The Day After the Fourth of July with David Cabrera
Let me just say what an amazing country we live in! Fourth of July fireworks and barbeque last night! Area sports teams doing really well. Some good summer movies already out (and “The Dark Knight Rises” has not even come out yet). I got to add, being off work was a plus and waking up late was too 🙂 Before I get into the sports and entertainment world (Washington Nationals and “The Amazing Spider-Man”), let me just say what the Fourth of July means to me. Yeah, I know I am a day late, but I thought I would do this anyway. What Fourth of July means to me, is waking up and having breakfast with my Dad and his fiancée, talking about what we are not going to do during the day. Metro is crowded and my Dad is too old and too cranky to walk through those humungous crowds at the National Mall. What we can do as a family is enjoy each other’s company in the house, lounging on the couch while watching a couple of James Bond movies and wait until after the grilling is done (hamburgers, steaks, hot dogs just to name a few) to really savor this holiday. Then, who can forget the best part of the night: watching the fireworks come across the TV screen and my dad speculating which image of the fireworks will appear on the front of the Washington Post in the morning. Probably not as interesting as your Fourth of July, but hey, all I can ask for is to spend time with the ones I love, creating infinite memories to remember on America’s birthday.
As amazing as Fourth of July is, fireworks and all, how about those Washington Nationals? First place in the National League, third best record in baseball, best pitching staff in baseball, hottest hitting team in the league the past two weeks, stop me when I am running out of statistics! With the All-Star game being on Tuesday and with the Nationals being in 1st place in a division where they were always the 2nd worst or worst team in, I have to pinch myself. In 2005, the last season the Nats were in 1st place before the All-Star break, there just seemed a little flukiness to it, as almost if this run could not last long enough. Unfortunately, that feeling was validated as they finished with a final record of 81-81. With this year’s squad, there seems to be comparisons to that 2005 squad in terms of success. First off, I guarantee you besides Livan Hernandez and John Patterson; no one can rattle off the starting rotation for 2005’s team. (You might not even know who those two pitchers are!)That right there is the fundamental difference with this year’s rotation. All-Stars Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez are the more popular pitchers out of the starting rotation but Jordan Zimmermann and Edwin Jackson are no slouches themselves. Zimmermann was not getting enough run support early on in the year causing him to have a losing record, but after that “wake-up call” by the offense in Colorado, he has gotten more than enough run support in his last two starts, both of which he has won. Jackson is a guy who has moved around a lot, but he has a no-hitter to his credit already and a World Series ring last year with the St. Louis Cardinals. This year with the Nationals, he has proven to be more than capable as the number four starter and when he gets past his mistakes in the 1st inning (as evidenced yesterday when he gave up 3 runs in the first), look out! The only concern for this rotation would be the number 5 spot which has been a revolving door of sorts between Chien-Min Wang and Ross Detwiler. Detwiler struggled at times early on in the year, but not too much to be a concern. However, the Nationals decided to replace Detwiler with Wang. Wang honestly only had one game where he was semi-sharp and that was against the Toronto Blue Jays, a game that was already in hand by the 4th inning. After that game, he got slammed his next two starts which set the stage for Detwiler to get his starting job back. Detwiler has performed admirably since being reinstated in the rotation, keeping his earned run average (ERA) per game below 4 runs.
Jason Reid of the Washington Post wrote a great article yesterday on how the Nationals could bolster their starting rotation by trading for Zach Greinke of the Milwaukee Brewers. Greinke is 9-2 on the year and is considered by most baseball pundits a serious snub of the All-Star Game. While Reid made some good points and I agree that trading for Greinke will help alleviate the Nationals ills of losing Stephen Strasburg in September(due to his inning count coming off Tommy John surgery), there are other options to consider. The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly offering Cole Hamels’ services to numerous teams and his pitching has been one of the few bright spots for the Phillies in a tumultuous year for them. Also, with all of the players the Nationals have on DL coming back in the next couple of weeks (Drew Storen and Jayson Werth especially), that is almost as good as picking somebody in a trade. As Jordan Zimmermann noted, this Nationals team, they way they are hitting on all cylinders now combined with their pitching, could run away with the division and maybe even the National League in the second half of the season. Imagine that, playoff baseball in the area? Those thoughts are premature, but, people can dream can’t they?
Let me just say, I had the pleasure of seeing “The Amazing Spider-Man” on Tuesday. The sad thing about that statement is that I was unable to watch it in 3-D. However, I have to say, it was a good movie. Let me repeat that, a good movie, not a great movie. If you don’t know already, this movie is a reboot of the previous three Sam Raimi films. The basis of this movie is Spider-Man’s origins and how and why he becomes Spider-Man. While there was some definite parallels between this movie and the first movie in the Raimi trilogy (which I won’t note so I don’t have to ruin it for people who have not seen it), I liked the new take on one of Marvel’s most popular characters. The choice of the Lizard as the villain of this movie was a wise pick and the visual effects that they did for that character were remarkable. Also, the first-person camera angles when Spider-Man is swinging across New York are astounding and it’s a shame I didn’t get to see that in 3-D. Emma Stone brings the laughs as Gwen Stacy and Andrew Garfield brings a darker feel and a few laughs himself as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Overall, I give this movie a 3 out of 4 stars. This movie provides enough action and edginess to help superhero movie fans get through the waiting game before the summer’s most anticipated movie, “The Dark Knight Rises” comes out on July 20th. If you have a couple of dollars to spend, go see it!
That is all for this post. I hope you all enjoy the weekend!