I’m going to preface this post and mention that my post about Dibble’s comments came from a passion for this team and a protection instinct over its players because… well just because. I felt he was prematurely wrong with his ‘be tough’ statements, and I don’t have any desire to hate on anyone. No matter how much he tries to backpedal and change the original context – which is apparently still the fault of the internet. But he’s not the story here.
A strange mix of excitement and irony swirled around Nationals Park over the roller coaster last 24 hours. Anticipation and eagerness surrounded the start to the day when Nationals introduced top draft pick Bryce Harper to fans and media in “Oppo Boppo” fashion before he heads off to begin his professional baseball career. A familiar rush of hope surged when right-handed starter Jordan Zimmermann made his first start on an MLB mound post Tommy John surgery, facing the Cardinals in place of Stephen Strasburg, on the 15-day DL awaiting results of an MRI. Both events tempered the fear of the unknown lurking in Nats fans’ hearts while the lead roller coaster car click-click-clacked up the steep hill. The cars crested and careened down as stomachs clenched and the latest punch was thrown as the ride surged into the first loop of today’s morning press conference — Stephen Strasburg will miss the remainder of this season and likely most of next season with ‘likely’ Tommy John surgery.
Oof. What a horrendous punch to the gut for Nats fans. Strasburg has intrigued both ardent and casual fans alike nationwide since before his June 8th MLB debut, filling stadiums across the country. He brought buzz. He brought intrigue. He brought passion. He brought 92 strikeouts and 100 MPH fastballs that made opposing batters look like little leaguers. In addition, he brought hope and a reason to watch and pay attention to the Nationals after coming off a 100+ loss season. He brought (positive) national media attention. MLB Network took notice of the team in the Nation’s capital. ESPN took notice. Even though this season is likely a wash, fans eagerly looked forward to next year’s trot out of the opening day gate. All that – crushed. Gone. In one pitch plus six days of nailbiting while waiting for MRI results.
The initial shock is extremely difficult to overcome. Cry. Drink (wait til you get home from work, though). Eat cheese fries (or whatever comfort food you prefer, that just happens to be mine). Take a bubble bath. Listen to Mozart. Then look for hope.
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We touched down at BWI at 4:30 PM and raced home, showered, dropped the kids off with the sitter, and arrived at Nats Park in the middle of the 2nd inning. As we made our way to our usual parking area, there were open spots on the street and I suggested we park there. We continued to the $15 transportation lot next to the Douglass Bridge instead since we got a parking ticket on the street once. Should’ve parked on the street. I held my hat over my face as we made our way to the S. Capitol/Potomac intersection as the garbage smell was gag-inducingly awful. I didn’t bring my camera to the game because I was tired after traveling all day and also not in the best mood going to our first game since Manny Acta was fired. I should have remembered my American Express ripoff mantra of never leave home without it.
The game was pretty exciting in the beginning, but I’m sure you know how it ends. Jim Riggleman lost his third game in a row to his former team as the Nationals interim replacement manager. Despite not knowing how I’d feel at the game, figuring I’d just observe from a detached state of mind, I did find myself jumping in cheering a few times. I probably looked funny cheering without one iota of Nats garb on. I was wearing my glider hat acquired in Oregon (and cringed after realizing its blue color could be taken as a Cubs thing). (Yes, I shamelessly plugged a link to vacation photos in there!) I understand the “get your red on” campaign for this series as after every play that went the Cubs way, seas of blue stood in the stands. Quite stunning to see, actually.
With iced coffee in hand (beer vendors were in oddly short supply), we walked back to the lot after the game. We trudged through the gate closest to Nats Park and weaved between parked trailers in the dark since it was the closest entrance point and wandered across toward our car. A police officer standing close to the main entrance/exit gate was yelling, but we ignored him not realizing he was yelling at us. “Yes, you sir! Leave the lot immediately! Do not go to your car!”
Wha?! Confusion ensued. Are we in trouble? Is everyone in the lot being checked for something? What is going on? We filed out with others while hearing nothing about the situation and stood on the street outside the lot trying to get upwind from the garbage smell with hundreds of others. We heard it could be “a while” — an hour or more before we’d be allowed in. Rumors of a dead body floated around (given the smell). Then we heard assault. Manhunt. Soon a DC police helicopter lifted off from the heli-pad nearby and circled around with a search light pointed in our general vicinity. [ Crappy Photoset ]
K9 units arrived and slipped into the lot under the police tape now stretched across the gate. More police cars arrived. Eventually a policeman put a very large automatic weapon into the trunk of one. That sent a few of us several steps backwards, particularly since we’d been wondering aloud if we were sitting ducks standing out there like idiots while some criminal was on the loose. Just as suddenly, we were free to return to our cars with the mystery of what happened still unknown. Anyone know what happened? I’ve scoured news sites and turned up nothing.
Ah welcome back home to Nats Town! Vacation is over.
Since tonight’s game was postponed due to rain (I had planned on watching the game on tv, then debated running to the ballpark for after the rain delay, then watched Medium on DVR instead), tomorrow will be a traditional double header beginning at 4:35 PM. The ballpark’s CF gates will open at 2 PM. Big Unit and Jordan Zimmermann will still square off in the first game with Johnson still going for his 300th win. Starting at 4:35 PM. Ladies Night (which I have a ticket to) on the rooftop party deck (garage) begins at 4:30. ACK!
So do I buy a ticket to the 1st game and skip ladies night to see potential history being made (or rather, hopefully see Zimmermann postpone history) and photograph it? Or do I attend Ladies Night like the good girl I am and photograph that instead??
All tickets for tonight’s postponed contest, including season tickets, will be treated as rain checks and can be exchanged for same priced tickets for any future 2009 Nationals home game, excluding the three-game series against the Boston Red Sox on June 23, 24 and 25. All rain check exchanges are subject to availability. Tickets can be exchanged at any Nationals Park box office. Nationals Park box office hours are Monday-Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.