Saturday, October 05, 2013

A Capital Day for Baseball (Capitol?)

So the day after my dad and I went to see the Pirates, we ventured to Washington DC to see the Nationals take on the Braves. It was the second of two games that day (apparently, due to a technicality, it was not considered a doubleheader) because the first game was postponed from Monday after the shooting at the Naval Yard in DC that is just down the street from the ballpark. The atmosphere was a bit somber, but a good time was still had. Because my parents live pretty close to DC, we took the Metro in a bit early and took a look at the World War II memorial which wasn't built the last time I was there. Pictures and more reminiscences after the jump.

Frankly, I wasn't that impressed with the World War II memorial. Perhaps it will grow on me with time similar to the way that folks became more enamoured with the Vietnam memorial, but at the moment I rather doubt it.
Fair enough, I like the style with the relief carved into massive blocks of stone. The style was fine throughout, but it lacked any overall sense of coherence and unity. It was content that caused my dislike in several places. Nothing that really got me in a twist, but things that didn't seem to belong or seemed to be poorly phrased or simply infelicitous. Like this relief below.

It's a parade? Maybe? There were scenes of what I assume was people suffering in the Great Depression. Which, again, is okay, but it doesn't really seem to belong at the WWII memorial. Fine, we pass over that and on to the next.
This is also not really a bad thing, but it's not a memorial to everyone who fought in World War II, is it? It's the memorial for Americans. So why do we have a quotation from Truman talking about our allies? It's not awful, but it seems out of place. There was another section where they had carved the names of battles that took place in Europe. One of them (I don't have a picture) was something like "The Air War in Europe". Which... just seems a strange way of putting it. I understand that they didn't want to leave out the service and sacrifice of airmen who weren't part of specific battles, but it detracted from the rest of the memorial for me because the phrase seems like a corporate buzzword or euphemism next to battle names like Normandy and Monte Cassino. Anyway, enough nit-picking. On to the baseball.

Okay, well, I'm still going to nit-pick. Even though the Nationals are really an extension of the Montreal Expos franchise, and the previous team in DC is now the Texas Rangers (and the team before that, which had the championships, is now the Minnesota Twins), the current DC team has tried to assume the mantle and history of the former Senators club as well as that of the Homestead Grays. (Which is very strange. If you look at the inscription on the pedestal of Josh Gibson's statue, it says that it was the "Washington Homestead Grays", but Baseball Reference lists that team as being one based out of Pittsburgh or a suburb thereof. I'm not sure what that's all about.) As a result they have statuary for both Walter Johnson (my favourite pitcher!) and Josh Gibson. But the statues are some of the ugliest I have ever seen.

No, it's not your imagination, they both do have extra arms, Mr Gibson is apparently swinging about six bats and Mr Johnson is throwing an ice cream cone with three scoops. In an effort to make them appear more dynamic, the sculptor thought it would be a good idea to show various stages of motion for the players arms and the items they held. Turns out it was an awful idea.

At Nationals Park we sat in foul territory down the third base line out in left field.
We were hoping to get a foul ball hit our way, but no such luck here. We did, however, get to see a stellar performance by another Nats phenom, Tanner Roark. While he didn't do quite as well as Cashner the night before, he went 7 without giving up a run and struck out six while walking one. He improved to 7-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.08. A very impressive young man and one to keep an eye on in future.
Freddy Garcia, the former Mariner, was not so fortunate, though he also went 7 and gave up only 1 run, striking out six and walking two. His relief in the 8th gave up 3 runs and that was the final score 4-0 for the Nationals. Soriano made it interesting in the 9th by giving up two singles to start the inning, and then, after a double play, the shortstop made an error to put men on first and second before they managed to get the final out.
The Nationals were the first of two home teams to win on our tour. The evening was beautiful, the game was good, the park was nice, and we had a great time. I'd be happy to go to more games there in the future.