6/3/09 at Nationals Park
The Washington Nationals are inept, from top to bottom.
Just had to get that out of the way. I’m so pissed about everything that went down yesterday, so forgive me for the angry nature of this blog entry, but by the time you get to the end of it, I think you’ll agree with the opening line.
Randy Johnson was scheduled to pitch. He entered the day with 299 career wins. This was my chance to see history.
My parents were nice enough to lend me their car. On my way to get it, I picked up a copy of the New York Daily News. I was told that I’d be in it, and I was not happy with the result.
So yeah, I was already p*ssed before I even got in the car, and then on the way down to D.C. (during which I managed to get lost because the roads around D.C. are horrendously marked), some dickwad on an overpass tossed a pebble that hit my car, scared the crap out of me, and cracked the windshield. Not a huge crack. No shards of glass on my lap or anything like that. Just enough to do $500 worth of damage, or whatever the hell it’s gonna cost to replace it.
One of the good things that happened yesterday was that I got to park for free. Gotta give a shout-out to my friend Mike for the hookup, but then of course there were weather issues. Oh sure, it was perfectly hot and sunny when I began exploring the outside the stadium at 3:30pm…
…but less than an hour later–right before the gates were about to open–it started raining:
It was right around that time that I met Nic Skayko–THE MAN who came up with a complex statistical formula to predict the number of baseballs that I’ll snag on any given day. (I wonder if his formula takes into account the fact that I’ve been jinxed by God.)
Well, when the gates opened less than five minutes later, it was officially pouring. Rather than running in to get a look at the field, I took shelter and waited for the rain to subside and then took the following photo:
I headed out to the Red Porch seats in left-center and watched four inept groundskeepers (okay, I didn’t yet know they were inept) head toward the infield:
Two notes about the photo above:
1) The batting cage is set up, which means there WAS going to be batting practice.
2) The red arrow is pointing to a baseball. I know it looks like a grain of salt from here, but take my word for it.
Nationals Park opens two and a half hours early (which is great) but for the first hour, everyone has to stay in the outfield. Foul pole to foul pole. Those are the boundaries. Therefore, as the inept groundskeepers made their way toward the ball, the best I could do was run around to the seats in the straight-away left field and scream my head off. They heard me, and the guy who picked it up pointed toward the seats in foul territory. This was both good and bad…good because he seemed to be indicating that if I headed over there, he’d give me the ball, but bad because I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere near him. At least that’s what I was led to believe, but there weren’t any ushers or security guards at the boundaries, and the seats were not roped off (as they are in Philly during the first hour of BP), so I thought, “Well, what the hell, I might as well wander over there, try to get the ball, and worry about the consequences later.” So yeah, I cut right through the seats into foul territory, and I kept looking up at the concourse to see if anyone was angrily waving me back, but the few employees I saw just stared dumbly at me.
From a distance, I saw the inept groundskeeper look at me and hold up the ball (as one does for a batter before feeding a ball into a pitching machine) and place it in the wide front row of seats. No one else was around, so I took my time walking over, then paused for a moment to take a photo of the ball on the wet pavement…
…and finally grabbed it. It was a soggy training ball. (Estimated retail value: 14 cents.) The main part of the logo was very worn…
…but whatever, at least I had a ball.
I headed back to left field and watched with great sorrow as an inept groundskeeper rolled the L-screen off the field:
Then it started pouring again:
I took cover near some random employee doorway and passed the time with Mike and a couple other guys who recognized me.
Then it got sunny, a few Giants came out and started throwing, and the inept grounds crew took the tarp off the field:
Jeremy Affeldt and Bob Howry began playing catch in the left field corner. Howry was on the foul line, and Affeldt was out in straight-away left field. I positioned myself in foul territory so that I was lined up with them, and as soon at they were done, Affeldt took the ball and looked up into the seats in fair territory to find a worthy recipient. I shouted his name and waved my arms, and thanks to the fact that I was decked out in Giants gear, I got him to throw me the ball from about 100 feet away. I had to reach down and make a back-handed catch. Nothing special, and yet that was my athletic highlight of the day.
Merkin Valdez was still playing catch (with Sergio Romo) at that point, and there were a couple extra balls lying around on the field:
When Valdez finished, he walked over with two balls, handed one to the kid in the photo above with the “55 LINCECUM” shirt, and then placed the second ball in my glove.
It was still an hour and a half before game time, so I figured I’d be able to salvage my day and snag at least a few more balls…but no. Nature didn’t cooperate. The presidential mascots must’ve known what was coming. Look at their dejected body language:
Half an hour later, the inept grounds crew rolled the tarp back out:
And then–you have to read the rest of this line with an English accent–it rained like bloody hell:
The field got completely soaked, and when the rain finally let up, one of the groundskeepers sloshed through the grass and lifted up the edge of the tarp to see if the water had gotten underneath it:
Of course the water got underneath, jackass! You and all your pals are inept!
Twenty minutes later, this was the scene in right field:
Here are a couple inept groundskeepers attempting to fix the swamp otherwise known as the infield:
It was ugly. I didn’t see how the field would possibly be dry enough for a game, but I still kept hoping. I’d been hanging out with Mike the whole time, and when we parted ways (at about 8:15pm), I headed around behind home plate to the 3rd base side. It was there that I ran into (and met for the very first time) a fellow MLBlogger named Todd and his adorable three-year-old son, Tim.
Here we all are:
(Does that shirt make me look fat?)
The rain started up again, of course:
I sat and watched it with Todd and Tim. There was nothing else for us to do.
Even though I was hungry, I held off on buying food. It just wasn’t worth it. The prices were outrageous, and the food wasn’t even that good. At least the one thing I’d gotten earlier wasn’t good. It was a square piece of pepperoni pizza for $8, and it wasn’t big. Major ripoff.
Why had the inept grounds crew taken all that time earlier to get the field ready? But more importantly, why weren’t the stadium operations people making announcements about the status of the game? (Oh yeah, because they’re inept.) Talk about outrageous…it was really disgusting the way they didn’t say ONE thing for three and a half hours and just let everyone sit there. The only info presented to the fans was a generic message on the video boards (you can see part of it several photos up) that said, “Please take cover under the concourse. Severe storms are approaching. We are monitoring the situation & will keep you updated as information becomes available.”
They never updated us. I had to call my friend Brad in San Francisco for updates.
It kept raining. There were waterfalls:
Finally, at like 10pm, the umpires wandered out and inspected the field:
After that? They went back inside. No announcement. Nothing. It was the worst treatment of fans I’ve ever witnessed. Once again, everyone was just left to stand around in the concourse and wonder what the hell to do. Naturally, 90 percent of the fans had left by that point, so I hoping SO BAD that the game would somehow get started. It would’ve been foul ball heaven. I’d splurged and bought a ticket right behind the Giants’ dugout. How cool would it have been to get a third-out ball from Randy Johnson’s 300th win? I was drooling at the opportunity.
By this point I was starving (to the point where my stomach was growling) so I decided to buy some more food. Only problem was…all the concession stands were closed! What the ****!!! You’d think the Nationals would’ve made an announcement along the lines of, “Attention fans, we’re going to close our concession stands in 20 minutes, so if you’d like to purchase any food or beverages, we advise you to do so at this time.” But why even close the stands while the stadium is open? Why not at least leave ONE stand open? Or…if the game was postponed and THAT’S why they closed the stands, then how come there wasn’t an announcement about THAT?! It was shameful. I’m not surprised the Nationals have the worst record in baseball. They deserve it.
Finally the umps came back out and there was a huge conference near home plate, and then as everyone headed off the field, I saw one guy make a gesture as if to indicate, “That’s it.”
Was there an announcement after THAT? Umm…no. All the remaining fans were left standing around for ten more minutes, and then finally, the announcement was made:
“Unplayable field conditions.”
The P.A. announcer said something about fans being able to exchange ticket stubs for future games this season. Yeah, thanks. I don’t want to go to any more Nationals games. The team better refund my money. What a disgrace to baseball.
Of course Randy Johnson won his 300th game today, and I wasn’t there. I thought about getting a cheap hotel and staying overnight, but I had plans the next night back in New York City. Good plans. Very very good plans. I’d say more, but you wouldn’t believe me.
• 3 balls at this “game” (Yeah, it counts as a game in my stats. The balls didn’t just materialize out of thin air, you know?)
• 193 balls in 25 games this season = 7.72 balls per game.
• 594 consecutive games with at least one ball
• 160 consecutive games outside of New York with at least one ball
• 4,013 total balls
• 106 donors (click here and scroll down for the complete list)
• $23.95 pledged per ball
• $71.85 raised at this game
• $4,622.35 raised this season for Pitch In For Baseball