SECTION 331

Like a Million Baseball Fans Cried Out, and Were Suddenly Silenced

Washington Nationals and The Tire Incident

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Writing to you from Baltimore. I was supposed to be writing from Philadelphia, and this was supposed to be done last night. But more on that later.

Yesterday Rick came to get me from the Motel 6 in Springfield, VA, and we drove to a Metro station to get into the city.

IMG_1493While fast and efficient, the DC Metro has to be the most confusing and difficult to use public transit system I have ever been on. Ticket prices are not exact, the adding-on of money to paper tickets vs. plastic passcards seems meant to stymie the out-of-towner, and in general it’s just kind of a pain in the ass. But it got us where we needed to go, which was, well, right here:

IMG_4142I am not sure what street this is, but it’s closed to traffic, much like Occidental in Seattle. It was a beautiful day – around 60 or 65 degrees, and I didn’t even wear a jacket, which is good, because I didn’t bring one with me. As we approached the stadium, it became more apparent that we were at the center field entrance.

IMG_4143As we approached the gate, one of the field employees came up and complimented my hair, asking if it was done for the game and I was a really dedicated fan, or if it was always that way. I told her it was always that way, and as we walked past with thank yous and “Enjoy the game!”, Rick snickered “Heh, she thinks you’re a Marlins fan.” This is when it became apparent to me that my jersey was unbuttoned, so it could, indeed, have said Marlins. I buttoned up, post haste.

We got into the park and were met with sculptures!

IMG_4144That is Rick, taking his own photos.

IMG_4145And then a wall of Nationals off to the side against one of the parking garages:

IMG_4146And center field, where people were already watching the Nats take BP!

IMG_4147I was having a hard time finding the email that was sent by Mr Lintott to figure out what the barbecue place was we needed to eat at, but the Red Porch was right there, and there was seating, so after a quick browse in the center field Team Store looking for a stuffed Screech (and not finding one), we decided eating was for the best.

IMG_4149The food there is not bad at all. I had a Greek salad that featured avocados, watercress, corn and something else that I’m too tired to remember right now that wasn’t Greek, but as a salad it was really good. Rick had a margherita pizza, but I was too busy housing my salad and drinking my 20oz glass of Yuengling to ask how it might have been. The waitress was super friendly, but was unable to tell us where to find the “W” pretzels that I was after.

IMG_4150The Marlins, taking batting practice.

IMG_4151Outside the Red Porch stands a plaque to commemorate lives lost in the Navy Yard shooting last year:

IMG_4148We walked around the stadium after lunch, towards right field, and found an escalator to the upper deck, where there was a sort of party atmosphere by the handful of people who had shown up as early as we did. A DJ, what looked like one or two places with a full bar, and some swag stands. At about right field, the deck runs out for the public, and you have a sort of Terrace Club situation with special tickets and indoor food and such, but I took some pictures.

IMG_4152I tried to stitch a panorama shot together here:

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 9.42.05 AMIt’s not my best work, but you get the idea.

The Mariners have several different sizes of Moose, so I figured the same would apply to Screech. Unfortunately, it does not. There seemed to be two options; either a Pillow Pet, which would have required us carrying something large around, or this little puppet guy, who I absolutely do not regret paying for:

IMG_1499Adorable!

After figuring out there wasn’t much farther we could go, we went back downstairs and proceeded on the main concourse over right field. Near the front gate, we saw this thing:

IMG_4155The wheels all spin and it plays a version of Take Me Out To The Ballgame. I have video, but unfortunately no time to upload it to YouTube right now.

We came across the Wall of Dreams, which I couldn’t stand up long enough to read all of; if you’ve never had sciatica, walking is usually OK, but standing is nearly impossible. It hurts a lot. So I took pictures:

IMG_4157IMG_4158IMG_4159IMG_4160IMG_4161Without having had the chance to sit and read the enlarged photos in detail, it appears to be a history of baseball in the DC area? Someone correct me if I’m wrong. In any event, I wish I could have enjoyed it more while I was there; but my spine rules everything around me right now, and it just wasn’t possible.

Rick and I had been lightly bantering up to this point as to whether or not the “W” pretzel actually existed. We asked our waitress at the Red Porch, but she didn’t seem to know what we were talking about, and every single kiosk up to that point had just regular pretzels. Internet service is spotty with AT&T (sorry, it’s true, you can be terrible, guys), but we stopped and I looked on the Nats site, because I was convinced I was not crazy. Section 106, Hometown Pretzel Company is what we were after, and after more walking, we found them!

IMG_1500VICTORY IS MINE!

At this point we were about half hour away from game time, so went and found our seats in 114, row V. Screech and some of the Presidents were greeting the fans down front:

IMG_4162IMG_4163And the view from our seats:

IMG_4164At a Washington Nationals game, listening to the National Anthem, with a military color guard. They don’t do patriotism “light” here at all.

IMG_4165And then it was time to play ball!

I can officially say I know absolutely no players on the Miami Marlins. Not a one. The starting lineup was so unfamiliar to me, they might as well have been announcing keynote speakers at at an industrial parts convention. But I know a few Nats. So here are some pictures of the team I was rooting for. A team in red, I might add, which really messed with my general paradigm. The Angels and Rangers have ruined me forever.

IMG_4167Brycer Harper! His jersey was by far the most popular at the stadium, unless you count the fans wearing this guy’s name on their backs. You guessed it, the one and only Stephen Strasburg:

IMG_4169IMG_4170IMG_4171IMG_4176IMG_4178IMG_4180I took SO many photos of him. I won’t post them all here, because it would take me forever.

IMG_4186Jayson Werth, ignoring the ball flying up and outside (you can see it over his right shoulder). Werth was a hero of sorts on Wednesday night, when he hit a grand slam against the Marlins in what I believe was the bottom of the 9th inning. You don’t see that every day…or do you? More on that later…

In any event, Werth worked his way to a walk, and spent some time messing with the Marlins starter.

IMG_4188 IMG_4190Harper in left field:

IMG_4192Werth in right:

IMG_4195Bryce Harper’s sweet swing:

IMG_4196IMG_4197Ryan Zimmerman, third basing like it’s his job:

IMG_4199Strasburg, up to bat. The pitchers batting thing always gets me. I don’t mind it, it’s just not what I’m used to. It doesn’t seem to bother Strasburg, who struck out 12 bats yesterday in 6 &2/3 innings of 1-run ball, a solo shot given up to Marcell Ozuna, right before he was pulled in favor of Jerry Blevins.

IMG_4204And then we go to see the President’s Race! Lincoln won, and nobody fell down.

IMG_4207Bryce Harper running and reaching. I don’t remember what inning this was, to be honest.

IMG_4214IMG_4215Strasburg did have a couple of issues. The Marlins spent some time taunting him at first.

IMG_4223IMG_4228He never did get the pickoff, but he was definitely ever-vigilant about it.

The Nats bullpen, relaxing in the sun, waiting for their turn:

IMG_4230They got their chance soon enough. Strasburg was taken off the mound after allowing two on with two outs. It was painful, but I stood up and applauded him. It was an honor to be able to watch him play.

IMG_4231Strasburg was relieved by Jerry Blevins.

IMG_4237Blevins has an odd little leg lift and kick:

IMG_4238IMG_4239At one point, I spotted Doug Fister!

IMG_4252In the bottom of the 8th inning, with a 2-1 game, things got weird.

The Marlins reliever Arquimedes Caminero managed to load the bases. Then this happened:

The Marlins then did what I thought at the time was either the bravest or the dumbest thing they could possibly do; they left Caminero in.

IMG_4262It turned out to be the dumbest thing, because Ian Desmond stepped up to the plate and did this like a boss:

Two grand slams for the Nats in two days. If I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I would not have believed it.

I don’t really know what happened with the rest of the game. The Nats brought their closer in and that was that, Nats win it a wonderful 7-1. I have photos of him as well, but not a lot of time right now, because…

After the game, we took the Metro back to the car, stopped off at a Baja Fresh for dinner, and got on the road. Somewhere after the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel, a truck with an unsecured load started losing stuff all over the place. Large metal chunks of something, I’m not sure what. We ran over it, and the back driver’s side tire was completely destroyed. I Googled a nearby garage, but they were having a busy night, and I was told they would come as soon as they could. A patrolman was called to get us and the truck driver to exchange information, and the truck driver drove off, while Rick and I sat on the side of I-895 for a good three hours or so. Rick’s tire rim was completely destroyed, but the garage got us a hotel to stay in, which is where I am writing from now. If it had not been for the fact that there was a three-car wreck in front of the garage itself, we might have gotten to sleep much faster, but like they say, go big or go home. We are both fine, if not extremely annoyed and tired. No injuries were incurred.

I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, and we found out that the insurance of the truck company will likely not cover the damages; it was apparently Rick’s “fault” for not avoiding the stuff in the road, but the driver I guess has zero culpability to secure his scrap metal in the state of Maryland? I don’t know, but things aren’t looking good for reimbursement. Always an adventure, road trips. We are waiting for the garage to come and get us, the car is ready to go. An hour or so towards Philly and another hotel, and hopefully a relatively uneventful evening for both of us. I have been in worse situations, so I am taking everything as it comes and have remained – if you know me – miraculously calm under the circumstances. Whatever the case, I feel I have earned the beer I am planning on having later, and anything else positive that happens today and on the rest of this trip. I feel we are both in need of some good luck at this point.

 

 

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One thought on “Washington Nationals and The Tire Incident

  1. And the State Patrol would tell you that it is safer to drive over crap on the highway, than to swerve or suddenly brake for something…

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