15 September, 2005


The Donut is off to Italy for a few weeks R & R.

But, please come back here around the beginning of October. Who knows what'll be going on then.

The Premier League will be in full swing - or is it now the Catch the Chelsea League.

England play Austria and Poland in must win World Cup qualifiers.

I'm assuming the Nats will be mathematically eliminated by then.

Who will be calling plays for the 'Skins?

We might have calmed down over here following the Ashes victory.

And, the NHL can't be that far away.

Finally...the U.S. got beat by Cuba in the quarter-finals of the World Cup Baseball tournament. Diegomar Markwell (who I think used to pitch in the Blue Jays system) shut out Puerto Rico to take the home side, Holland, to the semi-finals. They play South Korea, surprise winners over Japan. Cuba take on the dangerous Panamanians.

13 September, 2005

Ashes Parade

As I arrived for work, outside TV broadcast units were setting up. Sky's vans outside my office.

Time for a workers' tea break.

Setting up a human clock photo.

The open top bus comes into view.

Freddie Flintoff and Ashley Giles with the sponsor's trophy.

Freddie looking worse for wear. Captain Michael Vaughan to the left.

Simon Jones opening a bottle of champagne...

...and spraying the fans.

People climbed on ledges to get a good view.

Following the buses along the Strand.

The men's and women's teams enter Trafalgar Square.


Pietersen (left) deservedly milks the applause.


London goes cricket potty.

Great to see the women's team too. They won their version of the Ashes too, y'know.

The National Gallery overlooks the massive crowd.

Barmy Army.

I reckon at least 50,000 in Trafalgar Square alone. Possibly more.

Some estimates of 750,000 for the whole parade.

Nelson's Column. In the last few years, we've seen rugby World Cup winners, Olympians, the London Bid, the Ashes and 7 July memorial fill this famous square. But, probably never such a famous day.

12 September, 2005

Ashes to Ashes

In the Guardian's Special Preview of the England-Australia Ashes series, Mike Selvey wrote:

"Of 43 matches played in the latest sequence, Australia have won 28 to England's seven. Only three of those England wins came while the series was still alive with only that at Edgbaston, in the first match of the 1997 series, coming while the destiny of the Ashes was at stake. It is a pretty sorry state of unsuccessful reporting. Each series is prefaced by hope, each postscript a catalogue of the latest injury-hit disaster. We hacks have become inured now to being insulted and patronised in turn by our counterparts in the Australian media and it starts to hurt after a while. Mental disintegration does not happen just to those who compete on the field.

"But this coming series really does look as if it might be different. If you listen carefully you might just be able to hear the crackle of anticipation in the air..."

Well, the waiting is over. The party has begun. After a rollercoaster summer, England snatched the little urn symbolising this great cricketting rivalry. A draw today, but England - as they have had since the second of the five matches - had the upper hand. Rookie test player, Kevin Pietersen - not good enough or too arrogant - for his home nation, South Africa, steered England to safety. But for the poor weather over the weekend, England might have won. Cricket, however, does not play to a winner or loser.

A final match score of 2 to 1 hardly does justice to England's efforts. Australia, as always, battled to the last. Their mettle, what you would expect from the best team in the world, kept it close.

"So you do the deed, boys, and by golly we will laud you to the skies. And none more so than this correspondent."

Parade in Central London, tomorrow!

Eighteen years of waiting over. Bring 'em on again in 2006-7!

Alex Smit Disptaches - Cuban Heels

The Netherlands beat Panama on Saturday to set up a showdown with Cuba on Sunday.

Cuba beat the Dutch by chipping out single runs in the 2nd, 4th and 6th innings. Right fielder Osmani Urrutia drove in two runs and Eriel Sánchez homered. Starting Pitcher Ormari Romero pitched 7 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits.

Alexander Smit pitched the last two innings for the losers. Smit gave up his first hit of the World Cup, but came out unscathed in the 8th. He went on to strike out 2 in the 9th. Good performance by the Twins prospect.

Cuba and the Netherlands may meet again in the final. The US dropped a heartbreaker to Japan over the weekend to put their continuation in the tournament in jeopardy. Even if they qualify, they face the prospect of meeting the Cubans in the quarters.

As I go on holiday this coming Saturday, I shall miss the World Cup final. There'll only be one more Alex Smit update before then. Hopefully, he'll get the chance to shut down the Cubans again next weekend.

11 September, 2005

(Not) the playoff watch - Ashes edition

"In Affectionate Remembrance of Nats' playoff hopes, which died at RFK on 11th SEPTEMBER, 2005, Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing friends and acquaintances R.I.P.
N.B. — The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Canada."


Turners 9, Nats 7

Damn Joneses.

Brewskies 4, Texans 2

With Milwaukee's run in the first, Houston has allowed 72 runs in the first inning and 72 in the second. The only other inning the Astros have allowed more runs is 86 in the eighth.

So now you know.

Metsies 7, Budweisers 2

Mets players wore seven different hats representing agencies that lost personnel in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Martinez wore a hat with the initials, FDNY, or Fire Department New York.

Unforutnately, the Mets fall off the wild card race. Heck, Milwaukee has caught them and the Cubs are just half a game back.

Phailers 11, Flippers 1
Philly thumps the guy the Nats couldn't touch - Ismael Valdez. Yesterday's "Busted Flush", Pat Burrell, homers and drives in 4.

Wild card: Chipper Jones
Busted flush: "Chief" Cordero

Updated standings:

                W  L  GB GL
  Houston      74 66  -- 20
  Florida      76 67 0.5 19
  Philadelphia 75 68 1.5 19
  Washington   73 71 4.0 18

ntpw - lower case edition

the heart says playoffs, the head says golf course

Turners 4, Nats 0

Nats downed by the "franchise" Andruw Jones and rookie sensation Jorge Sosa.

Sosa scattered six hits, didn't walk a batter, and only allowed two runners as far as second base. He did it by throwing 74 of his 99 pitches for strikes. He started off 24 of 29 batters with a strike.

Texans 7, Brewskies 5

In my years of playing Diamond Mind Baseball, I wish I'd had a player like Craig Biggio. He's from Long Island, y'know.

"Obviously, 600 doubles is a heck of a lot of doubles," Biggio said. "I am real proud of it. I remember hitting 500 at home, and who knows if you are ever going to get to 600?"

Flippers 7, Phailers 6

The Florida Marlins relied on four rookie pitchers and an injured catcher to get an important win.

If only the Nats could.

Budweisers 4, Metsies 2

Tavarez said he didn't hit Piazza [on the head] on purpose.


Wild card: Biggio
Busted flush: Pat Burrell (0-fer and 8 left on)

At the start of play today:

                W  L  GB GL
  Houston      74 65  -- 21
  Florida      76 65 0.5 20
  Philadelphia 74 68 2.5 20
  Washington   73 70 4.0 19
  NY Mets      70 72 6.5 20

Pitching today:

Turners (Smoltz) at Nats (Starter by committee)
Texans (Oswalt) at Brewskies (journeyman Rick Helling)
Flippers (Valdez) at Phailers (Lieber)
Metsies (Pedro) at Budweisers (Matt Morris)

Best case: Rasnett/Ingmar Bergmann/Rauch toss a shoutout
Worst case: Hondo's upper deck seat has company

Thoughts across the ocean

Remembering at 1:46pm.

10 September, 2005

(Not) the playoff watch - perfect bullpen edition

the heart says playoffs, the head says golf course

Nats 8, Turners 6

"I'm pretty sure if we lost," Guillen said, "the season was done."

Message to Jose - season already over.

Phailers 12, Flippers 5

"I didn't feel too much pressure to have to get a win," winning pitcher Cory Lidle said. "It's big. Hopefully we can win tomorrow and get a little bit of momentum. If we can take a few series in a row and Houston slows down a little bit, everything's going to be right back to where it was before."

Brewskies 7, Texans 4

"You really can't count on scoring five runs off of Roger Clemens, but tonight, luckily, we did," Yost said. Any time you can beat him, you've done something."

Budweisers 3, Metsie 2

"I was mad at the pitch before being called a strike, I was mad I swung at that, and then he hung me one," Walker said. "So, madness, madness, happiness, all in the matter of a minute. Stupid."

Season over.

Wild card: Ryan Howard
Busted flush: The Rocket

At the start of play today:

                W  L  GB GL
  Houston      75 65  -- 22
  Florida      75 65 0.5 21
  Philadelphia 74 67 1.5 21
  Washington   73 69 3.0 20
  NY Mets      70 71 5.5 21

Pitching today:

Turners (not so so-so Sosa) at Nats (¡Livan!)
Texans (lefty Andy Pettite) at Brewskies (the disrespectful Tomo Ohka)
Flippers (rookie Jason Vargas) at Phailers (Brett Myers)
Metsies (off the DL Steve Trachsel) at Budweisers (Jeff Suppan)

Best case: gasping for air, but 2 down.
Worst case: tkaing the last breaths at 4 behind.

09 September, 2005

Alex Smit Dispatches - 9 September

Minnesota Twins prospect Alexander Smit took the mound for his second appearance in the IBAF World Cup on Wednesday night.

Smit appears to be on mop up duty as he came into the game against South Africa with the Netherlands 20-2 up in the 6th inning. He faced 3 batters, retired them all, picking up a strikeout. For his efforts, Smit picked up the win, as the Dutch ran out 20-2 winners in 7 innings under the IBAF mercy rule.

The Netherlands are gearing up for a showdown with Cuba on Sunday. Both teams are 6-0 in their 9 team pool. On Saturday, Cuba face Canada (2-3) whilst the Dutch have a tougher assignment against Panama (5-1). A four run eighth saw the Dutch over Canada tonight 7-3.

Meanwhile, in Group B, the US (4-1) were blown out by Nicaragua (5-0) 14-2. Both look likely to make the knock-out stage along with Japan (5-1) and Puerto Rico (3-2).

Panama will qualify from Group A, to join the hosts and Cuba. Surprising PR China (3-3), Canada and Korea (2-3) will battle out for the fourth spot. China play Korea (tomorrow) and Canada (Sunday).

Cuba's Yuliesky Gourriel has already hit 5 homers in 5 games. His teammate Eduardo Paret has gone 10-for-16. Pitcher Dany Betancourt, also from Cuba, has 18 whiffs in 7.1 innings. Cuba has won 24 World Championships in 27 attempts.

Mariners' farmhand Bryan LaHair is hitting .625 for the US. LeHair hit .310/.373/.503 for the High A Inland Empire this year.

(N)tpw - Friday edition

the heart says playoffs, the head says golf course

Flippers 8, Nats 4
The home team is quietly folding, epitomised by an under-the-weather John Patterson. On the bright side:

“The game drew 27,625 and increased the Nationals' home attendance to a franchise-record 2,333,091 in the team's first season in Washington. The previous mark was set when the Expos drew 2,320,651 to Montreal's Olympic Stadium in 1983.”

Oh, and Guzman got his average above .200. Watch out Honus Wagner!

Budweisers 5, Metsies 0
Meanwhile, lights out for the Metsies on the Missouri as Pujols thumps two HRs and Carpenter stymies New Yorker bats:

“Carpenter gave up two hits in the first, then retired 16 in a row -- with just two batters hitting balls that reached the outfield -- before Carlos Beltran singled leading off the seventh. Three relievers followed him and completed a four-hitter, the 13th shutout for St. Louis this season.”

Wild card: Josh Beckett (for his HR at homer-unfriendly RFK)
Busted flush: John Patterson

At the start of play today:

                W  L  GB GL
  Houston      75 64  -- 23
  Florida      75 65 0.5 22
  Philadelphia 73 67 2.5 22
  Washington   72 69 4.0 21
  NY Mets      70 70 5.5 22

Today's matchups:

Turners (Horacio Ramirez) at Nats (Steve)
Flippers (Burnett) at Phailers (Cory F.N. Lidle)
Houston (Rocket) at Brewskies (Doug Davis)
Metsies (J. Seo) at Budweisers (the Marquis of St. Louis)

Best case: England bowl out Australia for 250
Worst case: petrol prices top £1.00 a litre

Update: standings corrected. Silly Blogger.

08 September, 2005

It's coming home, it's coming home, it's coming...

...baseball's coming home...

Thanks to Brian for this link:

One of London's famous cricket venues has joined Major League Baseball's list of potential sites for regular-season games in 2007.

Back in the 90s, the Oval did host a two game exhibition series between Minor League prospects of the Mets and Red Sox. I had tickets to both games, but the first was rained out.

My game programme has long been lost. I need to do some research to figure who I saw in that game. Only one name I can remember: Alan Zinter, who I think was a catching prospect for the Mets at the time.

I found out the other day that Tottenham Hotspur have won as many UK baseball championships as football league titles (2).

(Not) the playoff watch - Dirty Dozen edition

the heart says playoffs, the head says golf course

Last night...
Flippers 12, Nats 1

I'm dumbfounded right now, very ecstatic just because of how my teammates felt for me today. They were pulling for me," said Willis, who got a celebratory beer poured on his head by closer Todd Jones.

Braves 4, Mets 3 (10 innings)
Tim Hudson on Ryan Langerhans

"For a guy -- especially a young guy -- to come up with big hits in back-to-back innings, you hardly ever see that. I'm glad I got to see it on our side."

Several members of the New Orleans Fire Department attended the game. They received a standing ovation from the crowd when shown on the video board between the fifth and sixth innings.

I know they need down time, but shouldn't they be back in Louisiana?

Texans 8, Phailers 6

"That's the first time I've ever faced Billy," Biggio said of his close friend and teammate for eight years in Houston. "He threw me a fastball in, then inside again. The last pitch was 99 mph, so I could have popped it up."

Biggio bops a 3-run bomb off Phils’ closer.

Wild card: Biggio
Busted flush: Washington pitching staff (honorable mention: blogging Todd Jones. Oh, okay, England soccer team as well.)

At the start of play today:

                W  L  GB GL
  Houston      75 64  -- 23
  Florida      74 65 1.0 23
  Philadelphia 73 67 2.5 22
  Washington   72 68 3.5 22
  NY Mets      70 69 5.0 23

On the hill today:

- Josh Beckett goes against John "ND" Patterson in the fourth and final game of the Fish-Good Guys series.
- Zambrano, V goes for the Metsies against Cards' 20-game winner, Chris Carpenter, as they open up a 4 game set at Busch.
- 'Stros and Philly off day.

Best case: simple equation - pick up a half game on idle Houston
Worst case: break out the golf clubs

07 September, 2005

Five day forecast

Five days of tension, or perhaps anti-climax. England take on Australia in the deciding match of the Ashes cricket series.

For those without scorecards, England need to avoid defeat (unlike their soccer compatriots, tonight). Draws (time runs out before a result) or ties (equal runs in allotted innings and time) are possible.

There are two crucial issues here. One is the weather. London could see rain on Friday and Saturday reducing the playing time. That favours a draw, which would mean England win the series and win the Ashes.

On the field, tomorrow's coin toss (flip) may hold the key to the game. Batting first at the Oval has historically been beneficial. It's a batting wicket (hitter's park), but conditions may get better for bowling as time goes on.

If England win the toss, they could bat themselves into a winning or, at least, non-losing position. Australia batting first, obviously, puts the pressure on England.

"...bowlers had better watch out because this is a ground on which batsmen can run amok."

This series has been one of the most eagerly anticipated sports events on these shores for years - certainly since Euro '96, possibly since the 1966 World Cup finals. What's more, the games have been excellent, exciting and played in an unbelievable spirit.>

The Oval holds just 23,000+. It could easily be filled 10 times over. This is the big one.

"The trophy was devised after a mock obituary which appeared in the Sporting Times after Australia defeated England in 1882: 'In affectionate remembrance of English cricket which died at the Oval.'"

A tiny urn holds the ashes of a bail: symbolising English cricket and its death. By Monday, English may be reborn for the 21st century.

"(Not) the playoff watch" - stolen heart edition

the heart says playoffs, the head says golf course

Last night's non-playoff race action:

Flippers 4, Nats 2
Their fill-in starter goes 5, keeps them in the game and the bullpen does the rest. Our fill-in guy limps into the third. Later on, Mike Stanton brings out the gas can. Trader Jack is happy as he’s got two Aces up his sleeve. F-Rob will have to dip into the bullpen again tonight. Good guys need to de-rail the D-train.

Texans 2, Phailers 1
Just when you wanted the Broad Street Bullies to do some cow punching of their own, Jimmy Rollins trips over his own shoelaces and Billy “Punchout” Wagner gets runover in the 9th.

Turners 3, Metsies 1
Andruw continues to carry America's Team (tm) on his back. Smoltzie beats Pete. Metsies are going down.

Wild card: Eric Bruntlett
Busted flush: Todd Pratt

At the start of play today:

              W  L  GB GL
Houston      74 64  -- 24
Florida      73 65 1.0 24
Philadelphia 73 66 1.5 23
Washington   72 67 2.5 23
NY Mets      70 68 4.0 24

On tap today:

At RFK, Halama duels Dontrelle Willis.
Houston battles Padilla’s “great stuff”, Philly deals with '04 playoff hero Brandon Backe.
The Mets slide continues in the Southland – old warhorse Tom Glavine faces up to his old team’s new stud Tim Hudson.

Best case: back to 1.5 behind Houston, but still a game back of Philly and 0.5 behind the Fish.
Worst case: dropping to 3.5 away from the rocketing Astros.

06 September, 2005

”(Not) the playoff watch”

the heart says playoffs, the head says golf course

A new feature here at Donutball. The Nationals are out of the playoffs. So, we won't be following the wild card race.

At the start of play today:

              W  L  GB GL
Houston      73 64  -- 25
Philadelphia 73 65 0.5 24
Florida      72 65 1.0 25
Washington   72 66 1.5 24
NY Mets      70 67 3.0 25

University of Nevada Health Ecology major, Darrell Rasner, gets his first career MLB start tonight for the Nats. Rasner was 6-7 with a 3.59 ERA in 26 starts at Harrisburg. Rasner features a heavy sinker and is a control pitcher. He won't strike out many.*

Florida starts veteran Ismael Valdez, who gets just his sixth start of the season.

Pretty tough matchups tonight in the other wild card games

Houston (Oswalt) at Phailers (Lieber)
Mets (Pedro) at Atlanta (Smoltz)

Best case: 0.5 games behind Phailers
Worst case: 2.5 back of the 'Stros
*N.B. - More on Rasner over at the Nats Farm Report.

05 September, 2005


Dear Reader,

Blogger has introduced word verification for comments. This is to stop comment spam.

You'll need to type in a few letters to confirm that you are a real live Nats fan and not some spam bot Phillie fanatic. Incidentally, a big "boo" to you Phailers.

This doesn't stop you commenting and it doesn't stop trolls. Since, traffic here hardly breaks records I guess we can tolerate trolls (except Scott Podsednik).

Yours Nationalistically,

World Cup kicks

Congratulations to the US team for qualifying for next year's World Cup in Germany. A gutsy performance saw off Mexico, who look likely to follow Sam's Army in to the finals.

First to qualify from Europe? Mighty Italy, the French giants, regal Spain?

Nope. Try Ukraine. A 1-1 stalemate with fellow Former Soviet Republic, Georgia, sees Ukraine into the final 32 next June.

Give that man a Donut (3)

DonutWales v. England, World Cup Qualification. Millennium Stadium, Saturday 3 September 2005.

England - some 75 places ahead of Wales in the FIFA world rankings (which mean shit, by the way) - fail to break down the Welsh bravehearts(tm). (Here's their fat bloke top goalscorer.)

Give that man a DonutA snap shot from the second worst English player on the pitch. It hits a defender and squibs into the net. One-nil. England clunk along to victory.

Step forward Joe Cole. Give that man a Donut.

Give that man a Donut

DonutThis should have been posted last week. There's no set plan to award a Donut a day/week/month. But, when a performance merits it, a Donut will be awarded.

I'm afraid it's cricket related Nats' fans.

English batsmen fell like ninepins in the closing stages of the Fourth Test against Australia. As in the three previous tests, England had put themselves in an ideal position to clinch the win. In the Second Test they prevailed after a dramatic Aussie run chase fell a run short. The Third Test saw another rearguard action by Brett Lee to save a draw for Australia.

When Aussie match winners Shane Warne and that man Lee turned the game on its head, it was left to two unlikely batting winners - Ashley Giles and Simon Hoggard.

Hoggard did a bit of bludgeoning and actually played a few decent shots. Giles - cruelly nicknamed the Wheelie Bin (as in , "he's as much uses as...") - at the other end held up against a fierce attack by Lee and the wiles of Warne.

Hoggard was a hero, but Giles, dogged and derided, hit the winning runs. Giles gets the Donut.

04 September, 2005

Not so Super anymore

On of the abiding, if not iconic, images of Hurricane Katrina is the wind torn and ravaged Louisiana Superdome. It may not be the end of the arena, but it will now forever be linked to the awful drama and despair of the last week.

An immediate effect, though it seems trivial in the circumstances, is that the Superdome’s only full-time tenant, the New Orleans Saints, look destined to limp through the season on the road. Already their home opener has been moved to Giants Stadium. Plans to move games to San Antonio, perhaps temporarily, have been shelved as the Alamodome now houses refugees from Katrina’s wrath.

It would be no surprise, in fact, if the Saints have played their last game in the 'Dome. For several years, the club has petitioned the state for a new home. That looks unlikely, as the state and city will face a huge reconstruction bill for other more basic infrastructure. A new football facility is unlikely to be top of the agenda.

No news, as yet, on a repair bill for the Superdome. As you'll see above, parts of the enormous metal clad roof have been blown off. Inside, from all accounts, there is serious degradation.

That is not to mention the ghosts that will now haunt the place. The horrors of those sheltering inside cast a long shadow.

The Superdome has always struck me as an unlovely place. At the time of construction is seemed futuristic. But so too did most of the multisport concrete facilities of those times – Riverfront, Three Rivers, the Kingdome. Plonked in quaint, historic New Orleans it made no reference to local style. It stands as one of thousands of brutal urban monuments of the 60s and 70s littering America’s cities.

Super it may have been in the 70s – in size, at least. Teams that have played there have hardly been super. Whilst not the hapless expansion team of 1967, the Saints have hardly been a force in the NFL. New Orleans has never had a MLB team. It’s not a big pro sports market. Like most of the Southland, football is king: in the college and prep format.

Katrina might be the catalyst that gets the Saints out of New Orleans. LA is still without an NFL franchise though the Coliseum is not quite the money-spinning facility the Saints crave. San Antonio would be another taker.

Moving the Saints would be a sad legacy of Katrina.

It was Ray Hofheinz, intrigued by the geodesic domes of Buckminster Fuller, who brought the world domed stadiums. Hofheinz was instrumental in getting an MLB franchise for Houston, then got the Astrodome built. Few would argue with the logic of indoor baseball in Houston. I’ve had the misfortune of swatting Houston mosquitoes and sweltering in the 90 deg heat (in October, even).

The Astrodome was a lethal hazard when it opened as the translucent roof panels dazzled outfielders. The panels were painted; the grass died; and, AstroTurf had to be invented. That had a profound effect on the game of baseball. For better or worse, speed became a premium tool. Artifical turf is all but gone in basbeall parks; power may now rule, but speed is still much more a part of the game than it was before the Astrodome.

Whereas, the Astrodome has some grace and elegance, the Superdome is a concrete pimple: one huge concrete pimple, mind you.

The days of building domes of this kind are over and few mourn their passing. For every Astrodome, there were too many Kingdomes or, worse still, Humpy-domes. The still-to-be-paid-for Skydome started the trend to retractable roofs. Hey, we even have one in the UK.

In some ways, last week’s sadness at the Superdome draws a line under the domed stadium.

03 September, 2005

Alex Smit Dispatches - taking on the world

Donutball is following the progress of Minnesota Twins farmhand Alexander Smit in the IBAF World Cup being held in the Netherlands.

The Dutch opened up the tournament last night with a 13-3 walloping of PR China. Smit came on in relief in the 6th inning with a runner on second and one out. He faced two batters getting a fly to centre and a strike out to get the home side out of the inning. Slightly down on his strike out/innings pitched ratio during his Appy Laegue season!

China hardly poses a major threat in the championship. Cuba and South Korea are in the Dutch first round pool and must be among the tournament favourites.

Over in Pool B, Puerto Rico, Japan and the United States are the pick. The US side is managed by Davey Johnson and, uniquely, is stocked with a load of Minor League prospects.

The top four from each pool proceed to single elimination quarter-finals.

Cuba takes on South Africa this afternoon. Colombia is the first test for the US tomoorow vening. Full schedule.

Meanwhile, back Stateside, Smit's Elizabethton teammates took the Appy League playoff final.