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Enjoying the Weather, Quiet at Nats Park


Steven Toole, by himself in Section 239.


"Oh look!" said Christine Regan sometime during the fourth inning this afternoon. "A person!"

I found Christine and Tim Galginaitis of Rockville perched in section 304 during this game that had been hastily rescheduled from Wednesday night. Section 304 was pretty crowded, in the same sense that the a Kosher deli in the Mongolian steppe during a snowstorm on Yom Kippur would be pretty crowded.

We estimated that there were no humans within 30 yards of us when we talked, although a young man came with a cell phone into view over in Section 302. That raised the combined population of Sections 301, 302 and 303 to, well, one.

But take the escalator up a level, and suddenly it was like coming out of the Lincoln Tunnel into the heart of midtown. Section 401 had, get this, two seated fans, plus a third guy snapping photos of the Capitol Building. (The seated fans were Michael Nowicki and son David, who had left their real seats seeking shade.)

To their right was Section 402, ably manned by Chicagoan John Matkovich. Oh, and his scorebook. I pointed out that he was sitting pretty much by himself.

"I think everybody's sitting out here by themselves today," he noted.

Obviously this was a game rescheduled only the night before, and those tickets could be exchanged for different nights, and so these tales of existential loneliness in the 400-level are delivered with the understanding that no one could have expected throngs of Washingtonians to leave their important jobs for a sunny dollop of early-June perfection on such short notice.

The team announced a paid attendance of 27,264, and there's a strong chance there were at least 27,264 human cells in the park. Actual humans, not so much, which made for some odd moments. Like, instead of waiting in line at the concession stands, three workers would stare at you as you tried to make up your mind. "Hello!" one concession worker said hopefully, as a few fans walked by her empty booth. Others cleaned the mustard dispensers. The ratio of employees-to-customers at the Five Guys stand was approximately 13 to 1. "Two!" corrected one employee, as a customer approached.

The fans included college students, out-of-town businessmen who had arrived early for meetings, out-of-town businessmen whose meetings hadn't yet started, families, office workers playing hooky and office workers trying extremely hard to justify playing hooky.

"My car's stuck in my garage and I can't get it out," explained Jared Rosen of Rockville, whose house had lost power. He accepted a ride to the game from a friend, Montgomery County teacher Brian Adams, whose school was closed due to similar electricity problems. Rosen wasn't interested in the argument that Adams could have driven him to work instead of the game.

"I found an excuse and I ran with it," he said.

And what he found was a park in which advantages were available for those who wandered to the deepest depths of shiny blue emptiness.

"When your row is filled, [normally] you have to fight to get out to get food," said Steven Toole, 19, of Stafford, the only resident of Section 239. "Today is no hassle, for sure."

"I get a chance just to focus on what's going on instead of hearing noise around me," pointed out Abraham Lyles, 43, of the District, who had monopolized Section 240.

"It's [usually] just like at the movies, someone sitting behind you trying to tell you about the movie, 'he's gonna do this, he's gonna do that,' " echoed Thomas Simmons, 58, of the District. Simmons who was sharing Section 419 with longtime friend Michael Smith. "Right here, we conversate, and at least we can understand each other."

But I shouldn't say the place was silent. When St. Louis closer Ryan Franklin got down to the final out, the Cardinals fans made a pretty decent amount of noise.


Those specks in the distance are Christine Regan and Tim Galginaitis

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 5, 2008; 4:26 PM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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