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Greetings from The Booth!
Last Sunday was Fathers Day, and in my last post I made mention of a return to my “Guys Day Out” tradition, that was renewed last Saturday for the first time since COVID with a trip to Nationals Park in DC. 2019 and 2023 are very different seasons, as ’19 would be the Nats’ World Series year, and ’23 is still a work-in-progress for the rebuilding Nationals. No matter. It was still great to get to a major league ballpark, and feel the buzz of the Nation’s Capital. As they say, a great place to visit… Anyway, here’s a little diary of the trip:
The day itself was fantastic, with sunny skies and relatively low humidity. The plan initially was for me and my former radio sidekick and current golf partner Mario to drive to the ballpark, but after looking at the prices to park in the surrounding garages, and taking into the account the hassle of driving in DC, we decided to take the Metro from Vienna to the stadium. There we would meet another good friend, Dr. Kurt Pierce, former Miami Dolphin, Buffalo Bill, and Baltimore Colt.
Upon arrival at the Metro station, we were encountered by an elderly couple, who informed us that there was track work being done on the Orange line and that we would have to take a shuttle bus from Vienna to Ballston, and then take the subway from there, and since they were also going to the game, would we be interested in a ride directly to the game? In today’s world, they were taking a chance and so were we. We didn’t know each other from Adam, as the saying goes, but we accepted, and the couple couldn’t have been nicer. Angels among us.
After being dropped off at the Geico Garage across from Nats Park, we met at the Buffalo Wild Wings on adjacent Half Street, a now thriving thoroughfare, where a number of new eateries and shops have gone up since the pandemic. Doc Pierce was waiting for us inside, where we sauntered up to the bar and downed a huge plate of wings and a few “soda pops,” and tried to answer Doc’s challenging questions about music and sports.
Just after 3, we made our way to the stadium, where we entered the turnstiles (I’m still a bit flummoxed by electronic tickets on my phone), got our Teddy and Abe bobbleheads, and found what were great seats, about 20 rows up from the field near the first base bag. If you haven’t been to Nationals Park for a while, concession prices may shock you a bit. A small bag of peanuts and a 25-ounce adult beverage is going to set you back about $23. You may not even spend that for a family of 4 at a Valley League game.
The game itself was unremarkable, another Nationals “curly L,” 5-2 to the Miami Marlins. But one thing I will say I liked was the new pitch clock. I am a baseball traditionalist, and am very resistant to any changes to the grand old game, but I found myself liking the pitch clock (after a while I didn’t even notice it). In the blink of an eye the game was in the seventh inning. The pitch clock sped up the game, something MLB will need to do to attract easily-distracted and time-starved younger fans.
Then, the fun began. After the game, Doc had to be reminded that he had promised to take us back to Vienna. There was a bit of trouble locating his vehicle, but once we did, we somehow navigated our way out of DC in the Honda “Farm Use” SUV. We merged onto I-66, rarely exceeding 40 MPH, as angry drivers passed us on the right and left. The white-knuckle ride finally ended with a couple of laps around the Vienna Metro stop, until, feeling lucky to be alive, we located my vehicle and headed back to the Shenandoah Valley.
All in all, a great day, and the return of a tradition that I hope is renewed soon! Thanks, Mario & Doc, for a memorable Guys Day Out!