Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pinch me I'm dreamin'!!

Nationals 5 - Blue Jays 3

The Nats, after going 0-8 in extra inning games (including 7 extra inning losses at home), win their second in a row on a Willie Harris walk off home run in the 12th. The boys have got themselves a season first 4 game win streak and, how's this for a stat from hell, finally made it to twenty wins (the last team in MLB this year to do so).

Last night, Adam Dunn got a walk off single to win the game in the 11th, but this was Willie harris' game. he robbed the Jays of two runs in the 5th with yet another spectacular diving catch in center field. Then manufactured a run in the 6th by hitting a double and then stealing third and scoring on a Will Nieves single. Finally, in the top of the 12th, with a runner on first, Wee Willie smashed a 2-2 fastball into the Nats bullpen for his second home run of the season. Absolutely beautiful!!!!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Manny Acta, the Nats manager, has been under the gun with rumors of his impending ouster flying fast and furious, especially before the start of the New York series. Well, to all of those Nats fans that think Manny ought to be fired: BITE ME! Show me any other team with a record as bad as the Nats (27 games under .500) in the history of baseball that plays and fights so hard for their manager? The big knock on Manny is that he shows no emotion on the field; that he doesn't argue with umpires or yell at his players. I say, good. He has commanded the respect of the players, and while the team hasn't always played well for him (understatement of the year), they have NEVER given up on him or a game. The Nats battle every game.

We got a four game winning streak, the pitching staff has taken a definite turn for the better, and although some of the big guns at the plate, Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman in particular, are suffering through a slump, the bottom of the order: Willie Harris, Alex Hernandez and Alberto Gonzalez, have stepped up with timely hitting.

The Nats may not be a great team, but they are young, fiesty, and showing flashes of pure brilliance.


Friday, June 19, 2009

Nats win a series!!!!

Behind some excellent pitching by rookie Craig Stammen (6 1/3 innings, 6 hits, 2 strike outs) and some spectacular defense, the Nats not only won, but SHUTOUT, the Yankees 3-0.

This game totally goes to the defense though. Bodies were flying everywhere. Alex Hernandez was superb at second base ranging from side to side and robbing Yankee hitters of base hits. At one point fully laying out to catch a line drive before it left the infield. Ryan Zimmerman was his usual amazing self at 3rd with yet another diving grab and flip to 2nd to end the 3rd inning. Maybe the most spectacular play goes to Willie Harris in left field who made an over the shoulder, diving catch at the warning track to rob A-Rod of what would have been at least a double. To add to all this, there's the fact that the Nats have played two nights in a row of error free baseball, which is saying a lot for the team that leads the MLB in defensive ineptitude with 61 errors.

Two games in a row may not seem like much to many people, but for the Nats it's huge. In my mind, if we can beat the Yankees in their own ballpark twice, we can beat anybody. The Nats have the Blue Jays starting tomorrow, then the Red Sox and Orioles. If, and this is a big if, the Nats can win at least one game in each of these series, I think it'll show that this team is on the verge of a turn around. The Nats aren't consistent enough to be labeled a "good" team yet, but they are young and certainly have the talent to eventually get there.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Miracles may never cease!!


The Nats beat the Yankees 3 to 2 in Yankee Stadium in a nail biter of a game.

In a situation where the Nats usually find a way to lose: Yankees at bat in the bottom of the 9th, 1 out, runners on 1st and 3rd, the newest closer, McDougal (he hasn't been around long enough for me to remember his first name, lol), got one of the Yankees' hottest hitters to ground into a perfectly executed double-play. It's a beautiful day.

I missed the first half of the game because I went for a swim, but apparently the starter, John Lannan, threw a hell of a game to get his fourth win in nine starts. It seems the bullpen did all right as well seeing as the Yankees only had four hits for the game. Of course one of those hits was a 2 run blast by John Damon in the 9th to get the Yankees within one and cause every Nats fan to chew their fingers down to the first knuckle.

The one thing that is great about this team despite the defensive blunders, pitching woes, and the current batting slump, is that they never, and I mean NEVER, give up on a game. Many teams with a record as bad as the Nats (on pace to lose 117 games) would be falling apart right now with players bickering and pointing fingers or simply just mailing it in on game day. Not the Nats. They play hard until the last out is recorded. That fact is probably the only thing that is keeping manager Manny Acta in his job.

Many Nats fans have been calling for Manny's head and rumours abound regarding the stability of his job, but I think they should keep him. He has players with talent albeit many of them are VERY young, and despite the losses, the team seems to making progress. Earl Weaver he ain't. Manny doesn't go out and scream at umpires, nor does he throw things around in the clubhouse after particulary embarrassing losses. In fact, what most people are troubled by it seems, is that he shows very little emotion at all. But that doesn't hide the fact that his players respect him and bust their butts for him. A number of the players have gone on record saying that they need to eliminate the silly mistakes and put a few wins on the board. They, the players, are being paid to do a job. It's not Manny booting a routine ground ball or swinging at pitches three feet off the plate.

Anyway, I'm happy because a) the Nats one a close game and b) they beat the Yankees doing it. :-D

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The deed is done.

It's official. At 4:30 pm, on Monday June 15, 2009, I gave my notice at Chungnam National University. Thus begins the final three months of my nine year stay in Korea.

It is a bit weird really. I've been here so long that I feel strange about leaving. I've been going through some of my previous posts, and it's been an interesting ride. Korea has treated me well over the years. Sure there have been ups and downs, but for the most part, the experience has been very positive.

That said, however, it is time for me to leave. The last six to ten months have been trying. All the little cultural and professional things that that were minor annoyances in the past, are starting to piss me off. I'm also finding that when people ask me how it's going, I can't really answer them. There's none of the excitement of being in a new country anymore. Everything has become quite routine. I still enjoy teaching my students, but that only gets you so far. Even hanging out at Santa Claus has lost a bit of it's appeal (although we all know, that isn't going to stop until I'm on the plane out of here, lol).

Thus we come to the end. In three months I'll be in Taiwan and beginning a whole new adventure; another country and culture to explore. Maybe in time I'll return to Korea, but it won't be for a while. I need to get out of here for an extended time before I'll once again be able to appreciate the things that I enjoyed about this country.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Song of the night

Running On Empty
Songwriter: Jackson Browne

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-o-one
I don't know where I'm running now, I'm just running on

Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I'm running behind

Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive
In sixty-nine I was twenty-one and I called the road my own
I don't know when that road turned onto the road I'm on

Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I'm running behind

Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe
I don't know about anyone but me
If it takes all night, that'll be alright
If I can get you to smile before I leave

Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
I don't know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels
I look around for the friends that I used to turn to, to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too

Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I'm running behind

Honey, you really tempt me
You know the way you look so kind
I'd love to stick around
But I'm running behind

Running on
You know I don't even know what I'm hoping to find
Running behind
Running into the sun but I'm running behind

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Graduating for Dummies, Vol. 1

This is a quick and easy guide for all of you who would wish to graduate from a Korean university.

Step one: Sign up for the classes you put off until your final semester.

Step two: Get a job as a flunky at some Korean firm.

Step three: Never go to any of the classes you registered for and make certain that the teacher has no idea who you are.

Step four: Show up on the day of the final exam with a note from your major department excusing you for four months of absents.

Step five: Demand a passing grade, most preferably an "A".

Step six: Look shocked and close to tears when the teacher says, "No. I can't pass you. You never came to class."

Step seven: Complain, cry, or whine at every person who you think has the power to force the teacher to change the grade.

Step eight: Wipe your forehead and breathe a sigh of relief as an English Department flunky changes your grade regardless of the teacher's wishes.

Step nine: Skip happily off to your stupid ass job, degree in hand, and bully any one who dares to interrupt you while you play computer games at your desk.

***You think I'm kidding. I've had three so far this semester.***

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Something strange happened on the way to the ballpark...

What's this? The Keystone Cops are suddenly The Untouchables! The reliably inept Nationals did something completely surprising today: they won a game. Not only did they win, but they won convincingly. Only a stupid fielding error in the 8th inning by Elijah Dukes marred what was an overall stellar performance by the team.

John Lannan pitched a masterful four hit complete game (the first of his career). Lannan got early run support in the form of an RBI single from Ryan Zimmerman and home runs from Adam Dunn, Dukes, and Nick Johnson as well as help from an unusually sharp defense which turned five double plays. The result: Washington 7 - New York Mets 1.

If you lived in a cave and only saw this game, you might be fooled into believing this was a good team!!