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Nationals pay tribute to John Altobelli, another victim in Sunday's helicopter crash

Nationals pay tribute to John Altobelli, another victim in Sunday's helicopter crash

The sports world was shaken on Sunday after hearing the news that legendary NBA player Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, died in a helicopter crash earlier that morning.

As the somber evening wore on, more information came out regarding the victims of the tragedy. One of the passengers on the helicopter was longtime Orange Coast College and Cape Cod League manager John Altobelli.

Altobelli's daughter was a teammate of Bryant's daughter, Gianna, and the helicopter was traveling to one of their youth basketball games. Altobelli's wife, Keri, was also on board. There were no survivors.

On Monday, the Nationals Twitter account shared their condolences for Altobelli and his family.

The Nationals were one of the multiple teams to share their sympathy for the Altobelli family. Both New York Mets outfielder Jeff McNeil and Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge played under Altobelli in the Cape Cod League.

Orange Coast was expected to begin its season on Tuesday.

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Ryan Zimmerman 'couldn't be happier' for Alex Ovechkin scoring 700 career goals

Ryan Zimmerman 'couldn't be happier' for Alex Ovechkin scoring 700 career goals

Two of the longest-tenured athletes in Washington, D.C. are Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin and Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman.

Zimmerman and Ovechkin made their respective MLB and NHL debuts within nearly a month of each other; Zimmerman's first game with the Nationals was on Sept. 1, 2005, while Ovechkin's first game with the Capitals was Oct. 5. Since then, both have spent their careers with the same organization, becoming legends in the nation's capital and being an integral part of a championship team.

Ovechkin scored his 700th career NHL goal on Saturday, a feat only seven other players have done in the history of the league. Zimmerman, who has had a relationship with the goal-scorer for years and is an avid Capitals fan, was thrilled to see Ovechkin continue to climb in the record books.

"[Ovechkin's] commitment to that organization, his work ethic, his character, the way he's gone about his business, just his longevity, his consistency has been unbelievable," Zimmerman told NBC Sports Washington. "I couldn't be happier for him."

The two teams have an incredible bromance with one another.

Throughout the Capitals' Stanley Cup run in 2018, Zimmerman and his Nationals teammate Max Scherzer were often seen in the stands showing support. When the Caps boarded a plane to Nashville ahead of the Nationals Game 5 clash with the Dodgers in the NLDS this past season, the whole Caps team sported Nats gear. The Capitals have a Nationals batting helmet in their locker room that's given to the de-facto player of the game. The list goes on and on.

By being in Washington, D.C. for the past 15-plus seasons, Ovechkin and Zimmerman have each been able to see the other grow both on and off the playing field. 

"I appreciate the entertainment for 15 years on and off the ice, I guess you could say," Zimmerman said. "You're talking about one of, if not the best goal scorer of all-time. So it's been fun to watch. He's just one of those guys who competes every day. He plays with passion and it's fun to watch him play."

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Astros wade through first boo-filled night of many to come

Astros wade through first boo-filled night of many to come

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The only agreed upon factor of Saturday night’s spring training opener was affinity for Dusty Baker. 

Baker, alone at home plate to receive a ceremonial first pitch, raised his hand to the crowd when announced. Both sides cheered. Those in red stood, some shouted his name. Others on the Houston side could unabashedly applaud Baker. He represented what’s next, not what was.

But the past chased the Astros from the second the ballpark opened. Any Houston highlights were followed by hefty boos. “FOR THE H” flashed on the right-center field video board during the evening on what was supposed to be an Astros “home” game. However, there was nothing warm and fuzzy about the location for the Astros, an experience sure to track them outside of Houston throughout the season.

The Astros were booed en masse since Baker did not play any of his regulars. Myles Straw, Jeremy Pena and Taylor Jones began the game against Max Scherzer. It’s difficult to let Nos. 3, 89 and 79, respectively, have it on the first night of spring training. But, those on the team in 2017 remained safely in the dugout, prompting an expansion of targets.

Before Scherzer began his night, the Astros’ mascot, Orbit, ran across the face of the Washington dugout with an oversized Houston flag. He, too, was booed -- with fervor. Anything representing the Astros was in play since their main facets were not on the field.

Two signs carried by Nationals fans were taken by a ballpark employee. Some Washington fans banged on their seats during the game to mimic the Astros’ prior method for stealing signs. Scherzer thought something colorful had a chance to leak into the setting.

“I figured something like that was going to happen,” Scherzer said. “I got a good taste of what it’s like [when] facing [Bryce Harper] last year when we had our whole crowd going. I thought our fans would boo. I didn’t realize it was going to be that loud when I face Harp. That was a playoff atmosphere. Everything gets turned up a notch when the fans get into it.”

Scherzer threw 22 pitches, 13 for strikes in two innings. He allowed a single and struck out two batters he’s unlikely to ever face again. Otherwise, he was nonplussed to face the Astros in a game rain forced to pause, then stop, after two innings and a head-scratching delay.

“We won the World Series,” Scherzer said. “It wasn’t like I have a vendetta to hold. So, for me, over here we’re just trying to move forward and get ready for our season.”

Baker thought the reception went as expected.

“There were a lot of Nationals fans here,” Baker said. “We had a lot of fans here, too. You could tell who was for us and who was against us. All in all, it wasn’t too bad. You kind of expect to get some. But they weren’t too bad, though.”

So, the night ultimately served as the expected start. Scherzer pitched well. The Astros were booed.

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