Sunday, August 20, 2006

Getting Even With Phillie Fans

This one looked forgettable early, and since we had decided to not attend last nights 11-2 debacle at the hands of the Phillies and enjoy the night in Philadelphia. We thought we might escape the derogatory comments once again. But, down 10-1 in the 4th on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, meant Sohna and I were going to get HAMMERED AGAIN by the Phillies Fans.

Today--we had box seats right behind the Nats 3rd base dugout, and as Pedro Astacio continued to struggle, the Phillies' Fan Ridicule reached its ZENITH!! "Your Team Sucks as much that President that lives in your town!!" (We actually enjoyed that one!!) "Washington's a city of LOSERS!! LOSERS!!" And-- "WASHINGTON SUCKS, WASHINGTON SUCKS!!" (by a chorus of fans). Not to mention the continuous drunken barbs, cursing us out to no end--throwing popcorn at us on 2 occasions.

It was a typical day in the "City of Brotherly Love!!"

But, then the tide turned--BIG TIME and the Nats STORMED BACK--and it looked like for some time that WE WOULD GET THE LAST LAUGH!! AND IT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE MOST ENJOYABLE MOMENT OF THE YEAR!!

Down 10-2 with only a Solo Home Run by Brandon Harper (His First MLB Homer) and a bases loaded walk to Felipe Lopez, Frank Robinson began to empty the bench and replaced Ryan Zimmerman with Damian Jackson (officially Waving the White Flag in the bottom of the 5th inning). With one out and the bases loaded in the top half of that 5th inning, Zimmerman would drill a shot right at Phillies Third Baseman Abraham Nunez, that Nunez only caught because it was right at him. And, Nick Johnson followed with a terrible K to end what looked liked the last possibility for the Nats.

And the ABUSE continued from the Phillies' Faithful!

But, in the top of the 6th, INCREDIBLY, our Nationals Rallied, knocking starter Randy Wolf from the game, then Rick White and finally getting to the unreliable Ryan Madsen.

Austin Kearns, on two strikes, would single to center. Alex Escobar would get ahead 3-1 in the count and lace a ground ball up the middle, moving Kearns to second. On the very next pitch, Brandon Harper (standing as straight up erect as any batter I have seen in some time) slugged his second Major League Home Run of the day, just over the left field fence, bringing the Nats back to 10-5.

Sohna and I cheered Brandon to no end, and received a conciliatory wave from Harper when he reached the end of the dugout, stepping out to acknowledge us!! We were very pleased. The Phillie Fans continued to BOOOOO!! Not only the Nats, Their Pitcher, AND US!! It WAS GREAT!!

Bernie Castro would then walk on a full count and Philadelphia Manager, Charlie Manuel had seen enough, bringing on the righthanded reliever White. Wolf was BOOED UNRELENTINGLY by their own FANS. And this guy is suppose to be their ACE! You got to love the Philadelphia Home Field Advantage.

Marlon Anderson would pinch hit for then Washington Pitcher, Travis Hughes, and down 1-2 in the count, would get a fastball right over the plate that MARLOOOON! would drill past Phillies centerfielder Aaron Rowand for a run scoring double. 10-6 Phillies. Soriano would come up FREE SWINGING as always and strike out on 4 pitches. FLop would then follow with a full count walk. And then, MY MAIN MAN!--(and least favorite Nat) Damian Jackson would come to the plate (would have loved to see Z in this position now) and, HOLY COW!---Walk! to load the bases.

At this point, I figured we had to win if Damian actually did something positive. Sohna and I were yelling and screaming "LETS GO NATS!!" to no end. The Phillie Fans were QUITE QUIET!! To our great delight!!

Nick Johnson would step to the plate, once again going DEEP into the count, drawing a FULL COUNT RUN SCORING WALK. 10-7 Phils!!

Manuel would then replace White with Ryan Madsen. White BOOED UNMERCIFULLY!! Austin Kearns, just not swinging the bat well at all, would ground to 3rd, forcing out Johnson, but FLop scored, Jackson moving to 3rd--10-8 Phils.

At this point, Frank Robinson decided to GO FOR THE JUGULAR. Sending Daryle Ward to the plate to pinch hit for Escobar. Frank sensing that this was their LAST CHANCE. It was a questionable/debatable move, Alex has been pretty good in the clutch. I would have left Escobar in the game and held out Ward for later, but if Ward hits as well as he has in the clutch, this game might be tied or the Nats ahead. Unfortunately, Daryle would K mightily to end the threat.

The Phillie fans sighing in great relief.

In the Bottom of the 6th, Saul Rivera would enter the game, and although it did not cost the Nats in this inning. Damian Jackson would throw away a grounder to Nick Johnson, his first of 2 errors today, and a harbinger of things to come in the 8th. I really can't stand Damian Jackson. But, Anderson would save the inning, when Lieberthal hit a looping liner to center, Marlon playing SO FAR BACK NEAR THE WARNING TRACK, no one expected him to get to hit. Anderson sliding on his left side, coming up to throw immediately, and doubling off Pat Burrell at second. IT WAS A FANTASTIC PLAY!! And totally unexpected.

After escaping the 6th, Rivera would get in trouble in the 7th when Abraham Nunez (3-5, 1HR and 4 RBI on the day) would double down the right field line to lead off the inning. Madsen would step to the plate, attempt a sacrifice bunt, Brian Schneider would pounce on the ball and CLEARLY THROW OUT NUNEZ at third. Abraham sliding into the glove and ball held by Damian Jackson. 3rd base umpire Paul Nauert called Nunez SAFE!! IT WAS A TERRIBLY WRONG CALL!! Schneider looked like he wanted to KILL SOMEONE!!

And it would cost the Nats when Jimmy Rollins walked, Shane Victorino grounded into a force out, Nick Johnson to Schneider, but with still one out, Danny Sandoval would Sacrifice Fly Madsen home on a deep fly to Marlon Anderson. 11-8 after 7.

Washington would continue their comeback in 8th, after Jackson led off the inning with a lazy fly to right. Nick Johnson would single to center, Kearns walked and, pinch hitter, Ryan Church (batting for Jon Rauch) would get behind 1-2 in the count, only to see Madsen throw a curve ball off of Church's foot--TO THE GREAT CONSTERNATION OF PHILLIES FANS. SOHNA AND I THANKED EVERYONE AROUND US FOR THE FREE BASE. We were starting to be hated, SERIOUSLY, in Philadelphia.

Lefthander, Aaron Fultz, would come on to replace Madsen and Schneider greeted him with a bases loaded rip to left field, scoring Johnson and Kearns, moving Church to 2nd. 11-10 with only 1 out in the 8th. Between the Nats and US--WE HAD SHUT UP THE PHILLIE FANS!! IT WAS VERY SATISFYING!!

It looked like we were going to come all the way back, but Bernie Castro would swing at the very first pitch and line a grounder, through the legs of 2nd base umpire Greg Gibson. If Gibson was not in the way, it would have been an easy inning ending double play, but Phillies 2nd baseman Sandoval was distracted by the umpire, bobbling the ball, before throwing out Schneider at 2nd. Then, Marlon Anderson would K BADLY to end the threat. As disappointed as we were, with one inning left, I still felt we could win it.

But, I had forgotten that Damian Jackson was in the game.

The Chief, Chad Cordero, would come on for the bottom of the 8th, and in typical fashion, gave up a leadoff single to Rowand. Philadelphia Catcher Mike Lieberthal would attempt to sacrifice Rowand to second. Jackson butchered the bunt badly, everyone safe. Zimmerman would have barehanded it, no problem. 1st and 2nd--NO OUTS. Nunez would ground to Chief, who would make a play, throwing to Jackson. Jackson's foot NO ON THE BAG!!, loading the bases, no outs still. Cordero would strike out David Delucci, but Rollins would swat a Sacrifice Fly, scoring Rowand, giving the Phillies that extra insurance run. Sohna and I were depressed. Just when it looked like we were going to steal one. The Nats gave it back. 12-10 Phils going to the 9th.

As Arthur Rhodes came in to close it out, there were not many left in the stands among the announced crowd of 36,023 So Sohna and I bellowed out the ALFONSO!! SORIANO!! Chant, clearly heard by EVERYONE on the 3rd base side as Alfonso stepped to the plate for the 9th. Zimmerman, sitting at the far left end of the Nats Dugout, lifted his head out of the dugout to look at who was making all the commotion. I raised my fist to Z approvingly. His FISTED BACK AN "ALL RIGHT" Z Smiling BACK HAPPY FOR THE SUPPORT!!

The Leftover Phillie Fans looked on in AWE!! At not only our NOT BACKING DOWN CHEERING, but Nationals Players Approval.
One lady sitting a few rows behind us to our left, commented to us--"Phillie Players Never acknowledge US" Sohna said--"That's too bad, because we know, in Washington, they appreciate everyone that comes to the game--AND THEY KNOW US!! We're Season Ticket Holders in Section 320, right behind the Nats Dugout!!" The Phillies lady nodded approvingly. Others looked at us like "WHO ARE THOSE GUYS!!"

Then, Soriano and FLop killed all the good will by striking out. Jose Vidro, would pinch hit for my LEAST FAVORITE PLAYER, Damian Jackson. Batting righthanded, Jose would HAMMER a 1-0 pitch to left center that LOOKED LIKE IT WAS OUT ALL THE WAY!! It hit the VERY TOP OF THE FENCE, bounced straight up, and landed back on the field, Vidro chugging into second for a 2 out double. WE STILL HAD A CHANCE.

Nick Johnson at the plate, struggling at the plate lately--And Nick just could not get it done, striking out on 4 pitches to end the game. We lost, but considering how far we were down, how quickly the Nats came back, how much CRAP Sohna and I were getting, and then able to turn the tables on Philadelphia FANS. It was really a great day at the ballpark.

And, it was all CAPPED OFF as we stood and cheered for Vidro and Johnson as they walked off the field, heads down, thanking them for their efforts, when, out of nowhere, Frank Robinson walked up to the side of the dugout, pointed to us and thanks us for "supporting us--we really appreciate it" Sohna called over to Frank that "We're the ones that sit with your Wife and Daughter in Section 320" Frank responded--"Oh, I know who you two are!! Thanks--I really appreciate it!!" And he dropped his head back down into the dugout.

You could hear the creak of jaws dropping among the Phillie Fans still in our section. SOHNA AND I WERE WALKING ON WATER NOW--at least to Philadelphia Fans. No ONE. And I mean NO ONE--bothered us as we excited the stadium to drive home. Even cranky Phillie fans were sober enough to realize that Frank Robinson had acknowledged us, and knew who we were.

I would call that a GOOD DAY!!


SenatorNat said...

Section 320 continues to be the travelling ambassadors for the Nats, obviously acknowledged and appreciated by the team and it manager directly!

It is so easy to despise Philly fans - I would be very disheartened if they supported W - either the team, or the man, and the beautiful new ballpark is wasted on these mutants... Classy pitcher Jamie Moyer definitely wasted on them!

Jackson said after the game that the game is too fast for him - unusually candid and accurate! Apparently just the right speed for Jamie Carroll, though...

Pitching, pitching, pitching: the Nats are up one full run in combined ERA from last year, due in part, of course, to three season costing injuries to Ayala, Lawrence, and Patterson. Presuming these three are back to snuff next year, and that Billy Traber can be in the rotation, then Nats need to pay for Jason Schmidt or another free agent number one or two of his caliber, and round out the rotation with one of the other young guys.

Soriano on pace to have the single greatest combined offensive and defensive statistics of any Washington MLB player ever! And Zimmerman could end his rookie year with .295, 25 HRs, and 105 RBI's, plus 25 web gems!

If those two continue on pace, the Nats have an instantaneous history to build upon. We are NOT non-descript.
Pitching, pitching, pitching: lessons learned thus far is that a team NEVER has too much!!!!!

Hopeful: Rauch and Cordero solid, and Bowie and one of the others decent. Bullpen with Ayala back could solify rather quickly; and it gets better, of course, when starting pitching is good.

In a league which rivals the NFL in terms of parity, the Nats, like all teams, except the Mets, can be in the wildcard race until the bitter end in 2007, with starting pitching, and some luck on the injury front.

Plus, new manager with more systematic approach and larger crowds should help, too.

Anonymous said...