Monday, October 1, 2012

Woo hoo!

UPDATE:   The headline on the front page of the Washington Post this morning:


The Washington Nationals are the NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST CHAMPIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


I love baseball.  It is the true beautiful game.  I have been a baseball fan my entire life, and I got my love for baseball from my mom, and not my dad.  My mom had a box seat at Ebbet's Field as she was a huge Brooklyn Dodger fan.  Her father, who came to the USA, in 1917, played soccer in Hoboken, New Jersey, where many German immigrants settled.  He eventually turned away from soccer and became a rabid baseball fan.  Unfortunately, and tragically, he was a Yankees fan. 

The Brooklyn Dodgers left Brooklyn after the 1957 season, so I guess I can say I was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan until I was three.   I believe one of my first sentences was "Yankees Suck!"   The team is now known as the Los Angeles Dodgers.

There was no way my mom was going to root for the Yankees or even the New York Giants, which also soon departed for the West Coast.   New York City was without a National League team until 1962, when the National League expanded to bring in two new teams, including the New York Mets (whose colors are Dodger blue and Giant orange.) The new team played for two years at the Polo grounds before moving into Shea Stadium in 1964.  My mom was an original season ticket holder ... we went to a lot of Mets Games, the lows (40-120 record in the first year) to the highs: World Series Wins in 1969 (vs Baltimore Orioles) and 1986 (Red Sox.)  In 2000, the Mets lost to the Yankees in the World Series.  (Boooooooo!)

I left New Jersey in late 1989, moving to northern Virginia.  Friends asked me how I could move to a town that did not have baseball.  The Senators had left in 1971 to morph into the Texas Rangers.  (Eleven years earlier, the first Senators moved to Minnesota.)  

D.C., was baseball deprived.  There were exhibition games at RFK prior to opening day, but both teams were visitors.   I worked for CNN, which was owned by Ted Turner, who also owned the Atlanta Braves ... and if you worked for CNN in a city that had a NL team, you could get free tickets when the Braves came to town.   We did not have a NL team in D.C.  The closest team was the Baltimore Orioles, about 40 miles, and in the American League.   I did not like the AL. 

CNN would offer offer bus trips to Memorial Stadium for the D.C., staff.  I went so I could baseball.  But I didn't like the AL.  I missed my Mets. 

Not long afterward, I met the man I would marry: Bill Koenig, a senior writer with Baseball Weekly. (We met in church.)  He liked baseball too.  Our first date was at the new Camden Yards for the first game (an exhibition between the New York Mets -- he knew how to impress a girl -- and the Orioles.)   Interleague play had not yet been established, so this a special game two days before Opening Day in 1992.  A good way to test out the new stadium in Baltimore. 

Bill and I went a lot to Camden Yards. He had a 13 Game Sunday plan, but on those Sundays he usually sat in the press box, and I sat in the seat.  It is suffice to say that I soon became an Orioles fan.  I really liked Cal Ripken (and I was there for his historic achievement, when he tied and then broke Lou Gehrig's 2,130 consecutive games record in September 1995.   Cal continued to play in every game through September 19, 1998, when he told manager Davey Johnson that he was not going to play that day.  His record is 2,632 consecutive games. )  We were at the game, too.  I noticed the change before Bill as I glanced at the lineup and noticed that Ryan Minor was playing third base.  I ran down to the press box, motioned to Bill to look at the score card (people were starting realize what was happening),and then everyone in the press box realized that the streak had come to and end .. and Bill said to me:  "we won't be leaving after the game."  In other words,  he would be going down to the locker and press rooms after the game.  I usually had a book with me, so I would sit and read in the waiting area, and watch baseball players leave.

But it was Brady Anderson (LF) who turned me into a true Birds fan.  He had the cutest butt.  My seat (Section 330) was over home plate ... so there was always a great view when Brady game up to bat, and he would bend over ... butt cam .. sorry, I digress, but Brady was hot, hot, hot!  Bill, my darling Bill,  bought me the Brady Anderson poster, where he is wearing barely nothing ...  Brady was my second baseball love.  My first was Number 8 on the New York Mets ... Catcher Gary Carter.  He was the same age as me .. and he, too, was a hottie.  He was also one of the best catchers of all time.   He was a member of the 1986 World Series Champions -- the NY Mets, who beat the Boston Red Sox.  (The Mets' first World Series Championship was in 1969 vs the Orioles.  The Mets had gone from last to first in seven years.)  Since 1986. the Mets have had few post-season appearances with one World Series loss in 2000 to the Yuckies.

Gary began and ended his career with the Montreal Expos, and he entered the Baseball Hall of Fame as an Expo. He wanted to go in as a Met, but he didn't have a choice. The Montreal Expos were born in 1969. The team was one of two Major League Baseball teams outside the United States. The other team is the Toronto Blue Jays, in the American League. By the late 1990s, it became apparent that the Expos were a team on the brink of collapse. In November 2001, Major League Baseball voted to contract two teams: the Expos and the Minnesota Twins. But after a court injunction barred the Twins from being contracted (closed down), MLB could not eliminate the Expos without affecting the 162 game season. In the end, MLB bought the Expos from their owner.

Major League Baseball had no intention of keeping the Expos as their own. On September 29, 2004, a miracle happened. Sad for the Expos because the announcement came on their last home game. The Expos were moving south ... moving to the capital of the United States of America.

Rejoice, Rejoice, celebrate.

Washington did have a baseball team: the Washington Senators (AL). In 1960, the Senators became the Minnesota Twins. So a new team was awarded to D.C. These Senators lasted for a decade before being sold and moved to Arlington, Texas, as the Texas Rangers.

After the Senators moved to Texas, different groups tried to figure out ways to bring a team back to D.C. Seventh largest TV market -- and no baseball team. In the mid-90s, a group from Northern Virginia wanted to bring a major league team to Springfield, near the Metro station .. ten minutes from our house. Bill and I went to all the meetings, and, with a few others, offered (Major) vocal support to the project. We would have let them build the stadium in our back yard. It never came to fruition. The plan fizzled out.

After the Tampa Bay and Arizona expansion, Bill said he was sure Washington would never get another team. He was wrong. In the spring of 2005, when the mailman delivered to me a package, I went outside, and held the package up to heaven. My season ticket package (20 game plan) for the 2005 season for the new Washington Nationals. I looked up, and said: "Honey, you were wrong."

Davey Johnson, who played for the Orioles in 1969, was the last batter in the 1986 series, flying out, giving the Mets their first World Series ring.  Davey was the manager of the 1986 Mets.  Davey has managed several major league teams.  He also managed the Baltimore Orioles for two years, taking the team back to the top of the AL East.  He's happy for the Orioles, who are in the postseason for the first time since 1997, when the Birds topped the AL East, two games ahead of the Yankees.  He said yesterday: "I think it's great.  Beat the Yankees. Finish ahead of the Yankees. That will get you fired."  In 1997, the Orioles made it to the American League Championship (didn't win), and Davey was named Manager of the Year.  Several hours later he was fired by owner Peter Angeleso, following a dispute.  This is the first winning season for the Birds since 1997.  I gave up my season ticket three years ago because I could not afford to do both the Nats and Os, although I still go to Baltimore for several games each year .. and both teams are shown in both markets.

Davey Johnson is the manager of the Washington Nationals.  He is the leading candidate for Manager of the Year.   He is not likely to be fired by the owners of the Nats, even if the team does not make it to the World Series. 

We are National Leage East Champions, but being a league champion or having the best record in Baseball does not mean an automatic trip to the World Series.  But it could happen.   OMG, what if the Series is against the Orioles?   OMG.  I would have to drink my way through that series ...not sure if I can handle such a World Series between two of my favorite teams.

Gary Carter died earlier this year of cancer.  The Nats are the curators for the Expos, and his number 8 is on display in the stadium.  The Nats also honor the Senators, and their history.  The Washington Senators played in the World Series  in 1933.

Our first dance at our wedding was to "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." 

I am a very happy girl this morning ... may this continue all the way through the World Series ... dear Baseball God, hear my prayer!!!

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