A few thoughts before I hit the road for retirement ...

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“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” — A.A. Milne, "Winnie The Pooh"

In December 2010, I walked through the doors of the MASN web studio on the fifth floor of the Camden Yards warehouse and into the best job I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a few jobs, from cleaning the bathrooms at a Dunkin’ Donuts to years in newspapers as a reporter and editor to a gig as a public relations executive and a soul-crushing stint in a publishing house, from which I was laid off as the economic downturn of 2008 was just beginning.

That exit from the publishing world, where I edited everything from travel guides to a compendium of lawyers and law firms in Philadelphia, was especially painful. It came out of the blue; I had misjudged the landscape, thinking that our three-person editorial staff that handled about 80 projects a year was safe. But with profits cratering and no one advertising, something had to go – and that something was me.

To make ends meet for most of the next three years, I retreated into baseball, my part-time vocation since 1993, working for anyone who would offer a job and a few bucks – The Associated Press, MLB.com, out-of-town daily newspapers. I worked all of spring training on my own dime and 13 of every 14 days during the regular season, praying that the paychecks arrived in time to cover the mortgage, car payment and health insurance bills. Most times they did, but I had to be creative.

Creativity has never been a challenge for me. Nor has following the national pastime, which was always my intended path, even if I took a roundabout route to get there. But the 14-year-old kid who went to junior high school an hour early to pore over the box scores in the morning paper, the youngster who played APBA Baseball and then in Rotisserie leagues, the guy who made his major league press box debut at 33 and marveled at the opportunity to step onto the field of a big league ballpark and talk to managers and players wasn’t deterred.

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Hernandez earning more time; bullpen changes coming

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It’s been noted more than once over the last week that only two members of the Nationals lineup have consistently been producing: Juan Soto and Josh Bell. It’s probably time to add a third name to that list: Yadiel Hernandez.

Hernandez hasn’t played as much as the other regular members of the lineup, but the 34-year-old outfielder is earning more playing time because of his bat. After homering, singling and driving in all three of the Nats runs during Sunday’s loss to the Giants, he now sports a .333 batting average, .a 485 slugging percentage and an .846 OPS that actually outpaces Soto’s .841 mark at the moment.

“He can hit,” manager Davey Martinez said. “I’ve always said that. He’s got a good swing.”

Hernandez’s two-run homer was an opposite-field blast that landed in the visitors’ bullpen at Nationals Park, the kind of swing that has always intrigued club officials about him since they signed him in 2016 after he fled Cuba.

He hasn’t shown that power stroke a ton, but he has totaled 11 homers in 353 major league plate appearances since debuting late in the 2020 season.

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#TBT to "Nationals Classics:" Marathon matches galore as nights grow longer

#TBT to "Nationals Classics:" Marathon matches galore as nights grow longer
Kinks in the supply chain have holiday shoppers jumpier than usual this year as they comb the Internet and the stores (remember those?) for the hot new toy or electronic gizmo. The good news is that the supply of warm baseball memories is flowing just fine via "Nationals Classics." In this week's batch, MASN brings you a big moment in the budding career of a young star, a signature win for a Cooperstown-bound hurler, some marathon matches ending in Nationals wins, more clutch hits for the...
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"Orioles Classics" #TBT: Giving the gift of Orioles baseball

"Orioles Classics" #TBT: Giving the gift of Orioles baseball
Black Friday and Cyber Monday are in the rear-view mirror, although the credit card bill next month will be a harsh reality that reminds you of how much you spent on holiday gifts. Giving Tuesday has also passed, and it's always a good time to support your favorite charities with donations of goods and money. What's the gift that keeps on giving? Orioles baseball, of course - and here at MASN, we've got a full array of "Orioles Classics" to keep your mind's eye firmly planted in the...
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"Orioles Classics" #TBT: No turkeys in this feast of Birds baseball

"Orioles Classics" #TBT: No turkeys in this feast of Birds baseball
It might have been George Will. Or maybe it was Casey Stengel. I get those two mixed up all the time. Anyhow, whoever it was that first said it, the great truism goes something like this: "There are just two seasons: baseball season and the void." And so it is we find ourselves staring across the vast emptiness between here and the spring. During this pause, we here at MASNsports.com will every Thursday give you a little taste of the coming week's "Orioles Classics" offerings, full game...
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MASN to televise 300 Orioles and Nationals games this season, including four spring training games

MASN to televise 300 Orioles and Nationals games this season, including four spring training games
For the 15th consecutive year, the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network will serve as the exclusive television home for the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, airing every regular season game for both franchises. Fans throughout the Mid-Atlantic will be able to watch the final week of Grapefruit League action on MASN, with four Spring Training contests - two Orioles games and two Nationals games - being televised later this month. The network will air the Orioles' games on March 23 vs. Tampa...
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MASN to broadcast Nationals' final two spring games

MASN to broadcast Nationals' final two spring games
MASN will be broadcasting the Nationals' final two games of the spring later this month, the network announced today. The Nats' March 28 game against the Cardinals and March 29 Grapefruit League finale against the Astros will be televised from The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Both broadcasts begin at 1 p.m. EDT. MASN or MASN2 will again broadcast every Nationals regular-season game not picked up for national broadcast, beginning with the April 3 home game against the Mets. The April 1...
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"Orioles Classics" #TBT: O's sluggers make Camden Yards a lumberyard

"Orioles Classics" #TBT: O's sluggers make Camden Yards a lumberyard
Late February always fills baseball fans with anticipation, and it is doing so again. But this year it's different. This year we aren't taking spring games for granted. As of this writing, the Orioles' exhibition and regular seasons are scheduled to take place on time, and fully. Assuming that doesn't change, this will be our last Throwback Thursday until October. "Orioles Classics" closes out February 2021 with plenty of clutch hitting from the Birds in games from the past eight years....
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#TBT to "Nationals Classics": Pitching and offense aplenty

#TBT to "Nationals Classics": Pitching and offense aplenty
Well, pitchers and catchers have reported to West Palm Beach, followed by position players. Pretty soon, there will be Grapefruit League games. And before you know it, the regular season will be upon us, pandemic willing. But before we turn the page to a new season, we've got time for one more collection of "Nationals Classics" on MASN. This week's array of retro games includes some of the most memorable pitching and hitting performances by the Nationals. So sit back and enjoy them. The...
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#TBT to "Nationals Classics": Soto shows his stuff, Zimmerman knows how to finish

#TBT to "Nationals Classics": Soto shows his stuff, Zimmerman knows how to finish
Here in the real world, it's still winter. Short days, cold nights, walking with eyes peeled for any stray patches of ice. But in the Sunshine State, baseball is back and hope springs eternal. Pitchers and catchers have made their way to West Palm Beach, and the Nationals will soon be playing exhibition games and getting ready for both the parent club and its minor league affiliates to begin their seasons. We're not quite there yet, so for a few more Thursdays we'll continue in this space to...
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"Orioles Classics" #TBT: Postseason memories and some prodigious power

"Orioles Classics" #TBT: Postseason memories and some prodigious power
Well, we've made it. Spring training has started, and a new baseball season is right around the corner. After all the havoc created by the pandemic since March, it feels good to look ahead to something with eager anticipation, doesn't it? While the Orioles get ready in Florida, we'll continue revisiting yesteryear with "Orioles Classics" on MASN. This week, we've got two distinct themes: postseason baseball from 1996 and some prodigious power displays from the guys in orange and black. So...
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#TBT to "Nationals Classics" Offense, pitching and clinchers

#TBT to "Nationals Classics" Offense, pitching and clinchers
As the Nationals prepare to convene in West Palm Beach, Fla., our thoughts turn toward warm nights spent sitting in the stands at Nationals Park and watching baseball. While it'll be a bit before we can actually do that again - dang pandemic! - MASN has you covered with a plethora of "Nationals Classics" from yesteryear. This week's offerings include pitching prowess, offensive fireworks and some Clinchmas memories. "Pitchers and catchers report" is the welcome start of another year of...
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"Orioles Classics" #TBT: Going to the Matt

"Orioles Classics" #TBT: Going to the Matt
The Super Bowl is now behind us. The NCAA's March Madness - we hope - lies just ahead. But as far as MASN world is concerned, the really big event is scheduled to begin next week. In five days - cross your fingers, knock on wood or perform any other superstitious ritual you like to ward off evil spirits and the always looming potential coronavirus-related postponement - pitchers and catchers will report to the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Fla. The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over,...
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#TBT to "Nationals Classics": Two n's, one hit in two whole games

#TBT to "Nationals Classics": Two n's, one hit in two whole games
As miserable as it can be in most of the country, weather-wise, February is normally a joyous time for baseball fans, as it means the start of spring training in the sunny climes of Florida and Arizona. But as Bill Murray experienced on film one February, baseball could be having, in the words often attributed to an oft-quoted Yankees catcher, deja vu all over again. Just as it did last year, COVID-19 has made the schedules for spring training and the regular season anything but a sure...
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"Orioles Classics" #TBT: Clinchers and a milestone blast

"Orioles Classics" #TBT: Clinchers and a milestone blast
There's still snow on the ground, but that may be a temporary condition, with temperatures in the 50s being predicted for tomorrow. My back is still sore from shoveling, though the pre-snow removal Tylenol seems to have helped considerably. All in all, I'm ready for warmer weather. Spring can be sprung any time. Who's with me? Well, we're all in the same boat. Depending on what the groundhog said in Punxsutawney, Pa., on Tuesday - and whether you believe in old tales dependent on the sun...
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On the passing of a great reporter and an even better person

On the passing of a great reporter and an even better person
Those of us who work in baseball in this area and region today are feeling such a loss. Our friend here at MASN and MASNsports.com, our treasured colleague, Mel Antonen, passed away last night. Mel was 64 and battled a rare autoimmune disease and other health issues that made his battle against this disease one that was beyond challenging. That word just doesn't do it justice here. Baltimore-area media and friends of Mel would get updates over about the last year this was all going on. Mel...
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Remembering Mel Antonen

Remembering Mel Antonen
"I'm gonna beat this." Every conversation with Mel Antonen over the past year, every email, every Zoom, every FaceTime, every single interaction included these words. Dealt a horrible hand with multiple health issues - something called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, a rare autoimmune disease that attacked his liver, followed by bouts with COVID-19 and then lymphoma - Mel battled to the very end. Unfortunately, that came late Saturday night, when he passed in his sleep. Mel was 64. I...
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"Orioles Classics" #TBT: Something old, something new

"Orioles Classics" #TBT: Something old, something new
We're rapidly running out of January. Assuming we're still on the Gregorian calendar - I, for one, take nothing for granted - that means we'll soon be in February, which means spring training! That, of course, assumes that pandemic-induced protocols don't postpone it. Like I said, take nothing for granted. So while we wait out these last few weeks (or more) before things start hopping at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in Sarasota, Fla., what's a shivering O's fan to do? Watch "Orioles...
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#TBT to "Nationals Classics": Hitting the home stretch of the offseason

#TBT to "Nationals Classics": Hitting the home stretch of the offseason
Who's ready to turn the page to the 2021 season? Well, in just a few weeks (pandemic willing, mind you), spring training will be upon us. There are few words more glorious to a baseball-starved fan than "pitchers and catchers report." Well, "full-squad workout" and "Play ball!" are pretty close. While we wait for things to get underway in West Palm Beach, Fla., MASN will continue to feed your baseball jones with "Nationals Classics" from days past. This week's offerings include a...
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Sutton left lasting impression across baseball, including D.C.

Sutton left lasting impression across baseball, including D.C.
To Dodgers fans, he was the stalwart member of a championship-caliber pitching staff in the 1970s. To Braves fans, he was the soothing and smart voice who shared his exceptional insight on the air throughout the 1990s and 2000s. To Orioles fans, he was the Brewers' Game 162 starter who dashed their dream of a miracle final weekend surge to the 1982 American League East title. And to countless other baseball fans, he was the Hall of Fame right-hander who never let up during a 23-year career, a...
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