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For Ian Desmond, 'there's just going to be errors'

Morning roundup

Ian Desmond made two errors last night, which brings his total for the season to nine, the most of any shortstop in the major leagues. One of the errors could have been avoided - Adam Dunn made a high throw, and Desmond had to make an awkward stretch to make the catch. Desmond should have made the play, but Dunn could have made it easier.

Several errors for Desmond have been tough luck. On opening day, he caught an in-between hop on the first ball ever hit to him as an everyday big league shortstop, while butterflies still fluttered inside him. He made one error on a short-hop throw Dunn believes he should have fielded. He has tremendous range, and he can make errors on balls other shortstops don't get to - FanGraphs's range rating declares him the second rangiest in the majors.

But there have been errors. The Nationals believe they have a defensive gem in Desmond. They also know he is going to make some errors. Desmond's brilliance and promise will be on display during his rookie season; he went 70 straight chances over 18 games without committing an error. But so will his inexperience. The Nationals are fine with that.

"Desi, when we made the decision that he's going to play the shortstop the majority of the ballgames, we kind of put a number there," Manager Jim Riggleman said. "Any new shortstop in the league, whether you're 22, 23 years old, whatever, 24-years old. You're pretty much getting your first year in there at shortstop, there's just going to be errors. I don't know if anyone will go out there, as athletic as Desi is, and come away at the end of the year and you've got 12 errors. It just doesn't happen. You're going to make errors. But if he ends up with X amount of errors, I guarantee the next year it will be less, and the next year it will be half of what the first year was. And then it will keep going down. Just, these great shortstops, like Desi's going to be, it's always going to work that way. We don't have anything to change there. Desi will learn from his mistakes."


The Nationals played a lousy game in a 10-7 loss to the Mets. They played hard and nearly came back, but players focused more on the manner in which they lost rather than how they almost won.

The Nationals will begin interleague play against the Orioles today, and Miguel Tejada is feeling right at home, Gene Wang writes.


Syracuse 4, Rochester 3: Peter Orr went 2 for 3 with a double. Justin Maxwell went 2 for 5. Jeff Mandel allowed one run on five hits and a walk in seven innings, striking out five.

Harrisburg 3, Reading 2: Danny Espinosa went 2 for 3 with a triple. Chris Marrero went 2 for 4. Andrew Kown allowed one run on six hits and a walk, striking out seven in 5 1/3 innings. Mike MacDougal blew a save and has a 7.20 ERA.

Potomac 7, Frederick 5: Tim Pahuta went 2 for 5 with a home run and a double. Bill Rhinehart went 1 for 2 with a homer. Cole Kimball earned a save by striking out four in two perfect innings.

Hagerstown 10, Delmarva 6: Justin Bloxom went 3 for 5 with a double and three RBI. Francisco Soriano went 2 for 5 with a double and a walk. Jack McGeary allowed three runs in five innings on six hits and two walks, striking out four.


Advanced numbers say Livan Hernandez is on one of the luckiest stretches in baseball history, Dave Cameron at FanGraphs writes.

The Nationals will need to drop a starter from their rotation for Stephen Strasburg, and Mark Zuckerman writes Luis Atilano did not help his cause last night.

Tyler Walker has become a mentor to young relievers, Bill Ladson says.

Joe Posnanski wrote the other day about Stephen Strasburg, stoking pangs of inadequacy within your humble beat writer.

By Adam Kilgore  |  May 21, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Ian Desmond  
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Next: Nationals release Willy Taveras


He's living up to his minor league reputation for poor fielding and streaky hitting. I hope we get to see what Danny Espinosa can do later in the year.

Posted by: longhorn64 | May 21, 2010 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Good grief--Only Zimmerman and Willingham have more RBI's than Desmond--Only Zim and Dunn more total bases (OK, Willingham has a couple more too)--Only Rodriquez, Guzman, and Zim with a higher batting average. And, despite his errors, Desmond's defense has been outstanding overall.
I generally avoid personal attacks, but Longhorn's post tempts me.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | May 21, 2010 8:25 AM | Report abuse

That is a vain hope longhorn. Or did you not take Riggs at his word. Desmond is fielding the position better than Guzman last year and is hitting better than Guzman in '06.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | May 21, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Desi is making a great case for be playing 2B in 2011 or 2012 when Espinosa (a sure handed shortstop already) comes to Nats Park!

Posted by: markfd | May 21, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

I don't think Atilano is long for this world.

Since his strong start on 4/23, each succeeding start has seen him last the same number or fewer innings than the previous. He has not had a quality start since 4/28. The trend is definitely down:

4/23 - 6.0 IP, 5 H 1 R 1 ER 2 BB
4/28 - 6.0 IP, 6 H 2 R 2 ER 3 BB
5/05 - 5.1 IP, 7 H 6 R 6 ER 5 BB
5/10 - 5.1 IP, 5 H 0 R 0 ER 2 BB
5/15 - 5.0 IP, 4 H 3 R 3 ER 4 BB
5/20 - 4.1 IP, 9 H 7 R 6 ER 3 BB

When Strasburg comes up, I think Alitano goes back to Syracuse - maybe before if he has another bad outing. His ERA is now 5.06, his WHIP is 1.719.

With Stras, Livan, a hopefully healthy Lannan, and Olsen, I think we're looking at a pretty good starting-4 rotation come June.

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 21, 2010 8:50 AM | Report abuse

Desi is doing just fine. He's a rookie playing a very tough position, he will continue to get better.

I'm finally starting to feel some hope that this Titanic has stopped taking on water. If someone would have told me 2 months ago we would be 21-21 right now, I would have told them to put the crackpipe down. Thank God for Rizzo.

Unfortunately, this franchise taking the next step forward hinges on the Lerner's and StanK this offseason. They will need to add 2-3 pieces via Free Agency and I'm just not fully confident in their ability to open the checkbook.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

Sec505 - I think the Lerners don't mind spending money, but they want value for the money. They're not Dan Snyder, falling in love with a big fat name and writing a big fat check, and Rizzo seems to be on board with that. The Plan seems to be working; I suspect the FO is hoping for Flores to return 100%, which will let them put Harper in RF in mid-June 2011. Then all our problems will be solved and we'll live happily ever after...

But what do I know?

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 21, 2010 9:15 AM | Report abuse

Yay, Morning Brushback, with photo! :-)

No need for inadequacy pangs, imo. You're pretty much getting your first year in there at NJ. Several errors have been tough luck (daggone spellcheckers...grrr), and you break some stories that other writers just don't get to. Now, go get 'em!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

And you, too, Desi. You'll be fine. Now, go get those dirty birds!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | May 21, 2010 9:19 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone have an update as to where Detweiler's recovery is?

Posted by: TheycallmeThriiiiiiilledge | May 21, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Anyone have an update on where Detweiler's recovery is?

Posted by: TheycallmeThriiiiiiilledge | May 21, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Dang - just read Zuckerman's piece AFTER my first post here on Alitano. I swear I read it AFTER I posted. Please don't hate me.

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 21, 2010 9:31 AM | Report abuse


Harper up with the Nats before his 19th birthday? That would be something. I tried doing a search on the youngest modern era players. A-Rod got to the show a couple of weeks before turning 19. Griffey was almost 20. Can't think of any others off the top of my head, but that would be pretty impressive company if he were to do it.

Posted by: rnkorby | May 21, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Yount, too. He was 18.

Posted by: rnkorby | May 21, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Unlikely that Espinosa has Desi's range? Why not Desi at SS and Espinosa at 2B? Meanwhile, Guzzie is morphing into the next Lennie Harris, a PH supreme. Can we sign him (at an appropriate price of course) for that role next year, and to back up at 2B, 3B, and SS? I suppose it's unlikely that, because of his salary, he'll attract offers from other clubs at the trading deadline, no matter how well he's hitting.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | May 21, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Mel Ott was a few weeks past his 17th birthday when he played his first ML game, was a semi-regular the next season, and full-time in his third season at age 19.

Okay, that was 1926. But Harper is supposed to be a once-in-a-generation talent.

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 21, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Wasn't Kaline up with the Tigers before his 20th?

Posted by: BinM | May 21, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Adam - you're not the only one the Poz humbles with his writing. "A curve so sick it had to be hospitalized for three days afterwards..." Brilliant. As somebody who writes and edits for a living, he's one of my favorites.

And Desi, well, this shows why counting errors is a (mostly) useless stat. Zimm makes double-digit errors every year and is now (finally) being seen as what he is - the best defensive 3b in the league. Desi's going to make 30 errors this year. maybe more. and it won't matter because he'll get to at least that many balls that Guzman wouldn't have gotten to. His range will lead him to make far more extra outs than his admittedly too-high number of errors will lead him to give back.

Posted by: Highway295Revisited | May 21, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

CapPeterson1: The next Lenny Harris? Please!! more insults for the leading hitter on this team i swear we as a fan base are never satisfied; trade bait, poor fielder,can't hit from the left side,any more issues for the leading hitter on this team? not to mention he's also hitting in the clutch better than Dunn or Zimm and stop talking about his salary he didn't put a gun to anybody's head in my mind he's justifies his salary they got a kid at Syracuse who hasn't pitched an inning in the majors and he ain't making peanuts.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 21, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Pudge Rodriguez debuted with the Rangers on June 20, 1991. He turned 20 on Nov 27 of that same year. Perhaps he could mentor Harper.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

Kaline broke in at 18, was a regular at 19, won the batting title at 20. And never won it again.

Had a pretty good career, though, I'm told...

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 21, 2010 10:07 AM | Report abuse

This just in ..Tony the Kornheiser said today .."I don't care about the Nats".... but when Boz is writing about other subjects he is a good writer .....

So it goes ....

Posted by: CBinDC | May 21, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

After Des was named the starting SS, Boswell wrote something about expectations for the first year and essentially said he’ll commit 20+ errors. It comes with the territory.

Posted by: gonatsgo1 | May 21, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

It's simply not a problem. Desmond looks like the real deal.

I'm more concerned about Zimm's erratic performances at 3d.

Posted by: JohnRDC | May 21, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Mel Ott (old old old school)?, Al Kaline (in my time, but played mostly when I was a kid)? Way too much pressure on Harper, people. Sign him with intention of letting him make the "regular" progression in the minors subject to being Strasburg like in his performance. Grammer/Diction moment Section506-I believe "will" is the better choice of word in your pronouncement. No one doubts the "ability" of the Lerners to spend money.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | May 21, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

You know, I will admit that years ago I enjoyed some of Kornheiser’s stuff and thought he did a good job of combining sports commentary with his usual cultural witticisms. But he’s become a smarmy, unfunny man who thinks it’s the height of cool to trash the Nats at every turn. He and Wilbon, with his “…I’ve never set foot in Nats Park…,” are a couple of empty shells of what they once were.

Posted by: gonatsgo1 | May 21, 2010 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I was at the game last night with my son and his little league team. UGLY stuff on the field, but they made it interesting at the end.

I'm also reposting this from the "Shagging" incident (so many possible jokes there....):

What I'm trying to figure out is how he got close enough to a fly ball in the first place!!

watch and see what I mean:

Posted by: TimDz | May 21, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Couldn't agree more on the empty shells comment, gonatsgo1. I've listened to the redux of the Tony Korneheiser Show and it's almost unlistenable. He now hates everyone: hispanics (2008 MNF), Hannah Storm (2010), cyclists generally and Lance Armstrong specifically (2010). No wonder the Post dumped him.

Posted by: Jeff_Jackson | May 21, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

My bad: Tony insulted cyclists, then Armstrong called him an effin idiot.

So who cares if he hates the Nats.

Posted by: Jeff_Jackson | May 21, 2010 11:18 AM | Report abuse


Didn't mean to insult the Guz. Saying he's going to be the next great classic NL PH was not meant as an insult. But, looking forward, I see him ideally as a spot starter as needed at the IF spots and, when needed, a secret weapon to bring off the bench at just the right moment in the game. Not putting down his hitting from the left side at all: his ability to hit from both sides would stymie the percentage-playing LaRussas of the world. As far as trading him later in the year, my ideal scenario would be to trade him for a prospect (as we did with Nick Johnson) and then resign him in the offseason.

Posted by: CapPeterson1 | May 21, 2010 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I tried asking this late in last night's thread, didn't get much response, so I'll try again, hoping one of the smart NJ-ers will reply:

Strasburg is expected on 6/4. Current rotation would have Hernandez pitching that night, and Atilano pitching the next night.

The question is this: are the Nats more interested in maintaining Strasburg's personal 5-day rotation plan, or the Nat's existing rotation?

If they're taking care of Strasburg, then 6/4 seems more likely (let Hernandez have an extra day's rest, taking over Atilano's spot in the order, and all the other SP's stay in normal rotation).

But if the Nats are making their own rotation a priority, then it would make more sense to have Strasburg sit an extra day and take over Atilno's spot himself.

And the reason I care? I bought three 6/4 tickets last night at $30 each, way more than I ordinarily pay (that's all that was available), and wonder if I've got the wrong day.

Mgmt has no incentive to hit the anticipated 6/4 date -- they've not promised a thing, and would benefit even more if they start Strasburg on another day, selling out *two* games.

Posted by: hats4bats | May 21, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

CapPeterson1: No need to apologize i'm a little touchy about the Guz plus the fact that the owner's son comes in this am bragging about the Braves comeback yesterday(he went to the game) and then asked me "how did the Nats do"(as if he cared) wanted to cold cock him(lmao!) any way good point about the Guz and prospect's.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 21, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Dargremag hit all the points re: Guz being under-appreciated. Riggs deserves credit for getting him in the lineup as much as he has. And what an asset he's become off the bench! Anybody who questioned Guz's attitude should re-evaluate.

Posted by: nats24 | May 21, 2010 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Tony K is a joke and a know nothing as far as the Nat's are concerned and his butt boy Wilbon is a front running punk never mind that Wilbon jumped to negative conclusions about the tragic death of Redskin Sean Taylor, i don't read or watch either one of them and the best thing that happened to MNF was the subtraction of one Tony Kornheiser the less said about either one of them the better.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 21, 2010 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Hats4bats, one reason it might be the 4th is that he can then pitch again on the 10th, which is the only way the Lerners get two Strasburg outings (and two sellouts) on that short home stand and keep the rotation in relative order. On the other hand, if the 4th sells out early, it wouldn't shock me if the Lerners put him in on the 5th (guaranteeing another high attendence day) and then pitch him again on the 10th, but that would either involve knocking some other pitcher out of the rotation or giving Livan too much rest, which wouldn't make as much sense.

Posted by: elijah383 | May 21, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

RE: Strasburg debut. Yeah, it’s been analyzed to death and I grant you that we still don’t know for sure as of this morning. However, any number of sources have said that 6/4 is the most likely date. If he does go on the 4th then they can also get him a 2nd start on that home stand the next week versus PITT. And consider that the PITT series was likely going to draw jack, this gives the club a nice weekend for the Reds series, plus the added bonus of, if not a sellout, a big crowd for one of the Pirate games. Cha-ching.

Posted by: gonatsgo1 | May 21, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Yes, analyzed to death I'm sure, I just didn't have to care until it was costing me money, so I'm late to the discussion!

Anyway, looking at it further, seems like the best solution for both seat-selling and the existing rotation is to have Strasburg take Atilano's spot on 6/5. Then have Olsen 6/6, skip Stammen for one round (off day 6/7), Lannan 6/8, Hernandez 6/9, and Strasburg again 6/10.

6/4 is already virtually a sellout. 6/5 would become one too, likewise 6/10. So that would be THREE sellouts in the homestand.

I guess I just need to be ready to buy for 6/5 too. We really want to be there for that first game, like everyone else in Nats Town.

Posted by: hats4bats | May 21, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Well this has been quite the day on the old radio.... Jim Palmer just said Strasburg will end up with the Yankees it's just matter of how long.....

And so it goes

Posted by: CBinDC1 | May 21, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Palmer, eh? Never say never I suppose, but sounds like some sour grapes to me after their hometown boy, Teixeira, ended up in NYC and later said his favorite team as a kid (growing up in Severna Park no less) was the M.F. Yankees. Ha!

Posted by: gonatsgo1 | May 21, 2010 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Gee, has anyone considered the possibility that Riggleman might decide to start Strasburg on the day that works out best for the team's W-L record and for his pitching staff?

Radical crazy stuff, I know...

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 21, 2010 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Well this has been quite the day on the old radio.... Jim Palmer just said Strasburg will end up with the Yankees it's just matter of how long.....

Jim's a bit fatalistic on this subject. Sitting in Baltimore watching the Yankees spend his team into irrelevance for 30+ years will do that.

Posted by: zimbar | May 21, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

"Gee, has anyone considered the possibility that Riggleman might decide to start Strasburg on the day that works out best for the team's W-L record and for his pitching staff?"

That would pretty much be any day he decides to start him, wouldn't it? And anyway, it's Rizzo's decision when to bring Strasburg up. Are you seriously saying that Riggleman might see him in the clubhouse one day and say "I think I'll wait to start him until next Tuesday"? No way.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

nunof1 - No. But when I see people speculating that Rigg might interrupt the rotation order just to get an extra start at home... Pitchers are weird creatures, get thrown off their game by odd stuff. Bring Stras up, then tell the whole staff, "Okay, everybody, we're shifting the rotation around to get the new guy an extra start on the homestand." Yeah, maybe you put a few thousand extra seats in the park one day, but how does that affect the rest of the rotation? How does that affect Strasburg, knowing that the whole team is being juggled around for his (or the owners') benefit? Not to worry - it's not like anyone has overblown expectations of him, (see Schilling, C.) so it's not like it might be too much pressure for a rookie to handle, is it?

I think Strasburg comes up and takes Atilano's start on the day Atliano is scheduled to pitch.

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 21, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

@Sunderland -- Sorry to have been right about this. I wasn't the only one to express the general sentiment though.

Desmond is doing fine and will improve. Nyjer will turn it around. Hang tight, this year has been better than expected so far.


Just was getting caught up and reading prior posts, especially the one about Atilano and an animated discussion between posters about Atilano v Stammen.

@BobLHead - Hope you're out here tonight. Big time props on your 4:00 pm posting. You were off by 1.1 innings, but otherwise, dead on.

Fozzie beat me to it, a closer look at numbers favors Stammen over Atilano. You don't even need to be a seamhead to see it. For example, Stammen's WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) is 1.40 whereas Atilano's is 1.55. And Stammen's WHIP was 1.29 over 105 innings last year and would be better than that this year if not for a single bad outing on April 13 when he gave up 7 hits and a walk in 1.1 innings. Atilano has made a grand total of 5 starts in the majors and, while he hasn't had a stinker yet, his next start could easily put his ERA above Stammen's. In fact, if he were to give up 6 runs in 3 innings in his next start, his ERA would be a cool 5.86. Would you rather have the guy with 25 strikeouts against 10 walks or the guy with 14 strikeouts against 16 walks? That's right, you'd rather have Craig Stammen. Nothing against Luis, he's been able to fill the hole and hopefully will continue to improve and be an asset in the future. At the moment, however, Stammen is the surer thing and the better pitcher.

Posted by: BobLHead | May 20, 2010 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Sunderland | May 20, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: BobLHead | May 21, 2010 1:23 PM | Report abuse

That was good, but I'm going with
"Inconceivable -- and, yes, I do know what that word means."
Adam - you're not the only one the Poz humbles with his writing. "A curve so sick it had to be hospitalized for three days afterwards..." Brilliant. As somebody who writes and edits for a living, he's one of my favorites.
Posted by: Highway295Revisited | May 21, 2010 10:00 AM

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 21, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

"Pitchers are weird creatures, get thrown off their game by odd stuff. Bring Stras up, then tell the whole staff, "Okay, everybody, we're shifting the rotation around to get the new guy an extra start on the homestand."

They don't have to shift the rotation around at all. If the chosen date coincides with the scheduled start of whoever Strasburg replaces in the rotation, you just plop him right in. If it doesn't, then Strasburg pitches on the chosen day and moves everyone else one day forward until they hit the day for the guy who's gone and then they're caught up again. The net effect on everyone else is no different than a rainout. Or, if Riggleman wants to juggle around the order a bit he could do that too because most all of them have been given an extra day off and thus they could be flipped around easily. My point? Don't over-analyze something that's basically a no brainer. If he pitches 6/4 they get two big paydays, if he doesn't they only get one.

Posted by: nunof1 | May 21, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

and no, I don't have tickets for the 4th, but I am enjoying this.
The Rochester hitters have seen Cincinnati mega-prospect Aroldis Chapman a couple of times this year -- they faced him just a few days ago, in fact. And, hitter after hitter, pitcher after pitcher, they say there is no comparison. Chapman is a talented 22-year-old pitcher who still has a lot to learn.

And Strasburg?

"He's a horse," Nieto says, and you get the sense he doesn't have a higher compliment to offer a young pitcher.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | May 21, 2010 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Just to add to the discussion, but it really has no bearing on Harper.

Joe Nuxhall debuted in the Majors for the Reds during WWII, when there was a player shortage, at the age of 15.

Posted by: Section505203 | May 21, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

For Chrisakes, Desmond isn't doing any worse defensively than Guzman has over the last 4 years. Give him a chance. Rookies make errors. He already shown he can hit and make the occasional great play. I'd rather see the Nats invest the time in him than in another no-range big dollar SS.

Posted by: themarks1 | May 21, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

nunof - Was responding to hats4bats, who was speculating about pushing Livo off an extra day to accommodate Strasburg. I don't think Riggs is going to play around with the rotation. Just my $0.02.

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 21, 2010 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Here's some error numbers - consecutive years for the same guy, playing short regularly:


Obviously playing out of position. Someone needs to get him out of there before he gets hurt.

Then suddenly:

11 (Gold Glove)
12 (Gold Glove)

That's right, he didn't win the Gold Glove the year he made only 3 errors at short. And he was the starting shortstop at every single game that year.

You've already guessed it was Cal Ripken, haven't you?

Posted by: gilbertbp | May 21, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Yep, put me in the camp with the others who have said Strasburg is Rizzo’s call. With all due respect to Riggs, this one is above his pay grade (for now). And can you imagine what Kasten’s doing these days. He’s got to be absolutely quivering with anticipation over what’s likely to be a couple of huge pay days in early June. Of course – as every veteran Nats fan knows those crowds are going to wreak havoc with our crack food and beverage vendors. Anything over 25K and its chaos with them. Eat before the game.

Posted by: gonatsgo1 | May 21, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

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