- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
- U.N. rights chief: Flight MH17 downing possible war crime
- Attack on park in Gaza war kills 10, mostly children
Nats’ Harper set to make home debut
Question of the Day
The president of the United States sat at a table across the room. George Clooney examined a bottle of wine a few tables away. Elle MacPherson and Ivanka Trump exchanged pleasantries and compliments. Barbara Walters chatted with Diane Sawyer.
Celebrities, politicians and media filled the Washington Hilton on Saturday night. They dined on petit filet and raised their glasses of Estancia wine in a toast to President Obama and the first lady.
“What do you think?” he asked, looking down at the video playing on the phone, one of the biggest moments in his organization’s history about to happen 2,671 miles away.
“Think he’ll see a fastball in this at-bat?”
Across the country at Dodger Stadium, the public address announcer’s voice boomed. Nineteen-year-old Bryce Harper was striding to the plate, “making his major league debut.” Rizzo’s eyes were squarely on the phone.
Three straight games Rizzo had watched Harper earlier in the week, playing in Rochester with Triple-A Syracuse, to make sure he was ready for the majors. Not one at-bat Rizzo saw began with a fastball. No opposing pitcher, it seemed, was interested in being the one to serve up a home run to Harper.
It took Chad Billingsley one pitch to prove that he was no minor leaguer. He dropped a 91 mph fastball into the glove of Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis on the outside part of the plate. Ellis rolled it out of play for posterity.
Tuesday evening, Harper will make his D.C. debut. The game is not yet sold out, though sales rose sharply over the weekend. The Nationals have stocked the stores with more Harper merchandise than the previous homestand, Nationals chief operating officer Andy Feffer said.
And as the No. 1 overall pick from the 2010 draft steps onto the field at Nationals Park, Rizzo will be there.
Maybe, Rizzo acknowledged Saturday as he glad-handed a long line of well-wishers from the D.C. elite, it was best that he already was committed to being here when he sent Harper to Los Angeles for the Dodgers series. Better for his nerves that his mind be distracted. This, after all, was the same man who didn’t watch Stephen Strasburg’s debut until the fourth inning, manning the draft room instead that June evening as his first phenom electrified the baseball world.
Rizzo has directly overseen every step of Harper’s development, carefully plotted each stop along his path to the major leagues. Even he didn’t anticipate the biggest jump to come this quickly. But, after he made it, his doubts about the move were few.
“Well, 0-for-1,” a guest at the table said to Rizzo. The general manager nodded and leaned back in his chair, a little nervous energy out of his system.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
By Scott Pinsker
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- D.C. police chief orders officers not to arrest legal gun owners carrying weapons in public
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- Babson College, BYU win top spots in Money magazine's college rankings
- CURL: Obama, staffers not even pretending any more
- Family of Marine killed in Afghanistan pushes back against cover-up
- D.C. seeks stay in order striking down ban on handguns in public
- DeSean Jackson working on offensive cohesiveness with Redskins teammates
- Ohio sheriff sends bill to Mexico for cost of jailing illegals
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq