Here are Craig (R) and John (L), not quite paying attention to my camera. Excellent. :) side note: they are also contributors to this blog. Eventually.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING POST IS RAMBLE-TASTIC.
(But there are a couple pictures, too.)
So we went to the Nationals vs. Braves game... Craig and I went to Turner Field together, where John and then Erin met up with us. John managed to get there before we did even though we left before he did. Doh!! There was terrible traffic and tons and tons of people. All of this on a Monday night, to see a rookie? It was practically a play-off atmosphere, and the crowd was comparable to Opening Day.
On Monday nights, there are two different specials. One of them is 2-for-1 Golden Moon Casino Pavilion seats for $28. The other is $1 Upper Reserved seats. Well... those were not available by the time we got there. So we got the cheapest seats available: $27 seats in the Terrace Pavilion. Section 239, Seat 14. :)
This was my view of the field (which I took from the Braves website):
Here's my own photo. There're Melky, Huddy, Martin, Yunel, and Chipper!
The last time I sat in the outfield, I was trying my darnedest to sit directly next to the bullpen so that I could hear the phone ring (which is audible from the stands) and watch the relievers warm up. That did not quite happen. But this time, quite coincidentally, we sat right next to the bullpen! So I could dart over very quickly and peek over the rail to spy on the pitchers. And I think I've established that I love pitchers. :)
So this was my OTHER view:
(Eddie Perez, Cristian Martinez, and Jesse Chavez!
Jesse looks much better after his haircut.)
There's Jonny Venters over there, next to E.P.
I felt like a total stalker when I kept peeking over to see what was going on. I caught a glimpse of Eric O'Flaherty, but he wasn't in a place where I could easily get a good picture of him. Too bad, because he is just so handsome.
So... Strasburg was pretty amazing. The slowest pitch he threw--that I can recall, that is--was 88 mph. WHAT?? Sick. Absolutely sick.
But the Nats just couldn't handle Tim Hudson. Huddy was stellar. And there were a couple of times that he gave me a few lurches as far as, "oh, no, if they score before we do, we're totally effed" was concerned. I need not have worried, really. Huddy's great. :D
The seventh inning was probably my favorite inning of the game. The game actually flew by pretty quickly, about 22 minutes per inning, which means a little over 10 minutes per side for each inning! Huddy vs. Strasburg is a good matchup. :) ANYWAY. Stevie was probably a little tired because it was ridiculously hot earlier, and even being in the stands was hot... but the players were actually, you know, breaking a sweat with their crazy uniforms and whatnot. We had a nice breeze... not sure what being on the field itself actually felt like though, and after looking at some of the highlights, it definitely appeared that most of the players were completely soaked. Not sure that all of the Tomahawk Chopping didn't get to him, though. The fans (and I can definitely speak for myself and most of the people surrounding me) went totally nuts. We yelled and chopped and clapped and-- well, my right arm was pretty tired after all of that is all I can say, and my voice was shot. Just gone.
Four pitches to Chipper Jones later, he is on first base, having drawn a lead-off walk. Then BMac was up and he smacked a single with the first pitch he saw. Of course the crowd went nuts. I think I can almost say that we were as loud, if not louder, than we were on Opening Day. And that is saying something. I watched the inning again when I got home (I love MLB.tv), and the Nats' pitching coach started hovering near the phone for the bullpen, looking very distraught and worried. I felt kind of sorry for him, after seeing that, because he just looked so old, tired, and absolutely woebegone. But not sorry enough to stop rooting for the Braves and gleefully contributing to the joyful noise that the fans were creating. :D
So, with BMac on 1B, Chipper on 2B, and no outs, Troy Glaus gets up. I, at that point, pretty much lose my mind. I love Troy Glaus. He smacks a pitch over to short, but Desmond (I think?) isn't able to get a grip on the ball. Everybody is safe and the bases are loaded with no outs... the first bases loaded situation in Strasburg's young career. Nice work, boys!! Hinske gets up and hits himself a nice sac fly, which scores Chipper Jones. BMac and Troy advance a base... You have to keep in mind that all the while, the fans are still going nuts, making tons of noise, chanting, chopping, you name it. And that is what Yunel got up to... before hitting a line drive single to LF. I'm jumping up and down at this point because BMac has scored.
Stevie is pulled at that point. I do feel sorry for him, almost. Here is this rookie, who has had all this media attention on him... I would say even more than Jason Heyward has had, and he is called up to bigs with all this excitement, and every game he has pitched has been crazy atmosphere that is akin to the playoffs. I mean, Tommy Hanson certainly didn't have that kind of fanfare, last year.
Anyhow, Gregor is up to bat with Yunel on 1B, Glaus on 3B, and 1 out. He very casually lays down a bunt and makes a charge for 1B while Troy Glaus hustles home. The Nats helped us out a little bit by kind of dropping the ball. Again, everybody is safe. The crowd goes wild again. And then my wonderful Omar is up to bat for Huddy. (Have I mentioned before? I love Omar. I love him, love him, love him, love him. He's just so good. I love how he digs himself a hole just like Martin does when he gets up to bat.)
And in the meantime, there is activity in the bullpen. :D So you better believe that I was there, like a giant kid, with my camera, feeling like a complete stalker. I was totally embarrassed, but not embarrassed enough to NOT take pictures.
Peter Moylan and Jonny Venters warming up
The top of Billy Wagner's head.
I love him.
So Omar, like I said, is up. And I've found a copy of the program (which I try to collect), and I show John the cover (which is of Omar) with a grin. He said, "That's a hot picture." (Or something like that, shut up.) He then nods towards the real Omar and says, "He's gonna do it." And I said, "Of course he is!"
Omar comes through, of course. Yunel scores, and Gregor sprints all the way to third. We were aided by the Nats' poor defense, though, but hey... I'll take it. So, onto the 3rd pitcher of the inning!! (So after I watched the 7th inning again at home, I saw that they had included in the broadcast a bit of Chipper talking to Yunel, and then patting him on the side of the neck, like "Good job. You did good." It was so cute, like a big brother-little brother advice/pep talk.) Also, Yunel looked directly into the camera a few seconds afterwards. Electric, y'all. I'm sayin'.
Then Martin gets up and I'm now cheering like a maniac. Hello. It's Martin Prado. Anybody who DOES NOT cheer like a maniac for this man is ridiculous. He's simply amazing. Sac fly to RF, and Blanco is home. 2 outs, man on first for Melky. Did I mention that I love him? He's is great to the fans, always throws the baseball to the fans if he caught the last out of the inning. :D He drew a walk, which... brought Chipper back... The guy who led it off. :D He struck out, stranding 2 men, but the damage was done. 5 run inning. Eat it, Washington!!!
So Venters pitches a nice clean 8th and before we know it, it's the bottom of the 8th. Venters even batted! AND there were these kids talking Eddie Perez, trying to get him to throw them a baseball. Well, he threw one up. It landed on my foot and rolled away. I didn't try to get it. And there is a nice little bruise there now. That's right, folks. Eddie Perez bruised my foot. Which one of y'all can say that???? :D
Ninth inning comes around, and Venters is pitching. And Billy Wagner starts warming up. Honestly, I'm going to just go ahead and say that I stopped paying so much attention to the game. I saw that there were 2 on, but I knew that Jonny had it. Plus, Billy Wagner. BILLY WAGNER. Hello.
Wags warming up. His stuff is NASTY.
You could hear the ball hitting the glove from where Craig was sitting. And it was loud.
Eddie Perez & Billy Wagner
We won. And it was a great game. And worth EVERY cent. Also. I need to pay Craig back.
PS: The crowd numbered 42,889... can't remember what Opening Day was.