FOLLOW ME & FINISH THE FIGHT!

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ICYMI: The Nationals are in the World Series!!!

Friday night, I was blessed to be at THE first World Series to happen in DC in 86 years and THE first ever World Series game at Nationals Park!!

Our road to to the World Series from a 19-31 record in May has been historical and nothing short of AHH-MAZING!

I’ll definitely come back here to write a full blog post about my experience at the Wild Card Game, NLDS and NLCS games, and Game 3 of the WORLD SERIES. In the meantime, make sure you’re following me on Instagram at @nikasonfirst for recent posts, real-time stories and highlights of the postseason!

FINISH THE FIGHT!

-Nika

#TBT – Super Heroes, Siths, and Saltiness

I know what you’re thinking…”Damn girl, you’re still here?!” Yes, yes I am. Listen keeping up with writing and everything else life throws your way is hard! I have much respect for those of you who do this professionally and/or with some level of consistency.

But I’m back right now and OMG so much has happened!

We A LOT of lost games.

…and at one point I never thought we’d get to .500 (meaning we have the same number of wins and losses). But we did… actually we’re .535 (8 games over .500) and look real good sitting at 2nd place in the National League East, 6 games behind Atlanta and 1.5 games in front of Philly! For the first time in Nationals history, we are Wild Card contenders. You see in the years we’ve won the National League East we had the wins and simply clinched it. This time is different because we’re coming back from a big deficit. But watching us play during this second half in pursuit of a chance at making the playoffs, certainly makes for good baseball and high blood pressure.

The BF and I had our first outing together at the ballpark…and then another!

May 25th – Marvel Super Hero Day

Although he had done the Spartan Stadion at the ballpark just two weeks prior (*ahem* on my birthday), this would be The BF’s first time at the ballpark for an actual game. I felt the pressure. Admittedly, I had my doubts. The ballpark is one of my happy places and I’m quite protective of that. Plus my past dating during baseball season (DDBS and yes, I just made that up) experience had been shitty at best. So just in case he wasn’t that into baseball or was uncomfortable with how much I am, I chose two themed games I knew he’d enjoy: Marvel Super Hero Day and Star Wars Day. To say he loves these two things, universes, cults, or whatever you want to call them would be a gross understatement.

We arrived at the ballpark a little late, missing the Ryan Zimmerman as Captain America bobblehead giveaway. It was hot and humid and I wondered how well, if at all, I would balance following the game and making sure The BF was comfortable. After all I had dragged him out to the ballpark on a hot and humid day to sit in the direct sun for several hours. Turns out that as usual I hyped that entire scenario…in my head. Things had been effortless with us up to that point and being at the ballpark was no different. It was perfect and by the end, I was looking forward to catching another game with him. I actually think he paid more attention than I did and I might have observed the beginning signs of conversion.

We walked away with a Curly W, beating the Marlins 5-0. The biggest win for me though was walking away knowing that I have someone who loves me, even when I’m a sweaty screaming fanatic at the ballpark.

June 15th – Star Wars Day

Star Wars Day was our second time at the ballpark. We arrived early enough to snag the Obi Sean Kenobi bobblehead. Before taking our seats we checked out battles between The Resistance and The First Order, fans young and old in cosplay, an inflatable Death Star, and a pretty cool R2D2.

I must say that while the Nationals did well with Marvel Super Hero Day, they just did a must better job with Star Wars Day. It was a completely different experience with Star Wars-themed sights, food, and entertainment all throughout. Which made up well for the 10-3 loss to the Diamondbacks.

I took my salty family to the ballpark too!

June 4th

Every year, I bring some of my favorite people out to a game and it’s always a good time. Usually Karl and Jen will join me for a Phillies game, and Kyle, an Orioles game, but this year everyone joined me when the White Sox were in town. This was during the time that neither team had reached .500. To be clear…they weren’t salty at first. Actually when they arrived at the ballpark, they were quite confident the White Sox would take the win to get them closer to .500.

I just checked…they are .451 and 18.5 games behind the Minnesota Twins so I’ll spare you the details of how that game went (we won 9-5).

Also since this post is super late and the cat’s finally out of the bag…

Congratulations Jennifer & Karl! 💙

 

AwesomeCon over Baseball?

I’m currently on a metro train headed towards Navy Yard-Ballpark. The Nats have a 1:35p game against the San Diego Padres. It’s the last game of the already lost series. There are lots of people dressed in Nats gear and kids are bopping around with excitement. I should be headed there…but I’m not. I’m hopping off this train 6 stops before Navy Yard-Ballpark for Day 3 of Awesome Con!

I had a choice: go to the game or finish my 3-Day pass…absorbing myself in all things pop culture, gaming, fantasy, sci-fi, science, comics, etc.

I chose the latter…concluding I’d get more out of the experience. Plus the boyfriend is there so I’ve got that going for me.

The Nats are having a rough time and the fans are feeling it. Facebook group conversations are more negative. Cursing the Lerners, the bullpen, and Davey Martinez. Shit maybe even the Universe itself.

I love my team (Go Nats!) but no one walks into disappointment, knowingly.

Happy Sunday Folks!

NATS Plus – Player For a Day

Sunday, April 7th

(Yes, I’m behind, behind.)

One of the benefits of being a Nationals NATS Plus Member are the events the Nationals hold for members throughout the season. Player For a Day (PFD) didn’t happen last year but when I found out that it was a go this year, I new I didn’t want to miss out.

PFD is exactly as it sounds…for a few hours, fans get to roam about the park (in an organized fashion of course) as if we were a Washington Nationals baseball player.

Two years ago, my first time attending, I brought along my little cousin Korey. This time however, I brought an adult…Kyle. Kyle and I have a banter laden in sarcasm, especially around invites to the ballpark, so I know he would enjoy this experience. He happens to be a Chicago White Sox fan but trolled me prior to that Sunday, “Question, can I wear my Phillies Hat?”

We arrived at the ballpark with time to kill so we stood around chatting about sports in general, dating, places to eat, and his graphic design stuff.

Upon entering, I expected to see the warm up area where we get to do a few work outs in the outfield but that wasn’t there, folks were playing catch in the outfield but we decided to make our first stop at the Bullpen Car.

Bullpen Car


More popular in the 50s and 60s, the bullpen car brought relief pitchers into the game from the bullpen to the pitcher’s mound. In an attempt to help speed up the game, this cute little baseball-themed Herbie made its debut at Nationals Park on August 17, 2018. However, only a few pitchers have ever rode in it.

Speed Pitch
Oh yeah! So during the Speed Pitch activity, we got to throw 3 pitches in the bullpen. This was my chance to let my inner Max Scherzer out!


I totally forgot that in addition to professional football, that Kyle had played baseball before and he did pretty well. He would’ve nailed it had his ball stayed straight. Apparently, it’s all in the release.

As for me, I kept my expectations low.

Sometimes you have to be your own hype man!

Dugout
It was pretty cool sitting in the place where my guys hang out during the game.

In addition to this photoshoot we were apparently having, I spotted the cubbies of a few of my favorite players and made a call to the bullpen. Though when I made my call, I envisioned solid options on the other side. *sigh*

On Deck Circle
We made quick detour to the On Deck photo op before heading to the down to the batting cages. Even though this circle is way fancier than the rubber one the guys usually stand on before stepping into the batters box, it was still pretty cool to stand there.

Batting Cages

We then backtracked a little down towards the Nationals’ clubhouse and to the batting cages. I just knew the struggle was going to be real for me and initially opted out of participating. But hey, how many opportunities does one get to be in the batting cages of their favorite baseball team?!? It was a no brainer but the struggle was real:

I told you. I could use some work. It felt good though so you might see me in batting cages again soon!

But of course I’d look bad stepping into the cages after this show off (advance apologies for the video snafu):

Show off. Did you hear the guy ask if Kyle played before and that he should at least be on a softball team?! *eye roll*

After, we stopped by the Delta Sky360 Lounge for a quick rest and some refreshments. The set up was cute but if I could change one thing, we’d have less brick-like pretzels! We stayed for a few minutes, catching about an inning of the Nationals dealing it to the NY Mets at CitiField, then beelined for some real food.

Only while writing did I realize that we totally missed the Dress Like A Player stop in the visitors’ clubhouse.

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Parting Gifts
On our way out, I stopped to pick up my NATS Plus 2-Year Commitment gift: A replica All-Star Game ring. This baby had been available during the regular season but I kept forgetting to pick it up.

We topped the day off with ramen and drunkin’ dumplings at one of my favorite Japanese restaurants in DC.

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If You Would Have Told Me 5 Years Ago… (Part Two)

Tuesday, April 2nd…still.

It had started to rain before I even left home to head for the metro. I excited though to see whether my inclination to boo would prove true but also because my good girlfriend Reesie would be going to the game too. She used to have the seat next to me, but after not attending as many games last year, she opted to give up her season plan holder status for another package…a better seat too! But my hopes were that the seat next to me wasn’t taken and we could sit together again like the old pals that we are.

We arrived at the ballpark to news we already knew: the game was delayed due to inclement weather. IMHO…they could’ve played in the light precipitation. We decided to stay dry by ducking into the team store for a little, then made stops at the Red Carpet Rewards kiosk and Season Plan Holder Lounge. Moving through the concourse I’d see a lot of Phillies fans and would hear an Eagles chant or “We Got Harper”, I guess because they thought it’d be an effective taunt. The energy was frenetic and the tension was THICK. Phillies fans and Nats fans were both deep in number. I saw signs calling Harper out on being a “traitor” and that perhaps “Papelbon was right” to choke him back in 2015 when Harper didn’t run the ball out to first base (against the Phillies guys). Some wore “modified” jerseys with “Harper” completely cut out from the jersey and some with #34 (his old number) but with new names like “Soto”, “Sell Out”,and “Phraud”, courtesy of duck tape and a Sharpie.

First pitch was updated to 7:45p.

Before first pitch however (and as was known), a tribute to Bryce’s time as a National was displayed on the big screen. I wasn’t in view of the screen at the time, as we were making our way to the Social Lounge to meet up with our girlfriend Bleta, her brother Agon, and her new boo, J.

I didn’t need to screen though, 1) I was probably there for most of what was being highlighted and 2) the booing saturated the ballpark. It was clear to what side most fans took on the “Do we boo him?” debate. To be honest, booing is an integral part of most sports.

The boo’s continue all the way through to the end of the Phillies line up and got extra loud when Harper’s name was called.

“Bryce, you suck!”

It was game time and still raining by the way. Max was getting the start though and I knew he would have no problem striking out our new opponent, Bryce Harper. Bryce may have seen Max pitch before but what’s the likelihood that he’d ever hit off one of Max’s pitches?!

Bring it!

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I hung out in the Social Lounge longer than I expected but also to avoid going to my wet seat. I watched Harper’s first at bat standing, glued to one of the television screens, trying to cheer for Max over the crowd of Philly fans nearby. Max had allowed two hits prior to Bryce’s at bat but now he was facing his former longtime teammate and this match up was much anticipated. Max isn’t a 3x Cy Young winner (and came only 2nd last year) or called Mad Max for nothing though. We boo’d…loud.

Max struck him out. His first time back in Nats Park on the opposing team and his first at-bat. Lawd…I’m emotional just rewatching this video. I remember how intense it was. I wanted this for Max.

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Max – 1, Bryce – 0

As for the game, I obviously wanted the whole team to fail but admittedly as the game went on, I only cared about Bryce striking out. I didn’t want him to hit at all in that ballpark and definitely not a home run. However, Nationals Park was his home for SO many years…it would only be a matter of time before he found it.

Reesie and I then made our way to our seats to enjoy the rest of the game. No one ended up sitting next to me so she came up to join me. The rain had slacked a bit but the temperature took a nose dive. So cold, the “Lemonade!” man swapped his lemonade for Baileys and hot chocolate (LOL).

Adam Eaton leads off for us in the bottom of the 1st inning but gets an out. We had one out and nobody on base when Trea tried to bunt. But it was a 92-mph fast ball from Zach Eflin and Trea got hit by a pitch (HBP) and left the game. Wilmer Difo would bat in his place and strike out. We later found out that Trea suffered a fracture on his right index finger broken index finger. There’s no timetable on when he’ll be returning.

Nats – 0, Phillies – 0

Top of the 2nd inning. Oh and let make it clear here that the boo’s NEVER stopped so yeah…we’re still booing. Then to break the scoreless game, Phillies’ Michael Franco hits a homer to left field to put the Phillies out in front.

Nats – 0, Phillies – 1

Top of 3rd inning and it’s Bryce’s second at bat facing Max. He strikes him out AGAIN!

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Max – 2, Bryce – 0

By the bottom of the fourth inning, a new chant emerged toward Bryce in the outfield…”OVER-RATED!” The irony here being two fold: 1) We had an issue when a National League executive called Bryce “overrated” and a “losing player” and, 2) Bryce was recently voted Most Overrated Player, BY HIS PEERS, to be…yep…OVERRATED. He took 48.6% of that vote out of more than 200 MLB players.

Rendon comes through, delivering our first hit of the night. Unfortunately, we don’t get anything going after that.

In the top of the 5th inning, we see Bryce at the plate again but this time he gets a base hit into right field for a double (he makes it to 2nd base), bringing home Segura for another run.

Max – 2, Bryce – 1

Nats – 0, Phillies – 2

Max is done for the night and killed it as only he does. Allowing just 7 hits, 2 runs, and a walk, with 9 strikeouts over 5 innings. He was relieved by Wander Suero.

With Max out, everything just turns to shit. I’ve said this in previous posts. We CANNOT be successful if every time our starting pitchers exit the game (and rightfully so) not a single reliever can hold the opposing team. Just absolute trash, the bullpen is.

It’s now the top of the 6th inning. A pitching change has Matt Grace at the mound now. After Franco’s homer in the 2nd inning, he’s intentionally walked to first base, eliminating his shot at doing it again. However, they also eventually load the bases. Segura doubles and all 3 Phillies on base come home.

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Nats – 0, Phillies – 5

Still the top of the 6th, we see Harper for the 4th time. He hits again, doubling, allowing Segura to run home.

Nats – 0, Phillies – 6

Full disclosure: The crowd was thinning. I left around this time too. It was getting late having had the rain delay and the temperature had dropped into the 40s. Not to mention, we didn’t have a chance at winning this game.

Rendon and Difo would put up runs to finally put us on the board. However, in the top of the 8th, Bryce would homer and top it off with his signature bat flip.

Harper would go 3-for-5 (meaning he managed make contact with the ball 3 times out of 5 tries in the batter’s box) with a home run and 3 RBIs.

It wasn’t the night I hoped for. I wanted Bryce’s night of showing his new team around his former home to be a total fail. But Max proved again while he will be in the Baseball Hall of Fame and Bryce makes baseball fun. I will never take that from him despite my disappointment and how poorly he handled his opportunity to show some appreciation.

Nats – 2, Phillies – 8 (FINAL)

Until we meet again…


Record 1-3

If You Would Have Told Me 5 Years Ago… (Part One)

Tuesday, April 2nd

“If you would have told me 5 years ago…” That’s how his Instagram post started.

View this post on Instagram

If you would have told me 5 years ago I would be walking into Nationals Park as an opposing player, I would’ve told you that you were crazy. Five years later, I’m doing just that. I remember the first day I walked into Nats Park. My first base hit. My first home run. And, of course, my first standing ovation. Nationals fans delivered that first ovation. The things that I will miss most are the relationships I gained on a personal level with so many of the Nationals staff and workers around the ballpark. Every day I walked in, I got a smile or shared a laugh with you. I especially want to thank The Lerner Family and Mike Rizzo for the unwavering support they showed me during my tenure in DC. The city of DC was home. Filomena’s, The Silver Diner, The Italian store, and countless other places helped make it feel like home. You, Nationals fans, made me one of your own for the entire time I was a part of the Nationals organization. I’m so blessed to have been able to play for a fan base that cared so much about our team each and every night. You will always hold a special place in my heart no matter what. I look forward to continuing Harpers Heroes with LLS in the DMV as well as making sure the legacy fields bearing my name are the best youth fields in town! When I run on the field tonight I am sure to hear some boos, but I will always remember the cheers and the screams that are still with me right now, as I start my new chapter. So for that, DC, THANK YOU.

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bryceharper3) on

We’ll come back to this.

The day before, on April Fool’s Day, I noticed an Instagram post by both Bryce and his wife Kayla, announcing that they would be expecting. Congrats to the parents-to-be! That was my initial reaction, but then I thought whether this was the first of many things to come in order to invoke empathy from disappointed Nationals Fans before we would face the Phillies and Bryce on April 2nd. Of course I could have totally read into that but the timing seemed oh so…well…convenient?

On that same day, an article came out detailing why Bryce is no longer a National. To note, the Lerner’s (owners of the Nationals) first offer to Bryce was for $300 m/10 years with deferred payments until 2052, made in 2018 during a damn rain delay. Wait, is this how it’s normally done?! Silence. Still Bryce was apparently excited and hopeful he’d remain a National when he met with the owners in December. Sometime went by and no one said anything again until January, when the Lerners extended yet another offer, but this time for less and with payments deferred 20 more years than the first offer. Well we know how that ended. You can read all about that elsewhere. We could also speculate why the Lerner’s did what they did but we won’t get into that right now either.

For a moment, I felt bad for Bryce. According to the article, he wanted to stay in DC. But Bryce was going to test his free agency, also.

Let’s get back to this Instagram post…

I read the post. In its entirety and full disclosure, it made me shed a little tear. Not because he was gone and I longed to have him back. Not even because he’s a Philly now. I cried because after all of the time that had elapsed…that’s all we got. I was so disappointed. Beyond disappointed really. Maybe I wasn’t managing my expectations but that post came just before he made his return to Nationals Park in a different uniform…seriously it was the day he was returning.

It was literally too little…too late.

Here’s a timeline for context:

  • September 30, 2018 | End of the Nationals 2018 season
  • October 29, 2018 | Harper’s free agency starts
  • A
  • WHOLE
  • LOT
  • OF
  • DAMN
  • TIME
  • February 28, 2019 | Harper signs with the Philadelphia Phillies

He could have gotten in front of this months ago! There was plenty of opportunity to address us Nats fans…even if the language was something along the lines of, “I don’t know what the future holds but…” Does Bryce Harper not have a PR person?!

To be clear, there were levels to how Nats fans felt about this whole situation. Some stopped caring for the guy a long time ago, some destroyed their jerseys, some hated him for going to Philly, some immediately wished him the best. For me, it was never that he signed elsewhere, and after a while I had pretty much moved passed the fact that he was now in Philly (our division rival). But this thank you/walk down memory lane/ode to DC felt rushed, inauthentic, definitely half-assed, and did nothing but slap us on the other cheek.

WE DESERVED BETTER BRYCE!

I was there the year he made his MLB debut. I, along with thousands of other people, flocked to the ballpark with excitement to see this young prodigy and hopes of witnessing him hit a home run then flip his bat like a boss. Bryce had so many good times and some bad through the years. And us fans were there through it all.

So, if you would have told me 5 years ago…

…that Bryce not only wouldn’t be a National, but would end up 4 hour drive NE to our division rival…

…that he would come to be an immediate turncoat, declaring love for a city whose fans disrespected him year after year, and go on to unnecessarily spell words with “Ph” like “Phamily”…

…that he would live up to the douche bag label everyone else fought to give him that we undoubtedly defended…

…that the day would come when his first fan base, the only fan base he knew would feel betrayed and then non-existent…

…that I’d come to witness what seemed like all of the DMV root for him during the Home Run Derby, all to be given an 11th hour thank you later…

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I would have told you that you were crazy.

But here we are.

So for that, Bryce, no thank you!

Saturday: What a Beautiful Day for Baseball

Saturday, March 30th.

I started the morning attending my favorite cycle class then ran a few errands. I was still debating about going to the 1:05p game because I also had plans in Reston later in the evening, so rushing to the ballpark was the last thing on my mind. On the other hand, it would be the first Saturday game of the season, it was still Opening Weekend, and the forecast was calling for clear skies and a high of 77˚. I knew if I didn’t go to the game, I would regret it and maybe not spend as much time outside enjoying the weather.

So I decided to go, going all the way in by choosing to walk the mile to the metro toward Navy Yard – Ballpark.

I arrived late, missing the 106.7 FM Radio Lanyard giveaway. It was the 2nd of a 3-game series against the Mets. Stephen Strasburg (#37) was up against Noah Syndergaard aka Thor.  A nice match up for a beautiful day!

The score was 4-1, and the bottom of the 3rd inning. 

Victor Robles (#16) made his mark, hitting our first home run of the season to left field. 4-2. Juan Soto cleaned that up with a base hit that brought Adam Eaton home. 4-3.

That was it! We seemed to have gained some momentum, closing in on the Mets to just a 1-run deficit.

But then Robles the same guy who made mistakes on Opening Day and earlier in this game, but had just secured the team’s first home run of the season, got his @$$ tagged off the bag on 1st base! He’s out. *sigh* 

I’d like to pause here for a second to just let you know that Adam “Spanky” Eaton is like my favorite “right now” player!

Okay back to my story.

Soto comes to the rescue with a ground ball in the middle where there wasn’t a Met in sight. Soto hustle’s toward 2nd base. The Mets’ Conforto throws the ball toward 2nd base in an attempt to get Soto out, but over throws it and Soto is safe on 2nd base. This results in a double for Soto and an error for the Mets. Man I love how this game can change at any minute!

It’s the bottom of the 6th inning, Kurt Suzuki (#28 and Jayson Werth’s old number) is at bat. He hits a fly ball to center field and is caught, but it’s just enough to bring Soto home to tie the game. 4-4.

Like I said, it can change at any minute. As has been the theme since last season, I don’t know what happened or where the time went, but at first the score was 4-4 and now at the top of the 8th it’s 7-4. When did the Mets score 3 more runs?! Oh that’s right…as our bullpen collapsed again. Seriously, our bullpen is trash at the moment. However, I can’t remember a time when we actually had a solid one.

Anyway, after Strasburg pitched his 6 innings we ended up bidding time and not productively. Relief pitchers Tony Sipp, Trevor Rosenthal, Kyle Barraclough, Matt Grace, and closer Wander Suero would all make visits to the pitchers mound.

Here’s the thing: not ANYONE of them pitched for more than 1 inning. I’VE NEVER SEEN SO MUCH PIECE MEALING TO GET THROUGH A GAME IN MY LIFE! We have to get this together. We cannot have starting pitchers that keep runs to a minimum all for it to be erased by the rest of the pitching staff.

Anyway, then it was 11-4.

Yes…WHISKEY….TANGO….FOXTROT?!

Eventually we got what I thought was a perfect moment to come back. Bases were loaded, I’ve forgotten what inning this was at this point, but Davey had finally made a smart decision by having Matt Adams hit in place of Brian Dozier. I still hadn’t seen Dozier produce anything worthwhile so to me this was great. Big City was hitting and I was hype. The Mets decided on a pitching change mid-hype. Fine…get it over with. However, Matt’s bat just didn’t get the ball out of the field. Ball height was there, not enough depth.

We loaded the bases again in the bottom of the 9th inning. I paid attention this time…it was go hard or go home. When at home, the bottom of the 9th is the last chance for the Nationals to score runs. I mean we didn’t have a chance in hell of winning this game but we could at least try to lessen the gap, right?

The bases looked something like Trea Turner on first, Victor Robles on second, and Andrew Stevenson on third. We had only 1 out. Anthony Rendon was up next. Rendon was walked to first, which meant Stevenson walked on home.

The score was 11-5.

Juan Soto (#22) was next. It was a tight high pressured situation. It was a moment reminiscent of Bryce Harper. Twenty-year old outfielder at bat, with the bases loaded, and the potential to close the gap. But he struck out.

First baseman Ryan Zimmerman (#11) aka Mr. Walkoff aka Mr. Franchise came next. This guy is an OG. He’s the the ONLY remaining National from the 2005 inaugural season. He hits to left field off the wall and it’s just enough for Robles, Turner, and Rendon to come home…in that order.

The score was now 11-8 and would remain that way. Suzuki (#28) got the last out for the team. So…we didn’t win but we did take a 7-run deficit to come out behind by only 3! 

There were 33,764 other people enjoying the game and the weather with me that day. The game was 3 hours and 50 mins long.


Record | 0-2