Miss Chatter: Nats Fall After Bloody Pregame Omen

Miss Chatter: Nats Fall After Bloody Pregame Omen
May 21, 2010, 5:49 pm
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Thursday, May 21, 2010 1:30pm

By Miss Chatter

Foreshadowing of the game to come? Competing for the most buzz against last night's shockingly bloody Grey's Anatomy? Just what happened in last night's 10-7 loss to the Mets? Those among other questions like how did the Nats drop from 2nd in the NL East to 4th so quickly are rattling through my brain today.

Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner has been known to shag balls in the outfield of Nationals Park during batting practice on occasion decked out in a full Nats uniform (photos). Reactions to this practice have varied among fans from shocked embarrassment and laughter to envy and understanding. Some fans expect their team's owner to emote a stiff suit presence, not play with the team like a kid. Others say heck, that's what they'd do if they owned an MLB team! Of course, none of those others are rich or connected enough to actually buy an MLB franchise, I presume. My first thought when I heard the news he needed stitches last night after missing a fly ball was a simple "awesome" because, well, how often do you hear of such a thing happening?

While Lerner was chasing down balls in the outfield prior to last night's game, things went horribly wrong. According to Adam Kilgore at Nationals Journal:

Standing in right field, where the sun made it difficult to see, Lerner settled under a fly ball. The ball barely glanced off his glove and drilled Lerner, 56, on the bridge of his nose, right between the eyes.

"I've never seen blood gush that fast out of someone," said one Nationals player.

Squick! While I of course wouldn't wish harm on anyone just for an entertaining story, I'm happy to report I've heard Lerner is fine. Now he also has his own entertaining story to tell. I've Googled and Googled (well, after being temporarily sidetracked by PacMan) and can't turn up any other examples of owners playing on the field in full uniform. If you know of any, please do share! I'm going to go ahead and guess that Mr. Lerner wasn't wearing the athletic spec stylings of Tyler Clippard or Luis Atilano.

Not that the specs helped Atilano much. He left the mound rather unceremoniously before completing the fifth inning after giving up 7 runs. One of those runs was unearned due to an error. Last night was in fact a comedy of errors, concluding with Ryan Zimmerman's cleat getting caught on the edge of the sod on the infield, causing him to fall during an otherwise easy (for him) play. Even manager Jim Riggleman felt for the fans, stating in his postgame interview, "I feel bad that the fans who came out here and saw us play bad, because the fans have been great," ... "I wish they had seen us play good baseball."

Unlike the Braves, who managed to win yesterday on a walk-off grand slam after being down by 8 runs against Cincinnati at one point, the Nats couldn't get the job done in a similar situation in the 8th. Thinking about the Braves game still gave me a glimmer of hope. Coming back late from so far down can be done and Dunn was the perfect batter to make it happen. While it wouldn't have been a walk-off and would have tied rather than put the Nats ahead, Dunn powering one out at that point would have turned the game around and made the fans who left regret the decision. Instead, he flew out and the spark died.

Watching the standings had become a new regular activity of mine while the Nats kept jockeying for second place in the NL East. First they fought it out with the Mets and landed on top. The Marlins crept in to share the spot with the Nats for a while. Since then, the Nats slipped down to fourth and the Braves stealthily moved into second, slotting the Marlins into third and the Mets last. I just knew the Braves team couldn't be discounted this early in the season.

Now the Nationals begin interleague play with the Orioles, possessing a far worse record at 13-29. With the bloodshed of yesterday behind them, hopefully the Nats can take all three games in the series and begin clawing their way back up the standings list or standings-watching will have been a short-lived new hobby of mine. Scott Olsen, "the kid from Crystal Lake", as the Marlins announcers said when they were in Florida (tickled me since I'm from there as well), goes on the mound tonight and has pitched solidly lately. But please, anybody not covered under the CBA, stay off the field. That might have been the bad luck that set the tone for the game.