Ankiel Burns Tepees

There are some games where everything just seems to go right: good pitching, timely hitting, tough defense — and a nearly untouchable bullpen. The Nationals’ 6-3 win over the Braves on Saturday was one of those games, with Rich Ankiel’s heroics (one home run and a successful suicide squeeze) a sign that he’s healthy and ready to produce. Ankiel’s first home run of the season landed one row up in right field and his suicide squeeze energized the Nats dugout. “Look at the guy. He is awesome,” Werth said of Ankiel after the win. “What other player other than Babe Ruth who can play both ways? He could pitch and is a successful hitter. I can’t think of another other than those two. I think Rick is one of the purest athletes in the game.

The Nationals got a good outing from John Lannan, who pitched through the 5th, but was removed after a rain delay — what skipper Riggleman attributed to different movement on some of his pitches. While newbie Chad Gaudin struggled, the bullpen remained masterful, with Tyler Clippard pitching out of a jam and Sean Burnett finishing up the game with some slick on-the-mound fielding. The only negative was the weather, which caused two delays and drove the nearly 22,000 fans back into the stands. The Nationals match up against the Braves again tomorrow, before heading to Florida.

Reporting From The Natmosphere: We’ve always contended that the Nats have the best NL East blogsphere, perhaps the best team blogs in all of baseball. A trip around this verbal diamond shows that nearly everyone is excited by the new look of the team: Federal Baseball asks “Where have these Nats been hiding,” Miss Chatter gives a run down on the new guys on the team and reports on what happened to the old guys, Nationals Baseball talks about what can be expected “from this bunch of mediocre mashers” (and answers the question), Mike Henderson over at Nationals Daily News has a nice piece on Danny Espinosa, Nats 320 runs down the interesting changes at Nationals Park, and The Nats Blog goes through the ups and down of Opening Day.

That’s a lot of coverage, and we’ve only touched on about half of the total number of Nats blogs out there. If you surf around looking at the blogs of other teams, you’ll notice that very few have the same kind of coverage, or fanaticism, as the Natmosphere. The Cubs are right up there, and the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers and Cards. But not too many others. Actually, it’s pretty impressive. Of course, CFG — with its team of reporters, researchers and worldwide coverage — outstrips them all.

Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Topps baseball cards is celebrating its 60th anniversary by pumping out special promotions, television shows and rewards for lucky fans who open the right pack at the right time. Included in the celebration is a fan vote for the top 60 Topps cards of all time. Some of those receiving votes are puzzling. The Topps Bo Jackson 1986 card would not have gotten our vote, nor would the 1983 Wade Boggs entry. And the top Topps card (so to speak) was hardly a surprise — the 1952 Mickey Mantle. It’s the most popular card in the Topps collection and it is (after all) a Mickey Mantle card. But it’s not a rookie card: that card (a prize for any collection, if you can afford it) is the 1951 Bowman Mickey Mantle. Which is a thing of beauty. And which (if you’re really in the market for one) most recently sold for $165,000.

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