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In this edition of the SDPC, I pull my Wake-Up Crew partner Scott Bradley out of the bullpen and veer away from sports a bit by talking about County Fairs. Our “sports” tie-in is pro wrestling, which has been a big part of the fairs for me over the years. Enjoy the stories, and we hope to see you at a county fair near you in the coming weeks!
R-Dog (aka Randy Woodward)
Greetings From The Booth!
Well, the San Diego Padres just got a lot better…and the Washington Nationals just got a lot worse (in the short term). If that’s possible.
In a trade that was expected, the last two Nats who could still put fannies in seats in this lost season, were shipped west for a bundle of prospects, as GM and President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo restocks the Nationals’ depleted farm system. Juan Soto, who said no to the Nats’ offer of $440 million over 15 years, and Josh Bell, who was having a solid year in the cleanup spot, were both traded to the Padres, where they will join Manny Machado and company and become instant contenders for a World Series title.
It’s been a tough several years for Nationals fans, who have now lost not one, but two “generational” players to other teams, the other being Bryce Harper. Max Scherzer, my favorite Nat, also exited stage left two seasons ago, and along with Harper, now plays for a division rival. Trea Turner, another bright young star, is now a Dodger. In Juan Soto, the Nationals lose one of the last remaining players from the 2019 World Series team (boy, does that seem like a distant memory). He is a once-in-a-lifetime baseball player who is in the MVP conversation every year. And he wore my team’s jersey.
But even $440 million couldn’t keep Soto in the Nation’s Capital. He wanted to play for a winner, and rebuilding teams rarely win. The prospect of losing 110 games this season was not something Soto was willing to endure. Yes, he could have taken the money and become the core of a young team that could possibly contend in say, 2025, but patience is not a virtue of youth.
As for Bell, he may not have the time or patience. As a veteran player, Bell doesn’t want to linger in the division basement while young players develop in the minors. In truth, he was a hired gun in Washington. As the team continued to be gutted, Bell was a name player who could continue to draw fans to Nationals Park, and was never going to stay in DC long-term. Patience isn’t a virtue of the aging veteran, either.
And, patience certainly isn’t a virtue of sports fans. The Nats’ farm system seems to be getting some very highly-rated prospects from the Soto-Bell trade. But until they get to “The Show” and put on the red and blue jerseys and start getting hits and striking out MLB opponents, that’s all they are–prospects. While the cupboard may not be bare anymore, this Nationals rebuild is a long-term project. Several tough seasons like 2022 are on the way.
Nats’ manager Davey Martinez once said something to the effect of “rough roads lead to beautiful places.” If you’re a fan of the Washington Nationals, you’d better have 4-wheel drive.
Until the next visit from the Booth…best of luck Juan Soto and Josh Bell…and GO NATS!
Join “The River Ringers” on Saturday, August 20th, 8:30am at Rock Harbor Golf Club in Winchester for the 3rd annual “Fore The Kitties” Golf Tournament. The event benefits Dakota’s Dream, a small non-profit animal shelter in Winchester. Teams and sponsors are still needed, so be a part of what should be a fun day! Deadline is August 1st, so don’t wait! Registration and Sponsor forms are attached (see below)
Greetings from The Booth!
Well, were just about into the dog days of August, which mean county fairs (please keep me away from the fried Oreos!) and NFL training camps. For me, those two things go hand-in-hand. In my line of work, I often had to broadcast at our local county fairs on Friday nights, the rush home in time to see the Burgundy and Gold play a preseason game. Of course, the games mean nothing in the standings, but it’s always great to see your favorite team actually playing football. It’s an appetizer until they start playing for real in September.
I’m also reminded of a funny training camp story from back in the day when the (then) Washington Redskins used to train in Carlisle, Pa. I worked at a station that carried the ‘Skins games, and as a promotion, we would take some listeners up to Carlisle for a day during training camp. One year, my friend Mike Burton went along for the ride. Back then, Mike was the spitting image of Skins’ great Russ Grimm. I can’t tell you how many kids and adults wanted Mike’s autograph that day, mistaking him for the famed “Hog.” Good times, good times.
Changing gears, this week a mint condition 1952 Mickey Mantle rookie baseball card went up for auction online, and it could break the baseball card auction record. It’s estimated the final cost of the Mantle card could top $10 million. when the Heritage Auction sale ends August 27th. The current record is $6.6 million for a 1909 Honus Wagner card.
If you are like me, your mom threw away your baseball cards (along with the Lionel .027 gauge train, classic comic books, and full-size G.I. Joes) a long time ago. I never got anything close to a Mickey Mantle card. I always seemed to get the Zolio Versailles or Eddie Brinkman cards. In fact, every pack I opened seemed to contain those cards, which ended up in the spokes of my orange Schwinn Stingray bike.
The baseball card industry has come a long way, with multiple companies selling cards, not only for baseball, but action heroes, Pokemon, etc. Back in the day, there was Topps, and that was it. In 1969, for about 10 cents, you got a pack of 10 cards, along with a stick of gum. The gum was usually as brittle as a piece of glass and hard as a rock, but it made the pack of cards smell really good. The gum has gone the way of the dodo bird, but it might have been my favorite part.
Here’s to my Hawk Harrelson and Paul Casanova cards…wherever they may be.
Until next visit from The Booth…stay cool and enjoy the dog days!
In advance of their upcoming seventh LP “Hand In Glove,” and their July 30th appearance at the Bright Box in Winchester. Matt O’Ree of The Matt O’Ree Band talks with me (Randy). Matt is a member of the NY/NJ Blues Hall Of Fame, who also toured as a guitarist with Bon Jovi. He is also married to band member Eryn (ex-Smashing Pumpkins), and we get into the dynamic of married life in a blues/rock band. And we talk about the band’s Led Zeppelin set at the Bright Box this coming Saturday, and why Zeppelin’s music has such an enduring effect on generation after generation of music fans.
Greetings From The Booth!
It’s great to be back in The Booth after a relaxing week of vaycay at Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. There’s nothing like the slow pace of “lake life” to get one recharged and refreshed. I could get used to hot tubs, reading the latest Grisham novel on the deck, boating and hiking , and of course, good food and drink.
One of my favorite things about the annual week at DCL is talking sports with my nephew TJ, who is a huge UVA and Baltimore Oriole guy, and one of the most knowledgeable sports fans I know. In addition, we both wallow in our misery at being Commanders (Redskins) fans. As I am a suffering Nats fan, we spent some time comparing the situations of our respective teams, the O’s and Nationals.
Unlike the Nats, who, at the All-Star break, are on pace to lose about 110 games, the young Orioles go into the break on a 10-game win streak and are just 2 games out of the final AL Wild Card spot. In reality, the Birds are a few years away from their plan of contending once again, but don’t tell these youngsters that they are not supposed to win NOW. Winning begets winning, and there’s nothing like a 10-game skein to boost a team’s confidence. And, there’s that intangible thing called chemistry. I’ll admit, TJ had me singing the old “Oriole Magic” song all week. It was stuck in my head. The O’s may eventually fade in the dog days of August, but if the front office doesn’t make any greedy moves this year, it looks like this team is headed in the right direction.
40 miles away are the Washington Nationals, who despite players like Josh Bell and Juan Soto, don’t appear to have that chemistry, and almost surely will lose 100-plus games this year. It’s hard to recognize a team that is just 3-years removed from winning a World Series. Granted, most of that group is gone, but it’s hard to see Mike Rizzo’s plan for this club. Injury has certainly played a part, but the Nats look like a rudderless ship that has sunk to the bottom of the NL East, a place usually reserved for the Miami Marlins. Although not his fault, Manager Davey Martinez may take the fall (he recently received the kiss of death–a one-year extension) for another bad year in DC. BTW, there are plenty of seats available at Nationals Park…
Finally, just a few words about (at the time of this post) tonight’s MLB All-Star Game. The Midsummer Classic for me has lost some of it’s luster over the years, and I didn’t even watch last year when the game was politicized and moved away from Atlanta. But thinking of the All-Star Game takes me back to my youth, a time when I kept a scoresheet for the game, players wanted to play, and the teams wanted to win (remember Pete Rose crashing into catcher Ray Fosse to win the 1970 edition?). I don’t think it’s the case anymore, but that being said, the MLB All-Star Game is still sports’ purest: the Pro Bowl is a pillow fight, the NHL version is unrecognizable, and the NBA All-Star Game is a defenseless layup and 3-point exhibition with scores like 173-168.
Enjoy the Midsummer Classic, and until next time from The Booth, GO NATS & O’s!
Greetings from The Booth!
A golf buddy said after our usual weekend round that this was a “nothing” time in the sports world, and there probably is some truth to that. Did anyone really care about the USFL after the first few games? Sure, Wimbledon is happening, and the Tour de France is certainly an acquired taste (although I like the event and will watch). NFL training camps are still a few weeks from opening. And then there are your Washington Nationals, who are on pace for a 100-loss season. How many of you would have thought that possible after their World Series title in 2019?
If you’re a golf fan, the sport’s final major, The 150th Open Championship, a.k.a. The British Open, happens next week at the Old Course at St. Andrews. St. Andrews is hallowed ground in the golf world, and I love the British Open, because it’s golf the way it was meant to be played: low to the ground, in the elements. When I think of The Open Championship, I think of cold, wind, and rain. I also think of 59 year-old Tom Watson almost winning the Claret Jug in 2009, as a bunch of us geezers were gathered around the TV at Rock Harbor cheering him on. Moments like that can only happen at the Open.
Speaking of golf, this time of year takes me back to what might have been the greatest golf prank ever played. It happened during a beach trip to Nags Head with a group of friends around 1987. It was a great week of beachin’, night life, and a round of golf during which the aforementioned prank took place. The group included longtime friend Kevin Funkhouser, who would be my best man 4 years later when I tied the knot. The foil of the prank was Todd Lyons, another member of our Martinsburg circle of friends and participant in the annual “Turkey Bowl” Thanksgiving football game at Rosemont School, among other things.
The round of golf started, as you might expect, with drink flowing freely, and somewhere on the front 9, Funkhouser was victim of the old “exploding golf ball” prank. If you’re unfamiliar, these are joke golf balls that explode on impact, and are good for a laugh. As we moved on to the back 9, no other gags were played as the laughs and libation continued. Late in the round, Lyons hit a beautiful approach shot within 3 feet of the pin. As we drove to the green, Funkhouser got out of the cart, walked onto the green to survey Lyons’ shot and said, “Hey Todd, is this your ball…great shot!” He then …well, let’s just say, proceeded to water Lyons’ golf ball, if you get my drift. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed that hard on a golf course.
They say revenge is a meal best served cold. In this case…best served wet.
I look forward to being back in the Booth the week of the 18th! FORE!
As I will be on vacation next week, we preview golf’s final major, The Open Championship, a.k.a. The British Open a week early with Nick Ciattei of Mid Atlantic Golf Getaways. This year, The 150th Open will be played on the hallowed Old Course at St. Andrews, and as always, weather will prove to be a factor as the world’s top golfers vie for the Claret Jug. Enjoy The Open, and the podcast!
-Randy (The R-Dog)-