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.

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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!

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

Special Delivery

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I FINALLY RECEIVED MY SEASON PLAN HOLDER PACKAGE!

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If you recall, I experienced a few highs and lows related to this package. I was excited, cursed FedEx, I felt left out knowing others had already received their packages, I was excited again, then nearly had a panic attack, and also cursed FedEx again.

And for what?

A lanyard and a flimsy piece of laminated paper known as “credentials”.

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You might be wondering, “Well after all of that what’s up with your obvious disappointment?!” Thanks for asking! Well in previous years, season plan holders actually received A GIFT before the start of a new season. Last year it was a Curly W Flag in a Curly W aluminum tin and the year prior, it was a nice Curly W-debossed, leather-like box with our season plan holder card inside.

I believe the club is operating under the luxury tax…a small token of appreciation for the commitment wouldn’t have broken the bank.

See the thing about the “credentials” is that they can only be used to gain access to the Season Plan Holder entrances and to access stored eCash for concessions and purchases at team stores. Cool. But that’s it…that’s all folks. The barcode on the back doesn’t even house our tickets for the season and therefore, can’t actually be used to get into the park. It’s for aesthetics really and there will be those plan holders who will wear that thing around the ballpark like a badge of honor. I guess I get it. However, they could’ve just not changed the previous system where the card we carried not only got us through the SPH entrances, but housed our seats/tickets for the season, was used throughout the ballpark for concessions and other purchases, could be worn around the neck if you chose to do so, and was even personalized!!! 

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” – Said Some Wise Person

On a positive note, I don’t have to carry around a card or those damn credentials if I don’t want to. The team has gone fully digital, utilizing the newly updated (and it was in desperate need of an update) MLB Ballpark App. Enhancements to the app allow us to forward, scan, and buy tickets, load and use eCash, earn and redeem Red Carpet Rewards points, and access exclusive content like walk-up music (clutch), interactive games, rosters, trivia, etc.

Here’s a sneak peak:

Admittedly, I don’t always readily embrace change and despite not receiving a gift, going digital will definitely make my ballpark experience more convenient. Oh improvements have also been made to the entire Nationals Access, Red Carpet Rewards and Ticket Exchange programs for 2019.

To be honest, if the Nats would just go ahead and offer Rendon AKA Tony Two Bags AKA one of the league’s best 3rd basemen a long-term extension, I’d forget all out this gift absent-mindedness.

#Natsfans4Rendon