Saturday, October 14, 2006

Where's Neal!!??

Courtesy of Our Washington Nationals, Section 320 was treated to PRIMO seats for the Washington Capitals-Atlanta Thrashers Hockey Game tonight at Verizon Center. Mr. & Mrs. MickNats, African Queen, NatsDelNegro, SeyHeyKlib, Kentucky Rob and Myself in attendance--sitting 10 rows from the ice. Section 320 rewarded for outlasting and helping outshout about 150 Phillie fans on that infamous September 28-29 rain delayed game that lasted until the wee hours of the morning. The morning where all of us were actively involved in one of the most unique ballpark experiences of our lifetimes, with about 200 other, mostly, Philadelphia fans.

Although the Caps would lose 4-3 in overtime, (And, NO--I WILL NOT BE GOING INTO A COMPLETE PLAY BY PLAY ON THIS ONE!), we all made sure that the Verizon Center Crowd knew we were there. Right as Sohna and I walked to our seats, and the special pregame ceremony honoring Caps Great Young Star, Alexander Ovechkin, was ending--I couldn't help, but, yell out--ALFONSO!!--Immediately followed by SORIANO!! by the rest of our gang. WTOP Sports and Wizard Radio Broadcaster, sitting right behind us, with his young son, in Section 114--just stared at us like we were crazy!! We had to set the man straight-later. For some reason, the "He-Ho Vidro" and" Zim-Mer-Man" chants didn't go over well tonight, either??

The seats were terrific, low, close to the ice, you could hear the players yelling and grunting--skating and banging around.
Not being regulars at Verizon Center, NatsDelNegro and I got a kick out of the Padded Seats and Cup Holders to place your beverage-- throughout the entire game, every single time I reached down to pick up or put away my drink, I would continually reach under my seat. RFK habits are just hard to break.

Of course, MickNats, the KING OF ALL JERSEYS--showed up tonight in a Hockey like jersey that, I am sure, not a single person in the ENTIRE ARENA could have figured out. MickNats wearing a WASHINGTON POWER--Pro Lacrosse--Jersey. MickNats saying the Power were the very last professional team in history to play a game at the old Capital Centre in Landover. I have no doubt, MickNats is correct. And, you can bet, Screech'sBestFriend could only show up in Nats Gear--anything else would have been just plain wrong.

At the end of the first period, MickNats stood up asking the most important question of the evening: "WHERE's NEAL!??"
Neal is MickNats personal BeerPimp--expect for on those very rare circumstances--MickNats will only buy a beer at RFK Stadium from Neal. For those of you who may not have seen the most hustling beer vendor of all time, Neal is a well conditioned, well tanned, Marine Looking, vendor that runs, and I mean RUNS! around the lower bowl of RFK Stadium on the 3rd base side. No one hustles as much as Neal selling beer, peanuts and Cracker Jacks. Neal has CLIENTS throughout the lower bowl of ballpark, NO CLIENT MORE IMPORTANT THAN MICKNATS!! No Nationals Home Game at RFK is EVER OFFICIAL until Mick takes his seat and Neal comes by with that BEER!! EVER!!

Neal was no where to be found tonight. Of course Verizon Center does not sell beer in the stands. Everyone must go to the concourse for their alcohol. For MickNats it was a crushing blow.

We all took an interest in SCREECH, JR!!--some eagle known as SLAPSHOT that seemed to run around the Verizon Center and not really do a whole lot. Slapshot didn't really do anything entertaining--just sort of raised his arms in an effort to get the crowd going. Didn't seem to work. We yelled out SCREEEECH!!--Slapshot didn't answer--but we all laughed. We miss Screech. Like to know if the winter hibernation has begun for MY BEST FRIEND??

The African Queen and I got a kick out of some of the Verizon Center CSC Security Guards, the same ones in those yellow shirts/jackets at RFK, that recognized us--wondering why we were at a Hockey Game?? The Tickets Are Free, We're coming! That's all we could say.

SeyHeyKlib noticed that at the Verizon Center, Section 320 is a Nice Corporate Suite--later SEYHEY would run into one of the NatPack guys that doubles as a Caps Entertainment Specialist (Capitals need a better name for those guys--NATPACK at least sounds cool) asking if we might be able to use that 320 Suite sometime soon--NatPack Cap Guy saying he would get back to us--LIKE NEVER!!!

Only 11,995 showed up for this one--it was strange to see so many completely empty sections in the arena. Even stranger was looking into the upper reaches of the Verizon Center, the cheap seats, and most every seat seemed taken--the lower you looked, closer toward the ice, less and less fans in the seats--opposite of what you would normally expect. And, the crowd that did show up, simply was not into it. Granted-Atlanta, tonight's opponet is not exactly a hockey super power with great tradition, but the Caps fans just sat in their seats most of the night, unless prompted by the scoreboard, and mostly just "LET's Go Caps!!!" There was very little fan participation during the game, unlike at RFK where The NatPack does something with the fans most every single inning. Anything we tried to get folks into it, fell on deaf ears.

What I liked the most, was the opportunity, to see for the first time--Ovechkin. He only had one assist tonight, but he moves so smoothly through traffic with the puck. You could tell he can create with tremendous speed and agility. Even for a hockey novice like me, you could clearly see this young man's talents. Talents that are well above any Capitals player on the ice.

Section 320 had a great time at The Washington Capitals game tonight. It was difficult to continue our ever ongoing game conversations in hockey and not miss the action. As NatsDelNegro said, at RFK there's a pitch, then a pause, pitch, then pause, time to finish the conversation--none of us could carry on our usual banter, without missing half the action. Tonight, we all sat in the same row, instead of our usual configuration of 3 rows, closely packed on the left side of Section 320. It was strange looking right and left to talk, since we usually sit back and front of each other. We all prefer the cozy confines of RFK Stadium, at least through the end of the upcoming 2007 baseball season. But, I loved those Cup Holders at Verizon Center--NICE!!

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