Timing might not be everything…but it can always provide a boost.  Instead of slumping or limping into their Interleague series, the Nationals and Orioles enter this week each having won 7 of 10;  the O’s own a 2-game lead in the AL East while the Nats are a half game behind Atlanta in the NL East.  The odds of this being an October preview are as high as other “regional rivalries” like Oakland-San Francisco or Dodgers-Angels (although the A’s and Giants are a combined 32 games over .500, the LA teams are a combined 26 games in the black and the Nats and O’s are a modest 17 games over the break-even mark).
 
For the next four nights it’ll be a combination of O’s hitting against Nats pitching:  the Birds rank 3rd in hitting, 5th in slugging and 8th in scoring while the Nationals rate 1st in ERA, 6th in quality starts and 11th in opposition batting average.  It’s a shame Jordan Zimmermann (1.26 ERA over last 7 starts) won’t be on the hill against the O’s.  It’ll also be a contrast of relief corps:  the Nationals rank 3rd in bullpen ERA while the Orioles rate 16th in the bigs (fresh off blowing a 5-run lead Sunday in Boston). 
 
Nats knocking on wood– you’d have to after the first half they had injury-wise.  Now that all 8 regulars are healthy, we’re beginning to see Manager Matt Williams massage the lineups (Zimmerman, Harper and Rendon moving around for defensive purposes late).  The fact that Buck Showalter has to fiddle with a DH-less lineup the first two nights provides a little advantage to the home team. Nelson Cruz (and his 27HRs + 71RBI) has played 39 games in LF and 8 more in RF…so it’s not as though he’ll have to break in a glove.
 
Monday’s Mound Matchup–  Stephen Strasburg (7-6, has been somewhat streaky this year despite going 2-2 in April, May and June:  after the team split his first four starts, the Nats won four straight Strasburg starts only to lose the next three.  The next three times Strasburg pitched the Nats won before they lost his next three outings.  Strasburg beat Colorado last Tuesday (striking out 8 over 6.2 IP) so I guess this means the pendulum is in positive territory.  Chris Tillman (7-4, 4.21) has won two straight decisions and is 6-0 on the road this season…and he’ll be facing a lineup without a DH in DC.
 
Seinfeld’s Silver Celebration– I remember when Seinfeld came out in the summer of 1989– I wasn’t impressed.  I found the premise okay–“how does a comedian get his material?” but found the execution somewhat forced.  The cast–I had no confidence in whatsoever:  Jerry’s TV record was a few episodes of Benson as the Governor’s joke-writer…but none of his jokes were funny and he was erased from the Gatling Administration in Kremlin fashion.  Elaine?  Wasn’t she being played by that woman from “SNL: the embarassing years”?  Couldn’t they have gotten Mary Gross or Robin Duke (come on– Alfalfa and Wendy Whiner were all-time characters!) instead?  George– or should I say “Woody Allen Knockoff”– was being played by the guy from failed TV show “Everything’s Relative”.  UGH.  And Kramer had a surreal resemblance to “Reverend Jim” from “TAXI”…”WHAT DOES A YELLOW LIGHT MEAN?”.  I gave the Sein a yellow light early on. 
 
What won me over?  A Saturday Night Live appearance by Jerry in the spring of ’92 rolled out the classic sketch “Stand Up and Win”– a Jeopardyesque game show where every category, question and answer were in the form of a stand-up comedy bit.  I checked out the show and found that it had hit its stride (still very tough watching the first season or two before it found its balance).  For the next 5+ years I was invested every Wednesday at 9…and eventually Thursday at 9:30 and then 9 once Cheers went off the air.
 
Things that still hit me today– while the ability to coin a multiple catch-phrases was what kept the show on the water-cooler front-burner, the multi-tiered plots and strong guest cast were what did it for me.  For a show that was “about nothing” there were more than a few threads each week to follow and the producers always seemed to not only identify memorable guest stars but bring them back (Bania, Tim Whatley, Jackie Chiles, Susan Ross) for increasingly amusing dividends.  It’s an embarrassment of riches I see each time I check out a rerun.  That’s gold, Jerry…
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