Archive for September, 2013

DOOR Neptunus Wins Netherlands Championship

Sunday, September 22nd, 2013

DOOR Neptunus completed the sweep of Vaessen Pioniers with a 4-3 win, taking all four in a best of seven series.  DOOR jumped out to an early 3-0 lead with two in the first and one in the second.  The Pioniers rallied back scoring single runs in the third, sixth and ninth. 

Raily Legito, who drove in the first run with an RBI single in the first drove in what proved to be the game winner with an RBI double in the top of the tenth.  Brendan Wise coughed up a one out walk in the bottom frame but still shut out the Pioniers to get the win after blowing the save in the ninth. 

Benjamin Dille was voted the Holland Series MVP.  He got two hits in the fourth game and scored the second run of the game.  He was 7 for 17 in the four games with three runs scored and two runs driven in. 

After a two year absence DOOR has now won the Holland Series three times in the last five years.


Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Go visit to see what he has to write about baseball.  He will write on his blog for 24 hours and requests donations to the V Foundation (or Jimmy Valvano fund).  It is a nice cause and I’m sure there is something there interesting to read.  Myworld liked the top five movies about baseball and the top ten international leagues he hopes to visit.  Myworld has been to three of the ten (Taiwan, Japan and the Dominican Republic).  Next year Europe is on the list of places to visit for baseball.

Next Stop - The Show

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Chapter 35

Next Stop – The Show

August 30 – Premier Li Jiabo threw out the first pitch to begin a best two out three championship match between the Beijing Tigers and the Tianjin Lions. As one fan noted, the sellout crowd attracted the most fans to a baseball game in China since major league baseball came here a number of years ago to play an exhibition series. Both the Tianjin Lions and the Beijing Tigers were once part of the China Professional Baseball League that went defunct a few years ago after baseball was dropped from the Olympics. They are now both club teams that compete in tournaments held in China. Officials are thinking about resurrecting the league next year thanks to the success of Jason Woo in the United States, creating an increased interest in baseball in China. The Ambassador to the United States, the director of major league baseball in Asia as well as the director of the Wuxi training academy were also in attendance at the game. They promised increased major league assistance to help China promote the game of baseball and reestablish the professional league.

It was Jason’s last start at Norfolk. He had thrown seven more shutout innings, extending his streak to 55. During that time he had struck out 119 hitters, still an average of more than two strikeouts per inning. Writers were scrambling to find the record number of consecutive shutout innings pitched in the minor leagues. Statistics were hard to acquire from all the minor leagues that played the game, but what the writers found was Brad Thompson threw 57 shutout innings in 2004, just two innings short of the major league record held by Orel Hershiser who threw 59 shutout innings in 1988. Jason had one more start on the road to break both records.

The hitting coach came up to Jason after the game to tell him the manager wanted to talk to him in his office. When Kevin accompanied Jason thinking he would be needed to assist as the interpreter the hitting coach stopped him and said the manager just wanted to talk to Jason. His English was getting better, but this was the first time anyone had requested to speak to Jason alone. Kevin felt this could only mean one thing. Jason was being promoted. Kevin was not. Each previous promotion through the minor leagues they had both been called in to talk to the manager.

Kevin waited by his locker, peeling off his uniform piece by piece. The first item of clothing to be removed came the socks. He looked at those socks and thought of all the minor league fields they had traveled this year. They would have to be tossed after the season. Holes were replacing fabric in many areas, especially around the heel. Too much bare skin contacting shoe giving the back of his heels blisters. He was surprised the socks had lasted this long. The right wrist band came next. It prevented the sweat from dripping from his arm into his right hand, allowing him to make his throws crisper. The inside of the wrist band smelled from his sweat and some of the Velcro was coming undone, making it harder now to pull it snug around his wrist. They too would be tossed after the season.

The uniform had been different for each team, but it was the same nylon clothing that stretched and dove through each pitch. The fabric was not his. The team would decide what to do with his uniform once he was done with it. Only the socks, wrist band, underwear and the t-shirt he wore underneath the jersey he owned. They would all be discarded after the next game. No need saving them. His t-shirt was tearing apart along the neck area. It was one of six he rotated for each game. On Sundays the six pair of socks, wrist band and the six t-shirts got to visit the washer and dryer for a cleaning. That visit would no longer be necessary.

The season would be over in six days. The Norfolk team was not going to be making the playoffs. Six more days and he would be home with Shu and Jasmine. His mind kept on hashing over and over again whether he wanted to play another season. His opportunity to play winter ball had all but disappeared by all the public appearances Shu was scheduling for him in China. He had the promise to make more money with these appearances than the combined salary of all his minor league seasons stacked together. This money would not be earned because of his baseball skills. It was his ability to speak Mandarin that brought in the riches.

It was probably time to begin looking to do something else in his life, while he had some financial health. He needed to build another craft. Perhaps go back to school to finish college while he was still bringing in some cash. That cash would not flow forever once he got out of the game. Despite the fantasies the voices created in the mind of Jason of a pending purge at a time yet to be determined Kevin had to plan on a future. The talk of a purge had not been discussed since that fateful night after the Emily breakup when the world seemed to be crashing down on Jason. Now everything had turned upside down. Jason could do no wrong.

He had enjoyed the season now that it was coming to a close. Playing with Jason certainly made it fun. Next year it would be different. New faces to learn. New pitchers to teach the game. There was a camaraderie with teammates he would always miss once he left the game. There was the company of Jasmine and Shu he missed more than all the camaraderie in the world could not replace. He needed to be home more.

The month and a half in Norfolk away from Shu and Jasmine seemed to drag forever, though the consecutive shutout streak by Jason made the season exciting. He had gotten used to having Shu and Jasmine near him when playing for Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie. They were like refreshing tonics to carry him through the season. These tonics had run dry in Norfolk. He grew weary the longer the season stretched, with the constant pounding he took behind the plate from the foul tips that crashed against his hands and shoulders increasing the aches and pains that invaded his muscled, weary frame. The physical pain allowed him to forget the emotional pain of being without for just a short time period. It would be nice to see the Jasmine smile that worked so well to heal some of his physical wounds, or at least made them feel more tolerable.

Who knew what adventures waited for him on his trip to China? He let Shu do all the planning. She told him he was very popular in China, but that was learned from reading newspapers. What if he came to speak somewhere and nobody showed? Or they were bored by what he had to say? That would be embarrassing to be talking to an almost empty room of bored, disinterested strangers who walked out on him the longer he spoke. They were paying him a lot of money to make an appearance. There were a lot of expectations. Kevin did not want to disappoint.

He hadn’t given much thought about what he was to talk about at these speaking engagements. He was still too focused on the season. Now the season was about to reach its end. Another chapter to his life would be complete and a new one would unfold. He had to start thinking about what he would say to all these fresh Chinese faces looking for words of wisdom to escape from his lips.

After his trip to China was complete, what next? Would he search for a team even if nobody called? Would he play for a team if somebody called? What about coaching or managing? Did he think he was ready for that? He enjoyed playing the game. He wasn’t too sure if he would enjoy watching others play the game while he instructed. He still felt he was too young to quit. There were still a lot of skills he felt he could contribute to the game. There was not enough opportunity until this year to exhibit those skills.

Kevin was getting more comfortable with the fact he would not make the major leagues. He had now made enough money where it didn’t really matter anymore. He had finally come to accept the fact the major leagues were just a dream for him. A reality for others. His tools were short, his skills not as polished. Not everyone has the tools to make it to the show. Drive alone will not get you there. You have to show some semblance of skill. Those were absent in Kevin’s tool box.

The shower was done. The locker room was almost empty of players. They began piling out one by one, going their separate ways, tapping Kevin on the shoulder as they bid him goodbye until tomorrow, when they hopped on the bus for their final road trip. After that everyone could kiss the season goodbye.

He had finished his shower, put on his jeans with his buttoned down shirt hanging over his shoulders still unhitched. The only thing left to do was to button his shirt and put on his socks and shoes. The wait seemed to last forever. What could they be talking about in there for so long? Kevin was almost certain it was to tell Jason he was promoted to the major leagues. Why would they call him in without Kevin? The two would probably need a place to celebrate his promotion, even though Kevin did not feel much like celebrating. He had been through this path many times before with many other players, always feeling the joy of others being promoted to the major leagues but never having that joy transferred to him. Kevin had the expectation one day it would be him. Now that expectation was no longer there. He contemplated where they should go for this celebration. It would only be the two of them. All of the other players had already left. They could celebrate with champagne on the bus during the last road trip.

Top Ten After Ten - Cardinals

Friday, September 20th, 2013

They are the most successful team in the National League.  Only the New York Yankees have won more World Series than the Cardinals.  They go about their business quietly, with their prospects rarely touted.  They had a couple big names in 2003, but most of them were busts.  It is all about quality and not quantity for the Cardinals.  Below is the top ten prospects of the Cardinals in 2003 as identified by Baseball America.

1. Dan Haren RHP - His best years were with the Oakland Athletics when he won 43 games in a three year period.  He has made three All Star games, all in succession from 2007 to 2009.  With the Cardinals he pitched for them the first two years.  He was given up after the 2004 season for Mark Mulder.  Currently pitching for the Nationals, one win shy of making it nine in a row of winning in double figures, the streak beginning after the Cardinals traded him.

2. Jimmy Journell RHP - He had shoulder surgery in 2004 effectively ending his career.  He pitched briefly in 2003 and 2005 but with little success.

3. Chris Narveson LHP - He was one of the players to be named later in a trade for Larry Walker in 2004.  He bounced around with a few teams for a couple years until the Brewers picked him up on waivers.  He did have two rather uneventful 28 games started seasons in 2010 and 2011 and only four appearances in his next two seasons.

4. Justin Pope RHP - A first round pick in 2001 never made it to the major leagues.  Currently managing the Staten Island Yankees.

5. Blake Hawksworth RHP - The Canadian pitched for three years in the major leagues, two with the Cardinals, most of his appearances in relief. 

6. Shaun Boyd 2B - A first round 2000 pick who never made it to the major leagues. 

7. Rhett Parrott RHP - Another player who missed the major leagues.

8. John Nelson SS - John only got five major league at bats in 2006 scoring more runs (2) than hits (0) and striking out in four of his five plate appearances.

9. Tyler Johnson LHP - At least Tyler pitched three major league seasons with the Cardinals between 2005 to 2007 all in relief.  His last two years he appeared in 111 games with an ERA over 4.40.

10. Yadier Molina C - Currently the best catcher in baseball and the best player on this list.  Yadier was a fourth round pick in 2000 out of Puerto Rico.  His bat started coming alive in 2008.  He has made the All Star game every year since 2009 and has won the gold glove every season since 2008.

Other prospects who made an impact in the major leagues.

23. Skip Schumaker OF - Played eight years for the Cardinals as a utility player.  The Cardinals traded him to the Dodgers after the 2012 season. 

30. So Taguchi OF - He was signed out of Japan for the 2002 season.  He hung around for a few more seasons after that.  A lack of power made him a fourth outfielder type who could come in for defense. 

Players drafted in 2003 who made a significant impact in the major leagues.

Daric Barton was their first round pick and was one of the players traded with Dan Haren for Mark Mulder.  He is noted for his defense at first base but his bat has fallen short at the position.  The Oakland Athletics still keep giving him opportunities.  Brendan Ryan was drafted in the seventh round and is similar to Barton, great with the glove but poor with the bat.  Currently with the Seattle Mariners where he lost his starting shortstop job because of an inability to hit over .200.  Ian Kennedy was drafted in the 14th round but not signed.  The Yankees made him a first round pick in 2006.  Jason Motte was drafted as a catcher in the 19th round and later converted to pitcher in 2006.  He became the closer for the Cardinals late in the 2011 season and helped them win a World Series.  That alone could justify this draft.  Max Scherzer was drafted in the 43rd round but never signed.  He was a first round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2006.  Ironically the Diamondbacks traded Scherzer to the Tigers in a three team trade in which the Yankees traded Kennedy to the Diamondbacks, so they have been linked twice, in addition to being drafted by the Cardinals in 2003.          

NPB Baseball Commissioner Steps Down

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

The players could not forgive him for unilaterally allowing the ball to be juiced without their approval, even though they complained the previous year that the baseball was dead.  Even though the commissioner may not have approved of the juiced ball it happened on his watch. 

The players union had sought his resignation and the former Japanese ambassador to the United States Ryozo Kato complied with their request.  He will step down either early October or after the Japan Series in late October. 

An owner’s meeting has been scheduled for October 2.  Kato was elected to a third two year term in July of last year.

Top Ten After Ten - Pirates

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

The Pirates this year ended their 20 year losing streak.  They had some tough luck with some of their pitchers drafted in the first round who later were felled by arm injuries.  Below are the top ten Pirates in 2003 as identified by Baseball America.

1. John VanBenschoten RHP - John was a number one pick in the 2001 draft.  He had arm surgeries that forced him to miss the entire 2005 season and most of 2006.  He got five major league starts in 2004 finishing with a 6.95 ERA.  Returning from his injuries he could only produce 10.15 and 10.48 major league ERAs in 2007 and 2008 in 20 appearances, 14 starts.

2. Sean Burnett LHP - Sean was a first round pick in 2000.  He also had shoulder and elbow problems that caused him to miss the 2005 season.  The Pirates designated Burnett for assignment in 2008.  He did start 13 games for the Pirates in 2004.  When he returned to the major leagues it was 2008 in the bullpen for the Pirates.  The Nationals traded for him in 2009 and he had some success for them from 2009 to 2012.  He signed as a free agent with the Angels in 2013 but has only appeared in 13 games because of injury.

3. Bryan Bullington RHP - Bryan was a 2002 first round pick.  He made his major league debut in 2005 and after one appearance shoulder problems required surgery.  He had some unsuccessful major league appearances with four different major league teams from 2007 to 2010.  Bryan signed with the Hiroshima Carp in 2011 and has pitched for three years compiling a 29-34 record with a 2.99 ERA in Japan.

4. Jose Castillo SS - Jose moved to second base and played four seasons with the Pirates.  He never hit better than .268 but did show some pop one year with 14 homeruns.  After not making the Nationals in 2009 he signed with the Uni-President Lions of Taiwan and the following year signed with the Yokahama Bay Stars of the Japanese League in 2010.  In 2011 he was in the Mexican League.

5. Duaner Sanchez RHP - The Pirates did not get much use from him and the Dodgers picked him up on waivers in 2003.  The Dodgers got three strong years of relief from Sanchez before trading him to the Mets where he only lasted a year before being released.  Duaner had a career 4.10 ERA with 8 saves in his seven year major league career.

6. Tony Alvarez OF - Tony had an impressive swing and a miss.  That only got him 75 major league plate appearances in 2002 and 2004.  He is now an accomplished musician in Venezuela.  He did marry Miss World (who was also Miss Venezuela) 1984, who was quite a bit older than him.  They divorced and he married another Miss Venezuela (2002) who failed to win Miss World but was more his age.  Lucky in love but not in baseball.

7. Jose Bautista 3B - The Pirates, Orioles (as a Rule V pick) and Royals (off waivers from the Orioles) had him for a brief spell, intrigued by his raw power.  He appeared to finally break through with the Pirates in 2006 and 2007 putting up double digit homerun numbers.  The Pirates traded him to the Blue Jays for a player to be named later, which turned out to be Robinson Diaz.  Two years later (2010 and 2011) Jose was hitting 54 and 43 homeruns for the Blue Jays.  Injuries the next two seasons have lowered his homerun numbers.

8. J.J. Davis OF - J.J. was a Pirates first round pick in 1997, who developed slowly.  He made his major league debut in 2002 and played for three more years but never got more than 40 plate appearances.  His career batting average was .179, not what they were hoping for in this five tool talent.

9. Mike Gonzalez LHP - One of the few Pirate successes, a 30th round pick who did better than the many number one picks ahead of him.  He made his major league debut in 2003 and 11 years later he is still pitching, now with the Brewers.  He has a 3.11 ERA and all his appearances have been in relief.             

10. Ian Oquendo RHP - Later changed his name to Ian Snell.  He pitched seven years in the major leagues but a 4.80 career ERA shows his struggle for success.  He only had one year where his ERA was under 4.00 (2007).  Currently pitching for the Long Island Ducks.  His last major league appearance was in 2010.

Other prospects in the Pirates farm system who made a significant impact in the major leagues.

12. Ryan Doumit C - He gave the Pirates seven years, working behind the plate as well as patrolling the outfield.  His defense prevented him from being a full time regular but his bat gave him a lot of at bats.  He signed as a free agent with the Twins where he could rotate from DH to the outfield and be a backup catcher.  He is two homeruns shy of 100 in his nine year career.

13. Ryan Vogelsong RHP - He had to go to Japan to find success, pitching three years there, two for the Hanshin Tigers and one for the Orix Blue Wave.  He was signed by the Phillies and Angels in 2010 but both teams released him.  In 2011 he signed a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants where he went 13-7 with a 2.71 ERA, good enough to make the All Star team.  Injuries have soured his 2013 season (5.73).

16. Zach Duke LHP - After being released by the Nationals this year he is pitching for the Cincinnati Reds working out of the bullpen.  The Pirates had him for six years but his last two years saw him lose 16 and 15 games.  Zach had a phenomenal rookie season going 8-2, 1.81 in 14 starts but he could never match that success his next eight years.  He did make the All Star team in 2009 during his 16 loss season.

18. Matt Guerrier RHP - The Twins grabbed Matt from the Pirates after the 2003 season and he became a nice setup man, leading the American League in appearances in 2008 and 2009.  Currently pitching for the Cubs, who acquired him from the Dodgers for Carlos Marmol.  He has a 3.51 10 year major league ERA.

21. Nate McLouth OF - Nate was an All Star and Gold Glove for the Pirates in 2008, leading the league in doubles with 46 and driving in 94 runs.  He also hit a career high 26 homeruns.  His career has gone downhill since, though he resurrected it a bit with the Orioles last year.

NR Rajai Davis OF - The speedster drafted in the 38th round in 2001 has overachieved.  He has 264 major league stolen bases and a .268 career average.  He is in his third year with the Toronto Blue Jays.

NR Jeff Keppinger 2B - The Pirates never got any use from him.  Jeff has been kind of a late bloomer, hitting .325 with the Rays in 2012 as a full time utility player.  He is best used in short spurts but can play multiple positions.

NR Brad Eldred 1B - Brad was always blocked in the major leagues so he is now in Japan playing for the Hiroshima Carp.  An injury has caused him to miss most of the 2013 season, preventing him from making an impact.

NR Shane Youman LHP - Not much of a major league career but currently pitching for the Lotte Giants (13-4, 3.43).

NR Matt Capps RHP - He has turned into a closer for three different teams, accumulating 138 saves.  He was an All Star in 2010 with the Nationals where they traded him shortly afterward for Wilson Ramos.  The Cleveland Indians signed him to a minor league contract in 2013.

2003 draft picks who made an impact in the major leagues.

Their first and second round picks Paul Maholm and Tom Gorzelanny are currently in the major leagues.  They are both more middle/long relief or back end of the rotation starters.  None of the other picks had any major league impact.              

Harlow Nationals Win British Crown

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

For the third straight year the Harlow Nationals have won the British championship defeating the Southampton Mustangs 12-7.  You can read the narrative of the game here:

Entering the playoffs the Nationals were only the fourth seeded team.  A box score for the game can be found here:

NPB Upset Over Dodgers Signing of Japanese Player

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

The Dodgers signed a 19 year old pitcher Takumi Numata and the NPB is not too happy about it.  Numata was not eligible for the Japanese draft because he was playing for an industrial team.  The ire the NPB has with the signing is the Dodgers did not get permission from the industrial team Edion’s manager prior to negotiations.  The player was also signed despite not being removed from the industrial league registry and the player is required to serve two years with the Industrial league team he joins.  This was only the first year for Numata.

NPB teams are not allowed to draft players who join industrial league teams out of high school for three years and two years for all other cases.  Since he had gone to a university for one year and this was his first year with the industrial league team he could not be signed until after next year.

You can read about the problem here:

The Red Sox signed Junichi Tawaza out of the industrial leagues but he had finished his eligibility requirements having played four years with his team.

Durham (cont -6) - End

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Misty remembered it was a hot day. The ice cream tasted good then, dripping from the cone to her fingers faster than her tongue could lick. John had bought the two of them ice cream cones. It had been the first time she had chased balls for Jason. It would not be the last.

They had sat in the gazebo. There was shade there. The green vines snaked across the wood, providing cover from the sun and leaving them hidden from the others as they enjoyed their treat. She was taller than Jason then because she was four years older. She didn’t realize how tall Jason would grow. He was much taller than her now.

She didn’t know a lot about her real parents. Nothing about her dad. She was a casualty of the one child policy. The one fading memory she had was of her mom dropping her off at the adoption agency when she was five years old. Her father had died when she was young. Her mother was getting remarried. The new husband wanted a son. Misty would prevent that from happening. Her most vivid memories were of her mom’s tears as she dropped her off at the adoption agency and the stern look of her future husband as he held her mom. He looked like a mean man. She hoped her mother was happy. That was over twenty years ago. It was the last she would hear from her mother.

Misty and Jason talked a lot while enjoying their ice cream. She didn’t know why, but she enjoyed talking to Jason. Maybe because he was the only boy at the adoption agency who could walk and talk at the same time. There were not many girls her age. They usually got adopted very young and the ones who didn’t had reasons for that. Since they were self taught she didn’t meet any boys in the social network created for her. The only adult she really spoke to was Moogi, who was the cleaning lady who counseled her like a mother whenever she needed advice. Jason was the only child within four years of her age and the other adults seemed too stiff.

When she was dropped off at the adoption agency Jason was already one year old. She watched him grow up. With the assistance of Moogi she taught him how to walk, caught him when he fell, fed him when he got hungry. The first words she heard him say to her as she was feeding him was “Xeng-Xeng.” He always gave her a smile. When he started talking Misty often found him alone talking to himself, as if he was speaking to some invisible friend. She thought that strange, but since like her he had no friends to hangout with talking to yourself seemed natural. Misty never asked Jason who he was talking to. It was none of her business.

He wasn’t a particularly cute kid. Handsomeness was lost on his flat face and large forehead. He also had large feet and large hands, which could have been a predictor of his size. At least he was fun. When they spent time together it was the only time the two of them found each other laughing. Jason was always playing with gadgets, his curiosity trying to figure out how they worked. Most of what he touched broke. They had fun breaking things and then trying to put them back together again, always without success.

She remembered when he went to the Olympics to watch this sport called baseball. When he came back it was all he could think about. He became obsessed with throwing a ball against the wall or into the fields behind the adoption center. If she wanted to continue to play with him she had to make herself useful. So while he threw she chased. The ice cream was an unexpected reward.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” She remembered the gazebo benches being very high. Her feet could not touch the ground. They dangled in the air, her feet kicking at nothing but dust particles while she licked the ice cream. She had to help Jason sit up on the bench. His legs had less of a dangle, shooting out almost straight along the gazebo bench.

“I want to be a baseball player,” he proclaimed proudly.

She thought that was a silly goal. You can’t make a living playing a game. Especially a game in China nobody plays. The only reason she was familiar with it was because John and Jason would watch it obsessively on the television or through an internet feed. “I want to be a nurse.” She thought that was a more noble profession. At least nurses help people.

When she finally got adopted and it was time to go to college her initial major was nursing. What happened to that goal? Somewhere between her freshman and sophomore year her major changed. She got lost in something called politics. Try as she might to stay interested in nursing, the political science classes were more interesting.

Jason saw she was making more of a mess than he with her ice cream and he offered her his only napkin. Without thinking she used it to wipe her hands. It was after she dirtied the napkin she realized he didn’t have a napkin to clean up the melted ice cream from his fingers. She thought it was very noble to sacrifice his only napkin for her. She also felt bad.

“Now you don’t have a napkin.”

“That’s okay. I can just lick my fingers.”

She laughed as he licked the melted ice cream off his fingers. It was the expression on his face. He looked like he was having so much fun she started licking her sticky fingers. Who needs napkins?

“My fingers taste better than yours because you wiped away all your ice cream. Ummm good.”

She laughed as he tried to fit his large right hand into his mouth but with very little success. It was then she knew this wouldn’t be the last time she would chase thrown balls for him.

“Misty. Senator Helms would like to see you. He has some questions about the Iran legislation.”

Reality surfaced. Time to face the real world. Her memories would have to wait. No going back to live in that world. That time has passed.


It was Rigo who informed Larvell about the difference between the Woo “W” sign and the Warrior “W” sign that people made with their fingers. The fans at Norfolk were now holding three fingers up after every strikeout for Jason or three fingers up after every hit by Kevin. The three fingers together formed a “W”. It was a fad that began in Beijing and had now landed in Norfolk. “If you want to salute Jason you hold the three fingers up with your left hand.” Rigo raised his left arm and shot out three fingers from his hand. “If you are saluting Kevin you hold the three fingers up with your right hand.” Rigo put his left arm down and raised his right arm shooting out from his right hand his three middle fingers. “It’s that simple. Nothing complicated about it.”

“What if you only have one arm, “Larvell asked, “and your other arm is just a stump? That would seem to mean one armed fans can only root for one player. Or let’s say you are missing some fingers to fall short of the ‘W’?”

Rigo sighed in frustration. “Only you would think of something like that. I have not seen the book on the rules for rooting for Woo and the Warrior for fans lacking arms or fingers, but when I do I’ll make sure you get a copy.”

End of Chapter 34

Nats Take Two From Braves

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

The Nationals took two from the Braves, a team they have had trouble beating earlier this season, to stay in the wild card race.  The first game saw the two best defensive shortstops make errors in the ninth to allow a run to score.  Andrelton Simmons error was the most costly.  He allowed a ball to slide underneath his glove to allow the tying and winning run to score in the Nationals first game 6-5 victory.

Myworld didn’t arrive to the first game until the fifth inning.  By then the Nationals had a 3-0 lead, having scored three runs in the first.  Dan Haren appeared to have pitched another solid game, taken out after six innings after giving up his only run.

The bullpen then almost let the game get away.  Drew Storen came on in the seventh and gave up three singles for one run.  Clinging to a one run lead Tyler Clippard came on in the eighth and gave up a 2-run homer to Evan Gattis to give the Braves a 4-3 lead.  Clippard again was his own worst enemy walking a batter, Freddie Freeman that preceded the Gattis homerun.  Ryan Matheus pitched the ninth and allowed a runner to advance to third, but appeared to be out of it when Freddie Freeman grounded an easy bouncer to Ian Desmond.  Desmond booted it to allow an insurance run to score.

With Craig Kimbrel coming on in relief having saved 37 games in a row there was not a lot of hope the Nats would pull this one out.  Kimbrel walked the leadoff batter Adam LaRocheWilson Ramos followed with a slow bouncer up the middle.  It appeared second baseman Elliott Johnson could have made an easy play to second on the throw, but instead he tried to flip the ball with his glove, the ball flew high in the air but never reached the bag, bouncing short.  LaRoche was safe at second.  Kimbrel then walked Anthony Rendon to load the bases with no one out.  Rendon had been asked to bunt but took two called strikes when squaring up.

Chad Tracy pinch hit for the pitcher and grounded a ball to Freeman.  He was playing too deep to go home, but instead of getting the force at second he chose to step on first and allow the go ahead run to advance to second.  This proved costly when Denard Span grounded one up the middle.  It appeared Andrelton Simmons got his feet caught beneath him and he allowed the ball to slide underneath his glove, trickling into the outfield to allow both runners to score.

In the second game Tanner Roark looked sharp, improving to 7-0 while taming the Braves on just two hits in seven innings in the Nationals 4-0 victory.  Somehow Roark managed to throw 101 pitches, allowing only three runners to reach base, both hits occurring in the second inning with two outs on back to back singles.  Roark retired the last 14 hitters he faced.  

The Nationals scored their first run in the second inning when Bryce Harper hit a one out single, stole second and scored on a Steve Lombardozzi single.  It appeared the score would remain 1-0 with Freddy Garcia matching Roark goose egg for goose egg after the second inning.  Garcia had retired the last eight.

Jordan Walden came on to pitch the eighth after Garcia was pinch hit for in the top frame.  With one out he gave up a shot to Ryan Zimmerman into the right centerfield bleachers to increase the Nationals lead to 2-0.  Bryce Harper scorched his second single of the game, turning on the afterburners to score on an Ian Desmond double into the gap in right center.  Adam LaRoche singled to score Desmond.

Craig Stamen struck out the side for the Nationals in the eighth, giving up one single in between the strikeouts.  Rafael Soriano gave up back to back singles to the first two hitters he faced, drawing restless murmurs from the home crowd.  Even Gattis popped one to third where it was caught by Zimmerman.  Justin Upton strayed too far from second base and was doubled up.  Gerald Laird rolled one in front of the pitcher’s mound and was thrown out by Soriano to end the game.   

Game Notes: Entering this game Craig Kimbrel had saved 37 consecutive games in a row.  that streak ended after the first game, giving up three runs, two earned to raise his ERA to 1.33…This was the Nationals first win in seven home games with the Braves…Denard Span got a hit in both games today to extend his hitting streak to 28 games, the longest in the majors this season…Freddie Freeman hit a ball just short of the warning track in left field.  The runner on third tagged, Bryce Harper fired home.  Elliott Johnson arrived at home plate standing just ahead of the throw.  Most left fielders wouldn’t have even thrown the ball, conceding the run…With the seven shutout innings Tanner Roarke has lowered his ERA to 1.08.