it’s been pretty well established here on the internet that i am not baseball’s biggest fan; the last time i went to a game, i’m pretty sure it was a Twins game at the Metrodome, i couldn’t tell you who their opponent was, and the best player on the field was Kirby Puckett. and while Puckett was, in fact, an all-time great player, for some time perspective, it’s worth noting that as of 2008, he’s been retired for 12 years and DEAD for 2 of those years. so it’s been a little while since i was taken out to the old ball game.
still, one of my fond childhood memories is being taken to an Orioles-Brewers game by my father and grandfather as a wee lad, at which time i spent the game enraging some nearby rednecks by requesting a little Brewers pennant and then waving it gleefully. and i think the Brewers won, too. even at that age, some signs of my future interaction with the world of baseball were apparent: playful mockery of sincerely disappointed Orioles fans combined with devotion on some level to small-market, mostly-currently-performing National League teams (as stated before, i am, sadly, a Pirates fan). and even then, i was such a little comedian.
so with all this in mind, i recently donned a black baseball cap promoting DC and headed to said city to take in a game of the Nationals (why oh why couldn’t they have named them the Grays) versus the Phillies. and now i have comments!
next time i go to a sporting event, THIS is how i’m going: rocking the giant foam cowboy hat and air horn!
quality of the ball park
now, HOK Sport has currently made 14 of the operating MLB parks, with 3 more on the way and another “delayed indefinitely,” so with about 18 of the 30 teams in baseball rocking an HOK park, it’s clear they know what they’re doing. hell, in the Mid-Atlantic, they clearly run shit, with both MD teams and both PA teams having an HOK park, and the NY teams in the process of getting theirs. everyone will tell you that the Pirates’ PNC Park or the Orioles’ Oriole Park at Camden Yards (depending on whether they are a beer-swilling Orioles fan or not) are about as nice as a park can get, but the Nationals’ park is no trash heap; it’s a nice-looking park, the views are great, and there’s a plethora of sweaty middle-aged men trying to sell me peanuts. now, if only we could do something about this trash heap of a city it’s located in.
quality of the ball park’s restrooms
FANTASTIC. and having been to many a sporting event in the football vein where the restroom looks like a crime scene (when it’s not getting weirdly awkward and homoerotic), i cannot stress this enough; in fact, i may have freaked out at least one person by actively and energetically promoting these restrooms (and i will now stop doing this). now, i know what you’re thinking: this is a sign of mediocre attendance, not excellent restrooms. fuck that, whatever, those restrooms being awesome cannot be spoiled by reality.
quality of the fan base
to put it bluntly, the Nationals suck: HOK Sport makes nice parks, but they also make them for some trashy teams (Nationals, Pirates, Orioles, Marlins, Giants, Padres… the list seemingly never ends). plus, the team’s pretty new, so you don’t have the stat-crazed fans who have followed their team their entire life, or even the team history for them to discuss. this creates a nice, pleasant and somewhat dull fan base who, as you may or may not know, set the record for smallest crowd in the second game of a new facility. in short, they’re superior to dirty Baltimore fans who seem to think baseball games are actually about pounding secret bottles of vodka and dancing, but also, they may need to sign some big names and get a good team before said “superior fans” will give a shit.
as my sister would say, “I <3 the Phanatic and his 4wheeler”; it seems that living in Philadelphia really HAS ruined her
favorite opposing fan
the Nationals won this game 7-4 and everyone who was disappointed about this was pretty pleasant; i can’t say that i really saw any Phillies fan who could be stated as worse than “drunk and sad about how this all turned out,” i do have a favorite: this middle-aged guy who sat two rows behind me. some of his highlights:
-when Kyle Kendrick, who at this point had absorbed about six earned runs, got a warning for throwing a little chin music at some hitters, this fan declared “hey, i’m a Phillies fan, but they need to throw that guy out of there!” when his accompanying fan asked why, the response was “if they throw him out, maybe they’ll replace him with someone who can pitch!”
-Ryan Howard turned a single into a double with an error, prompting a response of “you fatbag, if they throw is bad, step off the bag and catch it!” this mostly cracks me up because he called Howard (who i thought was somewhat beloved in Philly) a “fatbag.” i’m not sure if that’s one word, but it seemed like it.
least favorite opposing fan
two rows down, there was this young punk who was decked out in a Hollister t-shirt and pants that, if i were to describe them as “hanging below his ass,” i would have to then follow it up with calling that a generous assessment, and i am assuming his allegiance based on his girlfriend’s pro-Utley shirt because his actions lead me to believe he could have cared less about the game. okay, so maybe i’m coming off like an old man here with all that, but fuck that kid. hey, i’m a Pirates fan, and the Nationals rank tied for 3rd in the MLB with me, but even i at least give a fuck about any game i attend and accordingly, watch it and clap at things and so on. i don’t think this kid did shit but look surly and show off his underwear. also, i am pretty confident that i could have beaten him up. i’m just saying.
least favorite home fan
okay, ladies, you know i ha- i mean, you know i love you all, but here’s the deal: while i understand that baseball is a somewhat slow-paced sport and so you need to interact and clap when you’re told to and yell when you’re told to, if you weigh over 250 pounds, don’t start fucking dancing energetically during the game. just don’t do it. especially right in front of me. and i don’t care if YOU feel secure enough with your body and/or the extra parts of it that spill out of your straining outfit, I am not secure with it. i’m afraid a balled-up groundhog of a fat roll is going to strike me in the head and kill me. sorry. and speaking of getting hit in the head…
on the day i attended, Abraham Lincoln had a dominating win in the presidential race; meanwhile, Teddy Roosevelt continued to suck spectacularly
uh… a question about this game
so, a little kid got totally SMASHED in the head by a fly ball; don’t worry, it wasn’t a line drive, but rather, a beautiful pop-up that SHOULD have been easily caught and thus become a souvenir (seriously, the awesome thing about baseball is that about 50 dudes went home with a foul ball, and in this case, 2 with home run balls) … but no, it plonked this kid right in the top of the skull. my question isn’t “why didn’t anyone warn him” (because people were yelling about the incoming ball) or “why didn’t anyone catch it” (because everyone BUT this kid and his mom were trying to) but this: since the kid appeared to be fine, is it cool that i am making fun of this?
hardest thing that happened during this game to explain to someone who doesn’t watch baseball at all
now, i am not a massive fan of baseball, so i can’t quote team lineups chapter and verse, and there are some nuances of the rules and strategy that do escape me (seriously, i know someone explained to me what a balk is, but i remain steadfastly confused). still, i’m sort of clever and i get how things work (and i can read a scoreboard), so i think i could stay on top of who was doing what to who. that said, i overheard many wives asking their husbands (or just generic women asking their men, whatever) various questions, and the number one question (well, excepting “who is that guy”) isn’t something like “how did that error make that single a double,” it’s “another pitcher? how many guys pitch in these games? ANOTHER guy is pitching? why did that guy that was winning stop pitching? why did that guy that pitched to two batters stop pitching?” seriously, ladies, you just don’t get strategy, i guess; that’s why Sun-Tzu wrote the Art of War and you didn’t. but thanks again for all that sewing and baking and being barefoot and pregnant and all that. it’s been a big help.
weirdest thing about going to a Nationals game instead of an Orioles game
okay, here’s the regional thing that all Marylanders know that makes everyone else raise an eyebrow and look at us like we should be spending some time in a mental institution: during the national anthem, Orioles fans scream “OOOOOOHHHHHH” at the whole “o say” moment to indicate… well, i think it’s supposed to indicate that they love their Os, but really, it indicates that they love their Strohs and Natty Bos more, those fucking drunks. and then they infected Redskins and Ravens games with this oh-so-terribly-clever thing that they bellow. but at a Nationals game? nothing. it was oddly… classy.
but despite all the overpriced beers and/or sun that wiped me out (seriously, i had to take a nap like an old man before getting to this), baseball game attendance in DC remains a solid way to spend the day. i suppose that’s why Kevin Costner kept making movies about baseball. seriously, Costner, you should have mixed it up a little more when you were in your prime. i’m just saying.