An Evening At Nationals Park (Without Baseball) – 6/3/09

On the way home from Nationals Park, at around 1 a.m., my mom gave me some good advice:  “You should stop driving around to these milestone games.  It doesn’t work for you.”

She was right.

Last season, Tim and I went to see Griffey play in Philadelphia.  He was sitting on 599 home runs.  I REALLY wanted us to be there for number 600.  In three days, he pinch hit twice.  Swung the bat once.  Walked twice on 9 pitches.

A couple weeks ago, we went to see Jamie Moyer try to win his 250th game of this career.  He looked great.  Then it all fell a part and he lost.

But I wasn’t deterred.  I’d been tracking Randy Johnson’s march to 300 wins like a hawk.  I’d been hoping he would be somewhere nearby when he was sitting on 299.  Then last week, it all fell into place.  He won number 299 and his next start was against the lowly Nationals.  It would be only 2.5 hours from our house.  Perfect!

Despite previous milestone failures, I had to try it.  It was too important to pass up.

The weather report wasn’t good.  But when we walked up to the stadium, it looked like we were set to get the game in.

The grounds crew was chalking the field:

1 nats chalking.jpg

The MLB Network’s Hazel Mae gave us a smile and an awkward little wave:

2 hi hazle.jpg

Giants skipper Bruce Bochy was out and about:

3 bochy.jpg

Yep, things were looking pretty good.  Close to business as usual.  Baseball and a 300th win coming soon.  Or so we thought.

We decided to visit the playset in center field before the game started.  On the way, we ran into Screech:

4 hi screech.jpg

Tim had a great time in the play area.  But after a few minutes came THE RAIN!

We took refuge under the concourse behind RF where people were enjoying their dinners in the covered picnic area:

6 the people hide.jpg

Yep, all of a sudden, baseball as usual didn’t seem quite as certain.

The skies they were a-threatenin’

7 DC RF rain delay panoramic.jpg

We walked the spacious concourse from foul pole to foul pole, and it was packed:

8 packed concourse.jpg

Then the rain REALLY started to come down.  The Nationals put up notices to the crowd telling them to hide in the concourse…and promising more information to come:

8b the rain cometh.jpg

We checked out the Nats bullpen to see if there were any pitchers hanging out in there:

9 bullpen ball.jpg

See that security guard sitting back with his legs out?  See the ball in his right hand?  I don’t want to give anything away about this story, but I must note that that is the ONE AND ONLY baseball that I saw while attending this “game.”  (Well, except for in the team store).

Did I mention there was a lot of rain?

11 Lake NatsPark.jpg

This is what it looks like when a lot of rain meets poor drainage planning:

12 Natty Waterfall.jpg

We sat down in the first row behind the bullpen and Tim kept himself entertained crawling around by my feet:

 
14 tim entertains himself.jpg

Eventually, the rain stopped!  We’d already been at the park a long time there was no baseball being played…Tim was confused:

13 tim wheres the game.jpg

The grounds crew raced out to start preparing the field for BASEBALL!  Note the huge splashes as this guy runs through the outfield:

16 splish splash.jpg That guy and his buddies started pulling the tarp off of the infield…

15 tarp removal.jpg

…and into the outfield grass:

17 LF rain delay panoramic.jpg

This Giant’s coach started squeegeeing the bullpen — looking like they were gonna play a game:

18 squiggy coach.jpg

And then came the diamond dust…lots of it:

19 lots of diamond dust.jpg

At this point, heck, it sure seems like we’re playing baseball tonight.  Yes!  Bring on Randy Johnson’s 300th win!

But first, Tim requested ice cream.  Even though the game hadn’t started yet, I agreed we could go get his ice cream helmet.  We headed to the concourse behind home plate so we could go out to RF where there are a bunch of standing counters or covered seats where Tim could sit and eat his ice cream.

However, before we could get around home plate, we ran into a familar face, snagger and MLBlogger extraordinaire Zack Hample.

 

20 with zack.jpg

(Note, in this picture I’m not toting my usual black Rawlings Trap-eze.  I made an exception for this game and brought my black Rawlings Randy Johnson RBG10B.)

How did I end up meeting up with Zack at the game you ask?  How about a little overly detailed back story?

So, my favorite ball park of all time is the one and only Kingdome.  Many a night, I find myself searching google images for pictures of the Kingdome.  Like this.  A couple months back, I came across a Kingdome picture titled “Alli Zack Kingdome.”  I’d actually come across it before in my quest for Kingdome pictures.  I thought to myself, who is this dude whose picture has now come up twice when I’ve searched for my beloved Kingdome?  So, I followed the link to his webpage.  I ran through a number of the pictures from every year of his life – including many pictures at different stadiums wearing different teams’ apparrel.  Eventually, I found links to numerous articles and video clips and learned that he catches a whole lot of balls at games.  Then I found his blog.  This was the off-season, so I pretty much scanned around old entries from different games.  I really enjoyed all of the random stadium pictures — like this stuff.  So, I started following his blog.

Tim, Zack and I ended up wandering over toward the seats behind third base.  Zack wanted to watch to see if any players were out on the field.  (NOTE:  at no point during this “game” did I ever see a single player on the field of play — that’s from 5:45 to 10:45, no players on the field).  Zack and I chatted while Tim stood on a railing giving Zack what seemed to be thousands of fist bumps and high fives…some of them might have just been slaps – the boy was getting tired and restless.  Here is what it looked like:

21 multiple high fives.jpg

After a while, I got Tim his ice cream helmet — real chocolate ice cream (not soft serve) in a helmet for $5.00 — and then the three of us sat in the back row of the field level seats behind third base.

Maybe I’m an optimist, but it seemed like we were close to playing some baseball.  The field was looking a whole lot better.  It wasn’t raining.  But that darn tarp was still sitting in the outfield.

22 field looking better.jpg

Worse than that, there was just no urgency on the field.  It seemed like they should have been working harder to get the tarps off of the field so the game could start.  But no, they were working at a snails pace.

Even more frustrating was that the Nationals were giving us absolutely no updates about what was happening.  Literally, for several hours the only “update” was a sign (shown in a picture or two above) that reassured us that the Nationals would provide updates about the situation.

At one point, we debated whether they could get the field ready to start at 9:00 p.m.  Well, that was soon a moot point.  The rain returned:

23 Act II Return of the Rain.jpg

Tim pointed to the sky and told me all about the “rain buggies” and “thunder monsters.”  He asked me “is the baseball game over?”  I reassured him, “no, it hasn’t started yet.”

A kind member of the crowd provided comic relief by running on the field, rounding the bases, and then took out a security guy at home plate (the guy in yellow):

24 fan removal squad.jpg

 Remember how I said the Nats gave us no updates?  That isn’t entirely accurate.  At some point in the 9 o’clock hour (maybe later), they announced that the buses to the naval ship yard (or something like that) will run for “half an hour after the conclusion of tonight’s game.”  Is it just me or doesn’t that sorta imply there is going to be a game tonight?

Around 10-something, the umpires came out and tested the outfield.  Then they left.  Nothing changed.  No announcements.  More sitting and waiting.

A while later, they did it again.  This time, they had a big meeting by the third base dugout after testing the field.  It looked like one of them signaled a “no go” sign to Manny Acta, but then he stopped and walked over to Acta and told him something.  Then the umps left.  A bunch of Nats were still in their dugout.  Shouldn’t they be gone if the umps told them it was postponed?  They kept standind around in there.

But a couple minutes later, all of the Nats left at once as if on cue.  Maybe they’re leaving to get ready to go home?  Maybe they’re leaving to get ready for the game?  A couple minutes later, a guy grabs the Nats gatorade coolers and took them into the clubhouse.  Not a good sign.  But still no announcement.  What is going on?

We decided to get up and look for some food.  Everything was closed.  No food or drink available in the stadium.  Do they know something they’re not telling us?  Here is a view of the field through the Red Porch restaurant, which was closed:

25 no food for you.jpg

Finally, at 10:47, they called the game:

26 call at 1047.jpg Very dissappointing.  A couple minutes later, they announced they’d give us tickets to another game later in the season — you mean I have to find a reason to come back again?

Tim and I headed for the shuttle to the RFK parking lot.  Tim was fast asleep 5 minutes into the car right home.  We arrived home a little after 2:00 a.m.  Before heading off to bed, I checked my email.  I had an email from the Nationals saying the game was postponed.  The email was received at 10:05pm.  That means they had emailed me about the game 40 minutes before they announced it in the stadium — incredible!

The worst part is that Randy Johnson pitched today and won his 300th game. AND WE MISSED IT!!!  Well, we watched it on TV:

26 game on without us.JPG

I felt a little sorry for Randy because there were only about 5 fans at the game.  It was terrible.  He should have won number 300 at home with a packed house or somewhere where the stands would be filled with Bit Unit fans cheering him on like crazy.

Oh, well.

CONGRATULATIONS, RANDY!!!  Excellent career.  Thanks for the 130 wins you brought the Mariners!

Season Fan Stats:

12 Games (plus one 5+ hour rain out with no game)
5 Stadiums
(Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Citi Field and Nationals Park)
12 Teams (Mariners, A’s, Rangers, Rays, Orioles, Tigers, Phillies, Mets, Nationals,
Braves and Padres, Dodgers — and sort of the Giants)
10 Ice Cream Helmets (Mariners (4), Phillies (3), Mets and Nationals (2))
5 Baseballs (2 Mariners, 2 Rangers, 1 Phillies)
3 Divisions Closed Out (So far in Tim’s Life — AL West, NL East, AL West)

1 Player Autograph (Ryan Perry)
1 Player Photograph (Ryan Perry)

3,897 Miles driven/flown to games (season)
5 Mascot Pictures (Mariners Moose (2), The Bird (O’s), 3 Presidents (Nats), Screech (Nats))

1 Comment

Hi Todd,
Great blog! I’m sorry you and Tim didn’t get to see Randy Johnson’s big one in person. You certainly gave it your all. Gosh, mom’s are always right, aren’t they? ;-)
Lori
http://luckylori.mlblogs.com

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