On Location in Gaithersburg

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Mary and I had a delightful time yesterday at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. Made some new friends; reconnected with old ones; sold some books. Many thanks to the good folks of Gaithersburg for pulling it off in the face of some challenging weather.

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Star Wars night at Camden Yards

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Went up to the Yards last night to see the Birds take on Tampa Bay. It was billed as Star Wars night and many in the crowd wore appropriate costumes. Kevin Gausman started for the O’s and was very impressive. Good stuff, good command of the strike zone. Tampa was continually getting men on base but Kevin was tough when it mattered.

Meanwhile Baltimore’s own Jedi, Manny Machado had a night worthy of Anakin Skywalker. A two run home run in the first to give the Birds the lead. Then in the bottom of the 7th, the Orioles get the bases loaded with none out. Tampa brings in a reliever who strikes out Mancini and Jones. It’s all up to Manny. And Manny delivers – a grand slam home run that ices it for the Orioles. A great night for Manny Machado.

Of course in Star Wars, Anakin Skywalker goes over to the Dark side and becomes Darth Vader. Will Manny do the same? There are all those rumors about the Yankees…

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Bottoming out?

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Sometimes you get so deep into a hole that the only place you can look at it up. Perhaps the Orioles have reached that point.

I went up to the Yards last night to see the Birds take on the Kansas City Royals. The Royals are an interesting team, not necessarily good, but interesting. Most of the players in their starting lineup are sporting pretty good batting averages.

Chris Tillman started for the Birds. I have seen a lot of Chris over the years. At his best, he was a borderline All Star, a gutsy performer who never got rattled no matter how tight things became.

Those days have passed. Chris’ velocity, never that high to begin with, is down. And his command of the strike zone seems to have deserted him. Not a good combination.

John Jay leads off for KC. He singles. Wild pitch to second. Then two walks. Then Perez hits a grand slam home run. Birds are down 4-0 with the same scarcely fifteen minutes old. Two more KC runs in the second inning and Chris Tillman is gone. His ERA is now over 10. Last year his ERA was 7.86. I don’t know how much more of this we can take.

The thing is, though – the Birds didn’t quit. They starting hitting. And hit some more. And still more. Fourteen base hits in all. Not one of them was cheap. Several shots into the gap in right-center. And three home runs (Machado, Jones, Mancini). Every player in the lineup had at least one hit, except for the “other Chris.” Chris Davis was 0 for 4 with three stakeouts. I’m not sure what the answer is here.

But let’s stay focused on the positive. Miguel Castro came in and pitched 4 plus innings of solid relief with his 95 plus fastball. He’s so thin, you have to wonder if he has the stamina to be an every-five-day rotation starter. But I do think he has earned the right to be given a shot.

So in the end, what started out as a dreary ’same old, same old’ evening turned out to be a lot of fun. We’ll see if they can keep it up tonight. Through a quirk of my personal scheduling, I’ll be there. O’s vs Tampa (another ‘interesting’ team). And we’re finally getting some good baseball weather. Play Ball!

 

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Coming Soon

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I will be one of the exhibiting authors at the Gaithersburg Book Festival, Saturday May 19. This is the first time I’ve been accepted (I had applied two other years) so it’s sort of a big deal for me.

http://gaithersburgbookfestival.org/

 

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Timing is everything

 

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After enduring a number of April games in sub-arctic temperatures, I finally got a taste of good ol’ baseball weather. The temp may have been in the 90’s but up in the fourth deck, in the shade, with a slight breeze, it was great. Afternoon baseball. It’s the best.

As I was filing out of Nats Park, the scoreboard proclaimed that the hero of the game was Nats closer Sean Doolittle. Wrong! And it wasn’t even Trea Turner who hit the sixth inning homerun that broke the scoreless tie. The hero was Nats manager Dave Martinez.

For the first five innings the two starting pitchers – Jeremy Hellickson for the Nats (who I last saw pitching for the Birds) and Trevor Williams for the Pirates – were able to sail through the opposition hitters using a steady diet of slow stuff. Thorn in the top of the sixth, Polanco hit a two out single for the Pirates. That was enough for Dave. Out he comes and summons a reliever. You could tell that Jeremy was not happy. Tough, Jeremy. The manager’s job is not to make you happy.

Then in the bottom of the sixth, Difo leads off with a single. No one is throwing in the Pittsburgh bullpen. Two homeruns later they manage to get a fresh arm in there.

The Nats seem to have settled into a bullpen plan of Kintzler in the 7th; Madson in the 8th; Doolittle in the ninth. That’s fine. It’s good to plan. But sometimes you have to adjust. Top of the eighth, Pittsburgh gets two men on (hit batsman, single) with one out. Frazier then hits a would-be double play grounder to Kendrick. And Howie boots it. All hands are safe. It’s not Madson’s fault. Still Martinez would feel better with Doolittle in there and he makes the switch. And the Nats cruise to a 3-1 victory.

This is the first time I’ve seen manager Dave Martinez in action (OK, I was at the Mets game back in April but I was mainly focusing on my winter survival skills at the time) and I was very impressed.

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Vienna

The town of Vienna has an annual election in early May to choose town council members and, in alternate years, its mayor. Fairfax County administers this election. This year the rovers were encouraged to serve as election officers for this event. It’s a way to “keep us in the game,” so to speak, so I signed up and served in yesterday’s election.

There was only one candidate on the ballot for mayor and exactly three candidates on the ballot to fill the three open seats on the council. Folks could do write-ins of course, but still it would seem to be the epitome of a low stress election which indeed it was.

While we never had any lines of consequence, there was a steady stream, of voters all day. Some of the folks joked about the lack of competition but it was nice to see so many citizens making the effort to come out and exercise their prerogative.

By the end of the day 534 people had voted. All the announced candidates did win although there were 18 write-ins for mayor and 42 for town council.

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If it is Saturday, then it must be West Virginia

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Mary and I completed our mini-book tour yesterday in Martinsburg, West Virginia at their Chocolate Fest-Book Faire. We were stationed at Boyd’s Steakhouse with one other author. Somehow my name got misspelled on the poster but ‘no harm; no foul.’ Met some nice people and had a most enjoyable day. We’ve done a lot of driving in the past four days. Three cheers for Mary who kept me from going off the rails numerous times.

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