Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nationals Park will be sold out for today's opener against the Phillies.
Neither Donovan McNabb nor Tiger Woods nor Mike Krzyzewski can spoil this scene: It's Opening Day, the greatest day of the year, and the President will be in attendance when the Nationals and Phillies take the field.
And for those wondering about Barack Obama's choice of outerwear, he'll throw out the ceremonial first pitch wearing a personalized, red Nationals jacket. Just saw it hanging in the clubhouse a few minutes ago.
As for the game itself, the Nats face a stiff challenge in new Phillies ace Roy Halladay, not to mention the two-time defending NL champion's potent lineup. But it's Opening Day. If ever there's a time for optimism, this is it. So enjoy today for everything it represents. I know I will.
Check back for updates and analysis throughout the game, and check the homepage for other news and notes...
PHILLIES AT NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
TV: Ch. 50, MASN
Radio: WFED-1500 AM
Weather: Partly cloudy, 73 degrees, Wind 11 mph out to CF
CF Nyjer Morgan
RF Willie Harris
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam Dunn
LF Josh Willingham
2B Adam Kennedy
C Ivan Rodriguez
SS Ian Desmond
P John Lannan
SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Placido Polanco
2B Chase Utley
1B Ryan Howard
RF Jayson Werth
LF Raul Ibanez
CF Shane Victorino
C Carlos Ruiz
P Roy Halladay
12:34 p.m. -- There's still a huge line of people waiting to get through the metal detectors outside the center field gate. Stands are slightly more than half-full right now. Hope everyone makes it to their seats in time.
12:40 p.m. -- Phillies players now being introduced by CBS Sports host and Nats minority owner James Brown. Lots of Philly fans here as you'd expect. Nice ovation from both sides for new backup catcher Brian Schneider.
12:45 p.m. -- And here come the Nats to take the first-base line. Mixed chorus of cheers from the D.C. faithful and "Let's Go Phillies!" chants from the others.
12:51 p.m. -- Nats starters trotting in across a red carpet from center field, between two giant American flags held up by soldiers. Huge ovation for Ryan Zimmerman, who will be receiving his Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards today.
12:57 p.m. -- National anthem sung by the U.S. Navy Chorus. Players clearing the field. Just one more formality to take care of before it's time to play ball...
1:10 p.m. -- Check the homepage for a photo of the day's biggest event.
1:14 p.m. -- Play ball! John Lannan throws a ball to Jimmy Rollins as the 2010 season begins.
1:22 p.m. -- Wild finish to the top of the first. With Rollins on second and two outs, Ryan Howard hits a sharp grounder up the middle but right at shortstop Ian Desmond (who was positioned perfectly in the infield shift). Desmond, though, booted the ball (the first of what will probably be many errors this season for the rookie) and his throw to first was late. But Rollins kept rounding third and went for the plate. Credit Adam Dunn for paying attention and making a good throw to Ivan Rodriguez, who applied the tag and ended the inning to a rousing cheer.
1:32 p.m. -- Who said the Nats wouldn't be able to handle Roy Halladay? Nyjer Morgan leads off the bottom of the first by beating out a hopper to the hole at short, then steals second (sliding in feet-first, thank you very much). After Willie Harris strikes out looking at an outside fastball that was at least five inches off the plate, Ryan Zimmerman ropes a shot to right-center, just off the top of the wall. Morgan scores and Zim slides into second with an RBI double. Nats lead 1-0 after one.
2:01 p.m. -- We're through three entertaining innings here, the Nationals still leading 1-0. They've managed to put together some quality at-bats against Halladay, including a double by Ivan Rodriguez in his first at-bat as a Nat. But they haven't been able to string much together against the right-hander. Halladay has already notched six strikeouts, three of them called. Lannan has been sharp himself, though. Only hit allowed through three was Rollins' single on the season's first pitch. Otherwise, the Nats lefty has been solid, getting a nice assist from Pudge, who grabbed Halladay's sac bunt attempt in the third and then gunned a throw to second to nail Carlos Ruiz just in the nick of time. Hate to say it, but Jesus Flores doesn't make that play. Neither do Wil Nieves or Josh Bard.
2:21 p.m. -- Just when you thought it was OK to dream big things ... the Phillies scored five runs in the top of the fourth, batting around to take a 5-1 lead and knocking Lannan out of the game. Nothing went right for Lannan. He walked Utley to lead things off, then left a 78 mph curveball inside to Howard, who sent it soaring into the second deck down the right-field line. Singles by Werth, Ibanez and Victorino kept the rally going, as did a little dribbler in front of the plate by Halladay. Lannan tried to shovel the ball from his glove to Pudge in a fruitless effort, allowing another run to score. When it was all over, Lannan had served up six hits while walking two. Very uncharacteristic of the lefty to let an inning get out of hand like that. So now the bases are loaded, with Ryan Howard at the plate and Jesse English coming out of the bullpen to make his big-league debut. Welcome to The Show, kid.
2:25 p.m. -- And English gets Howard to ground out to second to end the inning. How about that?
2:29 p.m. -- The first Presidents' Race of the season is complete. In a shocking development, Teddy held a huge lead coming down the right-field line, only to pull up lame as Abe sped past him to win convincingly. Seriously, if this is the best they can come up for Opening Day, maybe it's time to just let Teddy win and come up with some new schtick. This act storyline is getting really old.
2:55 p.m. -- Bud Selig stopped by the press box to take questions, including about Washington's chances long-term as a baseball town and the city's prospect for hosting an All-Star Game. Check the homepage shortly for nuggets from the commissioner. In the meantime, Miguel Batista has come on for the top of the sixth and is adding gasoline to the fire. The Phillies now lead 7-1, and I'm not sure even their suspect bullpen can reasonably be expected to blow this one.
3:17 p.m. -- You can forget about any kind of comeback. After Batista loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, Jason Bergmann came on to face Placido Polanco. Grand slam. Phillies lead 11-1. Fans streaming to the exits. Well, not the Philly fans. They'll be the only ones left by the time the ninth inning arrives.
4:19 p.m. -- That'll do it. Phillies win, 11-1, to cheers from the Philadelphia faithful who remained to the end. The Nationals are 0-1 and in last place in the NL East. Tomorrow's an off-day. They'll attempt to reach the .500 mark Wednesday night when Jason Marquis faces Cole Hamels.