Scenes From Four Hours of Rain
I was looking for parking somewhere around P Street, SW, sometime around 10 p.m., when I saw two fans in ponchos high-tailing it away from Nationals Park.
"Did they call it?" I screamed out my window, struggling to be heard over the pounding of rain on pavement, water whooshing past my face.
"I'm declaring my own rain-out!" one of the gents shouted back.
Fair enough, though thousands chose not to make such a declaration. You can't blame them. This was right on the border of becoming one of those I-was-there-when moments, post-midnight baseball with no concessions, no throngs, no one watching at home, and history unspooling itself out on the wet green grass. It almost became one of those athletic moments you never forget. Instead, it just became a pair of wet socks.
Of course, I only had 30 minutes to mingle before the team actually did call the game and everyone split, but I did get to meet at least a few interesting folks.
Like Bruce Berry from Sterling, whose wife is due with their first child on Thursday. Last night of freedom, and all that. He wasn't leaving this stadium even if the Ark floated through left field.
"The wife said go ahead and have fun," he said with a laugh. "And now I can't even watch no game. I've got a ticket that's probably gonna get voided tomorrow because I'm gonna be in the hospital."
Bummer, though to be honest, if his wife feels ok, you might be seeing him at the Park on Thursday afternoon. And don't think there weren't rays of sun poking through those nasty clouds.
"Well, we didn't give Randy Johnson his 300th win; that's something," Nate Campbell pointed out.
One group of fans left, spent three hours at Lucky Bar, saw a report on MLB.com that the game was set to resume, and came back. They should have just stayed downtown and gotten an empanada.
"I've never seen a game that took so long to be called one way or the other," one of those fans, a Michael Eisner, told me. (Hey, at 11 o'clock, you stop checking IDs.)
"It's horrible for the fans," noted his friend, Bryan Lester. "We've all got work in the morning, but we want to be here. It's a historical moment."
That's why many of the people stayed. The guy in the Bonds 756 shirt. The woman who flew from San Francisco for this series (well, and to see her daughter). The father and 10-year old son, who were making plans to skip school on Thursday to account for a 3 a.m. bedtime when the thing was called.
"History, man," said the dad, who requested his name not be used for work purposes. "Now I'm just trying to connive my way back tomorrow."
Lots of people said they sat around, watching and talking baseball. By the looks of things, a few folks added a liquid consumption element to that routine. Kids played video games in center field, although at some point, that entertainment zone was shuttered. Some fans had vague ideas of what was going on with the front-office types, and others didn't.
"They didn't keep us updated for the longest time," Jason Moskowitz said. "It could have been more fun."
"It was ridiculous," Neal Schneier added.
"We were looking at the same weather reports they were; there was a huge, giant cloud," said amateur meteorologist Dave Sobel. "We were hoping, but yeah, we knew they weren't gonna play."
But others found reasons to smile amid the rain. And, of course, when I was talking to all these people who were streaming toward the exits, the rain pretty much stopped, and it was cool and pleasant. The left field concourse was one massive puddle, and our feet were wet, but it was memorable, and bizarre, and almost magical instead of just soggy.
"It's a beautiful stadium, and we got to sit there and drink for four hours," said Brian Wiley, who, with two of his friends, had never before been to the Park.
"It's fun," Derrick Franke said. "It's different. This is why I like baseball. You come out to the park, you drink for three hours, we saw a guy run out to the tarp and get tackled by security. It's fun."
"It's a blessing in disguise," Matt Robinson said. "We have an excuse to leave work early tomorrow."
And really, no excuses on that 4:35 start. It's almost the end of the work day. It's almost the end of the work week. No one in Washington actually does work in June, anyhow. And you might see either history, or a stunningly awful rain delay. Where else would you rather be?
[And if you think I'm not inwardly seething with white-hot anger over the missed opportunity to see Randy Johnson clinch his 300th at 2:37 a.m. in front of 1,019 sleepy fans, you've got the wrong guy.]
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