Sunday, September 21, 2008
Shirts Off Their Backs
When I was handed a yellow card with the number "11" written on it--my heart jumped like not felt in some time. Since the beginning of the top of the 7th inning, Sohna and I were standing in The Foyer of The Executive Offices of Our Washington Nationals. During the fifth inning an Official from Our Team had come to our seats in Section 218 asking me to come to Level 2M behind home plate. My name had been randomly picked as a WINNER OF SHIRTS OFF THEIR BACK DAY.
The African Queen said she had not seen me so excited in a long, long, time. So thrilled, I started to leave Club Level right away without picking up all our stuff in and around our seats. Now--as the Yellow Card was given me--my only thought was that, some how, some way, Ryan Zimmerman was the Jersey I had Won Off His Back. The card did read Number 11.
Not a sole among the 20 some odd folks waiting in The Team Offices was not reflecting on their numbers given as well. There was a different accounting method going on among those on hand. And it had nothing to do with very fact that Our Washington Nationals were down 6-1 at the time on the field against The San Diego Padres. Five might well have been the deficit in the game, but the numbers of record being considered was who on Our Washington Nationals had each winner's corresponding jersey number. Everyone was going through The Roster Numbers of Washington's Active Roster. But, what most standing in The Foyer did not realize--was that more than a dozen winners will have their jerseys sent to them--as those lucky folks were not in attendance. That very fact changed the order, dramatically.
Eventually, we all headed down to The Service Level of New Nationals Park. Past The Presidents Club we walked and then into the tunnel directly beside The Visiting Dugout on South Capitol Street. There we waited, patiently, chatting baseball with some new found friends, not watching the game--only knowing Our Washington Nationals were not winning. Finally, The Final Score was announced to us, although none of us witnessed the final three innings. The San Diego Padres had swept Our Washington Nationals. And with the excitement building among those waiting in line, no one really seemed to be too upset about Our Team's defeats now nearing the 100 level for 2008. EVERYONE waiting--just wanting to walk out onto the field and stand on the third base line--Our Final Positioning before receiving The Jerseys Off Our Players Backs.
Radio Broadcaster Charlie Slowes was announced as The Master of Ceremonies and the festivities finally began. One by one each player standing along the first base line was introduced. Each player then presenting their jersey to the corresponding winner in line. As the process continued--the jockeying for positioning continued. While The Winners remained in order, Our Players, talking among themselves, changed their lineup consistently. At one time it appeared that Joel Hanrahan was the jersey I would receive. Then, Ryan Langerhans. Even Our Number 29 noticed I might be his recipient and we acknowledged the possible moment across the diamond--both of us laughing at the fate. Unfortunately, Ryan Langerhans would not be my final destination. As the numbers dwindled and the winners received their jerseys, the one Player from Our Washington Nationals, for me, finally came into focus. Roger Bernadina would be MY NEW MAN!! Yes, Our Number 2 would present to SBF The Jersey Off His Very Back.
I was very, very happy.
Honestly, it really did not matter who would give me their jersey. Certainly everybody wanted to win Ryan Zimmerman or Our Manager Manny Acta's Jersey's. That did not matter to The African Queen and I. The very fact that I won by donating to The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation was far more important. But, the sight of Charlie Slowes chuckling as I passed him after being presented Jersey Number 2 from Roger Bernadina--well worth the effort. You can bet I had a BIG SMILE on my face. Now, That WAS FABULOUS. Even Mr. Bang!! Zoom!! was enjoying the moment alongside me--shaking his head in wonder.
Sometimes it's all about The MOMENT. And this was a good one.
With Sohna cheering me on from the stands alongside our friends Melissa and Matt--I was quite thrilled. Out of the blue, Sohna and I, with NO EXPECTATIONS OF WINNING, were fortunate enough to take home a jersey of a 2008 Member of Our Washington Nationals. A Roger Bernadina Red "DC" Uniform Top from The Inaugural Season Of New Nationals Park. The Very Jersey we love, that from all the information given to us, will be a retired jersey after Our Washington Nationals play their final game this season. A New Red Curly "W" Jersey may well be coming for 2009.
Thrilled to win, and excited knowing that for the remainder of my life--Roger Bernadina's Uniform--worn in The Very First Season Of Play at New Nationals Park--A HISTORIC MOMENT IN THE HISTORY OF OUR YOUNG FRANCHISE--will be displayed in our home in Alexandria, Virginia--FOREVER. Yes, everything we do is a team effort for Sohna and I. The African Queen and I left South Capitol Street tonight proud that we were lucky enough to win A Jersey Off The Back of Roger Bernadina in The Inaugural Season of New Nationals Park.
We are going to frame it. And Enjoy The Uniform For The Remainder Of Our Lives.
Running into Team President Stan Kasten and Our General Manager Jim Bowden after the presentation--Mr. Kasten said to me: "You got a good one. He is going to be a good player. That uniform will pay off far more than you possibly paid for the tickets."
JimBo stating: "You got that right."
Funny hearing all that from Team Management after another fan sitting in the stands upon the conclusion of the ceremony stated to me--" You were one person away from receiving a $2000 Jersey--instead you received a $20 Jersey." I had to laugh, because this person had missed the entire point of the message. What Shirts Off Their Backs Was All About--supporting The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation and their causes.
Final Score from Wonderfully Comfortable New Nationals Park--The San Diego Padres 6 and Our Washington Nationals 2. Loss number 98 of 2008 may well assure a 100 Loss Season for DC's Team and the distinct possibility Washington may receive The Number One Pick in the 2009 Entry Draft. But at least on this day, being drafted for me resulted in the presentation of Roger Bernadina's Jersey Number 2. No, I didn't finish Number 1, but I won. Sohna and I coming home tonight proud we had supported a good cause and been rewarded for Our Efforts.
Game Notes & Highlights
Interestingly, Roger Bernadina wears a Size 46 Jersey. A size not available for purchase on MLB.com. My personalized jerseys are sizes 44 and 48. Bernadina's Number 2 is a Wonderfully Fit Cool Base Jersey. If I ever decided to wear it--the fit would be ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.
If Adrian Gonzalez was available for Our Washington Nationals, I would make every effort to get him as Our Starting First Baseman. Not well known throughout the game among fans, The San Diego Padres first baseman has quietly become a star. What in the world were The Texas Rangers thinking of back in 2006 when they traded Gonzalez to San Diego in the Mark Eaton Deal--along with Terrmel Sledge? Today, Adrian Gonzalez slammed his 35th Home Run and 115 RBI in the 6th off Odalis Perez. Even before Steroids ruined his career, Rafael Palmeiro was always one of my favorite players. A great hitter and solid player. Adrian Gonzalez is almost a clone of Palmeiro at the plate. He's got that perfect swing from the left hand side of the plate (and for you negative folks, that's not claiming in any way The Padres First Baseman is juiced. Just writing about similarities in style).
Ryan Zimmerman broke out of a 0-12 Slump in the bottom of the 6th when he hammered a Cha Seung Baek 3-1 fastball deep to right centerfield for a home run. One of those shots that always shows that Our Number 11 is seeing the ball well and not over swinging at the plate. Later, "Z" would single in Washington's final run of the afternoon scoring Ryan Langerhans.
Other than that, I honestly can't write much about the game on the field. I didn't see nearly 1/3rd of it. Although Our Racing Presidents competed on Segways this Sunday at New Nationals Park. Teddy, of course, held the lead but could not manage the corner from the right field wall to the right field foul line. Tom easily passing Our Lovable Loser--winning The Segway Presidents Race.
Many Thanks to Steve and his son Christian for stopping Sohna and I near Noah's Pretzels before the game and saying hello. Also, Lee and of course--Karen and Lou Gehrig (also known as TEDDY)-- that's right, that is his real name. All of whom are big fans of The Nats320 Blog. If you haven't come to realize it by now--Every day at New Nationals Park is all about Our Friends.
Finally, the final Kids Giveaway for 2008 was handed out today. In sponsorship with Smithfield, all kids 12 and Under received a Red Curly "W" Backpack. They are pretty big and seem to be of decent quality.
Today's InGame Photos--(AP) Luis M. Alvarez
All Other Photos--Nats320 (All Rights Reserved)