Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Deathtour~!: Nationals Park, Washington DC

I’m switching things up for my report on tonight’s game. Instead of writing up a summery and throwing all the pictures at the end I’m going for a running commentary of the game and putting the pictures throughout the post.

I got to DC at around 11am and hopped on the metro, heading over to the Navy Yard. I was able to check into my hotel early thankfully as it gave me time to shower, change, send out some mail and take a nap before the game. If there’s one thing I’m not getting enough of on this trip it’s sleep so I’m taking what I can, even at the expense of losing out on sightseeing in one of the most attraction rich cities in the country if only for a few hours. The Navy Yard isn’t exactly near anything as it is, except the stadium which was only 3 blocks from my hotel.

6:00pm - The weather report has been calling for thunderstorms up and down the east coast for the past few days but there was no trace of rain clouds all day. Of course, no sooner than when I head over to the yard does it start to drizzle. By the time I make it to the ticket booth I’m wondering if I’m going to be the victim of a rain out. I try not to think about whether going through the turnstile constitutes a successful stadium visit. I’m without a jacket or sweatshirt. It’s still 80 degrees despite the rain (the fact that that’s possible blows my mind). All I want is a seat with a roof over it so I end up with $65 club level seats.

6:05pm – Once inside the gate I headed for the bleachers to get a look at the field. The tarp was on and there was no sign of a grounds crew which means we could be here all night. As a side note, I’ve never been to a rained out game or a rain delayed game at all that I can recall. At this point I’m just hoping I get to see them remove the tarp from the field. It could be my only entertainment for the night.

6:10pm – I make my customary pass around the lower level concession area. The area behind home plate has a picture mural of the history of Baseball in Washington, DC. Everything from the Negro Leagues to the first two Washington Senator teams is covered.

6:12pm – They also have a series of paintings of many Hall of Famers with no connection to DC at all that are scattered around. My hero Willie is among them.

6:19pm – I made my first food purchase. The New York Times travel section wrote an article about ballpark food. This map lists their best and worst at each stadium. Just to humor the article I tried out the ‘best’ Nationals Park has to offer; a pretzel in the shape of a ‘W’. It’s not bad, but at $6 I was expecting better. And I certainly don’t think it’s the best DC has to offer. I decide to try something else later.

6:24pm - Just to kill time I made a second pass around, this time on the club level. It’s pretty swanky though over crowded at the moment. No one is allowed in their seats right now. As a result everyone is congregating by the bar. From this level I can see the tops of the concession stands in the outfield. I did a double take before realizing that, yes, those are plants on the roof of the concessions. Nationals Park is a green facility.

6:36pm – Still not in my seat and still no announcement as to when or if the game is going to start. I’ve made two circles around the stadium.

7:02pm – Finally in my seat and they’ve announced that the game will start at 8:30pm. That’s an hour and 30 minutes from now. I’m glad I have a program to read. I don’t know what I’d do for 90 minutes otherwise.

7:34pm – About an hour before the new game time and they’re removing the tarp. I was hoping it would come flying up in their faces but no such luck. Hey, maybe they’ll get this thing started early.

8:05pm – The Washington DC gay men’s chorus signs a great version of the National Anthem. Almost as good as the one their SF counterparts performed at a game a couple weeks back. Maybe the anthem only sounds decent when performed by gay chorus groups. Further research needs to be done.

8:21pm – First pitch. I could be here past 11:30. On the bright side the weather is still warm. The events of San Diego will not be repeated.

8:47pm – Willie Harris, batting well below the Mendoza line, hits a bomb to right field to put the Nats up 1-0 in the bottom of the third. We’ve been cruising along at a rapid pace.

9:00pm – Middle of the 4th already. It’s time for the Presidents Race. Yeah, it’s a complete rip off of Milwaukee’s sausage race but who cares.

9:01pm – The Presidents Race is FIXED~! Boo! About 5 seconds in Washington and Teddy trip Lincoln and give him a beatdown on the warning track allowing Jefferson to run away with the race. In storyline mode Lincoln was undefeated this homestand and the other Presidents weren’t going to allow that to continue. I can’t believe this thing was a work. If I had wanted to watch two dudes dress up in costumes and pretend to fight I’d have stayed in my hotel and watched Raw is the Draft.

9:06pm – Top of the fifth. Lackey and Bergman are pitching like they have a plane to catch.

9:10pm – Angels tied it in the top of the fifth on a sacrifice.

9:19pm – End of 5. That was the longest inning of the game so far. Still, we’re past the halfway point and it hasn’t even been an hour since the first pitch. I don’t know what the quickest 9 inning game in the last 25 years is, but this has to be in contention right now.

9:43pm – Seventh inning stretch and we’re still on pace to end this thing in under 2 hours, just as long as someone breaks the tie.

9:44pm – Willie “I’m still hitting under .200” Harris triples. This is followed by Lo Duca lining a shot to Lackey who attempts to double up Harris but throws it short. It skips down the line and Harris comes in to break the tie.

9:46pm – Some idiot further down in my section is standing with his cell phone to his ear waving across the stadium to someone who can’t possibly see him. He’s rightfully being harshly heckled by some guys in my row.

9:51pm – End of 7 and the Exodus begins. Because there’s no way the team with the worst record in the National League could blow a 1 run game in the 8th.

9:55pm – The Nats have gone to the bullpen and the pace has slowed with Saul Rivera on the mound.

10:00pm – And the Nats defense completely falls apart. After a single, Chone Figgens steals second and goes to third on the throw to the center fielder by the catcher. Felipe Lopez boots a groundball hit by Erick Aybar who advances to second because no one hustled to pick up the ball in short right field. Garrett Anderson singles scoring Aybar and it’s 3-2 Angels. Unbelievable.

10:17pm – Top 9. Gary “Don’t call me Junior” Matthews pinch hits. Immediately a “Steroids” chant starts up.

10:21pm – We’re officially 2 hours old and just heading to the bottom of the ninth. Francisco Rodriguez is in to close it out.

10:33pm – Rodriguez strikes out the side despite making it interesting with some deep counts and a walk. Official time of the game is 2 hours, 12 minutes. Thank God. I’m going to get a reasonable amount of sleep tonight. On to Detroit.

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