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Question of the Day
SAN FRANCISCO — Bob Carpenter has been behind the microphone for more than his share of historic home runs. Formerly a broadcaster for the St. Louis Cardinals, he was on the air in 1998 when Mark McGwire hit his 60th, 61st, 66th, 67th, 68th, 69th and 70th homers. He also called Ken Griffey Jr.’s 500th career shot in 2004.
Those were highlight moments of Carpenter’s career because those feats were met with overwhelming jubilation among fans.
But as Carpenter, now play-by-play man for Washington Nationals telecasts on MASN along with analyst Don Sutton, prepared for Barry Bonds to take aim at career home run No. 756 last night, he couldn’t help but have mixed feelings.
Carpenter’s broadcast teammates echoed those sentiments as they descended upon San Francisco for the potentially historic home run against their own club. Radio announcers Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler planned to let the moment speak for itself, going off the cuff rather than planning a prepared call.
“Prepare for what? What are you going to say?” Slowes said. “If you think about it too much, you’re going to think about what you were thinking about what you were going to say, and then you screw it up.”
Slowes, who spent seven years broadcasting for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays before coming to the District in 2005, also has called his share of milestone homers, including No. 400 for Jose Canseco, Fred McGriff and Cal Ripken. (Though he still maintains his most memorable announcing moment was Livan Hernandez’s first pitch at RFK Stadium on the night baseball returned to the District.)
Slowes knew he only had a 55 percent chance of being behind the mike for Bonds‘ record-setter. He does play-by-play in the first, second, fifth, eighth and ninth innings; Jageler does the third, fourth, sixth and seventh.
Regardless of anyone’s personal feelings about the matter, Slowes understands the magnitude of this event.
“When he hits it, no matter what you think about what he did to his body to get to this point, until somebody comes out with proof, he just became the home run champion of all time,” Slowes said.
Then again, if the Nationals announcers had their way, Bonds would save his big moment for another night.
“My personal feeling is I hope we shut those guys out for four consecutive days and he hits it against somebody else,” said Carpenter, who also prefers not to prepare his call in advance. “I want the Nats to win. I don’t care what Barry Bonds does.”
Zimmerman gets award
Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s huge homestand drew recognition outside of Washington. Zimmerman yesterday was named co-National League player of the week with Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon Webb.
Zimmerman hit .519 (14-for-27) with two homers and 11 RBI during the Nationals’ 6-0 homestand. He also hit a game-winning single in the ninth Friday night and drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth Sunday.
“It’s certainly the way I feel I’m capable of playing,” said Zimmerman, who raised his average from .258 to .274 during the last week. “Nobody wants to not play up to their ability, but it’s a long season, and it’s a hard game. You can’t do it all year.”
Shortstop Felipe Lopez was out of the Nationals’ lineup with tendinitis in his right knee. His status remains day-to-day. With Lopez on the bench, Nook Logan hit leadoff for the first time since July 17. …
Right-hander Jerome Williams, a member of Washington’s Opening Day rotation, was released from Class AA Harrisburg after going 0-3 with a 9.08 ERA in 14 appearances (four starts).
By Orrin G. Hatch
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