Monday, July 31, 2006

Sharks on a Building

I'm sure every commuter that has recently passed through Silver Spring on their way to/from Washington, D.C. has seen the massive tail sticking out over Georgia Ave. The tail is part of a larger shark that transforms the Discovery Channel headquarters into a gigantic Great White Shark commemorating the channel's annual Shark Week. The station's flagship week of programming began last night at 9pm and runs through Saturday, August 4th.

The shark tail is pretty cool, but nothing compared to the shark head on the opposite side of the building, facing east. My only guess for why they put the tail on the busier side of the street is to keep drivers from careening off the road. The sight is truly something else.

By far the best view of the whole building is from the Silver Spring Metro Station. This angle gives viewers the most complete shot of the shark.

Damn cool. Now, if only the Discovery Channel would get around to promoting a Bear Week...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Nats Drub Cubs, Sweep Series

The first homestand following the Ted Lerner takeover of the Washington Nationals couldn't have had a better outcome. The Nats swept the three-game series from the Chicago Cubs, and every game had a great crowd and great energy. The series sweep was the first of the year at RFK Stadium.

The new ownership brought luck to D.C.'s side this weekend, as the number 7 kept popping up. The Nats took the series with wins by scores of 7 - 6, 7 - 3, and today's outcome of 7 - 1. Backed by homeruns from Ryan Church and Alfonso Soriano (his 31st of the year), Tony Armas won his 7th game of the year after pitching 7 strong innings with only one earned run.

The new owners called for fans to get their red on...

...and fans responded with attendences of 35, 442; 38, 021; and 30,851.

One of the most popular new additions is the live-action Presidential Race between George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. The first race was won by GW, the second by Honest Abe. Today's race was quite the contest...

The cheating Roosevelt was disqualified, and the race was awarded to Tom. No word on any action from league officials.

View from Section 505, row 7, seat 8.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Nats' Bats Club Cubs

On a night when the Washington Nationals officially celebrated the new ownership of the franchise, the new owners sought to please fans accustomed to a last-place team and a dreadful stadium. They treated fans to many new gimmicks including an actual red carpet, live music in front of RFK Stadium, and overhauled concessions. The one thing that seemed to please the most, however, was the play of the team. The Nats stormed back against the Chicago Cubs and sealed the exciting win in front of a massive crowd, sending fans home happy with a 7 - 6 come-from-behind victory.

View from Section 545, row 3, seat 6.

The Nationals relinquished the lead to the Cubbies on a two-run homer by Aramis Ramirez, and then squandered a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the 7th inning. In the 8th, however, the Nats took the lead for good on a two-run double by Alex Escobar.

The new owners emplore the fans to "paint the town red" for the entire weekend, with giveaways including hats, t-shirts, and towels scheduled for all three home games against Chicago.

Paint his town red, paint his wife white.

One thing that really surprised me was the audacity of the Chicago Cubs fans. Rather then embody the "loveable loser" mentality of the team, the fans went for the "drunken asshole" vibe made popular by New York Yankee fans. The one difference between the two is, oh I don't know, 24 World Series championships.

I'll never understand the popularity of the Cubs. They're easily in the top-5 most popular MLB teams, and they're horrible. Almost always have been. They've won ONE play-off series in the last 98 years. Why do I have to pay for premium seats to see a team that's historically terrible and currently 21 games under .500?

Cubs fans are douchebags.

The new amenities are neat. The entire atmosphere has changed drastically from the first half of the season, and the fans reacted accordingly. One of my friends sarcastically asked as we walked to our seats, "Are we in D.C. or is this St. Louis?" My favorite change was taking the President's Race off the Jumbotron and onto the field. Similar to the race in Milwaukee, four oversized cartoon Presidents raced to a finish line behind home plate. George Washington took the victory in the inaugural live-action race, overcoming an early lead by Abe Lincoln. Good times.

New live-action President's Race. Fan-tastic.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

United Slam Hoops

D.C. United kept on rolling, defeating Scotland's Celtic FC 4 - 0 in a friendly at rain-soaked RFK Stadium last night. The Black-and-Red were kick started by a goal from 17-year-old Freddy Adu in the 43rd minute, and added three more in the second half. The Hoops, with their trademark jerseys notably and unfortunately absent, looked lost for the entire duration.

It was awesome watching United play at top form with many of their key starters not on the pitch. For various reasons, Jaime Moreno, Brian Carroll, Bryan Namoff and Troy Perkins all did not play. They looked excellent and I can't wait to see them keep this torrid pace up for the second half of the Major League Soccer season. Other teams in MLS should take notice that even when the best players from the best team in MLS are on the bench, the reserves can still take it to a storied team like Celtic. The impressive form of D.C.'s second and third stringers was not lost on the Scottish media.

Mark Wilson of The Herald in Scotland writes of the elite team of MLS:

Even without [Jaime Morano] there was plenty to make the visitors wary. One defeat in 18 matches and a 17-point lead at the top of the Eastern Conference are statistics that deserve respect, whatever doubts can still be cast against the overall quality of Stateside football.

He brings up a good question. Can doubts still be cast on American soccer? Or rather, how big are these doubts after another impressive United performance against a highly-respected foreign foe?

Obviously the MLS is light years behind the top leagues in Europe, but the league is definitely headed in the right direction. D.C. didn't just defeat Celtic, that wouldn't be big news considering the Bhoys are on the beginning of a pre-season tour and playing without key starters of their own. What is news is that the Black-and-Red whooped them up and down the pitch for 90 minutes. John Harkes said it best during the Post Game presentation, American clubs are no longer in awe of European clubs, including powerhouses like Celtic.

Anyway, Freddy Adu looked fantastic and surely raised some eyebrows. He'll definitely bolt for a top-tier EPL team in the near furture, if not next season. Luckily for D.C. United, the performance last night from reserves shows that they'll be able to keep pace without him.

D.C. is back on Saturday as they return to MLS action to take on the Columbus Crew at RFK.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

D.C. United vs. Celtic FC

Tonight D.C. United will take on Celtic FC in a friendly at RFK Stadium. The match pits two perennial league champions against each other for the first time. D.C. United have won 4 league championships in the ten year existance of Major League Soccer (1996, 97, 99, 2004) and two Supporter's Shields in 1997 and 1999. Celtic have won 40 championships in the Scottish Premier League, with the earliest being in 1896 and the most recent in 2006.

Celtic is the team of choice for Catholics in Scotland, with their arch-rivals Rangers FC representing the Protestant community. This sectarian split has caused Celtic to be the most popular team in Ireland, which I learned first hand when I studied abroad there. The majority of Irish football fans consider Celtic to be their World Class club football team. The Bhoys will also play Chivas de Guadalajara and New England Revolution while touring the United States in preparation for the start of the SPL.

The 2006 D.C. United are off to one of the best starts in MLS history. They have a record of 12-1-5 and are 17 points ahead of the second place team in the East. The Black-and-Red have the most wins, fewest losses, most goals and fewest goals against, as they've completely dominated MLS competition. Hopefully, a top-flight European opponent will test how good D.C. United can be and prepare them for the second half of the season.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Beat 'Em, Stomp 'Em, Scalp 'Em

. . . let the price soar.

Scalping is ridiculous. I really, really wanted to see the band Sleater-Kinney play at the 9:30 Club on August 1st. The band recently announced they were going on indefinite hiatus, which is industry lingo for breaking-the-fuck-up. This is really awful news considering their most recent cd, The Woods, was my favorite album of 2005. So, when I got wind that this show would be their 4th to last show ever I knew I had to be there.

I waited and waited and checked on the websites for both the venue and for tickets. Unfortunately, I was about one hour late and they were already sold out! Crap!

I've missed bands before, but only one other time have I missed a band that was about to break up. Back when Q and Not U was on their farewell tour I couldn't get to see them and that still really stings.

Determined to get tickets, I searched on Craig's List and E-bay and the prices are completely outrageous. They're ranging upwards of $100.

One asshole writes:

I have two extra tickets to see sleater kinney tickets at the 930 club. i'll sell yo uthe pair for 90 bucks plus shipping.....first offer gets the tickets; i will take the listing down when the tix are gone. DO NOT HIT REPLY TO CRAIGSLIST LINK TO EMAIL ME BACK; EMAIL ME DIRECTLY AT MUSICMENDS@MSN.COM WITH 'SLEATER KINNEY TICKETS' AS THE TITLE.

. . . at least he didn't mention that they were PIT TICKETS!!!

This is so f'ing frustrating. Do I go against my values and beliefs and pay an absurd sum of money to a lowly scalper? Do I stick to my guns and miss one of my favorite bands?

Either way, I'll fight on 'till I have won. Hail Washington.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Padres Pack Nats' Pickles

Earlier tonight the Washington Nationals officially had their pickles packed by the San Diego Padres, losing 5 - 2. The lone bright spot for the Nats was Alfonso Soriano's first-inning home run, his 27th of the season. The Nats have lost two in a row and have now guaranteed a last place position for the All-Star Break.

According to, one of the spectators for the event was President George W. Bush, most likely celebrating either his 60th birthday or the impending war with North Korea. I didn't get a chance to spot the Commander in Chief, but I was closer to him than I've every been before. W, or 'Dubs', was probably enthralled by the Presidential Race, which saw Abraham Lincoln cheat to win by chucking the orange traffic cone at Teddy Roosevelt. "Honest Abe" is now 3 - 0 at games I've attended this year, reppin' the burgandy seats well.

View from section 470, row 4 seat 11.

In more postive D.C. sporting news, D.C. United defeated the Columbus Crew to further their unbeaten streak to 12 games. Alecko Eskandarian scored the only goal of the game as D.C. won 1 - 0. They are now an unreal 17 points ahead of the second best team in the East. I seriously need to get to some of their games this season, as they've been straight killing every team in sight. It looks like I'll get my first shot this Wednesday when the Black-and-Red take on Celtic FC in a friendly at RFK.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Apocalypse, Armageddon, Alfonso Soriano!

Elizabeth Newman is a doomsayer. In her column, The Queen's Court, the writer lambasts the Washington Nationals in an article entitled, "National Soap Opera: Baseball is Back in DC and so Are its Problems." In her little tirade, she slams the entire Nationals organization, in so doing using FIVE religious expressions. Did she write this on her way home from church?

When the Washington Nationals imprudently throw in the towel by sending All-Star outfielder Alfonso Soriano packing before the July 31 trade deadline, fans in the nation's capital should remember the bible verse John 16:24: "Ask, and ye shall receive."

Wait, when did we ask for Alfonso to be traded? Also, I know Washington D.C. is below the Mason-Dixon line and therefore technically the south, but we're not the Bible Belt, sweetheart. Save the good book references for your columns about Midwestern teams or the SEC.

As if White House scandals and having Peter Angelos right down the highway in Baltimore weren't enough, for 33 years Washingtonians hoped and prayed for a Major League Baseball team.

First, Baltimore would be 'up' the highway, not down. Her geography sucks. Second, if you make one more religious reference I'm going to throw something at you.

The Nats, in all their glory, were even in first place in the NL East for a little while, giving many fans a glimmer of hope that there would be a miracle on East Capitol Street.

A miracle? Really? Where's a brick when you need one?

Fast-forward to this season and those good times seem like a distant memory. The Nationals are currently 14 games out of first place, having won a measly 37 games. The most recent embarrassment was a 18-9 loss to the Marlins. Attendance at RFK Stadium is down almost 20 percent from last year, and the team has dropped from 11th to 17th place in attendance.

Well, the Nats may be 14 games out of first, but they're also only 1.5 games out of second. The New York Mets are running away with the NL East and everyone else is left to play catch up. Even though they finished 81 - 81 last year the Nats also finished dead last in the NL East. Even with a losing record, the Nats could finish ahead of that this year. I think the organization would trade a few wins for a better finish. Glass half full.

Also, if the Nats are 17th in league attendance there must be 13 other articles that are more deserving of our time than this one.

Unfortunately, fans in Washington will be scrambling to see what's left of their beloved baseball club after July 31. They know it would take a miracle for the Nationals to both keep Soriano and make the postseason.

OH MY GOD. Seriously. Stop this. My liberal heart can't take it! As God as my witness I will strike thee down in anger and furious vengeance!

So I ask, Is this really the type of hype Washingtonians waited 33 years for? To be given a hopeless team in a $600 million stadium near the river with all of the stage drama of a prime-time soap? I should think not. But then again, Washington asked for it, and the city shall receive.

Preach sista, preach!

Washingtonians didn't wait 33 years for hype. Hype doesn't float in this town. We waited 33 years to be able to watch Ryan Zimmerman hit two walk-off homers and another game-winning single in less than a month. We waited 33 years to be able to watch Alfonso Soriano battle for the league lead in Home Runs while playing in the least homer-friendly park in the bigs. We waited 33 years to be able to watch baseball without going to Baltimore.

Can I get a 'AMEN'?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Nats Back on Track

Just when I thought the Washington Nationals couldn't get any worse (ahem, Nationals are some garbage), they go and totally redeem themselves. With a 6 - 4 victory over the division rival Florida Marlins earlier yesterday, the Nats are now on a four-game winning streak and only 2.5 games back of the Philadelphia Phillies for second place in the NL East. Damn, kid!

The Nats won in dramatic fashion with Ryan Zimmerman hitting a three-run walk off homer to send the fans home happy. I was at the game against Florida on Monday night 07/03 when they smoked the Fish 9 - 1. Although it wasn't as exciting as yesterday's game, it was awesome to see a Washington team not named United play well.

View from FB 4, press box.

At the game I attended, Alfonso Soriano hit two home-runs, his 25th and 26th of the season, and starting pitcher Pedro Astacio threw five innings and gave up one run to earn his first win.

Thanks to the fans, RFK Stadium can be an awesome place to watch a ballgame, which the dudes at Deadspin got to see first hand. (Too bad I missed them.) Fans were bouncing up and down, starting cheers without the aid of the PA announcer, and even doing the wave a few times around. That was great to see after the game on Friday night when everyone was booing them. Hopefully, they'll complete the sweep of the Marlins tomorrow and keep this hot streak going after the All-Star break.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Nationals are some garbage

The Washington Nationals are some garbage. Last night I watched the last place team in the NL East get smoked by the last place team in the AL East, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Yes, that's right. The DEVIL RAYS. The team that has never finished better than DEAD LAST in their EIGHT YEAR EXISTANCE. Not only did they beat the Nats, they smoked 'em 11 - 1 in the Nats worst loss of the season.

Starting pitcher Mike O'Connor gave up like a hundred runs (actually 5) and then relief pitcher Jason Bergmann gave up like 13 homeruns (actually 3). The ever-potent Devil Rays line-up got 17 hits, including 5 home runs, in the hitter-friendly confines of RFK Stadium. OUCH.

Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore put it just as badly in his article:
Today, when the Nationals wake up sore from the 11-1 pounding they received from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays last night, their most lopsided loss this season, the trip to the ballpark will offer very little reason for optimism. The Devil Rays ensured that by drilling five home runs and 17 hits, while Tim Corcoran held the Nationals to three hits -- one a bunt -- and no runs in seven innings.
Losers of nine of their past 10 games, 15 games under .500 for the first time this season, the Nationals are long on bad baseball and short on hope.
Despite the awful performance, there were three highlights from the experience. One, something that can only happen in D.C., a DCPD helicopter landed in front of the stadium while we were tailgaiting in the parking lot. Not only did the 'copter land, but it did a complete 540 before it came down. Very cool.

Second, during the 9th inning, Tampa Bay right fielder Damon Jamall Hollins provided some entertainment. Since the home team was getting lit up, my section decided to cheer for him. He acknowledged us with a wave and even tried to toss a ball to our section, although just like the Devil Rays' aspirations, it fell way short. It landed in a luxury box below us. Still cool.

View from section 467, row 1, seat 2.

Third, almost like they were anticipating a poor turnout (for the Nats and D-Rays???), the team gave away free coolers to fans attending the game. In an ultimate sign of respect and reverence for the franchise, many fans didn't bother to bring them home. Luckily for me, I walked away with two. God bless Interleague Baseball.