Saturday, March 31, 2007
Today, was all about friends. Sure, Our Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles showed up at RFK Stadium this afternoon to play a meaningless exhibition. And, as usual, The African Queen and I attended. But, baseball was just the backdrop. We spent nearly the entire time, before, during and after the game--catching up with all our good friends. This Group Of Dedicated Nationals Fans that have thoroughly given their support to our team and joined in on ALL THE FUN OF SECTION 320.
As Sohna and I entered the stadium today at Gate B, we immediately met Section 320 Regulars, Julie & Troy. Troy laughing at us asking: "You guys need any tickets, by chance?" Smiles, Handshakes & Hugs All Around. Then, as we rounded the lower bowl behind home plate, our Good Friend, Colleen came running up to greet us. Shortly followed by her husband, Jeff. Their Rally Monkey "Curly W" was holding down their seats behind the Nats On Deck Circle. We caught up for some time. Later, one of our favorite ushers, Richard, reached out to squeeze The Queen, and strongly shake hands with me. Pleased to see us. Richard telling us he was set to retire, but he didn't want to leave us for the last season at RFK Stadium. Turning around, I found myself hugging Iris, and her husband, Biff. Iris saying to me: "You have been a very busy man this off season." I laughed--Yes. We chatted for some time.
As the African Queen talked to many of our friends in Section 320, I found myself being thanked by many readers of The Nats320 Blog behind the Nationals 3rd Base Dugout. I don't remember all your names, but thank you so very much for your kind words. I very much appreciate this support. When I returned to my seat for the start of the game, The Queen informed me others had stopped by to say hello. I am sorry I was not there, but please stop by at a later date and introduce yourself. Brandon, from The Curly W, also stopped by during the game. It was GREAT TO SEE HIM!
Despite a very modest turnout (officially--14,940), the crowd was in good spirits. And, when "THE GUZ" singled in his first at bat during the bottom of the first inning, he was greeted with a standing ovation from the Nats Faithful. Could this be "The New Guz"? We can only hope. Unfortunately, Cristian Guzman reminded everyone of his 2005 play in the top of the 5th when, with two outs, he fielded a routine two hopper to short and half armed it in the dirt to Larry Broadway at first. RallyTimeRichard and I calling it all the way. Both of us saying before Number 15 let loose of the ball-"Here it comes!" Sure enough, the ball skipped along the dirt, a good foot in front of the stretching Broadway. Nats Fans, reliving a bad memory from two years back, let Guzman know. Those were not "Guz" being exclaimed by the faithful.
Except for Baltimore's Corey Patterson absolutely blasting a Home Run over the CenterField Wall off Nationals Starter Jason Bergmann, the remainder of the baseball game was uneventful. Mr & Mrs. MickNats, RallyTimeRichard, BangTheDrumNatly, Julie & Troy along with The African Queen and myself represented Section 320. Although not in Mid-Season Form, we were Bellowing, Cheering, Chanting & Singing throughout the nearly three hour affair. And, of course, SCREEEEECH!! came by, at customary first pitch, to take in ALL THE LOVE!! Smooch The Queen--and, of course get--"DOWN IN FRONT!!!" Down in Front cracks everybody up. Screech hoping along on all fours to not block the view of Section 320, absolutely hilarious. MY BEST FRIEND is a good sport.
Late in the game when the "What Time Is it??"--"Rally TIME!!"--Chant was yelled out, the puzzled looks from those still in the crowd over the meaningless game at us--priceless. Then, a child sitting in The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation MVP Field Trip group in Section 321 screamed out "What Time Is It!!" And was immediately responded to by EVERYONE in Section 320--"RALLY TIIIIIME!!" A great cheer erupted from the 350 Kids on the MVP Field Trip. We were happy to help make their day even more enjoyable.
This Exhibition Game became Official early, when MickNats took his customary seat. Immediately followed by the INSTANT ARRIVAL of Neal with The First 2007 BEER! Pleasantries were exchanged, Season's Greetings and The Official "First Pour". But, a CRISIS SOON DEVELOPED. No longer are BEER BOTTLES served by vendors in the stands. Only smaller pop open cans now. Apparently an order from Management concerned over the amount of plastic trash thrown on RFK Stadiums floor during each and every game. Maybe even a safety hazard as the rolling bottles could cause someone to slip. Neal handed MickNats his beer, IN A PLASTIC CUP!! Groans followed.
Immediately, RallyTimeRichard and The African Queen and Mary hunkered down into crisis mode. "How are we going to make all that noise with The Budweiser Bottles, if none are available?" RallyTime & Sohna decided they would have to test the waters, so to speak--by bringing into RFK various spring and purified water bottles, over the next week, to see which provided the most robust sound. This conversation went on for an entire inning.
Fortunately, The First Section 320 Crisis was avoided when, while RallyTimeRichard and BangTheDrumNatly went out to the concourse, they noticed anyone can buy a BOTTLED BUDWEISER there, and return it to your seat. Smiles and High Fives all around. And, let me tell you, RallyTime and The African Queen let loose late in today's ballgame. The entire crowd along the third base side turned to look in amazement.
There was no President's Race, but "The Rushmores" did make a token appearance during the 4th inning hanging around the lower bowl. The Loveable Loser--Teddy Roosevelt, posted up in Section 320. You can bet, Screech'sBestFriend stopped him for a picture. But, today's truly fun entertainment was provided by The ZooperStars. Various sized plastic, rubber, blow up creatures with fictitious names of well know sports celebrities. Personally, I had never heard or seen them previously. Troy telling me they are standards at many minor league parks around the country.
The ZooperStars odd sizes mixed with standard movements was quite funny. Their flexibility terrific and the source of much laughter. Mary (Mrs. MickNats) happened to be returning from the pizza stand when she was forced to squeeze her way past two ZooperStars standing in the tunnel to the left of Section 320. We both enjoyed the chance photo opportunity. Later Harry Canary would sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" But, the best was left for last. A very short, stout, "Clammy Sosa" came waddling out behind home plate in the 8th inning. He immediately starting slamming a CSC Security Employee in the Yellow Jackets that ring the field between innings. Continuing to harass the security guard, "Clammy Sosa" took off, running right toward the guy, AND PROCEEDED TO GOBBLE HIM DOWN HIS VERY LARGE MOUTH! The CSC Security Guard was last seen legs wildly kicking before disappearing down his trap. Absolutely unexpected and hilarious. Everyone enjoyed the moment.
The Game itself DID NOT MATTER TODAY, nor the outcome. But, the long, unusually cold winter, is now behind us. Section 320 is back and all our friends are settling in for another season of baseball fun. As The African Queen noted, during the mid-point of today's game. We my not have seen "The Noise Boys" all winter long, but we were all already completing each others sentences and picking up on each others new cheers and chants, like we had planned it all in advance.
Family Reunions Can Be Fun!
And--By The Way: Walking to The Stadium From Lot 8 today, Sohna and I ran into "SCREECH" at the wheel of this SUV!! I like to know why he had to PAY FOR PARKING??
And--"GRADY" from "Sanford and Son" is back for a third year selling beer on the 3rd base side. We like "GRADY".
During the 9th Inning, Mike Cervanek was pinch hitting for Orioles Pitcher, Chad Bradford. Our brand new stadium announcer actually said: "Now Pitching for The Pitcher, Mike Cervanek!!" Everyone in Section 320 laughed. Someone saying the new announcer commented the same way earlier in the 7th inning, during another pinch hit situation. Interesting.
Finally, on the main Video Board in Right Centerfield, where the players pictures are put up on the monitor while batting, this years video photos have a grey/metallic and white light backdrop. They are very hard to see. Every single one of them looks out of focus because of the background colors.