Quite a long day yesterday in Citizens Bank Park - you know, the southern version of it located on South Capitol Street in Washington, D.C.
Uncle Stan must be thrilled that so many Phillies fans took him up on his invitation to come on down! They were everywhere. Saw four buses worth of them tailgating in a parking lot between games. Went over to The Bullpen (oldest person there by at least 25 years) and did not see a single Nats fan.
Riding the escalator down in the rain, a young woman behind me asked her friend, "Are there any Nationals fans here?" I waited out the rain with my friends Kristen and Stephanie from We've Got Heart in the Red Porch. We tried to put a number on the percentage of Nats fans in the park (this while every table around us was filled with Uncle Stan's phriends with Ps on their hats). 40? Probably too high.
I had interactions with two groups of Phils' fans. One group of guys was watching the Preakness with me in the Red Porch bar. Nice conversation about baseball and other stuff. One asked - does it tick you off that there's so many Phillies fans here? Well, yeah, I said, but not because of those fans. They have as much right to be Phils fans as I do to be a Nats fan (and more brains, clearly). They have as much right to buy tickets as I do. What hacks me off is they are so available. Five years in, two years into a new park, it would be lovely if we had the kind of team in D.C. that would draw tons of people wearing Ws and make it difficult for fans of any other team to get tickets. But that's not THEIR fault. They are available. Buy 'em up. Stan loves you. It is the Nationals' fault for fielding a poor product in year five.
Walking back to my car in the rain, I fell in with two Philly dads and their teen-age sons. Nice folks. They wanted to get their bearings on where they were in relation to the White House, etc. We actually stopped in the rain and talked for a while. "Please hurry up and get good," one dad said. "This could be a great rivalry. We could give each other hell for three hours and then go drink some beers. We'd much rather have the rivalry with you than the Mets." Hey, we'd love that, too. "Gotta work on that pitching!" he said. Uh, yeah. One of the kids said he was disappointed he didn't get to see Flores, he really liked him. The dad then came back with, "By the way, as Flyers fans, the Capitals really ticked us off. The Penguins!?!" As Capitals fans, we pretty much feel the same way.
I said it on my interview with Byron Kerr and I said it to these guys: The most frustrating thing as a fan is I really don't think the Nats are as far away as it looks. So near, yet so far.
A few other odds and ends from yesterday:
*MASN invited bloggers to be their guests at the day game, like the game a makeup from the original schedule. It was a fun afternoon putting names and faces to the many great blogs about the Nats. MASN took us to the booth, took us to the truck and let us hang out in its suite. Rob, Bob, Debbi, Ray, Johnny - met them all and they could not have been more gracious, especially considering that we sometimes get a little irrascible with our posts. Some Nats officials showed up, too, but not Uncle Stan or Rizzo. Thanks, MASN, for your hospitality and putting up with this rowdy band of miscreants. Those wings were money.
*When it rains hard and the wind blows, the upper concourse is not a good place to be. Tough to find a place to stay dry unless you want to hang out in the head. And I don't. Raining at my house as I type and it makes me wonder if it's just going to rain forever.
*The happiest about the rain? Ron Villone's perfect ERA. Ryan Howard up, no outs, the bases loaded - that ERA was about to get real fat. I don't think anyone in the park doubted the ball was going to fly out of there. The only question was where and how far. Howard and Raul Ibanez are probably going to cry when they have to leave Nats Park. Here's a suggestion: How about just not pitching to Ibanez? I think one of his home runs yesterday landed in my back yard. I'm about to go look.
*Interesting call on the spot starter, with Ross Detwiler targeted for tomorrow night's game. Brian over at Nats Farm Authority is much more qualified to analyze who is in the best position to move up but he mentioned some things yesterday about others being out of the picture for tomorrow because of when they've thrown recently. I saw Detwiler pitch a fine game for Potomac last season but that's a long way from the big leagues. We'll see. I guess if he does well, he could earn more "spot" starts with Olsen going on the DL. Martis on Tuesday, followed by Lannan, Cabrera, Zimmermann and Detwiler again. Nobody pitches on short rest. Best thing about that is I miss Cabrera on my next two visits. Not sure I can handle watching much more of that.
*I promised myself I wouldn't rag on Cabrera today so I won't. Any more. My guess is he'll take a couple more turns while Olsen is out. When Olsen returns? Maybe that'll be the end of the grand experiment.
*I won't rag on Cintron today either. I won't ask one single time why he's taking up space on the 25 man.