2014 was a year which fell short of expectations for the Nationals. We made the playoffs, but once again could not make it out of the first round.
As we ring in 2015, for my first post of the year I decided to rank all 30 teams of Major League Baseball by how much I like them. Steve just did this yesterday, and he was saying he’d like to see what I thought. I’m excited to see what this year brings! Feel free to comment on your preferences or if you feel, in your opinion, I got something wrong.
1) Washington Nationals – Does this really need explanation?
2) Cincinnati Reds – Without a DC team, I loved the Reds with so much of my family from Cincinnati. I still love the Reds, but only when they don’t play the Nats. If anyone has tickets to the All-Star Game this year, let me know.
3) Chicago Cubs – It’s been a lot of years since they’ve won the World Series. If the Nats aren’t in it, I would guess a lot of baseball fans would like to see them take one.
4) Chicago White Sox – First Adam Dunn and now the beloved Adam LaRoche. They also signed David Ross, the veteran catcher, who I met a long time ago when he was a member of the Reds. I wouldn’t mind seeing them win.
5) Kansas City Royals – Captured America this year during their magical postseason run. Sadly, they ran into a certain roadblock by the name of Bumgarner.
6) Cleveland Indians – Poor Cleveland. It seems like they have pieces to do well, it just needs to come together.
7) Seattle Mariners – I’ve been to Safeco, and the Nats have good memories from this year of their visit to Seattle.
8) San Diego Padres – All of a sudden the Padres mean business. They got Derek Norris, who I’ve watched progress since his days with Potomac, and a bunch of other big name players recently in free agency. I wouldn’t mind seeing them do well.
9) Houston Astros – Their mascot, Orbit, is about the only reason they’re this high on the list. He’s probably the best mascot in all of MLB. Click here, here, here, here, here, here, and here to see why.
10) Miami Marlins – Stanton drops bombs. I’m still trying to catch one of his BP homers when the Marlins come to Nationals Park.
11) Colorado Rockies – Coors Field is so nice, I’ve seen a game there, and my dad lived in Colorado for a while. They also participated in a stand-off with the Nats this season, which I loved.
12) Tampa Bay Rays – One of my favorite movies ever is The Rookie, and Jim Morris was on the Rays.
13) Oakland Athletics – Moneyball showed such an interesting view of baseball, and poor Oakland never seems to succeed anymore. Before the Royals grabbed my attention, I was hoping the A’s would find themselves in the World Series.
14) Detroit Tigers – I played on the Tigers and it gave me some of my best youth baseball memories.
15) St. Louis Cardinals – They win a lot. A lot of people really don’t like them. I, however, are one of few neutral fans who don’t mind them. I love watching the battery of Wainwright and Molina. There’s a reason they’re not higher up on this list, but those are the reasons they aren’t lower either.
16) Texas Rangers –Jim Morris made his debut for the Rays on the road at the Ranger’s stadium. I’ve also seen their stadium from driving around it, and it was a sight to see.
17) Minnesota Twins – Anymore, the Twins are sorta just, there. Not great, not awful, just there.
18) Toronto Blue Jays – You don’t hear a ton about the Blue Jays but watch out this year, they could make a run for the AL East.
19) Los Angeles Angels – Mike Trout is a stud. Also, I rooted for Anaheim when they were in the World Series a lot of years ago.
20) Los Angeles Dodgers – I don’t particularly dislike the Dodgers, but I don’t really like them either; I’m indifferent.
21) Arizona Diamondbacks – Whenever I went to Reds games when I was younger, it seemed like I always saw the Diamondbacks play. There was only so much of Craig Counsell’s swing I could take.
22) New York Mets – I also played on the Mets in Little League, but being in the NL East, I don’t like them as much.
23) New York Yankees – Along with the Cardinals, I don’t hate the Yankees. But Derek Jeter was one of the major reasons I tolerated them, and now that he’s gone, they’ve fallen lower on this list.
24) Milwaukee Brewers – I still remember sitting in the hotel room in Virginia Beach and watching Josh Willingham hit his second grand slam of the game for the Nats in Milwaukee.
25) Baltimore Orioles – Peter Angelos, why do you make things so difficult? They also ruin the National Anthem.
26) Philadelphia Phillies – Lingering dislike from when the Phillies fans would pack Nats Park.
27) San Francisco Giants – I’m just not a huge Giants fan. Used to love them with Barry Bonds, but then he used steroids.
28) Pittsburgh Pirates – I don’t have a ton against the Pirates, except that they play in Pittsburgh. And that right there is the major problem.
29) Boston Red Sox – Boston and Pittsburgh, my two least favorite sports cities in America. I’ve visited Boston (not Fenway), and the city itself has so much history. But we’re talking sports and baseball here, and man do I not like those two cities’ teams.
30) Atlanta Braves – If you thought anyone else would be last, then you obviously don’t know me very well.
Almost two years ago, I created my Twitter account (@PaulFritschner) and began to follow an account called Jayson Werth’s Beard (@JWerthsBeard). The real-life owner of this account remains anonymous, so we simply refer to it as the Beard. It posts creative photoshops relating to the Washington Nationals, possibly it’s most famous of which is a picture of Jayson Werth’s face photoshopped onto the face of a garden gnome.
Back in February, the Nationals announced the promotional schedule, and wouldn’t ya know: August 5th was the Jayson Werth Garden Gnome. Bobbleheads do not usually matter much to me as far as a must-have giveaway, but after seeing all those crazy photoshops, I knew I had to get myself a gnome. You may ask, what’s the craze? It’s just a plastic garden gnome of a player. Maybe to you it’s a plastic garden gnome, but to the Nationals community it is a fantastic piece of baseball memorabilia.
The day was getting closer and after seeing the lines for the Bryce Harper Bobblehead, along with all the promotion the Nationals were doing on social media for this gnome (also here), I knew the lines were going to be incredible. I thought to myself, well, if I’m going to get there so early to be able to get one, I might as well be first, right? In order to be first would mean a long wait. To aid in my relief from boredom, I asked my friend from school, Francis Bright, if he would attend the game with me and wait in line. He was all for it, and Gnome Gnight was set.
We arrived downtown around 1:15 and when we couldn’t see a line at the gates forming yet, so we walked down the street to grab some lunch at Potbelly. We figured it would be a long, hot couple of hours, so we made sure we were adequately prepared.
To my surprise, nobody was in line yet, and we walked up simultaneously with one other man to take our spot in a line. This was right around 2:10, and the gates opened at 4:30, so we now had about 2 hours and 20 minutes before we could receive our gnome.
We brought our gloves for batting practice, and I had brought a ball, so we played catch for about a half hour until we decided we should sit at the gate so as to secure our place in line. This meant that we were relegated to finding a way to pass about two more hours.
At 3:30, with exactly one hour left to go, I got a Direct Message on Twitter from Scott Allen, a sports writer for the Washington Post. He asked if he could interview me about waiting in the line. I was ecstatic, and did the interview over the phone a few minutes later.
Around that same time was when the line began to take shape. I took this picture right before the interview:
I relayed the message to many people I knew about what had just happened, including podcast co-host Steve Miller. he was the first one to send me the link to the article after it was posted within minutes. I will include all the links to the article later in this post.
The interview excitement helped the next few minutes go very quickly. All of a sudden there was less than a half hour to go, and the excitement was building. Throngs of people made their way down Half-Street from the Metro, anxious to take their place in line.
The ushers began to prepare for the onslaught of gnome-hungry fans. After all the time waiting, I was beginning to get somewhat anxious for the gates to finally open. With seven minutes to go, it was now a sea of red down Half-Street and around the gates.
Then at 4:30, after nearly two years of photoshops, six months of waiting for this game, and almost two and a half hours at the gate, I had my hands on a Jayson Werth Garden Gnome.
As an added benefit to being in the front of the line, this meant prime position in the Red Porch to take in batting practice. Francis got a ball right after we had gotten ourselves situated when, who I believe was, Tanner Roark launched a ball that bounced off the field and up into the seats. It was now my turn for a ball of my own.
Since I was little, I have attended Potomac Nationals games, as I wrote about in my very first post. I have collected dozens of baseballs from those games and many baseballs from Major League games, but even after all these years, I have never caught a ball on the fly. As in, catch a foul ball or a home run before it hits the ground. I’m always having to chase after them. I made it my goal to catch at least one before I go off to college next year, and I thought that maybe after all the good things that happened, today would be the day.
Sure enough, Danny Espinosa (99% positive it was him) launched a home run right to where I was standing. It was only a matter of whether I or the few other people standing around me would get it. I stuck my glove way up (shades of The Sandlot), and the ball smacked right into my glove. I had finally been in the right place at the right time.
The day was now on another level. Francis and I watched the Nationals finish up batting practice and proceeded to watch the Mets. We didn’t catch any more baseballs, but I was plenty satisfied. I had my gnome, a baseball, and an interview. Now all we needed was a Curly W.
Francis and I made our way to the other side of the stadium to begin our ascent to our seats in Section 226. My dad was already sitting up there, and when we arrived he had just had a conversation with the couple behind him. Apparently they were already aware of the interview article and confirmed I was the one who was in it. It’s amazing how quickly information spreads
Lefty Gio Gonzalez started for the Nats, opposed by Zach Wheeler for the Mets. Gio gave up a triple in the first inning to Daniel Murphy, who later came in to score to make it 1-0. The Mets added another run in the top of the second before the Nats answered with a run of their own in the bottom of the second on a wild pitch to make it 2-1.
Both pitchers began to settle into a groove, but the groove for Gio would only last so long. The Nats could not provide him with much run support, even squandering a scoring opportunity when a groundball hit Asdrubal Cabrera. Ian Desmond had to return to third base and did not end up scoring, thus leaving the Nationals still at a deficit.
Gio began to struggle in the 7th inning with the Nats still trailing 2-1. Drew Storen replaced him with men on first and second, both of whom came in to score after a sacrifice bunt by Wheeler and a single by Daniel Murphy.
The Nats gave up one more run in the 8th inning to make it 6-1, the eventual final score. They could not muster much of a rally in the game’s final two innings, leading to a defeat on Gnome Gnight. A Curly W was not in the books after all. Jayson Werth himself did not get a gnome, and said post-game of the 15,000+ who didn’t receive one, “I know how they feel.” Also an interesting statistic I read from Scott Allen today. This season, the Nats are 1-6 when playing in front of 40,000+ people and 2-10 when playing in front of that many since 2013.
However, while the actual game may not have been fantastic, basically everything else about the day was.
The interview took off and was posted in various articles across many different websites.
The original article, written by Scott Allen of the Washington Post, can be found by clicking here.
A section of USA Today called For the Win picked it up, the article for which can be found here.
The website Deadspin also did a piece of their own on the line for the Gnomes and their article can be found here.
We were hyperlinked in an article on the NBC Washington website and that can be found here.
Finally, for those curious, the gnome is being sold on eBay for over 150$. So if you think its just a cheap giveaway, it’s a giveaway that could earn you some money if you wanted to sell it. Check out the bids here. I for one will be keeping my gnome.
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Here are some more pictures from the rest of Gnome Gnight. It was really a fun day; a day I will not forget for a long time.
As many of you know by now, about two weeks I tweeted a fateful tweet. I promised I would do one (1) push-up for every retweet that tweet got in an effort to aid Bryce Harper in his pursuit to win Major League Baseball’s Face of MLB contest. I thought it might get 15 or 20 retweets at the most. To put it mildly, the tweet took off after the Washington Nationals official Twitter account found it (as I discussed here). While Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw bested Bryce in the contest, I am a man of my word and all 274 push-ups stared me in the face. I completed them and provided video evidence which can be found here. Nearly 11 minutes seems like a long time, but I must say, it is worth watching. Be sure to check it out!
In the days since posting the video Sunday night, I have gotten overwhelming response. I decided to share the responses I received from some, shall we say, well-known personalities.
Bryce Harper Plays Favorites
While the video was intended to be fun and entertaining, I also wanted to be sure to finish all the push-ups. When it was all said and done, I thought it would be fun to see if Bryce Harper himself, the point of all these shenanigans, might like to see it. So with the help of a few friends and the power of social media, we repeatedly sent Bryce the link to view the video. After what was probably an annoying amount of mentions, Bryce came through. On Monday night he favorited (the Facebook equivalent of “liking”) one of my tweets with the video link included, thus at least acknowledging my existence. The blue check mark next to a name on Twitter means that the person is verified; that it’s actually them.
When I saw he had done this, I tweeted to him thanking him for the recognition. He in turn favorited that tweet too. He didn’t respond with any words, just the two favorites. But hey, it’s better than nothing and that is all we asked for. Whether he actually clicked the link and gave the video 10 seconds of his time, I guess we’ll never know. At least there is that possibility.
FP Shows Support
For those of you who watch the Nationals on MASN, you are familiar with the comical color commentator F.P. Santangelo. If you do not watch the games, I’d suggest giving one a try this season and turning on the TV. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to catch his famous line “There goes the no hitter” when the Nationals get their first hit of the game.
Watching the games nearly every night, I love listening to the commentary of F.P. and his partner-in-crime Bob Carpenter (who you might remember I met at NatsFest this year). As an aspiring broadcaster, I take in the off-the-cuff humor and absorb as much information as I can when listening to the games. Not to be biased or anything, but F.P. is far and away my favorite commentator in sports. So when I posted the video, I thought I’d give it a try and send him the link too. Wouldn’t ya know, instead of a favorite, I got an actual response.
Desmond Equates Success
If F.P. is my favorite sports broadcasting personality, there is no question who my favorite Major League Baseball player is. I have watched Ian Desmond’s career grow as he ascended the ranks from his days at Potomac, to now becoming one of the elite shortstops in the league. He plays the game the right way, with hard work and a lot of heart. I decided to tweet him the link to my video also. However, I didn’t hear back; right away at least.
The next day on Monday, it was time to pick our numbers for the high school baseball season. When my number from last year, 12, was picked by a senior, I was a little disappointed but didn’t really care all that much since I didn’t have much affinity for 12. I knew right away what number to pick: 20. I chose it for the sole reason that it is Desmond’s number. That night when I got home, I thought I would let him know, but I did not expect a response. Desmond’s motto is to eat #steak, so I thought I would include that to perhaps catch his eye. It was more of just a fun fan tweet. I did not expect to be pleasantly surprised.
As I was trying to believe what I was reading, an observation occurred to me. Notice that nowhere in my tweet did I mention my push-up video. In his response though, he brought it up; meaning that somewhere, either from my tweet the night before or another source, he came across the video. Out of all three responses, this one from Ian Desmond meant the most to me.
I honestly had so much fun doing the video. I did not expect the original tweet to take off, or the response to the video to be as big as it has been. Hopefully it provided enjoyment and generated excitement for the upcoming season. Thank you to everyone who has shown support, both to the video and to this site. I hope you all become frequent readers and I will do my part to make this season fun and exciting.
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Here’s to what is to come this season!
In creating this blog, I pondered for a long time how to give it my own unique spin. There is such a large number of blogs out there, especially on my die-hard favorite team, the Washington Nationals. I watch the games every day, tweet my frustrations, and vent my enthusiasm to many of my friends who probably couldn’t care less about the great sport of baseball, much less the Nats. So I sat back and thought, how could I virtually verbalize my thoughts and knowledge about this sport and team I love so much, while also adding a spin to it which, hopefully somewhat, might separate it from the vast number of other writing outlets that have been created. A separation which can sort of set it apart so that it does not get lost in the heaps of more popular blogs surrounding it. While I know there are plenty of other sources you can read to acquire the knowledge you’re looking for, maybe there will be a bit of info in here that will suit your needs.
I’ve been a sports fan, first and foremost baseball, as long as I can remember. I grew up in a baseball-less Washington, D.C. and rooted for my mom’s hometown team, the Cincinnati Reds. It was around the age of 6 when my life as a live baseball fan really took off. I had attended games at Cinergy Field in Cincinnati, even seeing a brawl I still remember between the Giants and the Reds. While those games were fun, I was too little to appreciate everything going on around me (plus I hated fireworks so every time there was a long fly ball my hands immediately went to my ears). That was when my dad decided to take me to our local minor league team, then the Potomac Cannons. Oddly enough, they were the Single-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. For those of you who, through obviously no fault of your own, are not familiar with Potomac, they have a small, run-down stadium with game attendance that often times you can count yourself. I brought my glove to the game and couldn’t wait to get to our seats – in the field box which is right on the field. It was during the game that my life of baseball and bond with the game was forever sealed.
There was a foul ball rolling down the fence which a member of the opposing bullpen picked up. He made sure the ball got to me, and I couldn’t believe what I now had in my possession. A game used foul ball. I couldn’t wait to show my mom. However, in my youth and excitement, I was not keen enough to put the ball away and mark it as my first. It has since gotten lost among the heaps of foul balls which I have collected from both major league and other Potomac games over the years.
Later on, the Washington Nationals moved to DC from Montreal and I finally had a home team to root for. They promptly acquired the Potomac Cannons from the Reds, and their name was changed to the Potomac Nationals. I have since grown up watching and becoming attached to many
current members of my favorite team in their earliest professional stages. I’ve watched my favorite player, Ian Desmond, ascend the ranks. I’ve seen Espinosa, Lombardozzi, Eury Perez, as well as countless others, in an up-close game. I’ve also seen a number of players, such as Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos,
and Ross Ohlendorf, make rehab appearances there. When I see a player enter the Washington games which I’ve seen at Potomac, I can clearly recall the announcer’s voice calling out their name in that small stadium in Prince William County. I have raced out of the stadium to chase foul balls (yeah, it’s small enough to do that), and analyzed game after game with my dad in those creaky old stands. One day I finally became savvy enough to write who hit each foul ball on the ball so I know who hit it when they make it into the major leagues. I most likely have a ball from Desmond, but it kills me every time I watch him play to know that just like my first ball, one of his foul’s is probably sitting amongst the bucket.
You may be thinking by now, is this a life story, or a blog? I wanted to give you some insight into my career as a Washington Nationals fan so that you can see I’m not a bandwagoner of the 2011 or 2012 seasons (which by the way I do not condemn by any means. The more fans the merrier!). I suffered through ’08 and ’09 along with my beloved team, but all the while knowing that one day we would achieve greatness. I have sat all over RFK stadium, and listened to the number of MASN broadcasters over the years. So now nearly every summer night, somewhere in the house can be heard the voices of FP Santangelo and Bob Carpenter, breaking down every pitch of our team.
Not one spring has passed where I have not donned a uniform myself and helped a team win baseball games. I am now a junior in high school and a member of our Varsity baseball team. It’s one thing to watch the pros perform at the highest level every day, but it’s another to actually be a part of the action; spitting sunflower seeds in the dugout and going through highs and lows yourself. Playing baseball and watching baseball has become somewhat of a lost art, a passion which many today fail to grasp. That is what I hope to bring about with this blog. That someone out there somewhere, be it a Nationals fan or a curious reader, may come to appreciate our National Pastime just a little bit more. And hey, maybe become a Nats fan along the way.
So that is what I hope sets this writing space apart from the others. My unique articles on the Nats, baseball goings-on, and intriguing historical pieces which will draw in the non-Nats fan. I plan on writing nearly everything about the Nationals, from my personal thoughts to team news, while also including other posts about happenings around the MLB, historical baseball events or notable achievements, a post here and there about high school baseball, and the off article on my thoughts on other large news. That was what I thought of with the name; to include, but not completely limit it to, the Nationals. Rather, for it to be about baseball, just mainly on the Nats. As an aspiring journalist, perhaps this can be an alley to bettering my skills and improving my chances for a successful future. I hope you can find useful information out of reading my posts. Here’s to a winning year.