Wednesday, April 25, 2007

RFK, Nats blown away, what else do I have to say?

Our baseball trip this year did not stop in Philadelphia. Since we were staying local, my wife and I decided to kill two birds with one stone and head down to Washington, DC, and catch a Nationals game as well. I had never spent significant time in our nation’s capital, and subconsciously associated the city with only two things: a) the President, and b) murder. Since I don’t delve into politics here, I will not make a joke wondering whether or not those two things are mutually exclusive.

Nevertheless, because of the murder part, we were trying to be careful about where we were going to stay. My original intent, quite foolishly, was to stay as close to RFK Stadium as possible, since, during our four-day stay in DC, we would be going to one game there. I know, it makes no sense, and I’m glad somebody alerted me to that beforehand, because when we did go to RFK, the surrounding area looked considerably less presidential than one would think. We ended up staying in the Dupont Circle section of the city, which I came to learn is the San Francisco of DC, if you know what I mean. And that was fine with me. Also, we stayed at the Hilton Hotel, a.k.a. “the Hinckley Hilton,” which is where Ronald Reagan was shot. This, of course, seemed to reaffirm my original impression of DC, since it included both presidents and murder, even if the murder was only “attempted.”

We had three days to spend in the area before the Nats game, and like any two upstanding American citizens, we decided it would be great to see the sights. To my surprise, one of those sights was going to be a smorgasbord of cherry blossom trees that only bloom once a year, and then are destroyed by an army of bulldozers when they stop being pretty. It was always my lifelong dream to walk amongst the cherry trees, so this trip was going to be better than I thought! Unfortunately, Lucky for me, people came from far and wide to see the cherry blossom trees, and as anyone who has spent significant time in a touristy area knows, people definitely know how to walk, act, and how to control their children in such an environment. Yep…definitely. Also, my likeness is now in approximately 2,500 pictures currently being developed in Asia, because I had the audacity to walk while other people were trying to capture a moment in picture form instead of experiencing it in real life. But I digress. Honestly, the cherry blossom trees were really beautiful, and actually ended up being the best attraction of the week. Plus, I would later learn that inanimate cherry trees can actually hit better than the Nationals, but I’ll get to that later.

I should also mention that the reason we chose this week in particular for this trip is because my wife works in a school as a Speech Pathologist, so her Easter break is the week we go away each year. Probably because I associate vacations with summertime, I always think in the back of my mind that we are the only two people on earth that are on vacation that week. Well, Washington, DC, was a wake-up call, because every single person in the universe who had the week off decided to go to DC - and bring 12 kids with them - which was just fantastic.

We tried to see the sights. Honestly, we did. But everywhere we went was crawling with hoards and hoards of confused people, yelling, screaming, crying, pushing, shoving, eating, walking aimlessly in the middle of traffic…absolute mayhem. Our first stop was the Museum of Natural History. Trying to walk through that place was like trying to get on the subway during rush hour. I learned absolutely nothing. In fact, I think I walked out of there dumber, since the only verbal correspondence I had to relate to what I was seeing were passing conversations about how Billy just pooped himself, and needs to be changed. It was like Disney World in there, but instead of waiting in line to get on the Tea Cups, you waited in line to read a paragraph about the origins of the wooly mammoth, but you couldn’t even do that, because some kid sneezed all over it. And don’t get me wrong – I love kids. I really do. I just don’t like a lot of kids, in any situation, but especially when I’m trying to learn about dinosaurs.


A stegosaurous? I have no idea...

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the National Air & Space Museum was like Woodstock for 7-year-olds. We pretty much walked through the museum in a circle, and then walked right out. And that took about three hours. To boot, all of the cool interactive stuff was crawling with kids, which meant that even if I waited in line to try it out, I would look like a complete moron doing it, a 6’3” tall idiot in a “gravity-sphere” amidst a sea of fourth-graders. Whatever.

The Lincoln Memorial was very emotional, especially the part where a group of kids bounced a rubber ball off the foot of Abraham Lincoln’s perch. I think I shed a tear on that one. And watching kids race through the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery certainly added to the somber, reflective mood associated with being present in such confines. Seriously though…love those kids.

But enough about the sites. The fact of the matter is that it was great to finally see all of the stuff I had only heard about, no matter the circumstances. DC also has some great restaurants, and their Metro system is second-to-none. Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Wait, this is supposed to be a sports column. Why are you talking about subway systems and dinosaurs?” Well, truth be told, when it comes to the Washington Nationals, there’s just not much to say.

This was our first trip to RFK Stadium, and also our last, since the stadium will be no longer be used for baseball next year, and the Nats will move to the their new home, “Hillary Rodham Clinton Field,” or whatever they decide to call it. The draw of the Nationals among the locals can best be summed up by two factors: a) we were among the 117 fans who showed up for the game, b) they were selling Robinson Cano jerseys outside of the stadium.


The fans pack it in to watch the Nationals practice not hitting...

It was the Nationals versus the Diamondbacks, a potential NLCS preview. For 2023. If the Nationals make it that far. Two of my friends from college met us there – bumping up the attendance 12% - and one of them, my friend Mike, hooked us up with tickets. They were really good seats, which was cool. Bad news? It was freezing. I mean, literally, it was freezing. Like, 25 degrees, maybe. I don’t know how the players Diamondbacks played in such conditions.

Consider this when it comes to the Washington Nationals: The team finished in last place in the NL East in 2006, a full 26 games out of first. Since then, they lost Alfonso Soriano, Jose Vidro, Russ Ortiz, and Hall of Fame manager Frank Robinson, receiving an ol’ “atta boy!” in return. They have a first-year manager in Manny Acta, and their best offensive player – Ryan Zimmerman – is only in his second year in the big leagues (and has zero protection in that lineup). Their best player, arguably, is their closer, Chad Cordero, which in nice, since he should get about three save opportunities this season.

I was content however, because I was going to see two of my fantasy players in this game: Zimmerman, and Diamondbacks’ rookie shortstop Stephen Drew. Drew did not play because of the flu, and Zimmerman went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, one coming with the bases loaded during the Nationals’ only recognizable attempt at a rally. The Nationals lost to the D’Backs 7-1, and were shut down by a guy named Micah Owings. The highlight of the game came in the fifth inning, when four giant-headed presidential mascots raced to home plate, with Teddy Roosevelt earning the victory. We even met him afterwards in the stands. He was nice.


Zimmerman gets the "strikeout" sign from the dugout

I would end this column with a point, if I had one. Instead, I’ll just reiterate that my wife and I had a great time in DC, despite the mayhem, and that the Washington Nationals have the opportunity to be really, really bad this year. Like, historically bad, which is appropriate, since they play in DC. Apparently, there’s a lot of history there.


Told you he was nice

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those giant Presidents were extremely creepy...hey is that kid grabbing Teddy's balls?