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Nats Have Their Moments, But Lose 2 Of 3 To Braves

For six months and a couple of extra days, Nats fans waited.

Then in a span of a little over 24 hours, they went from famine to feast, as the Nationals played three games, showing both the potential - and challenges - they'll have to deal with this season.  

The good: The Nats took the season opener on a walk-off base hit by Juan Soto.

The bad: They dropped both games of a doubleheader on Wednesday.

 Game One

Max Scherzer was not at his best on Tuesday. He surrendered four solo home runs in his first three innings, including two to Ronald Acuña Jr. Thankfully, the Nats’ bats picked up his slack.  Recently signed catcher Jonathan Lucroy laced a two-run double down the third base line in the second inning, and Trea Turner crushed a ball over the left-center field fence in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game.

Despite his early struggles, Scherzer managed to get through six innings while limiting the damage to four runs and striking out nine batters. That kept Washington in the game, and the bullpen fared better.

The Braves added a run on an Acuña groundout in the seventh, with Kyle Finnegan on the mound. But Andrew Stevenson responded with a bases-loaded RBI single the next inning.

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Hokies Add The 7-Footer They've Both Wanted And Needed

At first, the story of Virginia Tech’s off-season was more about the players leaving the basketball team via the transfer portal.

Now, Hokie fans are starting to see who is going to take their place.

Not soon after the season ended, Jalen Cone and Joe Bamisile entered the portal, with Cone landing at Northern Arizona University and Bamisile going to George Washington. Today, the portal went the other way as the Hokies got a commitment from the big man they’ve both wanted and sorely needed, 7-foot, 250-pound Michael Durr.

Durr is a transfer from the University of South Florida, the same place the Hokies acquired Zach LeDay back when Buzz Williams was coaching. He was a 3-star out of high school, and in three seasons with USF, averaged 5.7 points and 6.2 rebounds his freshman year, 6.7 points and 6.1 rebounds as a sophomore, and last season had 8.8 points and 7.9 rebounds per game.

He is a true center, which Virginia Tech hasn’t had in a long time. Keve Aluma has played the center position, but his style of play is more suited for the 4 position, which this commitment frees Aluma to move to. Both Aluma and Justyn Mutts have been very effective scoring under the basket, but the Hokies haven’t had a true rim protector who mixes it up underneath. This fills that need.

After Virginia Tech lost in the first round of the NCAA’s, many – including me – have pointed out that the team seriously needed two things: a point guard who could score and a true big man. The Hokies have gotten a commitment from Storm Murphy to address the guard situation, as the 6-foot 180-pound guard who averaged 17.8 points per game last season for Wofford now joins proven scorers Hunter Cattoor, Naheim Alleyne and Tyrece Radford to give Virginia Tech quite a backcourt punch.

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Recent Comments
Guest — Steve

❤️ This!

This will enable us to compete with FSU, who has been a thorn in our side forever. Athletic AND long.
Wednesday, 07 April 2021 14:15
Dave Scarangella

Exactly!

The Hokies have needed this for some time...
Wednesday, 07 April 2021 14:40
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The Story Of Jack Hemingway and "Fact Man"...

Ernest Hemingway seems to be trending these days due to the Ken Burns series running this week on PBS. On Twitter, my friend Rick Snider (@Snide_Remarks) described the series as “both brilliant and boring and both things can be true” and at least for me, that’s a perfect description of the man himself.

Burns has done a great job in capturing Hemingway, but one of my greater memories in life is having a front row seat of Hemingway’s life with someone who knew the subject better than anyone: his oldest son.

At the time back in the mid-1990s, Jack Hemingway (who passed away in Dec. of 2000 at the age of 77) and his family decided they wanted to license a furniture collection based on the works of his father. They came to my company, Thomasville Furniture, and as it turned out, we had a collection already designed that we were debating what to do with. It was an eclectic mix of materials and styles from factories in the Phillipines, Viet Nam, China and other places in Southeast Asia, and a story could easily be woven about Hemingway from these pieces.

Thomasville said yes, and a few days later, the president of the company (who loved Hemingway) came to my office with a big box of books. “Listen, I’ll be honest,” he started off in a tone that suggested I wasn’t going to like what I was about to hear. “You’re a writer and you read a lot. Someone has to go through and read everything Hemingway has written so we can develop stories around each individual piece. Nobody else will do this right. So until this is done, this is your job, and I’ll get you anything you need.”

We had a huge showroom built into our offices, so invoking the “anything I need” clause, I went there, picked out the softest leather sofa I could find, a couple of nice pillows and had them moved to my office. Then for the next month, I sat on that sofa with my feet up and read the works of Hemingway. People would walk past my door and think I was taking a nap at times, but I didn’t care. The boss said become a Hemingway expert.

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Recent Comments
Guest — Ames Flynn

Fond Memories

Dave Thanks for the great memories of the Hemingway collection and the success it brought Thomasville. A brilliant idea and execu... Read More
Thursday, 08 April 2021 07:55
Dave Scarangella

That Was A Pretty Magical Time

Both for being in the furniture industry and being at Thomasville. Some of my favorite memories were from those times. Great to he... Read More
Thursday, 08 April 2021 10:38
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Nats' Opener: It Was Real. And It Was Spectacular.

Man, that felt normal.

Tuesday’s season-opening 6-5 win over the Atlanta Braves wasn’t so much about the dramatic walk-off RBI by Juan Soto – although that didn’t hurt at all – but was more about how it didn’t feel a single bit like those 60 games last season.

In comparison, those contests were plastic. Today was fine Corinthian leather. Last year felt like spring training games that didn’t count, while today – from the minute Max Scherzer gave up the first of four solo home runs – it felt real. There was a tension, an excitement, a feeling that whatever happened today counted.

Most of it was having live fans in the stands, as you can tell yourself piped-in crowd noise is almost as good as the real thing until the cows come home. But it’s not until you hear the murmuring and crescendos of sound made by living, caring human beings, sitting in a stadium eating overpriced food and beverage, that you realize the difference.

The vibe extended to everyone. You could hear it in the voices of Bob Carpenter, FP Santangelo and Dan Kolko as they broadcast the game. They were as excited as we were, like kids opening their Christmas presents a few days late, but still just as giddy when Trea Turner hit a two-run homer to tie the game at 4-4.

For the first time since the World Series of 2019, you could also feel the rivalry. Last year each game was between two teams respecting each other’s social distance, worried more about both teams leaving the field as healthy as they entered. Today, that old feeling of “I really don’t like these guys” made a comeback, and it added an intensity that led grown men to moan “C’mon Suero, don’t throw the ball down the middle like that again” in the privacy of their own homes.

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Recent Comments
Guest — Jill

Yes, But....

Tomorrow we will have 7 inning doubleheader games, throwbacks to 2020.
Tuesday, 06 April 2021 21:48
Dave Scarangella

I'm not a fan of the 7-inning ...

But I'll still be watching both games
Tuesday, 06 April 2021 21:59
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The Orioles' Winning Streak Comes To An End...

The aura of a series sweep usually only lasts as long as the team keeps winning. The aura the Orioles had created with their 3-0 sweep over the Red Sox ended Monday, thanks to a 7-0 loss to the Yankees. 

After a strong performance from the pitching staff in Boston, the O's found themselves in a lot of trouble on Monday night. Jorge Lopez didn't make it out of the fifth inning and was charged with four runs. Shawn Armstrong and Paul Fry combined to retire two batters, all the while giving up three hits, two walks and three runs. 

The loss isn't solely on the pitchers, since you can't win if you don't score. Cedric Mullins and Pedro Severino stayed hot, but the O's got nothing out of their 2-3-4 hitters. 

Thankfully, it's just one game. But it's a reminder that as fun as the series sweep over Boston was, there's going to be a lot of losing coming the Orioles' way this summer.

As I wrote before the season, the Orioles need to be judged on how their young talent develops over the course of the season, not necessarily of how many games they win.

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Time To Break Up The Orioles After Starting Season 3-0 :)

Ain't the beer cold?

Look, anytime you sweep the Red Sox in Fenway, there's cause for celebration. I'm well aware that the season is 1.8 percent of the way finished and that there's a long way to go, but let me enjoy this.

Through three games, the Orioles are good. Damn good, actually. 

O's fans saw it all in the team's opening series — solid starting pitching, a reliable bullpen and a lineup full of young sluggers. Baltimore used a combination of all three to bludgeon the Red Sox this past weekend.

The Means Justify The Ends

John Means earned his 2019 All-Star appearance and even threw his hat in the ring for Rookie of the Year. The following season was as rocky as it gets, thanks to COVID-19 and injuries.

But if Means' Opening Day start is any inclination of what Orioles fans are going to see in 2021, Means just might be returning to the Midsummer Classic.

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Recent comment in this post
Dave Fulton

Cold Beer

Yessir, "Aint the beer cold?!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQsVjJQMNOU... Read More
Tuesday, 06 April 2021 10:51
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Nationals Start Season Tuesday, Doubleheader Wednesday

The Washington Nationals finally added some clarity to when their season would begin Sunday by announcing that Monday's game with the Atlanta Braves will be postponed, but barring any further developments, the Nationals will be starting their season Tuesday at home against the Braves.

The Nationals released an official statement Sunday night saying the most recent round of test results of Nationals personnel included no new positives, and that all of the club's eligible personnel will be able to participate in baseball activities at Nationals Park on Monday. 

UPDATE: Nats announced today that game time Tuesday would be 4:05 PM, and that they will play a doubleheader of 7-inning games on Wednesday starting at 12:05 PM. 

 

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Nationals Sign Lucroy, Reveal Covid-Affected Players

While the COVID-19 situation has been quite complex for the Nationals over the last few days, it would appear some of the questions fans have been asking now have answers.

We’ve known for a while that four players’ rapid/PCR tests returned positive results, with numerous other players ruled to be high-risk close contacts. But now we know specifically who some of the most affected players were.

Per reports, the Nationals expect to be without left-handed pitcher Jon Lester, catcher Alex Avila, infielder Josh Harrison and outfielder Kyle Schwarber when the season begins. It’s also possible that more players will join the list of inactives.

While Sam Clay, Luis Garcia and Yadiel Hernandez will likely remain with the team after being tentatively recalled on Wednesday, catcher Tres Barrera may not. Washington signed Jonathan Lucroy, a two-time All Star (2014 and 2016), to a minor-league contract, and the belief is that he’ll be promoted to the majors upon joining the team.

Lucroy’s case is an interesting one. Any player designated as COVID-19 affected – either due to a positive test or close contact – can be placed on a separate COVID-19 related IL, removing them from the active and 40-man rosters and allowing them to be replaced by a minor-league player. However, unlike last season, the replacement doesn’t have to be placed through waivers when the COVID-19 designee returns and the replacement is taken off the roster.

In other words, Lucroy can be temporarily utilized as a fill-in for Avila, and then returned to the minor leagues and retained by the organization upon Avila’s return. In essence, there is no downside to using a veteran like Lucroy, especially if Barrera isn’t viewed as big-league ready – which appears to be the case.

Lucroy’s role – assuming he earns a promotion and Avila is deactivated – will be dependent upon the availability of Yan Gomes. Lucroy has never caught any of the Nationals’ starting pitchers, though, which would likely limit his usage.

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On An Easter Sunday 46 Years Ago....

Since today is Easter, I find myself thinking of another Easter Sunday I experienced 46 years ago in the spring of 1975.

I honestly can’t remember a lot of the details to it. But I was a freshman at Virginia Tech and did not have a car. This meant on holidays if you wanted to go home, you needed to hitch a ride with someone, because there was no cost-effective way to go from Blacksburg to Norfolk. Easter fell outside the spring break that year, so it was really just a 3-day weekend, and I decided to remain on campus.

Whether it was Blacksburg, Norfolk or New York City didn’t really matter in terms of what to do that Sunday morning. It was still Easter, so I got up and went with a friend to a local church. Not surprisingly, it was crowded the way Christmas and Easter always are, and being college kids, we dutifully pursued and found seats just about as far in the back as possible. No need getting too far up front and risk having people you’d never met come up to you and try to start a conversation.

But as the service concluded, that strategy failed. A nice woman asked the two of us what we were doing for Easter lunch, and rather than say “going back to the dorm, eating mystery meat at the dining hall and then taking a 3-hour nap” I just said “I’m not sure.”

She, however, WAS sure about what we would be doing.

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Since Nats Fans Have Time On Hands, Try Making THIS

Since Nationals fans have some time on their hands waiting for the team to play their first game – and they’ve eaten all the hot dogs and snacks they had planned to use last Thursday – here’s a chance to go big while trying to create some ballpark food at home.

The last time I was at a game in person was the 2019 World Series, and while that first home World Series game – as well as the other two – were all losses, a dish my wife brought back from the concession stand was a win. As you see to the right, it was a basket of tater tots covered in pulled pork barbecue. The pic is of my wife’s meal, where she even added Mac ‘n’ Cheese. Being a purist, I just had the BBQ and tots.

I realize pairing meat and potatoes has been around since the beginning of civilization, but it never occurred to me to put these two together and it was outstanding. I’ve made it a few times at home, and I’ve discovered you can change the personality of the dish easily by just changing the sauce. One time I’ve done a sweet barbecue sauce, another time I’ve used buffalo wing sauce or Old Bay hot sauce, and there was a time I just ate it without sauce. Same texture, much different taste.

So since we can’t be at Nats Park to pay the concession stand $20 for this dish, here’s how to spend $10 and recreate the dish for yourself and about a dozen friends. I tried to take a picture of every step of the way, and it’s in the slide show below. What I’m explaining should match up to a slide, so if you’re a visual person who must see me stabbing the pork shoulder with my steely knife, the slideshow is for you.

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"Abundance Of Caution" Scrubs Nats-Mets Opening Series

Remember 2020, the year that life as we knew it was thrown a curveball we coined as COVID-19? When the pandemic was so troublesome that Major League Baseball conducted a 60-game “fake” season?

Well, the virus has not gone away, and it's thrown a wrench into the the gears of the first week of Major League Baseball's regular season.

The Nationals’ opening series against the New York Mets has now been postponed to a later date, out of “an abundance of caution” surrounding confirmed positive tests for COVID-19 within Washington’s organization.

All 30 teams across the league were scheduled to play ball on Thursday. It was going to be the first time in decades that all 30 teams opened their season on the same day, and the Nationals were slated to host the Mets in the primetime ESPN slot. But the pandemic had other ideas, forcing ESPN’s nightcap to be postponed and the Nationals to enter a “Mike Rizzo mandated quarantine”.

The process leading up to the postponement was eventful. The chaos started on Wednesday afternoon, when it was reported that someone within the team had tested positive for the virus. News later broke that the positive test would likely impact the Opening Day roster, and would also force five people (including a staff member) to enter quarantine due to close contact.

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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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