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Center field at Nationals Park was filled with dogs Sunday for Pups in the Park

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NBC Sports Washington

Center field at Nationals Park was filled with dogs Sunday for Pups in the Park

On April 29th, a Sunday afternoon game against the Diamondbacks, the Nationals held one of their several Pups in the Park days.

The dog ticket is $10 (in addition to an outfield reserve human ticket), and all the proceeds from the pup tickets benefit the Humane Rescue Alliance of Washington, D.C. 

Click here to view the full gallery from Pups in the Park.

The dog tickets for the game were sold out, so it was a full house. On the concourse, there were large patches of grass and water bowls, so the dogs felt more at home.

When the crowd cheered for a Matt Wieters home run or a 6-4-3 double play, the dogs barked along. During the seventh inning stretch, several pups joined in "Take Me out to the Ballgame."

Lots of the dogs were experienced baseball fans, who said they come to multiple games every season. Cosmo, a one-year-old rescue, has already been to two Nationals games and her human says she "absolutely loves" coming out to the ballpark. For several others, it was their first time.

Most of the dogs were wearing jerseys, hats or bandanas, and all of them were excited to be at the park, meeting other baseball pups and enjoying a Nationals win.

There are four more Pups in the Park games this season - May 19 vs. the Dodgers, June 23 vs. the Cubs, September 7 vs. the Cubs and September 25 vs. the Marlins.

 

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ESPN MLB analyst Tim Kurkjian says the Astros' scandal has 'gotten bigger' than he thought it ever would

ESPN MLB analyst Tim Kurkjian says the Astros' scandal has 'gotten bigger' than he thought it ever would

Major League Baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian has covered the sport for over 40 years. The ongoing aftermath of the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal is unlike any story he has ever covered.

Kurkjian joined the Nationals Talk podcast to discuss the scandal and admitted he still has yet to fully wrap his head around the entire situation.

"It has gotten bigger than I thought it was going to be," Kurkjian said. "I knew it was going to be the major story of spring training and I knew everybody was going to flock to the Astros instead of the World Champions. But the way so many players have now come out and spoke about this, I'm really surprised that many players are this angry about this."

Several members of the Nationals organization have given their thoughts on the situation. General manager Mike Rizzo wants someone in the Astros organization to say the word "cheaters." Closer Sean Doolittle thinks about the pitchers that lost their jobs because of poor outings against the Astros. Howie Kendrick said he has no sympathy for them. Max Scherzer, Ryan Zimmerman and Kurt Suzuki all shared their thoughts on it, too. The list goes on and on.

Across the sport, several star players have come out and spoken against the Astros, too. We saw the Dodgers' Cody Bellinger and Yankees' Gary Sanchez hold nothing back when they addressed the scandal during the first week of spring training.  Kurkjian says he's never seen anything like it before.

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW ON THE NATIONALS TALK PODCAST

"I've been covering baseball for 40 years. I've never seen player go against player quite like this situation," Kurkjian said. "Maybe this is the social media age, maybe this is the Twitter age, and people have the ability to do that easily today, but I've never seen anything quite like this. Sadly, I don't think this is going to end any time soon."

The Astros haven't been the only ones facing a lot of heat. MLB commissioner Rob Manfred has been scrutinized heavily for his handling of the situation, including calling the Commissioner's Trophy a "piece of metal" and his failure to strip the 2017 World Series title from the Astros.

Kurkjian mentioned he doesn't think he's ever seen a commissioner take the heat as much as Manfred has, but also stated he's worried about the future of the game following the scandal.

"I'm a little worried for the game," Kurkjian said. "How do we get past this? How do we move on from this? It's a huge story, I'm well aware of that, and I'm here to cover it because it needs to be covered. But for the sake of the game, eventually, we need to move on from this and talk about the game on the field."

The aftermath of the scandal is just getting started. Prior to spring training, Kurkjian believed the story would dominate the spring and that it would leak into the beginning of the regular season. But based on the events that have happened throughout the first few weeks of this spring, he envisions it being a "much bigger story throughout the season."

While there's already plenty of information out there about the Astros, there are still multiple sides of the story that have yet to be told.

"We still haven't heard from Carlos Beltran, who has a story to tell. From Alex Cora, who really hasn't spoken about this," Kurkjian said. "We still don't even know the punishment of the Red Sox yet. There are still many more layers to this story."

Both Beltran and Cora were fired from their respective managerial duties due to their role with the Astros in 2017.

"Eventually, we'll get to the game, because that's what most of us want to talk about," Kurkjian said. "But this is an enormous story that might even get bigger from here. With each player that speaks out, especially if he's a star player, we need to address that."

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Max Scherzer vs. Justin Verlander spring training matchup: Time, TV Channel, How to Watch

Max Scherzer vs. Justin Verlander spring training matchup: Time, TV Channel, How to Watch

Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander never faced each other last fall when the Nationals beat the Houston Astros in seven games to win the World Series.

It was a matchup between two former Detroit Tigers teammates that fans would've loved to see, but they'll have to settle for a February spring training game instead.

Scherzer and Verlander will take the hill for their respective clubs on Thursday as the defending pennant winners gear up for the start of the 2020 season.

Here's everything you need to know before first pitch Thursday night.

Nationals vs. Astros spring training matchup: How to Watch

Who: Washington Nationals vs. Houston Astros
What: Grapefruit League game with Max Scherzer vs. Justin Verlander
When: Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 6:05 p.m. ET
Where: FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, FL
TV Channel: You can watch Nationals vs. Astros on MLB Network
Radio: 106.7 The Fan (until 7:45 p.m. ET)

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