Tony Petitti. You probably haven’t heard of him. But as legendary Orioles PA announcer Rex Barney would say, “Give that fan a contract.” Well, Major League Baseball should reward their Chief Operating Officer with a nice contract, because he was the man behind the changes to this year’s Home Run Derby format.
“We got a lot of feedback from people saying not only they loved it, but their kids loved it,” Petitti said. “We looked at the components of a lot of things. We know how much people loves brackets in the NCAA… We felt strongly that we had to have a bracket, and then we focused on the timing of it…In the past years there was a lot of reasons to take pitches. That’s not necessarily the best presentation, so we took it out of the mix and made it a little more athletic, even a little faster.”
Baseball analysts agreed this was far and away the most exciting Derby of all time. On Twitter, there was even a comment to ditch the All-Star Game and have another one of these on Tuesday. What made it so special? In an ironic twist, baseball, the only major American sport played without a clock, had its premier pre-All-Star Game event saved by the implementation of timed rounds. Along with the clock, the bracketed format added to the excitement with players squaring off against each other, allowing for a buzzer-beater to happen in the sport of baseball. Whoda thunk it.
Hometown hero Todd Frazier had the crowd pumped early on in the event when he beat the clock as it went to triple zeroes, eliminating two-time Derby champion Prince Fielder. Veteran Albert Pujols knocked out youngin Kris Bryant, my pick Joc Pederson made quick work of Manny Machado, eliminating him in less than three minutes, and Josh Donaldson advanced to the semis past first-round opponent Anthony Rizzo. All of the upper seeds won, and I was 4/4 on my picks.As the second round, the semifinal round, commenced, many commented on what was unfolding. The vast majority of players from the All-Star teams were staying to watch, contrary to past years where many would leave. Some even went down, took showers, and came back onto the field to continue watching.
Advancing to the finals first was, of course, Frazier. The crowd erupted as he hit the home run that put the nail in the coffin for Josh Donaldson. With that, I was 5/5.
On the other side of the bracket, Pederson was the first lower seed to advance, as Pujols had trouble with his batting glove and could not muster the 12 home runs needed to tie. The Machine finished the round with 11, and I moved to 6/6 on my predictions. Also of note, the 130 homers hit in the first and second rounds were more than in any other derby as a whole; and there was still one more round to go.
The stage was set for what would become the most riveting, enthralling, captivating, Home Run Derby finales of all time. Joc Pederson used his four minutes efficiently, going yard time after time, and finishing his final round with a total of 14 home runs.The crowd was on its feet and Nationals star pitcher Max Scherzer was doing his part to get the crowd pumped as Frazier stepped to the plate. He had four minutes to drop at least 14 bombs, 15 if he wanted to win and avoid a swing-off round.
It was a slow start and Frazier couldn’t get much going. Then, after his timeout (which he took with 2:35 to go and 5 homers), he fed off the energy of the Cincinnati fans and stepped it up a notch. He reeled off homer after homer, and closed the gap as time was running out. He hit his 14th, and had a chance to win it as the buzzer sounded, but the ball fell just short of clearing the wall.
However, because he had hit multiple home runs of 425’+, he had 30 seconds of bonus time. It took only one swing and it was all over. The stadium was pandamonium, and Frazier went wild. The players mobbed him, and Cincy’s own had won the masterful power display. I finished 6/7 on my picks, as I had Pederson beating Frazier instead.
Be sure to watch Frazier’s entire final round below.
This sets the bar quite high for the All-Star Game itself.
So while the Reds may not be doing so well this season, the Derby and their guy Todd Frazier certainly gave the fans something to cheer about.
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.
This post is more of a post to let you all know that yes, I am still alive. With AP testing and my high school baseball season all culminating in the last couple of weeks, it has been hard to find the time to really sit down and give the time due to writing a quality post. However, save for maybe finals week, I’m back now for the long-haul of the rest of the season. I do have a variety of posts I’d like to write, and I will be attending a game at Nats Park in the near future, so be sure to keep checking back in for the latest updates.
As of right this minute, the Nationals are a half game back of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The Nats defeated the Mets today 6-3 behind a solid outing from Jordan Zimmermann and a monstrous performance by Wilson Ramos at the plate. He led the way by going 2-3 including a walk, double, and 4 RBI. Ian Desmond left his own stamp on the game, launching a mammoth solo home run over the visitor’s bullpen in left field.
The Braves rallied late and earned a win over the Cardinals today. As one fan put it on Twitter, the Nats can’t seem to beat the Braves even when they aren’t playing them. With the win, as I said, the Braves hold a half game lead over the Nationals.
On the injury front, Gio Gonzalez is the latest National to land on the Disabled List. He has shoulder inflammation, but an MRI revealed no structural damage, which is a huge relief for the Nats, meaning that he won’t need surgery. Gonzalez has struggled this year though, not earning a win in his last five (5) starts. Hopefully after this stint on the DL he will take the rest of the season in stride and turn out more consistent pitching performances.
Adam LaRoche made a surprise appearance on the MASN broadcast of today’s game and said that he hopes to resume playing on Sunday. This is another good sign for the Nats who will regain a consistent starter at first base. Nothing should be taken away from Tyler Moore though, who started there today and made this fantastic catch to sit down the first batter of the game and made this fantastic catch to sit down the first batter of the game.
We will see how the Nationals fare over the next couple of weeks. They open a three game series tomorrow against the Cincinnati Reds before hitting the road for four games against the Reds’ NL Central foe, the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Nats return to DC following that series for a 9 game homestand: three against the Marlins, three in an inter-league matchup against the Rangers, and then three against the Phillies.
More to come on here as more transgresses!
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!
Last week I made a deal with the Twitter universe, in a deal I explained in my last post which can be found here. Basically, I would do one push-up for every retweet I got on a tweet helping Bryce Harper win the Face of MLB contest. Sadly, he lost. However, I am a man of my word and my push-ups loomed.
Without further ado, here is the much-anticipated video. I must say, it is worth watching the whole thing. As a disclaimer it is not entirely push-ups. There had to be some excitement, right? Nats fans especially will want to be sure to watch until the very end, where there is a clip which we all remember like it was yesterday. I hope you enjoy!
Mr. Harper, if somehow you come across this video, I enjoyed every last push-up. Thank you for everything you do for the Washington Nationals. Go get ’em this year.
Over the past few weeks, Major League Baseball has been conducting a “Face of MLB” contest. The bracket can be found by clicking on those words. Basically the way it works is that every weekday, fans take to Twitter to vote for the player they choose using a hashtag for the player’s name and then #FaceofMLB. For example, a tweet may be as simple as this: “#BryceHarper #FaceofMLB” Each tweet with both hastags included count as a vote, and each Twitter account is allowed 25 votes per day.
Today it is the Nationals turn to show their Natitude by voting for Bryce Harper. You can vote for him by including #BryceHarper and #FaceofMLB in a tweet.
Earlier, I tweeted a simple tweet which I did not think would become very widespread. Boy was I wrong.
I am a man of my word, and I promise I will do every push-up. As visual proof, I will post a video right here on my site within the coming days so everyone can see. I guess I better start stretching now.
Voting for Bryce is open until 8 AM tomorrow morning, so keep those votes coming Nats fans!