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Wake Up Maggie, I Think I've Got Something To Say To You....

Back in early September, it seemed like some magic was starting to happen to the Washington Nationals.

Turns out that magic went a little farther than baseball, at least for me.

The Nationals, as everyone knows by now, caught fire, went on a run through the playoffs and won the World Series. At the same time, it turns out, there was a tiny beagle puppy born somewhere in rural South Carolina.

If you’ve never spent any time out in the country, this can sometimes not be the best of things for a puppy. Out in the country, not all dogs are spayed or neutered. A litter of puppies can be born, and with not many people living nearby, nobody may want them.

In the case of this little pup, it wandered off and ended up in a shelter. A place, it turns out, that was considered a high-kill shelter. It was only 8 weeks old, but it needed to be wanted soon or it may not get to celebrate a birthday.

Meanwhile here in Ashburn, we had lost our two dogs of 15-plus years over the previous 9 months. My wife and I were crushed by all this, but we agreed we should wait some before thinking about a new dog. I thought we had agreed we’d at least wait until next spring.

Apparently “let’s wait until next spring” to my wife meant “start looking now.” For the last two months she’s been sending me emails daily with suggestions of dogs to be adopted. Not just one a day, either. At times there would be 4 or 5 emails, with links to 4 or 5 more dogs in each email.

We were having, as a famous line in a movie once conveyed, a failure to communicate.

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This Was An Evening To Enjoy An Ice Cold Bud....

On a freezing evening in Blacksburg, long-time defensive coordinator Bud Foster was being mobbed by some players, while others maneuvered to be in position to douse him with a cooler of ice and even colder liquid, all to celebrate a huge upset win over Wake Forest on a day set aside to honor his legendary career.

Because everyone enjoys an ice cold Bud, right?

Now that I’ve managed to work in that absolutely awful pun, man, what a game. If you had to write a script for today, you’d have it so the defense would return to the aggressive days of old and toss that 98-pound weakling of a 3-man rush in the round file; they’d hold Wake Forest to its lowest output in yards and points for the season, and the offense would come up with several big plays so Bud could ride off into the Montgomery County sunset a winner.

Which is what happened.

Despite Wake being the favorite, Virginia Tech won 36-17 and beat a ranked team at home for the first time in 10 years (Miami and Nebraska were ranked in 2009 and the Hokies won both). Much like the Washington Nationals were declared dead after a 19-31 start, the Hokies were embalmed and buried after losing a Friday night game to Duke by 35 points, prompting many fans to change their favorite two-word cheer from “Go Hokies” to “Fire Fuente.”

Things were looking pretty dark for both.

But the Nats came back and won the World Series. This Hokies team isn’t shooting that high, but they’re now coming back to life too. With three games left, Virginia Tech is 6-3 and still controls its own destiny in the Coastal. They’ve won four of their last 5 since the Duke debacle, and had it not been for the insane clown posse that also goes by the name “ACC Football Officials,” could easily have won 5 in a row and the Hokies would be ranked next week.

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Thanks To The Redskins, Reading Season Has Come Early

For some reason when the weather turns cold, I end up doing a lot of reading. The appeal of good books shouldn’t be dependent on the ambient temperature outside, but for some reason in my world, it is.

Sports impacts that a lot, and usually in the fall, football occupies a lot of my attention. When done, the dreary months of January through April become perfect times to catch up on my reading because you can’t really do much outside, and the sports I do watch – mainly the Washington Capitals – are not dependent on 100 percent of your focus.

In hockey, for some reason, the rules of broadcasting were established long ago that when a goal is scored, the announcers must scream as loud as they can, an air horn must add to the noise, and this explosion of sound easily alerts you something good has happened. You stop, hit the 30-second rewind on the DVR, watch, then return to your book.

This year, reading season has come early thanks to the woefully inept efforts of the Washington Redskins. Part of the fun of football is not only watching them and hoping they do something positive to affect their place in the standings, it’s also pulling for other teams in the division to lose, creating the opportunity for an entire Sunday of viewing.

After the first two weeks of September, it was apparent my Sundays would be free the rest of the season.

So I’m back to my routine of reading. If you are a reader, the most common question you ask (and are asked) is if you’ve read anything good lately. That’s always a bit of a trick question because there are a lot of good books. What I’m looking for is great. And if you ask someone for a book recommendation, you have to expect at some point that person is going to ask “did you like the book?”

Answering no to that person ranks right up there with telling someone their baby is ugly or they have no taste. So you tread lightly, and if someone really liked a book and you didn’t, you just turn to the tried and true tradition of looking them in the eye and flat out lying. They’ll never know.

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The Mike Young Era Certainly Opened With A Nice Surprise

It is quite common to overreact to the first game of a sports season (the court turns your attention to the Virginia Tech-Florida State football game last year as a prime piece of evidence). But with that warning issued, you can’t help but be impressed with Game 1 of the Mike Young era.

He clearly knows how to make an entrance.

The Hokies stunned Clemson 67-60 on the road in an Atlantic Coast Conference game last night, and I doubt even those wearing the darkest shades of orange and maroon glasses thought that was possible.

The Hokies just don’t win in basketball at Clemson’s Littlejohn Coliseum. Last year’s team came to Littlejohn ranked No. 9 in the country and left with a 59-51 loss. In the last 10 years, they’ve only beaten Clemson on the road once – an 82-81 win on Jan. 22, 2017, and that game was moved to Greenville because of renovations being made to Littlejohn.

For the Hokies, they have consistently put the “L” in Littlejohn.

Then there was the matter of Young as the new coach. Many have been optimistic while silently thinking “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” Gone is last year’s carpetbagger coach, and at one point most of the team seemed gone too, as several starters last night occupied at one time during the year both the dorms on campus and a little place called the “transfer protocol.”

So in a best-case scenario, the team would play hard, perhaps one player would emerge as a centerpiece and go-to guy the Hokies could build on, and hopefully the game would be close.

What happened even exceeded that.

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Another Day, Another Video, Another Batch Of Memories...

As you've been warned earlier, I'm posting every video I see that brings back any great memories of the past season for the Washington Nationals. So here's another.

This one not only captures the video highlights of key plays, it also includes some of my favorite lines by broadcasters this season, including (but not limited to):

"That wasn't a baseball game. That was an exorcism."

"And now...we clinch."

"(That's the) first time I've seen the nationals team actually look like they have tremendous joy and one heartbeat."

"If you walked out of this ballpark, YOU BLEW IT."

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We Are The Champions, We Are The Champions...

We're now at that point in the World Series after-party where the videos are being made and being posted online. The Washington Capitals set the bar pretty high with some of their video work after winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, so it will be interesting to see what the Nationals came come up with.

This one is now making the rounds, and it has all the key elements: The song "We Are The Champions" (although I'm partial to hearing drunk hockey players in the fountains of Washington, DC sing it acapella), highlights of key moments, video showing everyone celebrating on the field, and spraying of champagne like it was coming out of a fire hose.

And of course, a tagline at the end with some version of "Finish The Fight."

I've only watched it a dozen times today. So that alone makes it worthy of being posted here.

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Remember Where You Are So You'll Remember Where You Are

Every significant memory of a big event in the history of the Washington Nationals usually involves a signature play call by Nationals radio play-by-play man Charlie Slowes. His call of Jason Werth's home run in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS is still on my phone so in case I'm having a bad day and need something to make me smile, I can listen to it.

It always works too.

When the Nats made the playoffs for the first time, Charlie's signature call included "Remember where you are, so you'll remember where you were," something I've chuckled about ever since. So of course when the Nationals finally won the World Series, it was only fitting that after screaming in delight that the Nationals had won, he added almost those same words, instead saying "remember where you are so you'll remember where you are."

If you didn't hear the call, here it is:

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Sometimes, Lightning Does Strike Twice If You Wait Long Enough

It is wonderfully fitting for me this weekend that Virginia Tech travels to Notre Dame only a few days after the Washington Nationals won the World Series.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become less and less a fan of watching sporting events live. Part of it may be I was a sportswriter for a decade when I got out of college, so those hundreds and hundreds of days/nights in a press box or on a sideline may have fulfilled my lifetime quota. The other is the advancement of big screen HD televisions – of which I own far too many – that make it so much easier to see the action.

My wife would say the overriding factor is that I’m also cheap. At home, the food and beverage are far more reasonable.

She does have a point.

But back in college, I was ready to go anywhere at any time to see a live game. Promises were made to friends that if a certain event ever happened way out in the future, we’d go no matter how old we were. One involved the World Series with my friend Tim, which I mentioned yesterday.

The other was made when I was a freshman at Virginia Tech in 1974 and involved Notre Dame. The Hokies were in their first year under Jimmy Sharpe, and football at Virginia Tech was about as far away from the big time as the Nats were from the World Series when they were 19-31. Notre Dame dominated the airways of pre-cable television, and after one particularly festive and ambitious moment, my friends Rick and Doug and I proclaimed if the Hokies ever played Notre Dame, we were going to South Bend.

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After A Long And Bumpy Road, The Nats Finally Win The World Series

At 11:50 PM last night, there was an old man with tears in his eyes in Ashburn, watching the ending to a baseball game.

His wife will readily tell you that old man has always been a sap, so this isn’t surprising. But when the final pitch was thrown and the Washington Nationals had won the 2019 World Series, it was hard not to get emotional.

It wasn’t so much because of the sports accomplishment, although it has been a long bumpy road watching the professional baseball teams that have represented DC finally win a title. It was more for the people I met on the journey following baseball since I was 10 who are no longer with us that would have really enjoyed the moment.

My Dad was a baseball fan, but the notion he would ever get to attend a World Series game was as remote a thought as being an astronaut and landing on the moon. My close friend Paul, who literally kidnapped me every opening day and forced me to go to Nats games with him, fantasized about the team in a World Series. We sat together on opening day of 2012, four days before his death, and all he talked about was whether this would finally be the year the Nats made the playoffs.

You should have been here, Paul.

Then there was the group of people I met at spring training in West Palm Beach in March, when after over 60 years of waiting, I finally went. They were all in their 80s, many could barely walk, but they were the Boys Of Summer, coming back every year to see their team, hoping again that this might be the year their team finally won it all.

This year it finally was.

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clear sky

35.6°F

Ashburn

Clear Sky

Humidity: 37%

Wind: 5.82 m/h

Sun

overcast clouds

31/43°F

Mon

overcast clouds

36/46°F

Tue

broken clouds

36/49°F

They Finally Did It...

They Did It

After a long and bumpy road, The Washington Nationals finally won the World Series. And made an old man in Ashburn cry...

Never Grow Old...

Never Grow Old

A trip to Spring Training reminded me we're all still kids at heart, and no matter how old, you keep playing until they get you out.

Gone But Never Forgotten...

Doodle

My faithful dogs probably rode shotgun on hundreds of stories I've written since 2003. This one is for you, Doodle & Schnoodle.

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