The stars were aligned perfectly for a HUGE day at Nationals Park for me until mother nature unloaded substantial rain on the D.C. area. Allow me to explain…
In my life, I have never caught a foul ball during an actual MLB game, but I’ve also never given it my best shot. Over the past few years I’ve attended Nationals Park, I have noticed that right-handed batters hit the majority of their foul balls back in a certain direction towards sections 215-216 in the club level, as I explained in my Nationals Park seating chart post. Therefore, whenever I intend to buy tickets for a Nationals game, I always check for cheap seats in these sections. Luckily, this time around, the normally-$60 seats were going for $22 on stub hub, so I jumped on that opportunity with every intention of catching a foul ball.
And then, Zack Hample posted pictures on Twitter Tuesday night that showed the Nationals were using all sorts of commemorative balls in their BP buckets including those from the 2010 World Series and All Star Game! It was too good to be true…
As my luck would have it, BP was cancelled for Wednesday. I waltzed into the stadium around 4:50 to see the tarp coming off the field, much to my delight, but no players or BP equipment on it. Bummer.
A.J. Ramos and Chad Qualls were playing catch in left field in front of only a handful of fans, none of which sported the Marlins hat that I did. I figured this would be my best chance, and I was right. When Ramos was done with Qualls, he did some sort of workout with the strength coach and turned towards the fans. I was the only one who knew his name, or at least the only one who shouted it. Also, I was a good 5 yards from the nearest fan, and… he overthrew me. I suppose that is what happens to one who is a fan of a team with bad pitchers. I’m sure a Yankee or Brave would have been on point with his throw. Whatever. I figured it wasn’t a commemorative ball anyway.
Enough about that. There were several Marlins fans down by the dugout even though there were no players anywhere to be seen. I sauntered down there because there was nothing else to do. Some of the guys were from Miami, I think, and one even had a picture of himself with Jose Fernandez that he wanted to get signed. A short time later, Christian Yelich came out and signed for some kids in the front, and I got him to autograph my hat because I had nothing else to get penned (thank you, Ramos). And a few minutes after that, Placido Polanco came out and was very friendly with the fans.
Both Yelich and Polanco were extremely cordial. It’s hard to be mean when there are only ten fans to interact with, but at this point in a dismal season, players can choose to nap inside or eat fried chicken instead of acknowledging the fans. I applaud these two for their efforts.
A little while later, I noticed three folks with Chirstian Yelich shirts on, so I immediately thought they must be family since Yelich is not exactly a top jersey seller. As it turns out, they were friends who knew him from his high school years. They lived in Greensbro, NC and hadn’t seen him since he played for the Grasshoppers.
After that, I overheard a Marlins fan say he was from Fredericksburg, so I had to talk to him. The guy was originally from Ft. Lauderdale but lives near Fredericksburg with his family. Like me, they attend almost every Marlins series at Nationals Park.
The things to do when there is no batting practice…
It was Hispanic Heritage Night at Nationals Park, so there were some festive dancers out in the centerfield plaza. There was also really loud music. Before the game, they honored all the Nationals players from Latin American countries, and that was that.
The game began, and I had my glove on the whole time. But even after all my expert analysis and incredible patience, nothing paid off. Foul balls fell just short of our section, flew a bit to the right, and overall were just not as plentiful this game. It was a real disappointment.
The rain delay lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes, which made a lot of fans leave early. That was awesome because it meant more empty seats for my running purposes, and more running room if anything came my way. Unfortunately, it was a school night so I had an ultimatum. We had to leave at 10:30.
For the last half hour, I was in a perfect spot–the second row of 215 with an entire empty aisle to my left, and one in 216 to my right. Unfortunately, nothing came my way, and we had to leave after the seventh inning.
The highlight of the night was Giancarlo Stanton’s monster home run to centerfield in the sixth inning. He has hit a few bombs since then, and now has 115 for his career. He has a long way to go before the 500 mark, but I still think he’ll get there.