Guzmania, From Lot 8
In Lot 8 this morning, there were a lot of people drinking beer, a guy wearing a Gilbert Arenas jersey, a mohawked guy wearing a Randle El jersey, two mysterious men with polo shirts and clipboards who claimed that they were doing a marketing survey for Miller on what beers people drink (but who wouldn't let me look at their data), and the Natosphere tailgate, featuring Miss Chatter, Banks of the Anacostia, The Curly W, Nats 320, The Kevin Hatcher Fan Club, D.C. Sports Chick, Half Asian Man, William F. Yurasko, Eucalyptus, The Nationals Institute of Health and Nats Triple Play. And I just earned myself 11 additional hits today.
As game time approached, there was a flyover, and a lot of explosions from inside the stadium, and a lot of cheering, and presumably baseball being played somewhere. Just before that underpass that leads from Lot 8 to the tunnel, there was a big garbage tub, at the point where alcohol may travel no further, where alcohol comes to die. This is where Colin O'Grady was trying to get rid of his last bottles of Miller High Lives, not willing to cast the Champagne of Beers into the Dustbin of Beer History.
"Dude, look, it says right on there, it's the Champagne of Beers," he pleaded.
"I'm not drinking that [expletive]," said his friend, Kim Thompson. She was drinking Miller Lite as she said this. "That was ironic," she explained to me. "It was an exercise in irony."
Then another of their friends, Paul Russell, came up to extoll the virtues of Hollandia, which he said was the Shopper's Food Warehouse knockoff take on Heineken. Twelve for $8, he promised.
Anyhow, one of the Nats Triple Play guys was missing, stuck in traffic or something, so the other two left his tickets with me and went inside, since I didn't have any particular need to see the first pitch. So I sat out there with the guy selling foam fingers and stuffed Screeches, which was funny, because I always thought the plural would have been "Scriich." You know, one Screech, two Scriich. Nope. Anyhow, eventually the third Triple Play blogger, Nathan Campbell, appeared, wearing his trademark Cristian Guzman jersey. Nate champions something called "GUZMANIA," which, as he posted in a recent item, "is neither man nor idea, it's a force of nature."
"It's essentially a contrarian reaction to all the Guzman hate that goes on in the world," he told me, as I handed him his tickets. "It's not that I have any particular love for the guy, it's just that I feel like he's gotten a bad rap. And as long as I have the jersey, I might as well wear it."
Makes sense. Turns out Nate got his Guzman jersey before Opening Day in 2005. It's his one and only jersey, so he wears it to every game he attends, despite the occasional snide comments he gets from other fans. (Sample: "Is that a joke?")
I asked his friend, Brandi Mercurio, what she made of all this.
"She's a Yankees fan, you can't talk to her about anything," Nate interrupted.
Anyhow, Nate sees a few scattered Guzmaniacs scattered throughout the stadium, also wearing the No. 15 proudly. "An elite fraternity," is how he describes it. And he says that, even if given the chance, he wouldn't trade his Guzman jersey for any other.
"I don't know, I've got history with Guzman, and I've invested in seeing him turn it around in '07," he said. "I stuck with him in '05 and '06, so hopefully '07 will be the payoff."
And the chances of this happening?
"Better than 50/50, absolutely," he said. "I mean, he's got nowhere to go but up, right?"
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