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Sunday Night Baseball will force Game of Thrones fan Sean Doolittle to miss the series finale

Sunday Night Baseball will force Game of Thrones fan Sean Doolittle to miss the series finale

The final episode of Game of Thrones airs Sunday night on HBO, and for Nationals closer Sean Doolittle, that means avoiding spoilers while the Nats play Sunday Night Baseball.

"I think right now as it stands unless we come up with a plan as a group I'll watch it on the train to New York," Doolittle explained. "I won't be on my phone for spoilers."

On top of that, he's been unable to watch the show with his wife, Eireann Dolan, thanks to repeated road trips on Sundays. "I think its fun whenever you're able to share that with your partner or your teammates," Doolittle said.

In a wide-ranging discussion with Todd Dybas on the Racing Presidents podcast, Doolittle said that he agrees with some fans that the ending to the hit show might have been rushed.

As a warning, this post contains spoilers from season eight.

"We talked about this the last time we did the recap about how the show, over the first seven seasons, it has a little bit of a slow burn," Doolittle said. "Things didn't necessarily happen from week to week, they happened kind of season to season. Part of the slower developing storylines gave us a chance to really get to know the characters."

When Daenerys Targaryen burned Kings Landing to the ground, Doolittle thought it felt rushed from the showrunners. 

"To see Dany really just conduct mass genocide after having like maybe like a couple bad weeks was really tough, it felt like a betrayal," Doolittle said. "You know the breaker of chains doing that, to me, it feels like they were trying to rush the mad queen maybe, or maybe they're trying to rush that storyline."

Doolittle also wanted an explanation as to how Euron Greyjoy washed ashore to fight Jaime Lannister.

"It's like 'oh, he's there somehow,' and even that was a bit underwhelming too because Euron never finds out that Cersei isn't pregnant with his baby," Doolittle mused.

But Doolittle has liked some of the episodes on their own. "I think episode five was, as a standalone like piece of television, I think it was maybe one of the most entertaining episodes of Game of Thrones," he explained.

And to close out the season, Doolittle is trying to have high hopes. "I love the show so much and I'm really trying not to be cynical," he said. "I'm still super excited for the finale, I can't wait, so I'm trying to withhold judgment until it's all said and done."

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Nats’ bats blast Birds in Battle of the Beltways Game 1

Nats’ bats blast Birds in Battle of the Beltways Game 1

Is it a rivalry? That's a discussion for another time. Was it a blowout? You bet.

The first matchup of the two-game series went to the Nationals with a final score of 8-1 Tuesday night. 

Austin Voth recorded his first-ever Major League win even with a shaky first inning. The right-handed pitcher spoke to reporters postgame, saying the ball was slipping more than usual. 

With the fifth spot in the starting pitching rotation up for grabs, Voth believes "this is another opportunity."

"I know the last two outings that I've had haven't gone my way," the pitcher continued. "But I felt like I was fighting back in the start to put my name back in fifth starter contention." 

He did just that tonight.

"He's pitched well. I like what I'm seeing," said Davey Martinez. "If he struggles for an inning or a few pitches, he has that poise and gets back into that rhythm and I kind of like that."

It wasn't just the bullpen launching the Nats to victory. Three separate players (Soto, Rendon and Adams) combined for two RBI each. 

The Nationals were playing both long and short ball Tuesday night, with three of their eight runs coming from solo homers.

Matt Adams launched a ball to Eutaw Street to start off the Nationals scoring. Plaques line Eutaw Street to mark the balls that land there, and Adams' ball becomes the 102nd in the ballpark's history.  

Juan Soto batted a foul ball off of his shin in the top of the sixth. He responded two pitches later with a solo home run. 

Post-game, Soto admitted it hurt but, "I just get mad. When I hit it I was like 'you [pitcher] hit me.' It wasn't me it was the pitcher. I just get mad and I try to hit the ball as hard as I can." 

There is a lot of history between these two teams. The Nationals may have taken the 2018 series from the Orioles 5-1, but the all-time record still goes to the O's, 45-40.

The history between these two teams is not just on the field. Managers Davey Martinez and Brandon Hyde spent three years coaching together with the Cubs.

This is the first of four matchups this season between the two teams. The second and final game of the series takes place Wednesday night at Camden Yards. 

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Managers in Nationals-Orioles series embrace shared history as they face off for the first time

Managers in Nationals-Orioles series embrace shared history as they face off for the first time

Brandon Hyde and Davey Martinez have spent countless days on the same fields, but Tuesday night was the first time they found themselves managing against one another.

Before heading to the nation’s capital to manage the Washington Nationals, Martinez coached under Joe Maddon with the Chicago Cubs from 2015-17. Brandon Hyde was also in Chicago during those years, coaching first base and then succeeding Martinez as Maddon’s bench coach prior to his hire in Baltimore last offseason.

While both figures are competitive enough to not need any added motivation against the opposing team, it’s still a fun moment for the two longtime friends to appreciate.

“Oh, he’s awesome,” Martinez told reporters in the visitor’s dugout before Tuesday’s game when asked about his relationship with Hyde. “I know him and his family very well, almost like family of mine. When we got in town we had dinner together, so it was kind of fun.”

Martinez went on to emphasize he knows Hyde will be playing to win, too.

“Obviously we both know he’s very competitive,” Martinez continued. “He knows that we want to win and he wants to win, so put everything aside. We’re going to compete.”

Despite the difference in records and team expectations in 2019, Hyde was pretty clear about his desire to take down his former colleague.

“Obviously me and Dave are very close friends and I wish him all the success in the world,” Hyde echoed during his own pregame availability. “But obviously I hope we beat them these next couple games.”

Martinez is not the only National to have a relationship with Hyde.

“Davey’s over there, Henry Blanco’s very close friend of mine, Joe Dillon the hitting coach I played with in high school, so I have some close relationships on that staff,” Hyde said.

Martinez knows the Nats can’t let their guard down against weaker opponents, Orioles included. As he put it, the Nationals “gotta come out and play baseball like we always do.”

And yet, even though each manager is putting his best foot forward to try to win the game, same as every other night of the season, it’s hard to ignore the unique relationship between the two.

For most, it’s just another night of baseball. But as Brandon Hyde put it most simply, “this will be a little bit different managing against Davey on the other side.”

Orioles-Nationals has yet to fully develop into a true rivalry, but perhaps a few more games that feel just “a little bit different” will help one blossom going forward.

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