More can be mer­rier in the play­off party

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather -

The uni­verse is ex­pand­ing. I know this be­cause I heard it once in a Woody Allen movie. And as the char­ac­ter noted with ap­pro­pri­ate dread, “if it’s ex­pand­ing, some­day it will break apart and that would be the end of ev­ery­thing!”

It should be no sur­prise, then, that the Ma­jor League Base­ball play­offs are ex­pand­ing from eight teams to 10 this sea­son. It’s the nat­u­ral or­der of things, a cos­mic force that sim­ply can’t be de­nied. What’s the fa­mous say­ing? Oh, yes: If you’re not grow­ing, you’re dy­ing. (It’s just that some peo­ple, like CC Sa­bathia, take it a lit­tle too lit­er­ally.)

Purists may worry that the post­sea­son is be­ing fur­ther pol­luted by also-rans, but heck, there was the po­ten­tial for an 83-win club to win the World Se­ries. Wit­ness the 2006 St. Louis Car­di­nals. Once base­ball split into di­vi­sions in the ’60s, the horse was of­fi­cially out of the barn.

talked al­most ev­ery day. They played on the Dutch Na­tional Team in 2007. That was the first time Ber­nad­ina no­ticed Hal­man’s raw abil­ity: power, arm, and speed.

“I saw him on the field hit­ting the ball,” Ber­nad­ina said. “Oh, my god. That guy was un­be­liev­able.”

In Novem­ber, Hal­man and Ber­nad­ina joined a group of ma­jor lea­guers tour­ing Europe. A week af­ter they parted, Ber­nad­ina’s phone buzzed with calls and text mes­sages. Hal­man was dead. It’s not true, Ber­nad­ina in­sisted. But the mes­sages kept com­ing. Ber­nad­ina re­fused to be­lieve them.

The mes­sages told a hor­rific story. Hal­man’s brother, Ja­son, played mu­sic loudly that night to sti­fle voices in his head, ac­cord­ing to the Seat­tle Times. The broth­ers aruged about the mu­sic. And then, the pa­per said, Ja­son Hal­man stabbed his brother in the throat and sev­ered his car­toid artery.

“His brother was his best friend,” Ja­son Hal­man’s lawyer, Frits Huizinga, told the Haar­lems Dag­blad, a Dutch news­pa­per, last week.

Ja­son Hal­man was ar­rested and charged with the killing. The broth­ers seemed in­sep­a­ra­ble to Ber­nad­ina. When Ber­nad­ina hung out with Greg Hal­man, Ja­son Hal­man came along.

Friends tell Ber­nad­ina that Ja­son Hal­man “lost it.” Ber­nad­ina won­ders what re­ally hap­pened, then re­peated “it’s sad.” There isn’t much else to say.

Base­ball felt dis­tant, from the omelets, hash browns and pan­cakes siz­zling in the club­house’s makeshift kitchen at Space Coast Sta­dium to the 27-year-old Ber­nad­ina’s odds of mak­ing the club. He’s been with the or­ga­ni­za­tion since 2001, its longest­tenured mem­ber, and is out of mi­nor league op­tions. Ber­nad­ina’s aboveav­er­age speed, de­fen­sive abil­ity and oc­ca­sional pop haven’t co­a­lesced into con­sis­tent pro­duc­tion.

“He looks a lot more com­fort­able [at the plate],” man­ager Davey John­son said. “He’s an­other one who hasn’t reached his po­ten­tial. ... That’s why this spring is a big spring.”

Ber­nad­ina wants his on-field ac­tions, not words, to speak about his try to earn a spot. He just wants to play.

Once more, Ber­nad­ina tugs at the bag con­tain­ing the base­ball cards. He tries to push the sad mem­o­ries away and re­place them with pos­i­tive ones.

“Ev­ery time,” Ber­nad­ina said, touch­ing the bag, “I think about him.”

NOTES: Chien-ming Wang scat­tered three hits and struck out three over two in­nings of a mi­nor league in­trasquad game Mon­day af­ter­noon. Twenty-four of Wang’s 31 pitches were strikes, as his fast­ball hit 91 mph and sat be­tween 88 and 89 mph. “I even got a grin out of him,” John­son said, pleased with the out­ing. “He’s pretty se­ri­ous.”

The Na­tion­als will use a more rec­og­niz­able lineup against the At­lanta Braves on Tues­day af­ter re­ly­ing on mainly mi­nor lea­guers and back­ups in Mon­day’s game at the New York Mets. Two ex­cep­tions are Chad Tracy start­ing at des­ig­nated hit­ter and Brett Car­roll in right field. John­son likes Tracy’s bat and Car­roll’s ver­sa­til­ity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.