappointing losses. But this one was no ordinary loss. The Nats came within one pitch – five different times – of winning the game. This wasn’t Lucy pulling the football away from Linus just as he tried to kick it. This was Lucy pulling the ball away, then stabbing Linus in the heart with a rusty icepick a dozen times while he lay helpless on the ground. Then kicking HIM.

That the game happened on a Friday night, only 24 hours after arguably the best moment ever in Nationals history - when Jayson Werth hit a 3-2 pitch after fouling off seven other offerings into the outfield stands for a walkoff, game-winning home run off the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn - just made it all sting that much worse.

I remember all this not only because this week’s World Series and that 2012 game represent the highs and lows of being a Nats fan, but also because it appears fate is smiling nicely on the only two players still with the Nats that played that night.

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While My Heart Is A Notorious Liar, It May Be Right This Time

It’s starting to get real, folks.

Last night’s 12-3 win in Game 2 of the World Series now puts us right on the line between “don’t get too excited because there are a lot more games to go” and “we just stomped them in their own park twice and are going to sweep the Astros at Nats Park this weekend.”

Common sense says stick with the former. My heart says don’t listen to your brain, the latter is going to happen. It's just a matter of when, not if.

My heart, of course, is a notorious liar if you look at its body of work throughout my life. So I’m a little afraid to follow its lead.

But it feels so right.

I will acknowledge I was scarred as a child about all this. I grew up a St. Louis Cardinal fan, because back then there were only 3 channels, the major league game of the week on NBC only showed one game on a Saturday, and it was the team that was playing the best. The Cardinals won the World Series in 1967 over the Boston Red Sox, so in 1968, they were on just about every week.

The Cardinals carried a 3-1 lead in the series into Game 5, and led at one point in the game 3-2. Back then, when we would also walk to school 5 miles in the snow, uphill, both ways, your teacher in junior high would turn on the game for the class to watch, as all games were played during the day.

I wasn’t particularly bothered when Al Kaline singled for what would be the winning runs in the 7th inning of game 5. But I was bothered when the Cards lost the next one 13-1. I then watched in horror when Curt Flood misplayed a routine fly ball in game 7 for the winning runs as Detroit completed the comeback.

But the 2019 Nationals, my heart points out, are not your father’s baseball team. They haven’t followed any rhyme or reason that would appear related to conventional wisdom this season. National media have pounded the 19-31 start to the point of obsession, but the simple truth is the team was not very good in spring training, they were not very good at the beginning of the season, and at times up until the middle of September, they showed flashes of not being all that good then as well.

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They Finally Did It...

They Did It

After a long and bumpy road, The Washington Nationals finally won the World Series. And made an old man in Ashburn cry...

Never Grow Old...

Never Grow Old

A trip to Spring Training reminded me we're all still kids at heart, and no matter how old, you keep playing until they get you out.

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