Sunday, March 31, 2013

"Here come the Nationals": Washington DC ABC affiliate previews the baseball season in prime time; baseball players should learn chess

On Friday night, March 30, local ABC affiliate in Washington DC preempted ABC regular programming and aired “Here Come the Nationals” with host Tim Brant. 
The show covered the upcoming baseball season, which opens Monday, April 1, when the Nationals host the Florida Marlins with Stephen Strasburg pitching. 

The show included portraits and brief interviews of Stephen Strasburg (who was shut down at the end of the year by an innings limit), Gio Gonzales (who had to fight off association with a doping clinic in Florida),  Ryan Zimmerman, and Adal LaRoche, who had a protracted signing battle this winter, and, of course, Bryce Harper, now still just 20.

ESPN has an interview with Manager Davie Johnson.

There's another interview with Bryce Harper close by. 

We’ll miss Michael Morse, who was traded to Seattle for less than what should have been expcted.  The Nationals did have a mediocre record in the Grapefruit League, 14-18.
Do any baseball players play chess?  It’s probably a good thing mentally if they do?  I lost a game at the Arlington Chess Club Friday night where I had picked off an “exchange” in the opening and succumbed to a Kings side attack by Black, because all of my pieces were on the left side of the board winning material.

In the first position I played   “16 Nxd4” instead of “exd4” (isolating the d pawn) because otherwise Black could play “..b5” and trap the white Bishop. The opening had been a Grunfeld, a line considered sharp but not Black's first choice.  My opponent wanted fun.  Offer material, and let a dogmatic, material-greedy and positional player like me live on the precipice.  Did I pay for greed?

In the second position I must play 19 “Be4” immediately rather than take the time"obvious"  for “19 Rac1” so that the fianchettoed Bishop helps defend the king side against the coming sacrifice on e3.  (Black still has about three pawns and a lot of play for a rook in the coming attack, but it won’t be quite enough this time.) Sometimes you have to be accurate.  “Normal” moves are not enough! But complicated, speculative attacks can be very difficult to defend over the board.  

After Black won the game. I felt like Drew Storen after that 9-7 loss to the Cardinals at home in the playoffs last year. 

I think that relief pitchers should definitely know how to play chess.  I wonder if anyone on the Nats plays.  Ryan Zimmerman seems a bit more cerebral than some of the other players.  

Oops:  the last picture is at Citi Field, from a trip to NYC last year.  

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