The Washington Nationals and the Pittsburgh Pirates played the first doubleheader in D.C. between the two teams since 1899 on Saturday. Needless to say, it was going to be a hot ticket event at Nationals Park, and I had to be there. In this day and age of "the bottom line" and the front offices of Major League teams attempting to squeeze every penny out of the everyday fan and give little back, a doubleheader like this is a relatively rare thing. I personally had never attended one myself.
I've heard stories of the doubleheader. My father used to attend them years ago with his friends in Baltimore. He said there was no better form of baseball entertainment. When he and his friends heard there was going to be a doubleheader (they were actually scheduled back in those days), they would pile into a car and head to Memorial Stadium for a day of baseball and tomfoolery. Indeed, nine innings of baseball is one thing, but 18 innings? To most it would seem a chore, but to a baseball fan, it is like spending a day in Avalon.
The following is the Nationals Saturday doubleheader broken down by times throughout the 6-hour, 31-minute affair. I apologize for the format, but I think it reveals what an average fan is thinking, feeling and experiencing during such an all day marathon.
1:10 p.m. - Jump in Hyundai Elantra to make way to Nationals Park.
1:21 p.m. - Gas up in Springfield. $3.69 is nuts. Thank God I got four tickets free from the Nationals thanking me for being a Spring Training season ticket holder.
1:51 p.m. - Capital Dome sighting.
1:57 p.m. - Take the wrong exit. End up on C St. SW. Where are we?
2:02 p.m. - On Maryland Ave. Eight cops have a man in a white leisure suit up against the hood of a squad car with a pile of women's clothing spread all over the place, along with four bottles of rum. No, seriously, where are we?
2:11 p.m. - Pull into The Yards.
2:20 p.m. - I'm an idiot. I thought I had free tickets to the doubleheader today. Ends up I have free tickets for Sunday. The only tickets left are $45 each. Screw it. You only live once. Drop $135.
2:34 p.m. - Arrive in Section 133. Good seats.
3:37 p.m. - Back at seats after taking photos of Ian Desmond and Ivan Rodriguez. Pits sweating waterfalls. First pitch from Livan Hernandez is a strike.
3:44 p.m. - Livan gives up first run of game after two questionable safe calls on Pirates players from the umps.
3:47 p.m. - Andrew McCutchen double. Man on second and third, one out. Nats fans in a coma.
4:00 p.m. - The thirst begins to call.
4:11 p.m. - Nats score one in the second, but questionable ump calls kill the rally and leaves a sense of foreboding as thick as an Edgar Allan Poe yarn.
4:20 p.m. - No one is high in Natstown. Wild pitch from Livo puts a Pirates player on third. Four people are deep in a conversation in Spanish in front of me. Seem to have forgotten there is a game.
4:36 p.m. - Old man in flowered shirt next to me screaming, "He is the pitcher! Strike him out!" Ryan Zimmerman is batting. The heat must be worse than I thought.
4:52 p.m. - Have been stealing periodic glances at a young woman's legs. She came in with legs like raw chicken. She will leave today golden Honey BBQ. Nats down 2-1.
4:55 p.m. - The T-Shirt Toss: equivalent of Caesar throwing out bread at the Colosseum games.
5:00 p.m. - Great beer debate begins. To $8.50 Silver Bullet or not $8.50 Silver Bullet. That is the question.
5:02 p.m. - The $8.50 Silver Bullet lost-- but not the $8 one you get in the concourse.
5:37 p.m. - Rick Ankiel's game-tying solo blast sounds off the sub horn and puts Nats fans into near state of orgy.
5:51 p.m. - I wish it was the beer making Garrett Jones hit go over the wall, but it is not. It is Sean Burnett.
5:54 p.m. - Oh look at the pretty McCutchen ball go over the wall. Its pretty like a birdie. Burnett is cringing at giving birth to this beauty.
6:02 p.m. - Nationals down 4-2. Wave officially begins in Section 137.
6:09 p.m. - After a non-three run Danny Espinosa bomb, Ivan Rodriguez hits ball right back at pitcher. Officially the defining game ending moment.
6:09:30 p.m. - Todd Coffey's entrance is the Ninth Wonder Of The World.
6:35 p.m. - Wow, Jayson Werth gets a RBI! OMG! WOOOOO! What does it mean?
6:36 p.m. - Game Over. Nats lose 5-3. Joel Hanrahan's goatee looks like the ring of a shower drain at the local gym.
6:49 p.m. - 30-minute intermission before next game. Run into gang of actual pirates in concourse. Imagine Motley Crue dressed as pirates.
7:11 p.m. - Ballparks are nothing but overpriced beer traps, and I have fallen into it. Working with Leinenkugel now, but I have not been defeated. I will use the empty cup later to get free water from the water fountain. Suckers.
7:15 p.m. - Play ball.
7:19 p.m. - McCutchen hits a triple, which is nearly an inside-the-park home run if not for Ryan Zimmerman.
7:25 p.m. - Note to self: Rick Ankiel is on this team still.
7:31 p.m. - THEY RAN OUT OF FOOT LONGS!
7:59 p.m. - I start to cry. I know there is no crying in baseball, but Tom Hanks hasn't been relevant since Forrest Gump. McCutchen scores another hit and the Bucs lead 2-1. I just can't understand why the Nats can't have a player like that. Maybe they do in Bryce Harper but Mike Rizzo has him stagnant in Hagerstown with a thumb injury. I start sucking mine.
8:12 p.m. - 8/12 is my birthday. My wish is my son one day plays in Nats uniform here.
8:42 p.m. - Two newborns are chosen as Fan of the Game. Fitting, considering they doo-doo their diapers and the Nats doo-doo on the field. Team philosophy must be: get them young, get them early.
9:03 p.m. - Nats trail 3-2. Game is probably over. Offense's heart is not in it. Werth might need to run to his car tonight.
9:10 p.m. - Baseball Parks are small worlds of their own. Just ran into an old college friend who I once dog sat for and her dog bled all over my apartment. It was great catching up.
9:35 p.m. - I have a feeling Werth is going to be cold-cocked in the media this week.
9:47 p.m. - Game tied 3-3. Christ, I feel like Super Mario jumping over spiked pits and fireballs.
9:48 p.m - Super Mario? What?
9:49 p.m. - Crowd gets an amazing second wind.
9:55 p.m. - Incredible crowd energy.
9:55 p.m. - PUDGE!!!!! [Illegible writing and scribble]
9:57 p.m. - Note to self: download Drew Storen's entrance music when I get home.
10:02 p.m. - Storen needs one more out--
10:06 p.m. - GAME OVER! NATS WIN! I HAVE A FREE T-SHIRT!