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

Opening Day 2019

On Opening Day, you wake up SUPER hyped!

After what seemed like the longest winter…EVERRRRRR, Opening Day had finally arrived!

The best way to describe Opening Day is that it’s like the First Day of School or even Christmas morning. I’ve experienced Opening Day before but there I was, surprised I managed to sleep at all the night before. It’s like a ball of energy in anticipation for the day, that’s just waiting to be let out. I needed to tell someone…anyone. So I jumped onto Instagram to declare my excitement but then realized despite having over 800 “followers” on my personal my Instagram account, majority knew or cared little to nothing about baseball. I’d have to wait until I got to the ballpark.

I grabbed the remaining items I needed for the day then went into my closest to figure out what I was going to wear. I tend to leave what I wear on Opening Day to what sparks joy, harnessing my inner Marie Kondo. I opted for my red Curly W hat with “Nika” embroidered on the side, a red player-less jersey over a blue henley, jeans, Curly W argyle socks, and my red Converse sneakers.

It was 10:20a when I finally got in my car and made my way to the metro. At first I thought I might have missed the wave, as there’s usually other Nats fans on the train with me. However, as the train chugged along, the presence of Nats fans and the color red increased. Nine stops later (and around 10:50a), I arrived at Navy Yard Ballpark.


On Opening Day you get re-adjusted and maybe make a new friend.

Making my way down Half Street, I remember how happy I was to see that the street vendors selling bottled water, peanuts, hot dogs, and other snacks hadn’t been img_2785-1completely displaced by the development and construction going on in the area….yet.

I was surprised to find that the lines were a lot shorter than I expected given that gates would be opening at 11:05a. I decided to stand in one of the the Season Plan Holder lines so I put on my new NatsPlus 2019 lanyard and credentials for access. Despite my previous thoughts…this thing…it grows on you.

Waiting in line, I couldn’t help but jam to the sounds of DJ Flexx from WPGC 95.5 deejaying just inside the park. I also struck up conversations with fellow Nats fans, in particular Ms. Nettie. I’d never met or seen Ms. Nettie before that day, but I believe particular people are placed into your life, not just for a reason, but also at the right time. We immediately clicked. Like me, she’s a Black woman that loves baseball and was also at the park by herself that day. What’s even more awesome about her is that in addition to being a baseball fan, she’s a big hockey fan too and holds season tickets for the Capitals!

Ms. Nettie and I bid each other a “see you later” shortly after entering the ballpark. Once through the gates, I grabbed the giveaway for the day: a red DC Flag/Curly W t-shirt with the team’s home schedule on the back, then made my way over to take a pic in front of a Curly W made of balloons. Seriously, how cool is that?!

My next stop before doing anything else, is always the team store. My toughest budgeting test really. But before I could get there, I ran into Ms. Nettie again. Like a giddy school girl on the first day of school, I told her all about the Curly W balloon photo op and that she just had to get her picture taken too. So we decided to come back to the team store together.


On Opening Day you get new merch.

There were people, people everywhere in the team store. The line literally wrapped a couple of times around itself. But like with Spring Training, I have must-get items on Opening Day. One being a lapel pin for my lanyard and the other, whatever additional item catches my eye. This time I chose a navy hat with a red block W, a nod to the Washington Senators.

 …and more merch.

I left Ms. Nettie again, but not before exchanging numbers and making a deal to keep in touch. I then ventured upstairs to look around and scope out new places to eat. I didn’t make it far at all before I came up on the Breaking T kiosk and some pretty dope t-shirt designs. I grabbed two. If you’re keeping track, I’ve now acquired 3 shirts, a hat, and a lapel pin.

Avoiding further damage, I went straight to my seat to enjoy the program.


On Opening Day you catch up with old friends like on the first day of school!

I caught up with the usual suspects like Tripp, Captain Obvious, my section/row mate Beverly, and of course Matt, the beer man…oh and Stephen! I met Stephen back in 2017 at the Nationals Crab Feast on the Field. We made it a point to keep in touch and Thursday marked Opening Day #2 that we caught up and of course took a selfie!


On Opening Day your Ace pitches.

Max Scherzer (#31), a 6x All-Star, 3x Cy Young award winner and a definite for the Baseball Hall of Fame, was our starting pitcher for the day. He would be going up against the recent Cy Young award winner, Jacob DeGrom of the New York Mets. Before taking my seat for good, I went a few sections over to snap some pics of Mad Max warming up near the bullpen.


On Opening Day there’s pomp and circumstance.

Opening Day is ceremonious. We had the pleasure of having James Brown from CBS News emcee the event. There was an emotional tribute to the late Frank Robinson, the first Black manager in MLB history and a former manager of the Nationals, followed by a moment of silence.  The Mets and Nationals players, coaches, and managers were then introduced.

The Star-Spangled Banner was performed by the U.S. Army Chorus Quartet as a United States-shaped American flag was spread across the outfield by the U.S. Coast Guard Color Guard. A white star was creatively used to depict Alaska or Hawaii or both? Anyway, the Nationals Opening Day ceremony never disappoints.

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Unlike last year, the the Star-Spangled Banner was capped off by a flyover performed by the 113th Wing Capital Guardians. I wasn’t prepared, so I missed getting a pic/video of it but believe me it was glorious!

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser gave us the the green light when she shouted “Lets Play Ball!”

GAME TIME!


On Opening Day, it’s totally normal to drink beer for lunch.

Trust me, it was 5 o’clock somewhere. There’s nothing like a cold can (or two) of Bud Light from your favorite Beer Man, on a beautiful day, while enjoying your and America’s favorite pastime.


On Opening Day your team either wins or it loses.

First pitch was at 1:07p. Both pitchers were starting the season and this series with a record of 0-0. Max would strike out his first batter, Brandon Nimmo but Robinson Cano would hit the very first home run of the season and the first run of the game, in the 1st inning.

It was good to see former Nationals catcher now Met, Wilson Ramos who received a warm welcome when it was his time at bat. Nats fans shouted “Wiiilllllllson!” the way we used to when he was behind the plate for us.

The game went on and by the 6th inning Max had 10 strike outs but our offense had yet to score a run.

Road Runner Trea Turner (#7) stole his 2nd base in the bottom of the 6th. He was challenged by Manager Davey Martinez to steal 80 bases this season. At the pace from Opening Day, he’s on track to stealing upwards of 500 bases this year!

It was such a beautiful day for baseball. The only thing more we could ask for was a run or two!

(On Opening Day you’re also reminded your team still has the same issues from before.)

I’m not exactly sure why Davey decided to allow Max to hit for himself after already pitching 7 innings and we were trailing 1-0. In the American League, there’s a player known as the Designated Hitter (DH) that always bats for the pitcher. However, in the National League (where the Nationals play), there is no DH. Managers and pitchers can decide whether the pitcher will hit for himself or bring in a pinch hitter (PH) to hit for the pitcher. Max ended up striking out during a moment that could have been pivotal for us had Davey simply played a PH. I don’t blame Max, he has the tendency to rake (hit well) but Davey should’ve made a play that would have gotten us closer to scoring a run.

Max would pitch 7 and 2/3 innings before being relieved by Hellickson…and then the bullpen just fell apart. That on top of a lack of offense kept us scoreless.

There’s no half time in baseball but the 7th Inning Stretch provides an opportunity to…well…stretch and reclaim your hype. As custom, we sang Take Me Out to the Ball Game. After which, there’s usually an up-to-date popular song guaranteed to get us moving. I was surprised to hear Take On Me! Take On Me used to be a walk-up song for Michael Morse, a beloved former National turned San Fran Giant, who saw his career ended way too early after suffering a concussion during an on-field brawl. That song always got crowd participation and brought back all the feels of that time when Morse was on the team.

(Ignore the abrupt ending, there was a t-shirt being thrown my way.)

We would return to the game. Leaving runners stranded in scoring position (2nd or 3rd base) several times. Victor Robles lost on what would’ve been a run after hesitating on a ground ball. Robinson Cano would score on a single off Matt Grace in the 8th inning.

All in all, two GREAT pitchers pitched that day, recording historical double-digit strikeouts so the game was low scoring, each team having only 5 hits. At the end of 2 hours and 44 minutes, we lost 2-0. Max ended that game 0-1, DeGrom 1-0.

On Opening Day, there are 161 games remaining…still.


Record | 0-1