The following are my thoughts from Randy Johnson's 300th victory game on Thursday. I had spent the previous night sitting through the three and a half hour rain delay and decided I would go back for the game despite the threat of weather remaining.
If I hadn't just done the rain thing last night, I'd probably write how there is something romantic about seeing a tarp covered field. When did "40% chance of rain" become "it's gonna rain?"
I noticed something at Nationals Park I hadn't seen before and I can't decide if it's cool or ridiculous. Four flags fly atop the scoreboard - a 1924 flag commemorating Washington's lone World Series triumph (it still happened later than the last Chub$' win), 1925 and 1933 flags commemorating two American League pennants, and a rather pathetic plain white one representing the fact that the team is not going to win another pennant for a very long time. (Strasburg will not save this franchise.)
I'm eating some chili cheese fries from Ben's Chili Bowl, one of the things the Nationals did right when building the stadium. Nice to have local vendors rather than the massive corporations that don't care if you run out of hotdogs by the fourth inning as long as they've filled their order. I remember when the Nats fired Aramark. That was a lovely feeling. Ben's is great. It's not Skyline, but then again, it's not supposed to be. It's a Washington institution.
The tarp comes off and there are some players on the field dancing their funny warm up ballets. We watch the Royals and Rays on the giant screen. Boy, it's cold right now. This is supposed to be a doubleheader, but I doubt I stay for the whole second game, especially with a 9am seminar in the morning. Ernie Banks was crazy - this weather is not fit for anyone to be outside. (Thanks, SUV drivers, for your contribution to global climate change.)
But, back to Randy Johnson's big night. There are a lot more different caps tonight than usual. I've seen Dodgers, Pirates, Indians, Phillies, Mariners, and Rangers in addition to the Reds cap on my head. (I saw another Reds cap but I'm pretty sure its wearer is not a Reds fan, if you know what I mean.) There's even a guy with a Billings Mustangs shirt here. These are people who appreciate the historical aspects of baseball.
Randy walks onto the field, and I get the baseball goosebumps. As he throws in the bullpen, a camera-wielding crowd gathers to watch. There is a sense that something historic is going to happen, a certain electricity in the air that is never present in regular Nationals games. It's a shame that the large crowd that had come the night before wasn't present for this 4:35 start. I wonder if they think Johnson's pitching the second game.
Randy throws the first pitch. Time to settle in and watch the game.
Randy went six innings - it was a little disappointing he didn't go out for a batter in the seventh, just so we could have the opportunity to cheer him off the field for the pitching change. He didn't give up a hit until the fifth inning, and the crowd groaned. It was a shattered bat grounder up the middle that took a lot of the energy from the game. After Johnson left, the seventh and eighth innings were rather eventful, with the Nationals getting a run and loading the bases in the eighth before Adam Dunn struck out on what could have been ball four to ruin the win for Johnson. (It made me ponder the question about umpires purposely missing a call in a game that doesn't matter for the sake of an event.) Dunner got up in the ump's face and probably was not thrown out because of the guilt of the ump. But hey, there were a lot of happy people in the stands, and for once, I cheered an Adam Dunn strikeout.
It was awesome as a baseball fan to witness something so rare. I was quite happy that it just so happened to take place in the city in which I live and that I had the opportunity to see it, even if I did have to suffer a three and a half hour rain delay the night before. It was worth it.