A Scorcher In The Nation’s Capital (7/7/2012)
After much internal debate about where to go and what to do, we eventually decided to head to Nationals Park on July 7, 2012, to see the Rockies take on the Nationals. I had originally planned to take the boys to Cleveland with my buddy Greg. But it ended up looking like that plan couldn’t happen. Then Garrett Meyer gave a tip about how to get some free tickets to a Nationals game, so I picked this game so we could see Jamie Moyer. Unfortunately, the Rockies designated Moyer for assignment long before this game happened and he is now toiling away in the Minor Leagues for the Blue Jays.
But, anyway, we had free tickets to the Rockies vs. Nationals. And since he had originally planned to join us this weekend in Cleveland, our buddy Greg decided to join us in DC.
I was confused about what would be happening before this game. It was listed as “photo day” on the Nationals’ promotional schedule. It explained that the stadium would open 3.5 hours early (12:30 p.m.) and fans could go on the warning track in the outfield to get pictures with the Nationals between 1:30 and 2:45. The game wasn’t scheduled to start until 4:05 so I was confused if BP was going to take place during the photo day festivities. I asked Jeremy Guthrie about it on twitter, and he mentioned that BP was scheduled to take place on the field but he wasn’t sure how it would really play out.
When we arrived at the ballpark at 1:00 p.m., there were already some fans on the field. The field was not set up for BP and I was thinking, “Wow, 2:45 to 4:05 is a long time between the end of photo day and beginning of the game if there is no BP!”
Wouldn’t you know, Jeremy Guthrie was standing in shallow LF right where we entered the field. I called out to him and asked if they were going to take BP.
Oh, well. What can you do? Make the best if it!
Guthrie was standing there with a baseball waiting for his partner to come play catch. I told him that I’d play catch with him since he didn’t have a partner.
“Sure, I’ll play catch with you was his response.” Greg snapped this picture…
…on his phone while Guthrie and I played catch until his partner arrived on the scene. It didn’t last very long. But it was my first time playing catch with a Major Leaguer and it was pretty darn cool.
By the way, Jeremy’s last throw to me was a pretty decent knuckleball. I told him the best I could do was a pretty weak split-finger gripped knuckleball. I let it fly and Guthrie got a good chuckle at my attempted knuckler.
After playing catch with Guthrie, I got a picture of Greg and the boys on the warning track:
I was hoping that Guthrie would toss us the baseball we played catch with after he finished throwing with his partner. But he ended up playing catch with two different kids at the same time (using two different baseballs) and gave both baseballs to the kids. But we did get a nice consolation prize, a picture with Guthrie:
I think that picture turned out to be pretty hilarious for a couple reasons. First, Kellan has his back to the camera and Greg is starting to walk into the picture to get Kellan to turn around. I take so many pictures that I don’t strive for perfection. Kellan often times doesn’t look at the camera and I don’t really like to waste a Major Leaguer’s time trying to get Kellan to turn around if he doesn’t do it on his own. Second, Tim is looking off camera at a girl who tried to get into our picture. It was pretty funny. Guthrie was clearly trying to get a picture with us, but this gal walked right up and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Guthrie. When she turned and looked at a guy holding a camera, Guthrie politely explained that he would get a picture with her after he posed for our picture. So she walked away, but Tim was still looking at her when I snapped the picture. So sometimes a less perfect picture tells a better story and helps us remember exactly what was happening when we took the picture.
I should mention that Mateo Fischer met up with us when we were watching Guthrie warm up.
After getting the picture with Guthrie, we all decided to head out into the outfield. We stopped at the LF foul pole and got a picture of Tim and Greg with the “336” signs:
Greg took a picture of me and the boys in front of the visitors’ bullpen in LF:
For good measure, I got a picture of Greg leaning against the wall by the “377” sign as Kellan wandered off toward CF:
We all caught up to Kellan and I got this picture of our little group:
Have you noticed in all of these pictures that Tim is holding a bright yellow squirt bottle? He’s holding the squirt bottle because it was supposed to be (and was) 100+ degrees at this game. I generally do not acknowledge or pay any attention to the weather, at least to future weather. So when my wife kept mentioning during the week that it was supposed to be really hot at this game, I didn’t pay it much mind. But the night before the game, we went to the store and bought Tim a squirt bottle to help us all keep cool.
We weren’t the only ones prepared with a water squirter. As we walked by the opening in the CF wall where they store the batting cage and other stuff, an usher-type-guy told us there was a cooling station back there through the opening in the wall.
We were all for exploring this uncharted territory at Nationals Park. So we headed into the store area…
…and found a some spare grass for replacing damaged grass on the field, a big pile of extra warning track dirt, a garage full of various types of equipment, and a couple fans blowing water on us fans:
Oh, yeah. We also found a random brick behind the LF wall that the “Carolina Green Corp” built Nationals Park in 2007.
We ended up spending a lot of time in this shady area. We kept coming back again-and-again to hide in the shade and take advantage of the mist-blowing fans.
But after our first visit to the cooling station, we continued on our way toward the RF foul pole. The RF wall at Nationals Park features a large out of town scoreboard that we got to check out up-close-and-personal:
The Mariners’ position in the A.L. West cellar meant they were low enough on the wall that we could get our picture with our team:
I’ve noticed if I take two consecutive pictures, often times, Tim will look at the camera in one and Kellan will look at the camera in the other. Here is a great example of the this phenomenon by the Nationals’ bullpen:
After we made it to the RF foul line, we headed up into the seats. We found a shady spot in the second-to-last row where Tim could unload his water squirter in Greg’s face…
…and we could do some in-stadium birding.
When we made it up into the stands, the Nationals really started circling the ballpark in earnest. Two players would come out at a time and begin a big lap around. Mateo ran back down to the field before the rest of us. We watched on from above as love-him-or-hate-him rookie, Bryce Harper…
…made his way down the RF foul line sporting a clown shirt. Oh, by the way, now-a-days everyone who is originally elected to the all-star game bags out on it on some feigned injury or whatnot and is then replaced by a far less deserving player. On this date, Bryce Harper (and his 62-games of MLB experience) was named to the NL All-Star team.
After cooling off in the shady seats for a while, we headed back down to the field. We all headed out to CF and split time between the cooling station and the warning track.
Tim shook hands with and even got to spray several big leaguers in the face. Here he is with Craig Stammen, Jordan Zimmerman and Ross Detwiler:
BTW, credit for identifying all of these Nationals (none of whom looked the slightest bit familiar to me) goes to Mateo. Thanks!
Here is a guy I did recognize, Mr. Too-Cool-For-School (And-The-Fans), Jayson Werth:
Notice the large padding he kept of empty grass between himself and the fans. In that picture to the left, he was saying something to Tim along the lines of, “Oh, no thanks, spray yourself!”
A few Nats were standoffish like Werth, but most were very cool. Here are a couple more of the cool variety – Henry Rodriguez, Rick Ankiel and Adam LaRoche:
Ankiel was one of the few I recognized and the only one with whom I shook hands. LaRoche received a multiple-squirt facial attack from Tim. I should note that Tim only squirted the players who specifically asked to be squirted. I think there were four such players in total.
After a while I pointed out the indoor restaurant at the Red Porch to Greg and said, “Do you want to go in there and see if they have air conditioning going? He pounced at the suggestion so we started heading over to the LF line to exit the field.
On our way, we met Terrance…
…who I personally believe is the No. 1 hype-guy in all of MLB. I’ve seen Terrance working at Nationals games for years and the dude goes all full-force in and all-out attempt to rally the troops.
After this picture, he turned to Tim and asked, “IS YOUR NATITUDE IGNITED!”
Tim, showing an utter lack of Natitude, was like, “Whaaaat?”
And then Terrance noted that Tim most be too full of Marinertude to ignite any Natittude. It was a keen observation.
Once we reached the concourse I noticed something that was just calling out for a picture:
Tim is acting like the Nats pig is a sweaty Nats player and his cooling him off with a blast of water to the eyes.
On our way to the Red Porch, Greg stopped to buy some food. Mateo, the boys and I went ahead and found that the Red Porch restaurant was packed to the rafters. There was no chance to get inside. But there were a bunch of couches behind the restaurant that were all in the shade. So we grabbed one…
…and waited for Greg.
Once Greg arrived, I put him in charge of the boys (including, to Tim’s great delight, Mateo), and headed off to grab some nachos. But a funny thing happened on the way to get our food. All of the fans were off the field by this point, and I noticed that a couple Rockies pitchers were coming out to warm up down the LF line.
We had been inside the ballpark for about two hours and had zero baseballs to show for it. Kellan has NEVER been to a game without getting at least one baseball and I really wanted to keep that streak alive for him (btw, this was his 22nd game of his life). Instead of going to get the food, I headed back to the Red Porch and without saying a word to anyone (wink, wink…Mateo), I grabbed my backpack and Kellan and headed back to the LF line.
Three groups of Rockies pictures were playing catch and Drew Pomeranz was signing autographs at the corner spot. Kellan and I walked down by Pomeranz but stayed about 10 feet from the group of autograph seekers.
When he finished signing and started walking off, I called out, “Hey, Drew.” He hadn’t even started to warm up yet and he clearly thought I was going to ask for one more autograph. Instead I asked him, “Hey, when you finish warming up, is there any chance you could toss your warm up ball over for this little guy?” Pomeranz responded with a non-committal but encouraging-toned, “Possibly.” He then ran over to the bullpen and started doing arm exercises with some stretchy bands.
Meanwhile, the first group of Rockies pitchers finished playing catch. Rex Brothers was on the CF side of the pair and he ended up holding the ball. He spotted us in the first row behind his partner (Josh Roenicke) and tossed the ball right to us.
Kellan and I immediately bolted of the there and headed for the nacho stand. On the way, I snapped this picture…
…and texted it to Mateo.
When Kellan and I reached the couches at the Red Porch, I was not surprised at all to find that Mateo was long gone. Greg reported that he high-tailed it out of there the second he received my text.
Let me tell you, those nachos were delicious:
We had a great time eating, high fiving and squirting water all around in the shade.
But when we finished our nachos, we were all running low on water. We had 3-4 20 ounce water bottles and we must have filled each of them up 10-15 times throughout the day. We were constantly drinking water or having me pour it all over the boys’ heads. Anyway, with our water running low, we decided to head back to the water fountain in the 3B-side concourse.
Tim and Greg walked straight to the water fountains. I told them that Kellan and I would meet up with them after cutting through the stands to see what was going on down on the field.
Wouldn’t you know, Mateo was down there watching the onlwith our water running low, we decided to head back to the water fountain in the 3B-side concourse.
Tim and Greg walked straight to the water fountains. I told them that Kellan and I would meet up with them after cutting through the stands to see what was going on down on the field.
Mateo was down there watching the only remaining Rockies pitcher playing catch. And wouldn’t you know, it was Drew Pomeranz and he was just about to finish his warm-ups. Like Brothers, Pomeranz was on the CF side of his partner. When he finished playing catch, he looked up, spotted us, and tossed us the baseball. Thereby turning his prior “possibly” into a “sure thing!” It all looked sort of like this:
Kellan and I again immediately took off for the concourse. Greg, who has never got a baseball at a game before (but hopefully will by the time this season is over!), was amazed when we showed up at the water fountain with a second baseball in hand.
As we finished topping off our water bottles, we spotted some Presidential looking fellas in the concourse. We headed over there and Tim and Greg got pictures with George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt:
After 45 seconds in the sun with the Presidents, we headed back to the shade:
Eventually, Tim ran down to the front row to hang out with Mateo:
See the guy in the red Nationals jersey out in CF in that last picture. That was Nationals coach Jim Lett. I pointed him out to Greg and told him that Lett would most likely throw us a baseball by the time this game concluded.
Once the final Rockies pitcher left, we decided it was time to visit the air conditioned team store…
…it felt like pure heaven in there. We came back later for more.
It was game time. We had some great seats in section 135 down the 1B line. But it was way to sunny and hot in the seats. So we headed over to section 137 and hung out in the shady seats toward the back of the section. This was our view for the first several innings:
Immediately before the first inning started, Kellan and I walked over to the railing looking down into the Nationals bullpen. There was only one player in there and he grabbed some stuff…
…and headed out the big door way that you can see in the bottom right corner of that last picture. I think all of the Nats relieves were hiding out back there. Who knows. Maybe they were in the dugout and only planned to come out to the bullpen if needed in the game.
Anyway, there was only one guy left and it was the aforementioned Jim Lett. He was out in RF playing catch with right fielder (and former Mariner) Mike Morse. When he and Morse finished, Lett collected the LF-CF warm up ball (used by Bryce Harper and Tyler Moore), and then he tossed us one of those baseballs (not sure which warm up ball it was) as we stood right behind the RF foul pole.
The Nationals had 2012 All-Star Gio Gonzalez on the hill:
He pitched a very solid game.
My cellphone told me that it was mighty hot and was gonna stay that way all night:
Even though the boys really aren’t fans of the heat, they did great and had a lot of fun in the shade with the water squirter:
When Bryce Harper came to the plate in the bottom of the first, my camera and I were all set to see what all of the hype is about. Instead, the young phenom strike out looking on a pitch he clearly thought was a ball, hang there hanging his head for a good 5 seconds without moving, and then do a world class pouty, slouchy walk…
…back to the dugout. So, yeah, in our first Bryce Harper at bat, Harper demonstrated his youth much more than his All-Star caliber skills.
The first scoring of the game came in the bottom of the second inning when Ian Desmond hit a solo homerun to RF.
And we just kept having fun…
…playing and squirting water every which-a-way in the shady seats. In those last pictures, Kellan is smiling at laughing at Greg who was making faces and what-not to entertain Kellan.
Harper’s second at bat came in the bottom of the third inning and resulted in a groundout:
Greg bought a big all-you-can-eat popcorn. Tim requested a picture posing with “the smallest piece of popcorn” of all time:
Eventually, we decided to relocate to the 3B line, which was completely shaded. On our way, we stopped off once again at the air conditioned team store:
When we left the team store, we decided to head to the upper deck instead of going to the 3B side. Greg had been to Nationals Park once before, but had never visited the upper deck. I old him it featured a nice view of the Capitol building. And I wasn’t lying:
After Tim and Greg got a picture behind home plate…
…, we grabbed some ice cream and reported to the seats at the top of section 408:
On our walk up the section 408 stairs, I almost had an ugly spill. I was holding Kellan in my left arm, and his ice cream helmet in my right hand. As I ascended the stairs, I kicked the stair and tripped. Kellan’s ice cream helmet went flying. I started to fall and drop Kellan, but then I caught myself and Kellan on the way down. It wasn’t pretty and probably scared the pants off of Kellan. Luckily, the little guy escaped the incident unscathed.
Hopefully that is my last time I ever trip while holding one of my boys!
Anyway, I should mention that the Rockies scored a run in the top of the fourth inning to tie up the game at 1-1.
While Kellan enjoyed his ice cream helmet, Tim enjoyed his very first ICE CREAM GLOVE!
Check that thing out! I’ve never seen one of those before. It is a little left handed catcher’s glove designed to receive a generous portion of your favorite frozen refreshment. The only knock of I on the ice cream glove is that didn’t have a Nationals logo or anything to show that we got it at Nationals Park.
Despite the single run for the Rockies in the fourth, Gio Gonzalez was still pitching quite effectively:
Kellan had a whole lot of chocolate left on him after he finished his ice cream:
In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Nats took control of the game thanks to some horrendous play by the Rockies. Danny Espinosa led off the inning with a double. Harper followed with a single on this swing:
Harper demonstrated some terrible baserunning. He tried to take second and should have been thrown out. Instead, he headed back to first. The Rockies should have thrown him out, but no one covered first. Although no error was given on the play, we’ll call that a mental error by the Rockies because they failed to take advantage of Harper’s bad baserunning.
Ryan Zimmerman followed Harper with an RBI single:
With Harper on first, new Rockies pitcher Josh Roenicke threw a pitch in the dirt. Zimmerman advanced to second on the play. He was going to make second easily. There was absolutely no way he was going to be thrown out. But when Zimmerman was about ten feet from second base, Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario made a horrible decision to throw to second. Rushing the throw, he air mailed the ball into CF allowing Harper to trot home for the second Nats run of the inning.
While all of this was happening, we were sitting maybe four rows from the top of the stadium. I told Greg that he would be able to see the Washington Monument if he went up to the top row. He headed up there and reported he couldn’t see it. I was like, “What? Are you blind? Its right over there…”
Oops…that’s a new building over there and it completely blocks what used to be a view of the Washington Monument. Too bad.
A few minute later, Ian Desmond grounded into a fielder’s choice:
With two outs and runners on 1B and 3B, Roenicke tried to pick Ian Desmond off of 1B. Instead, he tossed the ball into the 1B dugout. Zimmerman trotted home on the play with the third run of the inning.
That made the score 4-1 Nationals. That score would hold up for the rest of the game.
After the lengthy bottom of the sixth inning, we relocated to some shady seats down the 3B line, all the way out by the LF foul pole. Here was our view from the back of section 108:
We could see Terrance doing his thing in the first row:
The highlight of the rest of the game was this Bryce Harper ground out:
Or, wait…no, the highlight was hanging out with my boys (and Greg)…
…and continuing to douse them with bottle after bottle of water from the trusty water fountain.
In the top of the ninth, the “Giambino” (one of my least favorite baseball nicknames) strikeout:
The Rockies just couldn’t get anything going. One batter later, the game was over…
…and Screech the Eagle was climbing up on his perch to wave the “W” flag as the Nats ignited the crowd’s Natitude (but nore ours).
On our way out of the stadium, a nice guy took our picture in the LF concourse:
For his payment for taking that picture, Tim was required to squirt him in the face with his water squirter.
And there you go. Another fun day at the ballpark.
2012 C&S Fan Stats
|14/12 Games (Tim/Kellan)|
|17/16 Teams – Tim – Mariners, Rockies, Phillies, Mets, Marlins, Athletics, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates; Kellan – Mariners, Rockies, Marlins, Nationals, Athletics, Orioles, Mets, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Twins, Cubs, Cardinals, Royals, Red Sox, Rays, Pirates|
|21 Ice Cream Helmet(s) – Phillies 2, Orioles 1, Mets 2, Twins 2, Cardinals 3, Royals 2, Rockies 3, Red Sox 2, Pirates 3, Nationals 1|
|1 Ice Cream Glove! – Nationals|
|78 Baseballs – Mariners 9, Marlins 4, Mets 8, Nationals 2, Phillies 5, Umpires 6, Orioles 6, Athletics 1, Diamondbacks 4, Blue Jays 1, Twins 1, Cubs 7, Cardinals 1, Royals 6, Red Sox 6, Rays 6, Pirates 3, Rockies 2|
|11 Commemorative Baseball(s) – Marlins Park, Mets 50th Anniversary 2, Camden Yards 3, Dodger Stadium 4, Fenway Park 1|
|10/9 Stadiums – Tim – Citizens Bank Park, Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park; Kellan – Nationals Park, Camden Yards, Citi Field, Target Field, Busch Stadium, Kauffman Stadium, Coors Field, Fenway Park, PNC Park4/1 Mascots Photos – Tim – Sluggerrr, Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, George Washington; Kellan – Fredbird|
|3/1 Player Photos – Tim – Ricky Bones, Willie Bloomquist, Jeremy Guthrie; Kellan – Willie Bloomquist|
|2 Batting Gloves – Ronnie Deck|
|5 Autographs – Willie Bloomquist 2, Tim Byrdak, Brian Roberts, Munenori Kawasaki|