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A Father’s Day Love Letter to Family and Baseball

Baseball is tradition in my family.

My father played baseball throughout high school and into college. My mother would sneak away from her two sisters to watch baseball games with her father, all while keeping score. My brother and I both played competitive baseball through high school before taking our talents to slow pitch softball.

Traditionally baseball is a game between fathers and sons (as evidenced by the myriad of baseball movies focused on that relationship) which is one of the things that made yesterday’s Max Scherzer no-hitter all the more special. Max’s parents Brad and Jan decided to make the trek to DC for Father’s Day weekend to see him pitch in person for just the second time in a Nationals uniform and they sure picked the right game. Getting to see your son throw his first no hitter must’ve been the thrill of a lifetime and the best possible gift Brad could’ve received.

For me however, the game was bittersweet.

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Watching Scherzer’s No-Hitter Was A Special, Stressful, And Unforgettable Experience

I sat glued to my seat on Saturday afternoon at Nationals Park. It was a sweltering day in DC, but that had little to do with the reason I was almost literally stuck in my chair. Max Scherzer was on the mound, and that’s all I needed to be excited.

After an outing that was nearly a no-hitter just six games earlier, Scherzer took the mound to assert his dominance over another National League team. He faced a Pirates team in the midst of an incredibly hot streak, but Scherzer hadn’t heard the news.

After his six-pitch first inning, I sat in my seat, next to my friends, and thought, “oh, this could be one of those nights again.” I didn’t dare speak those words, on the off chance I was ejected from my seat unceremoniously for the blasphemous thoughts I had turned into words. As the game wore on, I realized that everyone sitting around me was fully aware of what was happening on the mound and on the scoreboard. Jovial conversations among friends turned into long, nervous silences.

In the third, Michael A. Taylor made a play at the wall that probably didn’t save a home run off the bat of Jordy Mercer, but it absolutely saved an extra base hit. I stood. I cheered. I thought, “this is the play that you need if you’re going to see history.” I was excited, and I was wrong.

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Scherzer No-Hits Pirates

Max Scherzer made history at Nationals Park on Saturday. The right-hander hurled a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates (39-29), a performance that led the way as the Washington Nationals (36-33) won by a final of 6-0.

Scherzer’s No-Hitter

Starting with a six-pitch top of the first, Scherzer dominated the Pirates, retiring 27 of 28 batters, including 10 on strikeouts. The lone batter to reach base was Jose Tabata, who—with two strikes and two outs in the ninth—moved his way into baseball notoriety by taking a Scherzer slider off of his elbow. According to a tweet from ESPN’s Keith Olbermann, Scherzer is the second hurler in baseball history—and the first since 1908—to lose a perfect game on a hit by pitch. Continue reading…

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The Nats Are Really Top Heavy And That’s (Probably) OK

This year, the Washington Nationals still have one of the most talented teams in baseball, despite being ravaged by injuries. As Joe pointed out a few weeks ago, they can lay a claim to having the top starter (Max Scherzer), position player (Bryce Harper) and reliever (Drew Storen) in baseball.

However, despite the elite performances of that trio, the Nationals still find themselves with a middling 34-33 record at a game and a half back of the unremarkable Mets.

So, how top-heavy must the Nationals be to have three elite performers and still be straddling the .500 mark? Continue reading…

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Harper Hurt As Nats Defeated By Rays

On a rain-soaked night in the nation’s capital, the Tampa Bay Rays (38-30) added injury to insult by not only handing the Washington Nationals (34-33) their 11th loss out of 17 games in June, but also witnessing superstar Bryce Harper go down with a hamstring strain. The 5-3 loss put the Nationals just one game above .500 with a serious concern over how long Harper’s injury will put him out of commission.

Nobody Panic…

Going into the sixth inning, the game was leaning in the Nationals’ favor. But it didn’t take long for things to take a turn for the much, much worse. With the go-ahead runs on base, fans have come to expect Harper to do everything in his power to prevent those runs from scoring if a ball his hit his way. But as he planted his leg to make the throw, his left knee bent awkwardly beneath him. He was left writhing in pain on the rain-dampened outfield grass, and Nats fans were left wondering if their worst nightmare was happening. Continue reading…

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The Impact of Losing Bryce Harper

The Washington Nationals community as a whole exhaled when Matt Williams announced after tonight’s game that Bryce Harper suffered only a “mild hamstring strain” tonight, instead of a major injury to his knee. But as Anthony Rendon’s injury demonstrates, no player’s recovery is certain. While his injury is not as bad as was feared, Harper’s contributions to the Nationals’ offense and how much they would suffer without him cannot be overstated.

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Federal Reserve: The Arrival Of Trea Turner

After several months in limbo, Trea Turner finally made his debut in the Washington Nationals’ system on Tuesday. The shortstop prospect—a first-round pick by the San Diego Padres last year, whom the Nationals acquired as a player to be named later in December—was assigned to Harrisburg, where he has played two games thus far.

Getting Turner, along with right-handed starter Joe Ross, from the Padres should work out for the Nationals in the long run. As Ross emerges at the major league level, Turner immediately becomes one of the best position players in the farm system. Along with excellent speed, he features a compact line drive stroke that not only allows him to hit to all fields, but occasionally leverage power to the left side of the field. On defense, he should rate as an at least above average shortstop. Continue reading…

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Bats Go Limp, Rays Shut Out Nats

They say all good things must come to an end. The Washington Nationals’ offensive barrage Tuesday was, by any definition, a good thing, and Wednesday night showed that it was no exception to the rule. The Nats (34-32) were shut out by the Tampa Bay Rays (37-30) a day after scoring 16 runs against them, falling 5-0. Continue reading…

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Nats Set Franchise Hits Record, Obliterate Rays

There’s a feeling of relief when you find something that’s been missing for a long time. Something that you used on a daily basis and were this close to replacing. That relief flooded through the Washington Nationals organization Tuesday night when the Nats (34-31) eviscerated the Tampa Bay Rays (36-30) 16-4, suddenly rediscovering all the run support that had been missing over the past month or so.

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