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Scenes From Four Hours of Rain

(Photos by Toni L. Sandys - TWP)

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 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.]

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 3, 2009; 11:50 PM ET
Categories:  Nats  
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It was funny watching the guy size everything up and work his way down before jumping onto the field. Crashed into security pretty hard sliding into home. Definitely the excitement high point of the night.

Posted by: Grooven | June 4, 2009 12:52 AM | Report abuse

My complaint is they could have done a much better job of keeping the fans informed who were at the stadium. They took forever to give any updates. We didn't have a clue what was going on while we waited and waited for them to make a decision. Even if they'd simply announced that they were still monitoring the weather every 10 to 15 minutes would have been better than the "stale" message board that indicated a severe weather was approaching and to take cover on the concourse -- it seemed that message was up forever -- even long after the storm had hit. AND they didn't even bother updating the out of town scoreboard during the delay.

Posted by: Howie1 | June 4, 2009 7:21 AM | Report abuse

The Barra and Screaming Eagles don't see what the problem is.

Posted by: Section117 | June 4, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

You know it was a fun night when the "highlight" was a guy running on the tarp before getting tackled by a security guard.

Posted by: DontWannaMyPostID | June 4, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Do the Nats have Internet access at the ballpark? Do they know how to access weather radar sites? I could have told you at 6:30 that this game was not going to be played. I could see hours and hours of rain running from west to east right over the ballpark. Maybe they need to hire me.

Posted by: MKadyman | June 4, 2009 9:35 AM | Report abuse

The team needs some kind of temporary cloth roof with all the rain outs this year. Can someone do a feasibility study.

Posted by: alex35332 | June 4, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

alex35332 -- This is Washington. FIRST we have to form a committee to investigate the feasibility of doing a feasibility study.

Posted by: bethesdaguy | June 4, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Dan, didn't realize that was you snapping pictures of that meeting!

It was awful. I mean yeah, I tried to be positive because it was a big game and all that, but it was so obvious that game wasn't going to be played by that second rain delay. The audacity of the organization to NOT call it until 4 hours in is ridiculous.

The guy getting tackled at home was hilarious though. His 60 seconds of fame... unless someone happened to put it up on you tube.

Posted by: rumbly45 | June 4, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

If the BB or SEs had been there, you woulda heard the "Where is the beer man" chant at least twice. :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | June 4, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I was actually going to kill 2 birds with 1 stone, see maybe history and take my lady friend out to a sporting event that she says I never take her too.

We ended up going to this restaurant on 8th street and sitting at bar watching Red Sox/Tigers game waiting for rain to stop.

I guess I'll go today and see if Randy Johnson will make history in day/night doubleheader.

P.S Without lady friend.....LOL!

Posted by: ENJOYA | June 4, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I don't care if the season is lost already - screw the fans that just came to see Randy Johnson beat the home team. Giving up Bonds' historic HR, losing to Jamie Moyer for his 250th W - I am tired of it. Root for your team to NOT be on the losing end of these historic events!
Show some pride, man.

Posted by: CoachD1 | June 4, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Unlike CoachD1, I absolve all Nats fans for lacking pride in their team. We've crossed that threshold. There is nothing to be proud about. Hang your head in shame and sell your tickets to the Sox fans to get some money back. If you go to the any Red Sox, PHI, Mets, game just hope you are lucky enough to get a reach around. I've never been in a city with a team that has been as sorry as this bag of crap.

Posted by: makplan20002 | June 4, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I tried to get peeps to go but thankfully Fushezzi wasn't down with the plan.

Posted by: Barno1 | June 4, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

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