A Night Out at Nationals Park

7 Jun

The location of the school in Washington, DC offers many advantages, particularly when it comes to cultural and educational opportunities. But one of the greatest aspects of being nestled in one of the greatest cities in the world is that there is never any shortage of fun things to do.

This week, the University of the District of Columbia Athletic Department took advantage of one of the city’s many terrific entertainment options. Associate AD Matt Rienzo organized a group outing to see the Washington Nationals play the New York Mets on Tuesday, June 5th. A group of 16 took in an excellent ballgame on a gorgeous night in the nation’s capital, and among them was Sports Information Director, Eric Zedalis and a group of six of his friends. Eric recorded his thoughts and impressions throughout the night.

 

5:00 p.m.  – With the workday over, I do a little online pre-game research to check out pitching matchups and such. Looks like it’s Jordan Zimmerman on the hill for the Nats and Chris Young for New York. Nats have lost four of their last five while the Mets have surprisingly won 7 of their last nine and pulled within half a game of tying Washington for 1st place in the NL East. I’m from New Jersey, and I grew up around a lot of Mets fans, but I’m realizing I don’t know a single guy on the Mets roster besides Johan Santana and David Wright – how are they doing this well this year!?

5:45 p.m.  – Some of the group begins to congregate in the Athletics lobby. I get to have a little chat with Matt Rienzo’s son, “Little Matthew.” Definitely a cool kid!

6:05 p.m.  – We head out to walk over to the UDC-VanNess Metro station situated so conveniently right on campus. Out first stop is Gallery Place to switch from the Red Line to the Green Line. Then we take the Green Line to the Navy Yard stop which puts us out basically right in front of the stadium.

6:15 p.m.  – Start talking a little baseball on the train. Pat Knapp, an Associate AD here, is a Phillies fan, and he is just as baffled as me at the Mets’ recent success. We also come to find out that Kendra Greene, another Associate AD, and a native of Michigan, is a Yankees fan. Everybody on the train who was in earshot let out a groan when she said that!

6:30 p.m.  – In line at Will Call to get our tickets. My friend from high school, Emily, has just arrived and she is looking for Will Call or to find me. She asks what I’m wearing, and I say “a red and blue shirt.” It takes a little while before I realize that pretty much describes 90% of the people standing around me, and that it isn’t going to help her. Nevertheless, she finds me and we all get our tickets and head inside.

6:45 p.m.  –  We walk past a ton of vendors/bars/restaurants as we make our way to our seats. Everything smells amazing. I take in the sights as this is my first-ever Nationals game. We definitely got the perfect weather for a baseball night game – 69 degrees and a calm, 8 mph wind.  Great crowd too – 26,256 in attendance.

7:00 p.m.  – Seats are great! Down the right field foul line in the outfield – and very close to the action! We’re in PRIME foul ball territory!

7:20 p.m.  – Not much action the first two innings, but after the end of inning 2, they did the “Kiss Cam” segment on the big screen. At the end, they show a Mets fan sitting by himself holding a “Mr. Met” doll. Once he realizes he is up on the screen, he tries to shield himself from the camera’s view. It was pretty hysterical.

7:30 p.m.  – Washington’s Danny Espinosa gets on in the 3rd inning and then steals 2nd base. Associate AD Mike Riley is fired up! Later, the Nationals’ young prodigy Bryce Harper singles to left field and scores Espinosa from 2nd to break a scoreless tie. 1-0 Nationals at the end of three.

7:45 p.m.  –  Time for the crowd favorite Presidents’ Race around the warning track. Abe Lincoln dominates en-route to a decisive first-place finish. Well, apparently the other presidents just went the wrong way. Not sure what that says about our country’s political history – can’t be good though.

8:05 p.m.  – Stephen Lombardozzi nearly takes our heads off with a foul ball, but it soars about 7 or 8 rows above us.

8:20 p.m.  –  Ryan Zimmerman rips a single to center field which scores Jordan Zimmerman from second. Then the Mets wind up throwing the ball all over the place and an error results in Lombardozzi coming in to score as well. 3-0 Nats through five.

8:30 p.m.  –  Jordany Valdespin comes in to pinch hit and smacks a 380-ft. solo shot right past us and over the right field wall for the Mets in the top of the 6th. Then David Wright follows with a solo shot as well, this one to left-center. Whoa! Now the Mets are within a run, down 3-2. Coach Alton McKenzie and my friend Anne (the only Mets fans in our group) are pumped!

9:30 p.m.  – After a series of Nationals pitching changes, the Mets still tag the Nats for two runs on a double by Andres Torres in the top of the 8th inning, and New York goes up 4-3.

9:50 p.m.  – Washington’s Ian Desmond singles to right and scores Ryan Zimmerman. All tied up at 4-apiece at the end of the 8th inning. My friends and I decide it’s time to go – so unfortunately we missed a dramatic ending.

Twice the Mets took one-run leads in extra innings (5-4 in the 10th and 6-5 in the 12th), but both times the Nationals came back. Then, in the bottom of the 12th, Bryce Harper’s single to left field plated Jesus Flores for the game-winning run. Nationals 7, Mets 6.

According to the Nationals, Harper (19-years old) is the first teenager to have a game-ending hit since Gary Sheffield did it for the Brewers on September 9th, 1988.

I had a tremendous time, and I hope to make it out to Nationals Park many more times this season.

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