A Near No-Hitter, Spoiled by the Grounds Crew

I went to Nationals Park tonight and witnessed a phenomenal game.  The first 7 innings saw Scott Olsen pitching a gem of a no-hitter.  Then, the Nationals allowed the game to get tied up until they won it in dramatic fashion in the bottom of the ninth on a Willie Harris walk-off single.  That’s right, a near no-hitter ending with a walk-off hit.  Just awesome.

The no-hitter ended under suspicious circumstances.  In the middle of the 7th inning (immediately before Olsen lost the no-no), a man from the grounds crew came out to the mound and switched the pitching rubber.  What?!  I have never seen this done, least of all in the middle of a no-hitter when baseball superstition is at its greatest.  Even if it had no tangible effect on the game, it has to mess with a pitcher’s psyche when his mound (Dallas Braden, I’m talking to you) is messed with.

Congratulations, guy in the red shirt. You prevented a Nationals no-hitter. As soon as I saw this happening, I knew the no-hitter was done, so I snapped a photo to commemorate the moment.

C’mon Nationals.  You are the home team.  When your pitcher has a no-hitter going, don’t mess with it.  I don’t care how mangled the mound is getting, keep that rubber in.  Baseball fans, I ask you if you have ever seen a situation that mirrors that at left.  That is Tim Hudson warming up, not on the pitchers mound, but a few feet in front of it, prior to his inning of work.

In the bottom of the 8th, Olsen’s first inning on this rubber, he allowed a hit.  Great job grounds crew.  You robbed loyal Nats fans of a great moment.

And this is another interesting moment from the game, apparently the Nats have fans.

Sitting directly behind me was a father with his two kids.  Never before have I witnessed such pure joy at a game.

This is not to say the man was well-informed about baseball.  These kids will grow up horribly misinformed.  Two of the man’s gems: “It’s actually a lot better to be a lefty pitcher because righties have trouble hitting lefties.”  And, in the 6th inning, “What?!  Kids, look at the scoreboard!  He hasn’t allowed any hits!”

Come on man, you’ve got to be on top of this and notice at least in the 4th inning.  And righties definitely have trouble against lefties, that’s why switch hitters choose to hit righty against lefties.

Even so, this man screamed for joy when the Nationals scored, and he taught his kids how to make rally caps late in the game.  As the Nationals staged their 9th inning rally, I heard him cry, “Thank God! Thank God!”

Sir, your joy is contagious and your kids love you.  But I don’t think God particularly cares about the Nationals.

PHOTO ESSAY (Yeah, I take pictures too):

The Braves bussed in fans and they all sat right behind me, shouting incessantly and annoyingly. I'll credit them though, that's dedication. They outcheered Nats fans.

And this was the Nats fan section...at one point a fan on the video board was wearing a shirt saying, "I'd rather be at Fenway." My thoughts exactly.

Another picture of The Guy Who Ruined The No-Hitter...

C'mon Miller Light, you're better than that. An official beer? Really? Couldn't spring for the extra couple bucks to be THE official beer?

The Nationals Win! And surprisingly are not embarrassingly bad this year. I truly enjoyed the skill level of a Nats game for the first time in a while.

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Holgash on May 7, 2010 at 8:46 am

    It is better to be a lefty… just not for the reasons he stated. It’s easier to get to the majors since you can be a mediocre (by righty standards) pitcher and still be a LOOGY if you have a decent curve and some deception in your windup.


  2. Posted by Seth on May 7, 2010 at 11:34 am

    I liked your photo essay. and not to rub it in, but I was at Fenway last night, eating sausage, pepper and onion grinders on Lansdowne st and yawkee way, NOT ONCE did the Nationals or their Park ever come accross my mind. Although I do have to note that I’m pretty sure Francona pitched BOTH of our Japanese pitchers tonight to appease the masses of Japanese fans there. and i know you’re proud of DC, but Boston teams are UNDEFEATED for the last 4 days. pretty impressive considering two are in the 2nd round of the playoffs and the Red Sox swept the series.


  3. Posted by BSR on May 7, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Is there nothing better to do at a Natinals game than make a photo essay and scout out kids who need your guidance?


  4. Posted by Lisa on May 7, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    This was a good post for the sports illiterate. Lots of pictures and simple text.

    Don’t you think it says “an” official beer because there’s more than one official beer of the Nationals?


  5. Posted by TP on May 9, 2010 at 3:37 pm


    I was (kind of) at this game. I was at a William & Mary reception nearby with my dad, and we ended up staying longer than I expected, so we got there in the seventh inning and… oh, Sweet Jesus, I just realized why my dad and I got free tickets! The Collin-Teddy effect from afar! I GET IT NOW! However, our luck ran out when the first play we saw in the game was that Braves hit.

    Great ninth innning though! The only thing better than that inning is… BLOGGER HIMSELF!


  6. Posted by MJ on June 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    The grounds crew member was not “switching the pitching rubber”. That would involve digging a hole about a foot deep and delay the game for a good 30-45 minutes. He was tamping in clay, something that is done only at the request of… the pitcher.


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