Those of you die hard blog followers will remember our first experience of a ball game (if you are new to it or have forgotten, you can refresh you memory here). Last night we went to our second game. Yeah we are die hard ball fans. 2 games in 4 years. This time it was the Washington Nationals vs the Philadelphia….errrr….Phillies. Last time I drew an analogy with cricket i.e. Games are really just a chance for families to get together, have a drink, some food and a chat. Oh and obsess over stats.
4 years on things haven’t changed. This time around I did at least work out who was batting and who was fielding as their kits were suitably different; Washington were in white, Philly in a dirty white. Also there was a big screen which showed the batters as they came in so I had no excuse for not knowing this time. Saying that, at one point that I thought that R Kelly was coming in as his name appeared on the screen, then I realised that this was just the piece of music that was playing to introduce them. At least I think that is what it was as Moby and Vanilla Ice’s names popped up later and I’m sure they weren’t coming in to bat.
One thing that hadn’t changed was the scoring…or lack of it. We had to wait until the 8th innings before someone actually scored. Still it gave me a chance to soak up the atmosphere. The Nationals play in a relatively new ground “Nationals Park” which is a really cool, fan friendly stadium. It’s also…well…a bit messy. I am a bit OCD, even about stadiums. I like uniformity and symmetry. I don’t like it when they build one stand bigger than the rest (like at the Riverside) or even worse have 3 stands bigger than another one (please Man United will you develop that South stand of yours, it makes me shiver every time I walk past it on the way to the cricket ground, which also isn’t symmetrical, but it is getting better). Baseball stadiums are very asymmetrical. Now this one was nearly symmetrical on 3 sides, but not the 4th, which is fine as there is a dead part of the ground, but even the main stand was split. Come on guys, your fans spend a lot of time looking around at your stadium, at least make it aesthetically pleasing. As I said, I had a lot of time to kill.
To make the game more bearable, sorry, enjoyable, the off-field entertainment is as important as the on-field. With it being September, last night’s game had an Oktoberfest theme. We were given our commemorative beer steins (another one for the commemorative cups collection. If you don’t know what means see here) the mascots (yes they have more than one and they are all ex-presidents) were dressed in lederhosen and there was a special German menu on offer.
After the 3rd innings, swayed by the constant adverts for food, we went to get some. For a nation that invented fast food, they seemed to struggle. In fact it took 2 innings to get served. There was a TV so we could carefully follow no one actually getting any runs, but there was a moment of excitement when there was a decision that had to be made as to whether a Washington player was in or out. (He was out…just.) There was actually more excitement in the queue. Somehow a hen party managed to upset an older patron who was so incensed he climbed under the tensa barrier and pushed in front of them. The staff calmed him down a bit, but when they were all served (about 20 minutes later) they were still goading each other. Shortly after I looked up at the TV screen to see 4 giant presidents racing each around the field being chased as a woman dressed as a stein. A few moments later Father Christmas appeared on the screen promoting buying next year’s season passes for Christmas. During all this, no one scored any runs.
Excitement over, food purchased, we retook our seats and it happened. Bryce Harper (who seemed to be quite a big deal) came in and scored a home run. The stadium erupted; the man next to me didn’t try to high five me this time, but did one of those weird handshakes that involves doing something crazy with your thumbs. With the run coming so late, it wasn’t too long before the game was over and the fans left jubilant. Karen left equally happy (with her Nationals visor, free stein and free programme). Apparently when we are in Chicago she wants to see the white Bear Cubs in Socks or someone like that. I think I might take a book.