Waiting it out

I imagine waiting out a nearly three-hour rain delay is a bit like waiting to catch a flight that’s been delayed. You wander around the airport/clubhouse looking for something to occupy your time and try not to eat too much junk food out of sheer boredom.

The modern day big league baseball fields have state-of-the-art drainage systems that allow the game to be played the same day if a “dry” window opens up on the radar screen. The amount of water simply laying in the outfield once the rain ceased would have postponed most games 30 years ago. Now, they squeegee the water toward specific spots and flip a switch, and pumps suck it down into drains. Sure, the wait is an inconvenience - although last night in Florida there couldn’t have been more than a couple of hundred fans in the park, despite the announced paid attendance of better than 18,000. Genuine, single-admission doubleheaders are extremely rare in this day and age. The players don’t care for them, and the ballclubs hate throwing away that many admissions.

There’s no question that the long wait can wreak havoc on a starting pitcher, but both starters last night had similar outings: 5.2 innings and 7 hits each, while Alex Sanabia allowed one more earned run that Jason Marquis.

I hear frequently from fans about the whole “earned” run thing, particularly when you see outings like Brian Sanches had last night. He arrrives in the seventh inning and gets Justin Maxwell to hit a farily routine groundball to third, but Chad Tracy throws the ball over the first baseman’s head, and Maxwell is safe at second. E-five. The next hitter, Adam Kennedy, grounds out; but before that, Sanches throws a pair of wild pitches allowing Maxwell to score an unearned run. Alberto Gonzalez then flies out for what should’ve been the third out. Sanches then walks Roger Bernadina. He also walks Ryan Zimmerman, but ball four is a wild pitch, sending Roger to third. Adam Dunn then hits a monster shot to center for a three-run home run before Joel Peralta strikes out to end the inning.

Four runs cross the plate on one hit, 2 walks, 3 wild pitches, and Sanches’ ERA actually goes down.

Ah, the rule book.

Don’t forget, next year when the Nats play in South Florida, their opponents will be the Miami Marlins, thanks to the new ballpark the Fish will open on the site of the Orange Bowl.

One additional note: the Nationals have an opportunity to come back home next Monday with more than 60 victories - Not exactly parade material, but it tops the win total of the last two years and could give them some momentum beginning the next month where they play 16 of 26 games at home.

Some reinforcements will arrive from the minors later this week. Fans will get an early look at some 2011 hopefuls, as well as a final look at some guys who will be wearing different uniforms next year.