Friday, September 01, 2006

That was a crazy game of baseball

It was one of the strangest baseball games I've ever attended, I think, and I've attended many over my barely-less-than-three decades of life. I'm still a little, well, confused? Stunned? Surprised? My jaw is still in the drop position.

Both Reds and Nats fans can appreciate this story on account of the Wild Card race and it being a Nats game and all. The sky was held together with Ernesto's clouds, but there was enough light to keep the rains away for a few hours. Hopping on the Metro, I stole a seat and avoided the crush of the standing mostly-Redskins crowd that would continue on two stops down the line. I was late - I'd rather blame it on the Redskins fans than anything I did - and my friend was not at our meeting point when I arrived. I bought two $3 tix, left one at will call, and entered the stadium just in time to see Soriano swing and miss the first pitch. I walked around the upper deck in a half inning, one that saw the Nats score 2 runs, and I found my friend because everyone in the stadium had a whole section to himself. Announced attendance was 22,221, but there weren't more than 12,221 there, honest to god. I have never been to a game with so few people - it was like Montreal all over again. So what if Washington is awaiting the vestiges of Tropical Storm Ernesto? It didn't rain the whole evening (but I'll be surprised if they get the game in against the D'Backs this evening.)

I felt like I was at the game to root against the Phillies more than to root for the Nats. Not that I didn't want the Nats to win, but I had the Reds in my heart at that game. I actually felt like I was at a Reds game, only it was like the Reds were on deck or something. There was definitely a playoff feeling floating through my mind, even as the Spirit of Losing tried to beat it down.

Ryan Howard hit the longest home run I have ever seen in my life, an upper deck shot to center field. At RFK. It sailed high above the home run graveyard, and I could do nothing but applaud. Now, before you criticize me for applauding, I have to say, YOU DIDN'T SEE THE BLAST. I'm still in awe. The thing was going to the moon, but the stadium got in the way of it. The homer broke the single season Phillies record of a certain Michael Jack Schmidt, too, so that was pretty cool to witness.

Fast forward to the ninth, a few hits, an intentional walk to Alf, and a Felipe Lopez hit that tied the game with two outs. Good, tie game, right? Well, in the tenth the Phillies got a run on a stupid "passed ball" thrown by none other than Ryan "Crazy" Wagner, who was pathetic in his outing, like he was trying to get back at the Reds for throwing him on the garbage heap or something. Disgusted, I sat thinking about dropping a half a game further behind the Phils. But no, the Nats came back in the tenth to tie on a Brian Schneider hit.

With runners at first and third with one out, Ryan Church strode to the plate to pinch hit. As he swung and missed, a bizarre thing happened. Marlon Anderson, who was traded to the Dodgers soon after, broke for home as the ball got past the catcher and scored the winning run. Nats win on a strike. Fireworks and all, Nats defeat the Phils, and I'm sitting up writing this because I am still trying to understand how it all happened. You'd think the Nats were in the playoffs with those two comebacks.

For the record, Aurilia haters, Felipe made his 24th error of the year.

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