Mr. Irrelevant Classic: The Nats’ Opening Night In D.C.

Sometimes we republish stuff on this blog from the first iteration of Mr. Irrelevant, which was hosted by AOL Journals and is no longer available on the Internet. This is one of those cases, as I don’t feel like writing about the Nats’ NLDS loss to the Giants. Instead, let’s remember their first night in D.C. This was originally published April 15, 2005.

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My family has lived in northern Virginia a long time, and my grandfather used to take my dad and his brother to RFK to watch the Senators in the ’60s. They’d sit in the leftfield cheap seats, where Hondo Howard hit ‘em. Those trips to the ballpark almost certainly instilled in them a love for the game that runs through me today. But of course, the only pro baseball I’ve ever known is an hour north in Baltimore. Until last night.

In what (I hope) will become commonplace, I left work early, hopped on the Metro and emerged 15 minutes later outside RFK, just as we had a decade ago for Redskins games. The atmosphere was palpable: protesters shouting, fireworks exploding and fighter jets overhead. People were generally smiling, talking to strangers and happy to be back in the business of baseball.

Once inside, I felt like the kid my dad probably was all those years ago. I had butterflies when Livan Hernandez split the strike zone with his first pitch. As twilight turned to moonlight, we were giddy when the Nats plated their first runs and the RFK box seats bounced like they used to. I even cried a little when Vinny Castilla launched a big fly over the leftfield wall.

My thoughts were with Grampsie, who passed yesterday. He went peacefully, which is not how baseball returned to D.C. Opening night was filled with excitement, good humor, great fortune. It didn’t matter that the stands ran out of ice and hot dogs; Grampsie would have loved it. I know I did. It felt like home.

Redskins-Seahawks Winners & Losers

Handing out labels following Skins games, this time a 27-17 MNF loss to Seattle.

Winners

Kirk Cousins — If you compare this to his last outing he looked like Joe Montana. Any way you cut it, 283 yards, two TDs and no picks against Seattle ain’t bad. That first bomb to DeSean Jackson (above) was like a ray of sunshine in monsoon season.

DeSean Jackson — His 157 receiving yards accounted for 51% of the Redskins’ total offense.

Ryan Kerrigan — Made a drive-stopping sack, blowing right by the guard. Is now tied for the NFL lead with six.

Tress Way — Averaged 49.9 yards per punt, and is now averaging 52.2 per for the season, which is best in the league by two yards. His net average (42.3) is good for seventh in the league, but I’m not yet ready to accept the Redskins having a good punter, especially one named Tress Way.

Losers

Jim Haslett — Were they unaware that Russell Wilson can run? Because Wilson ran for a MNF QB-record 122 yards, and it looked like he could’ve gotten 122 more. Overall, the defense was brutal in the first half and decent in the second. They really benefited from Seahawks miscues. Percy Harvin alone had three touchdowns called back.

Jay Gruden — Seattle’s tough, but his offense looked inept for long stretches. He’s also now 0-5 on challenges, but that may be Replay Booth Coordinator Bruce Allen’s fault.

Ben Kowitca — Of course Seattle’s fake field goal worked.

Alfred Morris — You know I love FroMo, but 2.2 yards/carry and a fumble is no way to go through life.

Pierre Garcon — Caught two balls for 23 yards, and was told by Richard Sherman that “he doesn’t matter in this league.” Rough night.

E.J. Biggers — I don’t have a complete picture of his performance, but two things stand out: 1) getting punked by Wilson in the open field, and 2) being called for holding in punt coverage on a kick that was clearly going to be either a touchback or a fair catch.

Morgan Moses — Came in at right tackle for an injured Tyler Polumbus, and then this happened.

Kai Forbath — He proved in the second half that he *can* kick the ball into the end zone. So why do they continue utilizing the strategy of pooching it high and short? Seattle started their opening drive on the 35 and had the field position advantage all night long.

Jon Gruden — It can’t be easy calling your kid brother’s game. But it seemed like he went out of his way to criticize Haslett at every turn, while also praising Wilson for things that seemed like veiled criticisms of RGIII. He also wouldn’t question Jay’s decisions, including electing to kick on 4th-and-1 from the 10 down 17-7 in the third and then following that up with a failed onside kick. C’mon, man.

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Robert Griffin III — New hair alert! It’s kinda Iverson-y.

Andre Roberts — Picked up a couple first downs and scored a TD, but had a bad drop on a 2nd-and-10 with momentum happening.

Perry Riley — Missed the tackle on Marshawn Lynch’s TD, but made 10 tackles on the night.

Orioles-Tigers ALDS Winners & Losers

Handing out labels following Baltimore’s opening-round sweep of Detroit.

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Winners

Nelson Cruz — As if he wasn’t enough of a free-agent steal already after leading the league with 40 HRs, he hit two more against Detroit, including the series-winning blow. Now has 16 HRs in 37 career playoff games, and he slash lined .500/.500/1.000 for the series.

Buck Showalter – Pulled all the right strings. Example: With one out and a man on second in the ninth inning of Game 3, he intentionally walked Nick Castellanos to put the winning run on base. The next batter grounded into a series-ending DP.

Delmon Young — That bases-clearing triple in Game 2 was incredible, providing this Vine of the year candidate.

Bud Norris — Matched up against David Price, he threw six-plus innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits. Bud Norris!

Andrew Miller — High-level bullpen boss. Threw three-and-a-third innings in two appearances, giving up no runs or hits and walking one.

Kevin Gausman — Provided valuable long relief in Game 2. Dennis Eckersley said he’s “got some hair.” High praise.

Pretty much the entire lineup — Faced three Cy Young winners, scored 21 runs. Also committed just one error.

Losers

There are no losers here, not on Baltimore’s side at least.

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Chris DavisCrush could be back by the end of the ALCS.

Game 1 of the ALCS is Friday, time and opponent TBD.

Nats-Giants NLDS Game 2 Winners & Losers

Handing out labels following the longest game in MLB playoff history, an 18-inning, six hour-and-23 minute 2-1 loss to San Francisco.

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Winners

Jordan Zimmermann — Fresh off of a no-hitter, he came within one out of a shutout in a near-must-win playoff situation. What a stud.

Anthony Rendon — Started off 4-4, driving in the Nats only run. Also stole a base and played sharp at third. Also a stud.

Tyler Clippard, Matt Thornton, Jerry Blevins, Craig Stammen and Rafael Soriano — Combined for seven innings of scoreless relief.

Ryan Zimmerman — Got a pinch-hit basehit.

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Losers

The entire lineup, aside from Rendon — Denard Span, Jayson Werth, Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond, Bryce Harper, Wilson Ramos and Asdrubal Cabrera went 4-53, by my count. AssCab did double, FWIW, but he also got himself thrown out for arguing balls and strikes — in the playoffs. This team only has three runs through 27 innings.

Drew Storen — I feel bad for him, about as bad as you can feel for someone in a sports context and non-injury situation. But he came in and blew it, like he did two years ago. (For extra sadness, read Barry Svrluga on Storen’s redemption from just a few days ago.)

Matt Williams — I didn’t disagree with him pulling ZNN for Storen at the time, and I won’t question it now. But it was his call, and it didn’t work. Also, that ejection was weird.

Nats fans — I don’t blame folks for leaving early, it was a six-hour game in 40-degree weather after all, but it’s not a good look.

Home plate umpire Vic Carapazza — The Nats didn’t lose because of him, but he did suck. The strike zone was all over the place, and two outs in the ninth inning of a complete game shutout is a hell of a time to start squeezing a guy. Karma’s a bitch. (Update: This is an awesome look at Carapazza squeezing ZNN in the 9th.)

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Tanner Roark — After a great season as the fifth starter, he was kept out of the playoff rotation and was the last man out of the bullpen. Pitched a scoreless 17th before giving up a solo shot in the 18th. Tough breaks, dude.

Game 3 is in San Francisco on Monday, Doug Fister vs. Madison Bumgarner. The Nats must win to stay alive.

Redskins-Seahawks Predictions

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Congrats to WFY for knowing that Washington didn’t stand a chance against the New York Football Giants. Now he gets to make a guest post!

Here are our crackerjack staff’s completely scientific predictions for this week’s game. Make yours down in the comments. Whichever reader is closest to the actual outcome gets to be a published author on this here weblog.

Chris Mottram: Redskins, 27-24

The Redskins somehow win just so Kirk Cousins can regain his crown as the Preferred Quarterback of Every Sports Talk Radio Caller. Go Nats. Go O’s.

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Is D.C. a Baseball Town Now?

The guest post parade marches on! Here with a look at which team owns D.C. is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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Is Washington, D.C. a baseball town now? No, not quite.

But D.C. is not nearly the football city it’s historically been. Fans aren’t necessarily shifting away from the Redskins; instead, it seems they’re paying more attention to the other teams.

The Wizards made the playoffs this past season, had a terrific offseason, have a young core to build around for years to come and are still salivating over the fantasy of Kevin Durant coming home to play in D.C. in just two years.

The Capitals missed the playoffs this past season, but they have a new coach and a new GM, they’ve had some degree of recent success (making it to the postseason counts) and they still have Alex Ovechkin.

D.C. United is back near the top of MLS after a terrible 2013, Ben Olsen just signed a contract extension, the team just posted the biggest increase in attendance in the league and America is gradually beginning to appreciate soccer as a whole in the wake of the World Cup.

The Mystics … well, the Mystics aren’t very good.

Then, of course, there are the Nationals.

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Nats Playoff Tickets Are 40% More Expensive Than 2012, Priciest in the NL

This post is provided by our friends at TiqIQ. Remember, you can always buy Nats tickets via Mr. Irrelevant Tickets!

After the heartbreak of 2012, the Nationals are back in the playoffs, and based on the average price for Nationals tickets to the NLDS, fans have higher expectations than two years ago. At an average price of $282 for their three games at Nationals Park, Nats fans are paying more than any other fans in the National League based on secondary market prices. At an average price of $199, the next most expensive tickets belong to the Dodgers. For Nats fans in San Francisco, they’ll be getting a deal, as SF Giants tickets for the NLDS have an average price of $177. The Cardinals are the only team in the NL with an average price below $100, at $93, according to TiqIQ.

Compared to 2012, the consensus is that the Nationals are a better and wiser team. Despite winning two less games this season than in 2012, the 2014 Nationals have playoff experience under their belt and no fear of the unknown. There’s also none of the Strasburg inning-limit nonsense. This season Strasburg has been a horse, pitching 215 innings and striking out 242 batters. Despite just 14 wins, Strasburg is the ace. He’s also arguably got a much better supporting staff behind him than two years ago. Nationals fans seem to be more confident as well, with average prices up almost 40% compared to 2012. Of the three games, today’s game one is by far the cheapest with an average price of $124 with the cheapest ticket going for $54. Saturday’s game has an average price of $183 and a get-in price of $90. At current prices, game three is the most expensive game of the series with an average price of $324. The cheapest ticket for that game is $69.

If prices are a predictor of what teams will go the deepest in the playoffs, the Nationals will be facing off against the Royals in the World Series. While the Nats are the top-priced ticket in the NL, after their 29-year drought, the average price for Royals tickets at Kaufmann stadium is $361 … and rising. At $440, their opening game on Sunday is the most expensive tickets to an LDS game in the last five years. The next highest LDS matchup was a 2011 game in Tampa Bay between the Rays and Rangers. If the Nationals and Giants series goes to a deciding fifth game, the current average price would make it the third most expensive NLDS game over the last three years, behind game three of the 2012 NLDS in Cincinnati and Game one of last years series in Pittsburgh.

Musings of a Drunk Redskins Fan

Here with a guest post for correctly predicting that the Redskins would destroy Jacksonville (those were the days!) is Mr. Irrelevant reader SiPhi, who may have been overserved.

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As I sit here, drunk and finally committing to writing this blog post, there are 1:18 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter [of last week's Thursday night loss to New York]. Kirk Cousins just threw his 3rd fucking interception, which is something I will return to later on.

First, background on myself (because I know you Mr. I readers give so many shits about some asshole that guessed somewhat close to the final score). I was born in 1990, so I am a later generation Skins fan. My parents probably thought they were bringing me into the best possible situation for football fandom when the Skins won the Superbowl after the ’91 season, but instead I have been subjected to the Maylaysian Airlines of football teams.

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Mr. Irrelevant is a D.C. sports blog covering the Redskins, Nationals, Orioles, Wizards, Capitals, Terrapins and more.