This isn't a live-blog, because (1) I had to DVR the game and watch it on about a two-hour delay due to some pesky chores I had to attend to, so there was nothing "live" about it for me; and (2) I wasn't paying close enough attention to get the silly amount of detail captured by your typical live-blog. Let's just call it observations:
I know people paid for their tickets and didn't surrender their free speech rights at the stadium turnstiles, but President Bush being loudly booed as he made his way to the mound for the first pitch was, I dunno, strange. I mean, I've been done with the guy since he decided to pander to the religious right on stem cells back in the summer of 2001, but I still think there's something to be said for being judicious with one's jeers in these situations. He wasn't there to flog his agenda. We can never be sure with him, but I'm fairly certain that he wasn't there to start any wars with anyone. He was doing one of those nice stately functions presidents do, and to that end I considered it a non-partisan act. Give the guy some polite applause for crying out loud. It's not like 95% of the world hasn't been politicized already. Let's try to protect what's left of non-partisan baseball.
First pitch was to Acta, not Lo Duca, thereby diffusing the steroid stigma thing. I wonder who brokered that political compromise?
This may be the season when I finally start to look around at other teams, because I just don't know who my Braves are anymore. Blue alternate uniforms? One of the things I have always loved about Atlanta was that, for the last 20 years at least, they had kept it classic. No softball shirts, vests, or or other wackiness for them. But then a couple of years ago they adopted those ugly reds for Sunday. Now it's blues. I feel like I've been dating the prom queen for the past 20 years only to have her show up at my house one day in hot pants, platform shoes, and teased hair. Wait, what am I saying? That would be kind of cool, actually. The blue uniforms, on the other hand, suck.
Odalis Perez is the opening day starter? It seems that the reports of the Nationals' dark horse status are greatly exaggerated.
Joe Morgan is pretending that the A's-Red Sox games from last week didn't count ("I only recognize tonight as opening day"). Thanks for sharing, Joe.
I really like the stone walls behind the plate. Great color. The whole stadium looks pretty nice, actually.
It seems that reports of Nick Johnson's weight problem were greatly exaggerated, because he looks just fine. Reports of Dimitri Young's weight problem, however, were grossly underestimated. He looks like Cedric the Entertainer. Actually, he looks like he ate Cedric the Entertainer.
President Bush in the booth. OK, it's getting a little more appropriate to jeer now. Very uncomfortable all around. Unlike the state of our Republic, this is not all Bush's fault, though. Miller and Morgan aren't sure where to take the conversation, and miss a great opportunity to follow up when Bush mentions that he warmed up with Jose Rijo before the ceremonial pitch. Really? Jose Rijo? Update: OK, I see that Rijo works for the Nats. I was sort of hoping that there was some odd Rijo-Bush connection going back 20 years, because I find those sorts of random connection fascinating.
The Braves look awful. Bad base running. Clueless hacks at middling stuff from Perez. Throwing the ball all over the diamond. Ugh.
Bush says he recently saw Nolan Ryan "on another matter." Maybe it's related to national security. Has Robin Ventura been making provocative diplomatic moves or massing troops on anyone's border lately? In other Bush news, I can't decide if I am really impressed or really terrified that Bush seems to know more about Jeff Francoeur's beaning in spring training than he does about matters of state.
Yuks at Bush's expense aside, I will say that the worst part about these guest-in-the-booth things are that they make it so easy to lose track of the game. I probably depend more on the announcers than I should, so when they're not focusing I tend not to focus. I feel like two innings have vanished in the ether.
After a shaky first inning, Tim Hudson looks sharp. Given how this night is going, though -- quick and relatively punchless -- that first inning is looking like it will be enough to sink him.
Peter Gammons is openly reading when they throw it down to him. The content was all good, but the fact that he has to (or at least feels he has to) read from a script is worrisome. He's simply the best, and I don't want to think that he's off his game, even though anyone who has had the health issues he's had in the past couple of years is bound to be.
Reports of Ray King's offseason weight loss were greatly exaggerated.
Nats have a one-run lead entering the ninth inning and there's no Chad Cordero? Uh-oh. Update: Gammons jumps in and mentions that Cordero was feeling some stiffness in the pen. I don't really care about Chad Cordero (that "uh-oh" was offered out of sympathy for Chris Needham) but I am happy to see that Gammons was quick and on the nose with it. Maybe the earlier reading was a function of opening night rustiness or jitters or something.
Bad night for Paul Lo Duca. First his pariah status bumps him from catching the first pitch, now his passed ball with two outs in the ninth has blown the win for his starter and risks the game for his team. I don't like Lo Duca much so this doesn't bother me, but in fairness, I think the passed ball was Rauch's fault. Lo Duca was set up outside and the ball went nowhere near the target.
Ryan Zimmerman walkoff homer!!
OK, the homer was impressive, but his interview with Gammons after the game was even more so. Very mature. Didn't duck the "are you this team's leader?" question. He says the Nats are tired of being mediocre, and even better than the words were the calm and confident manner in which he delivered them. He just put a dagger in my team's heart, but I'm sitting here nursing a man-crush.
Maybe it's the Zimmerman fairy dust talking, but it's only five minutes after the game ended and I am feeling way less upset that my team lost than I am pleased that the result -- exciting game-ender by the impressive young face of a historically downtrodden franchise on the biggest night in its history -- is both a good story for them and for the game as a whole.
This one game doesn't mean anything, but I've felt that vague feeling -- like I'm a bigger fan of the game than any one team -- for some time now. I'm still going to root for Atlanta, of course, but I'd be lying if I said I had the same passion for it that I did five or ten years ago.
Check back with me if they start off 35-7 or something, but it's certainly worth thinking about.