Journal Regulars columnist Jim Wharton of Sioux City takes you along on a 14-day bus trip to 10 different Major League Baseball stadiums and games this month.
June 20 Washington, D.C.
If you are a Washington Nationals fan you can give this day one of a number of three-letter descriptions. WOW! OMG! YEA! BOO!
I have been, conservatively, to well over 100 major league baseball games, but today I saw something for the first time ever at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. University of Missouri graduate and one of the offseason’s most coveted free agents came within one strike of a perfect game. With two outs and two strikes on Jose Tabata in the top of the ninth, Tabata leaned in on a pitch and it grazed his elbow. BOO! Although we could not see the pitch from our seats down the first-base line, the whole stadium let out a collective groan when they saw the replay. Not good form for Tabata. That’s not the way you play the game. Regardless, the next hitter flew out to third and a no-hitter for Scherzer was in the books. I’m saving this ticket stub!
First of all, it’s amazing Scherzer could pitch in the oppressive heat which has hit the East Coast. The game time temperature was 90-degrees and the heat index was 99. My Yadier Molina t-shirt was soaked before the end of the first inning. It was not only a record-setting day for Scherzer, but also the beer and water vendors. There were no lines at the Capital Chili stand.
I’ve grown weary of ballpark fare. While my fellow travelers traipsed up to the U. S. Capitol I walked over to Union Station and had a southwest salad. Nathans in New York, Hebrew Nationals in Washington or Kayem’s in Philadelphia ... after a while they all taste the same.
My concessions consultant Mark may have also hit the wall. He had two milkshakes from the Shake Shack today, but he remains unimpressed. Culvers or DQ in Sioux City make a better shake.
Other thoughts from Nationals Park:
• Thanks for the misting fans that were located at different spots around the ballpark. Refreshing.
• The guy who sang the National Anthem today was incredible … sounded like Josh Groban. I forgot to mention at last night’s game in Philadelphia it was 1960s retro night. A Jimi Hendrix lookalike played the anthem on his guitar. If you’re not a child of Woodstock you had no idea what the dude was playing.
• I absolutely love the presidents race! Mimicking the Brewers' sausage race, the Nationals have a dead presidents race. There is Abe, George, Tom, Teddy and Bill (call me William) Taft. I think Teddy won in a photo finish with Abe, but who really cares? It was fun.
• Nationals Park is ten years old and a couple of observations. In a city with a lot of big players like Washington, it seems a little strange that the team has not had some business step up to land the naming rights for the ballpark. I also find it confusing that the stadium has not spurred any residual development such as restaurants, shopping, etc. There’s not much to see or do outside the ballpark.
• I wore Cardinal gear again today out of necessity. My clean clothes inventory is bare bones. As a Nats fan crossed in front of me to get to his seat he saw my Cardinal gear and said “I don’t like you." Seems these Nats fans are still a little raw from the divisional series a few years back when the Redbirds put a beating on the local nine. Sticks and stones may break my bones, etc.
That’s it for Saturday. A morning of D.C. attractions Sunday followed by a drive to Pittsburgh where we will overnight before heading to Cleveland Monday.
Two games left in this 10-game odyssey. Cleveland Monday and the World’s Biggest Bar in Chicago on Tuesday. I feel like I have more Boos in my system and will let them go at Wrigley.
Thanks for the great response to the blog. Just a few more before it comes to an end.
Good night from Washington, D.C.