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Life begins on Opening Day (now with lineups at the bottom)

Or so says esteemed colleague Thomas Boswell (henceforth referred to by the Journal only as "Boz") who, within a matter of hours, will be seated to my right here at RFK Stadium.

In looking out over the field here at RFK (and 10-foot-tall Abe and Teddy are already on the warning track by the first base dugout), I'm struck by the fact that this will be the last Opening Day here. I've spent a good deal of ink subtly (very subtly) putting this place down, and that's mostly because I've been to all these new parks and I know what it'll be like when the District has one like that.

(Jon Rauch walking in from right field now, where the players' parking lot is. He just patted Teddy on the head - and had to reach down to do it.)

(Kidding.)

I've lived here since 2003, so my perspective on RFK is gleaned through chats with friends and colleagues. I'd invite you, in the spaces provided below, to weigh in over the course of the day - or, since the good folks at the Journal have decided to plow head-on into the season, over the course of the next six months - on your favorite (or least favorite) RFK memories. Skins? DC United? The Stones? Zimm's walk-off against the Yankees? Whatever you want.

Okay. With that out of the way, some notes about our programming. I've said over the past couple of years that, as DC gets used to being a baseball town again, we're still getting used to being a baseball paper. We've tried a few new things over the past couple years - and anyone who likes numbers and stats has to like our box scores/standings page, with all kinds of matchups on it, etc.

But I think this year is going to be our best. You can already see, in this morning's ink-and-paper edition (just $.35), a series preview box, which is nothing revolutionary but will certainly help throughout the year. I'm also going to have a minor league notebook, as I did for most of last year, that will run in the paper once a week. It won't be huge, but it will be there, and I'm thinking of running an expanded version of that in the Journal on the same day the little one runs in the paper. I'll agree with Stan Kasten on one point (and, probably, one point only): The farm system and the players down there are a huge story for this team, so hopefully we can bring you a few updates on that.

Secondly: Apparently this whole World Wide Web thing isn't going away, so we're going to have an expanded Nats presence at washingtonpost.com. Not only will the Journal continue (and we'll talk about that in a moment), but there will be other bells and whistles.

First, I'm going to do a podcast after every game I cover. (Full disclosure: Never listened to a podcast myself. Would you folks actually be interested in something like that?) It should include not only a little audio from me after the game, but interviews with players and Manny Acta, etc.

Second, the Nationals page is going to have little bios of every player on the team - or at least it will when I finally get them to the good folks over at post.com. (They've been patient with me, at least to my face. God knows why.) The whole Nationals section of the site - which you can get to by clicking on "Nationals" on the left side of washingtonpost.com/sports - should really take off in the next couple of weeks. (It would already be taking off if I had completed those little bios of all the guys. My apologies.)

Finally, the Journal: I'm not sure what form it'll take during the year. I think the reason (some? five?) people liked it during the spring was because most of the games weren't on TV or the radio, and they could just mess with the thing during the day at work if they really wanted to know what I had for lunch.

During the season, most of the games are at night. So I'm thinking you'll likely get some sort of pre-game post with any news from batting practice, etc. - and that might be kind of late in the day, like around 5 p.m. or so - as well as some sort of additional post during the day. Not sure. I've got to keep my day job, too, so we'll see how it goes. But any feedback on what you want will be (ignored?) taken into consideration.

Today: The opener. Dontrelle Willis vs. John Patterson. Or, in a nickname world, D-Train vs. Nasty. I know Patterson's not putting pressure on himself, but this is when we begin to find out whether he's going to be able to be the leader of this staff. I'm already fascinated.

Tickets: Just heard Kasten on WTWP (Washington Post Radio) as I was driving into the park. "Someone is sending a message with this weather that you really should be at the ballpark," he said. And I will say - what a day. If I didn't have to work, I'd be blowing off work.

And one last thing you're welcome to chime in with: Your won-loss prediction for the season. Remember: With the sun shining, the dew glistening off the grass, a cold beer in your hand and your buddies around you, it's an easy day to be optimistic. "I'd rather be optimistic," Manny Acta said, "than realistic." But try to keep all that in mind when filing your predictions.

(Oh, one last, last thing: I'll be on the Tony Kornheiser radio show (hosted today by David Aldridge) at 9:15 a.m. talking about all this, as well as on "Washington Post Live" on Comcast SportsNet sometime between 5-6:30 tonight, live from RFK. If you care.)

Update: 11:45 a.m. (didn't want to make a whole new post). Lineups:

Florida Marlins (0-0, half game back of the New York Mets in the National League East):
Hanley "ROY" Ramirez -- 6
Dan Uggla -- 4
Miguel Cabrera -- 5
Mike Jacobs -- 3
Josh Willingham -- 7
Joe Borchard -- 9
Miguel Olivo -- 2
Alejandro De Aza -- 8
Dontrelle Willis -- 1

Washington Nationals (0-0, half game back of the New York Mets in National League East):
Felipe Lopez -- 4
Cristian Guzman -- 6 (have you seen what Mithcell Page is saying about this guy? Read notebook in paper this morning.)
Ryan Zimmerman -- 5
Austin Kearns -- 9
Dmitri Young -- 3
Brian Schneider -- 2
Ryan Church -- 7
Nook Logan -- 8
John Patterson -- 1

RACING PRESIDENTS NEWS: I'm not allowed to say what I saw earlier today, but let's just say that one of the 10-foot-tall presidents -- and I certainly won't divulge who -- will be the subject of some level of discussion later today. I mean, WOW.

Enjoy the day, game, season. I'll chime in at some point.

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 2, 2007; 8:42 AM ET
 
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Next: We're in the midst of pregame intros

Comments

.Yes on the podcast. Can't wait for all the Nationals coverage. Won't matter about the night games, I'll devour everything.
So Nats BP is still going to happen before the park opens?
See you in a couple hours

Posted by: rgib in 518 | April 2, 2007 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Very excited to hear about the podcast (RSS feed?), the in-season version of the Journal, and the expanded Nationals presence on WP.com. So, is the plan to pump us up with all these bells and whistles before you go off to Beijing and leave us with some mediocrity?

Posted by: Adam | April 2, 2007 9:02 AM | Report abuse

The Post beat writers for the other local teams all have blogs (though most of them seem to be called "(Team) Insider," so it's appropriate that you should do the same. You do have the disadvantage (in work terms) of having the team play every day, but your plan of a couple daily posts sounds reasonable. Really appreciate whatever you do. Thanks.

Posted by: Cosmo | April 2, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Keep 'em coming. It's a great diversion at work to kind of watch the team from afar and still be able to chat about them at work. Will I be to a game this year, no--I wont be going to an Orioles, Baysox, Keys or any other minor league game this year either--but there is something about the Nats that may drag me back to the ballyard sometime in the distant future.

Posted by: Jarrod | April 2, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Overjoyed. You bet I am overjoyed that the BS blog will continue during the season. As an out of town fan, the fact that the .com portion of the coverage is about to increase is music to my ears. Argh, that attempted backflip was a mistake, ouch. I so look forward to the podcasts with Manny & the guys. GOOD LUCK Nats. Keep up the great work Barry..thank-you so very much for all you do to keep us informed.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | April 2, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to get the things in the Journal that don't make it into the print version of the paper. Just interesting little facts, trivia, and stories, plus any insight you can give regarding the team.

On the W-L prediction front, I'm going to guess the Nats finish the season 68-94 which will let them avoid last place in the division by two games. I'm pegging the Fish to finish in the cellar. With that many young guys, they have to hit a sophomore slump.

Posted by: Kevin | April 2, 2007 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Win-loss prediction: 76-86. I figure not having gutless Tony Armas around is good for at least a 5-game swing in the standings.

Glad to hear the Journal is sticking around for the season.

Posted by: nationals enquirer dot com | April 2, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

St. Barry -

Nats Nation is overjoyed with the notion that Nats Journal will live on during the regular season. One thought on Journal programming for your consideration.

One reason why Steinberg's Bog and Mike and Ivan's Wizards Insider are so successful to the fans is the glimpse into the personalities of the players. While I am now fully abreast of how crazy Agent Zero is along with his band of (mostly) merry men, I had no idea, for example, that Damien Jackson was completely insane and did table dives in the locker room last year. While you shared pieces of Guillen's insanity when it related to his on the field and teammate issues, we have little feel for who is funny, quirky, respected, or the laughing stock (hopefully in a good natured way) of the Nats clubhouse. A little glimpse into the players personalities, while ensuring that you can do your day job by not ticking them off too much, would round out the Nats experience, at least for me. And I am one of the 5(000?) who read the Journal religiously and subscribe to the $.35 version.

Just my $.02. Have a great year and see you in a few hours (just look down to Sec. 215 from the press box and say hello).

Posted by: WebberDC | April 2, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Barry - you are indeed awesome!!

As many have already offered, I would read anything posted here and my only likely disappointment will be that there is (understandably) only one or two posts per day at most. I'm stoked about the expanded Nats coverage in the paper-post, especially the minor league notebook...all of this information is just downright great.

As for W-L record...the nationals enquirer has it right, I think the departure of some of the gutless stiffs we had in the rotation last year will improve this team. But only slightly: 74-88.

Posted by: DE | April 2, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Is the Post hiring for all this online wonderment? ;-)

Posted by: misschatter | April 2, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

About the blog - it'd be a great place to put things like "was at the cage today and Church looks like he's favoring his right leg". Basically the notebook just without having to dress it up as if it's in a newspaper.

Posted by: section 406 | April 2, 2007 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Woo hoo re nats journal!

Nice that the front page article (A1) is yet another negative article about baseball in washington. It would be nice if the news editors tried to be somewhat balanced, especially on opening day.

Posted by: Larry | April 2, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

PS: Change nationals journal from reports from viera!

Posted by: Larry | April 2, 2007 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Barry!
I'm too excited for words about the expanded Nats coverage and continuing Journal action.

I would love to see what many have already mentioned: clubhouse antics, chemistry, little notes from Mitchell Page or Randy St. Claire on certain players, and the like.

When are your chats going to start up again? If the Journal is only going to be updated 1 or 2 times a day, I need something else to sate my hunger. DC might not be a baseball town yet, but we are a sports town, and the more coverage and stats you give, the more people will pay attention.

I love anything extra you can cover on the Nats. Doesn't even matter what it is. Nationals = Life.

In regards to season predictions, I'm going to go with a 75-87. Let's just hope that they don't follow the Viera slogan. Nationals Season good, in Viera, Better.

Posted by: NattyDelite! | April 2, 2007 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Barry, Saw Bill Ladson last night on Comcast Sportsnight. He said last year Nationals Clubhouse was the worst he's ever seen, with loads of "very bad" team mates and self proclaimed leaders that weren't. He said this year's chemistry is excellent. He also said that he wouldn't be surprised if the team finished over .500. What do you think about that?
And, who do you suppose were the bad eggs?

Posted by: 6th and D | April 2, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Great news on continuing the journal. Adds depth to the MLB scoreboard for games at work where I can't listen or view. Thanks so much for the hard work.
-HJMcK

Posted by: HJMcK | April 2, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I don't even know where to start Barry...

For the best RFK memories I'll just imagine I'm some old coot taking a grandkid to the ballpark for the first time.

In my best old man voice..."The first MLB game I ever attended was way back in '05". "It was in an ancient, rundown stadium called RFK but man, that place literally rocked." "I remember taking your mom with me when she was a whipper-snapper and when we first walked out of the tunnel and saw the field, we both just stared, speechless." "In that game the manager, an old guy named Frank Robinson, somehow protested a ball that should have been a home run (it hit the foul pole) and actually got a run subtracted from the score board!" "The next year, your mom and I finally got your Grandmother to come to a game." "The Yankees were ahead of the Nats by seven runs but we never gave up." "The Nats ended up winning in a terrific come from behind game." "I told your Grandmother that some people go to games their whole lives and never see a game like that."

Podcasts? Apple will love you Barry. I now will buy an Ipod.

Prediction? 162-0 ;-) Seriously though, with our benchmark being what, 120 losses, we are being set up for a great ride, even at 70 wins.

Oh...and hire misschatter! :)

Posted by: Eric | April 2, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Awesome that the Journal will continue. 2x awesome that the BS podcast is born: and for that, how about sharing the love and letting the boys on the bench get some light. Say, for example, "Fick on Films" every Wednesday, or "Chris Snelling throws a Shrimp on the Barby" every friday with restaurant reviews, etc...could be a fun thing to record during BP.

Posted by: derek | April 2, 2007 11:18 AM | Report abuse

As an out of town fan (and soon to be out of continent fan!), I can definately say that the podcasts will be a blessing. Look forward to them all.

And thanks for all your hard work!!!

Posted by: Kirkie | April 2, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Win-loss prediction: 81-81.

Posted by: Riain | April 2, 2007 11:23 AM | Report abuse

Barry,

Thanks for keeping the journal going during the season. I guess it means extra work for you but we love it, especially during the time when the games are during the day and not on the radio or TV. I think you're right in your estimation that lack of other channels of information makes the journal more important. I think the journal would be a great venue for those details and tidbits that aren't or are not yet ready to kill a tree over.

My worst RFK experience came when I sat in the front row of sec 331 and when a foul ball came my way it hit my wrist and fell to the lower level. I got (rightfully) severely booed by the upper deck crowd. What shame.

And my w/l prediction is 81 wins because just having a home team is still a big victory.

Posted by: i hate walks | April 2, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Yay!!!! Opening Day! Sun is shining! Life is good!

Posted by: Just happy | April 2, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I appreciate the Journal as a fan from afar. I now live in Atlanta (having grown up in the DC area), and now I have my own team to root for against Braves.

Posted by: cafeej | April 2, 2007 11:55 AM | Report abuse

Two players names Jesus on the 25 player roster. And Palm Sunday was yesterday...

I have a good feeling about this season already.

Posted by: the cheat | April 2, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Anything to keep the buzz going on the team. And if not for a meeting this afternoon, I would have cut work and headed to RFK.

74-88.

Posted by: BoysOfSummer | April 2, 2007 12:18 PM | Report abuse

Note to cafeej...I'm also an out of towner these days in SC...when I come to see the Nats in Atlanta, maybe we can hook up..GO NATS..thanks again Barry for all you do.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | April 2, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Yes on podcast, I check the journal three times a day and love its informality and your dry humor. Thanks for all you do, I really appreciate it!

Posted by: phillip | April 2, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Gee, that story sounds familiar. Had a friend that went to a game and had the same fate in just about the same seats!!! Hope he plays better on the field than in the stands!!!

Posted by: RE: I hate walks | April 2, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Boy I hope it's at least 70 wins! Go Nats!

Posted by: Patty | April 2, 2007 4:30 PM | Report abuse

One item is needed on the Nats Box scores in print. SO -Strike Outs. The most unproductive of a at bat. Include this and I will not need to go to MLB.Com's Box Scores for this.

Speaking of a Baseball Town, I saw several of the giveaway shirts from Viera a month ago. That Is a good sign.

The Blue seats at Vierra are they the same ones that are going in Nationals Park?

Posted by: Dave | April 2, 2007 8:11 PM | Report abuse

gotta say, I don't much care about the podcast, but whatever. Love the blog, even love the fishwrap. Keep up the good work, B.
Prediction: 80-81, as the Nats get jobbed by fate again, not getting to make up an earlier rainout and missing the chance to finish even.

Posted by: Willie Gandebol | April 2, 2007 8:44 PM | Report abuse

Barry, I hope the Post is giving you a significant raise for your increased workload.

Greatest RFK Memory: The annual Cowboys-Redskins game. The atmosphere was incredible. The tailgaters always arrived early. The building would shake. The crowd noise was deafening.

Record: 68-94, I'm going with Vegas, baby! Shawn Hill is the team's MVP.

Posted by: B-Dog | April 3, 2007 12:23 AM | Report abuse

One of my favorite stories about RFK was having Mickey Mantle lose his temper with me. Along with a friend I had gone to the stadium for a Sunday double header against the Yankees back in May of 1963. We bought cheap seats in the upper deck along the third base line, but the crowd was sparse (18,000 +). So, as the games went along, we worked our way down to the lower deck and eventually to the side of the Yankee dugout. It was a long afternoon of baseball, and the players were getting tired as the day passed. My friend and me began razzing the Yankees as they returned to the dugout during a losing effort in the second game. Eventually, when Mantle limped in from the field, we were standing and shrilling, "yea, Mickey; yea, Yogi," etc. He looked up, saw us, and without a word, flipped us the finger before ducking down into the dugout. We were simultaneously thrilled and aghast that an icon of the game would do that. Only later did I find out how crude he could get, especially when he was intoxicated.

Posted by: Dana | April 3, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

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