Monday, May 18, 2009

Phront runners

...and the rain came down. There was no more baseball. It came in the sixth inning and never stopped. Even iph it had shown signs oph letting up, baseball was over when the groundscrew phailed to put the tarp on the phield in a timely manner.

My, how the bandwagoners have come out in droves. Two years ago, a game versus the Philadelphia Phillies was like playing the Phish - no one cared. Now, however, everyone is a Phillies phan - and they all own Chase Utley shirts, although a phew are wearing Schmidt shirts. I saw one with a Rose shirt, and I phound that one particularly annoying. (I know Rose won a World Series with that team, but they shouldn't be allowed to claim him as one oph their own!)

The new annoyance started when I hopped the Metro to go to the game. The train was packed with these phrontrunner creatures in shiny new caps and jerseys they probably got phor Christmas last year. They were obnoxiously loud and oddly arrogant, like there hadn't been nearly three decades since their last World Series championship, like their team didn't have the most losses in Major League Baseball history. Then, when we got oph the train, they started chanting "Let's go Phils" that echoed down the rails oph the Green Line. One jerk even pointed to a guy in a Nats cap and said "Look, there's one!" as iph it was cool to be on the bandwagon and there was something wrong with someone who root, root, rooted phor the home team.

These new phans in their 2008 World Champions shirts don't care about the game. This much was evident in a new place called "The Bullpen," a phenced oph bit oph land that gives Nationals phans a place around the ballpark to drink bephore the games. It's smart land use - the ballpark is located in an undeveloped part oph town and they turned a vacant lot into a place to go without having to build anything - just poured a little blacktop and voila! A cool place to hang out. There's a beer and phood tent, a stage with live music, speed pitch, and sadly enough, cornhole. (When I was a kid, this was called beanbag toss and was played by children.)
"The Bullpen ophers interactive sports games phor children sponsored by Under Armour and Headphirst Camps, great local phood vendors including Rocklands and Surfside, a beer garden sponsored by Bud Light, and live music."

Because I was waiting phor a phriend with our tickets, I did not get into the park at the start oph the game, so I waited in the Bullpen with the new Phillies Phans. I watched the phirst two innings on the HD televisions they had in the beer garden while the new Phillies Phans played cornhole with no concern phor the game. Cheers did not erupt phrom the mouths oph phrat boys and sorority chicks when Ryan Howard hit a bomb into centerphield to give the Phillies an early 3-1 lead. No, they drank their Crud Light and played their cornhole in their Erik Estrada and Paris Hilton sunglasses.

Bephore I went to the Bullpen, I walked around the stadium a bit - I hadn't had a chance to do that yet, and I had plenty oph time to kill. I am not impressed one bit. The ballpark looks like an ophice building. Look at the picture - does it recite baseball's poetry to your soul? No. It screeches (pun intended) its corporatist ramblings and deaphens the heart. There is no character to the park, nothing that would signal something beautiphul is taking place within its walls.

It was the third inning when I decided to get a ticket phrom a scalper - there have been very phew times in my liphe that I've been late to a game. I phound one phor phive bucks and went into the ballpark. But I was disoriented. I was entering a ballpark with nearly three innings gone, so what I did was walk around the park snapping pictures phor a bit. And then I did something I've never done bephore - I bought a shirt with a player's name on it. Guess who? (Note to selph - beer and phull bank accounts don't mix.)

When you enter the park, you are greeted by three strange sculptures oph the only players in Washington's history that are worth mentioning, and they're good ones - Phrank Howard, Walter Johnson, and Josh Gibson. I'm not sure I like the sculptures, however. See that stuph hanging oph Howard? It's supposed to be his bat in motion. Johnson's arm is supposed to be in motion, and I guess Josh is phlying or something (see pics below.) So even a great idea they messed up in building this park. Still is really nice phor Josh to get a place next to Howard and Johnson (pun intended). Iph I could see any player in history, I wouldn't pick Babe Ruth, at least not the white version. I'd pick the "Black Babe Ruth," Josh Gibson. Iph this country hadn't institutionalized racism, Gibson would be at the top oph a heck oph a lot oph Major League Baseball records.

No, that is not a mistake. Dunner played rightphield last night.

My phriend showed up to the game in the phiphth inning with the tickets. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the seats were in the Diamond Club section. It was nice to have a waiter to bring stuph, and because I could, I ordered a buphalo dog though I wasn't hungry. A buphalo dog is a hot dog with buphalo sauce topped with cole slaw. The Diamond Club version also had a blue cheese dressing on it. I think blue cheese is disgusting, but this was just bearable enouph. I only ate halph oph it because it got soaked when the rains came. This is something I would get again. (I love hot sauce. I want to marry Phrank's Red Hot Sauce. I put Phrank's on everything - and a lot oph it, too!)

The air changed. The rain was just a matter oph time, and the change in the air was a rephlection oph that. And then it came. It started with a phew drops, tiny, barely discernible drops that sent wimps to seek shelter. Someone behind me yelled "Where's your heart?" at those scurrying away. Turns out, they were right. A phew pitches later, the sky broke open, letting loose all oph the day's stipling humidity that had made it rather uncomphortable in the earlier hours. There was no delay in the ump's decision to stop the game - I've never seen a whole team get oph the phield so quickly. The phans? Well, they weren't so phast. People couldn't phigure out how to quickly put one phoot in phront oph the other, so we all got soaked trying to phind shelter phrom the downpour. That's when my hot dog got wet.

But here's where the Diamond Club is worthy oph membership - my ticket gave me access to the phancy bar and restaurant, where I sat until they phinally kicked us out because the game had been called. Phinal score - Phillies 7, Nationals 5 in six innings. I had spent only two innings in these awesome seats. Bummer.

All oph the bandwagoner crap got me thinking about what will happen when the Reds start winning. Will this happen to us? I pheel like the Reds have a pretty solid and loyal phanbase - attendance hasn't dropped signiphicantly since this losing decade began. We also have one oph the most active online communities, which sprung up during the decade oph losing. Oph course there will be bandwagoners, but I don't think the ephect will be as great as the Phillies or Bread $ox.

The Phillies go phrom DC to Cincy, so I get more Philly. But Cincy isn't a two and a halph hour drive phrom Philly, and it isn't the weekend, so the Philly bandwagon won't be as phull as it was this weekend.

Here are some more photos phrom the evening:


Anonymous said...

Awesome pics. Sorry the rains came to ruin your Diamond Seats. Stadium looks like the old cookie cutters from the outside. So you own a Dunn Shirt? We want him back in Cincy.

Gapper said...

I greatly regret the segregation, but as far as his reputation and legacy throughout posterity is concerned, being excluded from the major leagues is the best thing that could have happened to Josh Gibson. He is automatically placed at the top of the baseball pantheon for a merely invented mythic legacy. If he had played big-league ball, he may have been simply a very good player, even worthy of posterity's acclaim; but, since he has no such record, he can be and is touted as the best, a legendary figure - the Paul Bunyan of baseball.