Shortly after waking up last Sunday, I got a call from a friend. The Nats were playing the Dodgers at 1:35 p.m. Did I still want to go?
On a typical Sunday afternoon I’m usually debating whether or not I can put off Leo’s brunch and the start of my day for another half hour—forget about getting half way across the city.
But I gave up on yet another lazy Sunday and decided to make the trek to Nationals Park for one simple reason. It wasn’t that I was expecting to watch a classic. No, it’s that the value proposition was too great—how can anyone pass up a major league game on a sunny spring afternoon for just five bucks?
Coming to D.C. as a Yankees fan, I certainly couldn’t miss that opportunity. I could watch pretty much every Nats game this season for the same price as a single game in the Bronx (and probably with a better view—you can find some great seats in the “grandstand” when the stadium is at less than half of capacity). Of course, you get what you pay for. For much of my recent memory “major league” baseball was a charitable description of what the Nationals played. After having the worst record in the MLB two years in a row, the team should be thankful that someone is paying $5 to sneak down to the lower level seats.
Suffice it to say, I wasn’t expecting too much from the Nats on Sunday. And when I got to the stadium and found that grandstand tickets were sold out, forcing me to pay an exorbitant ten dollars to get in to the game, I was really disappointed—I missed out on the one thing I came for.
But something miraculous—on par with long-necked giraffes, or maybe even magnets—happened next. The Nationals played a good baseball game. They even won. Someone named Scott Olsen out-dueled the Dodgers’ Chad Billingsley over seven shutout innings, and the home team eked out a 1-0 victory.
I’m not ready to call the Nationals for real just yet. After the last two seasons, any reasonable fan would have to wait until, say, October, before giving this team real credit. Still, after losing ten of their first eleven games to start last season, I’m now willing to admit that The Nationals—who are still hanging around .500 almost a month into the season—are an actual major league team.
And there’s reason to believe that the best is yet to come from this squad. Star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman has been held back by a hamstring injury for a number of games, and their number one overall draft pick/messiah Stephen Strasburg has so far lived up to the hype in the minor leagues and will likely be pitching in the bigs sooner rather than later.
Sunday was my inaugural trip to Nationals Park, and now I know it certainly won’t be my last. Going to a baseball game is always fun, but nine innings requires a serious time investment, one that’s a lot more worthwhile when there is a quality game being played on the field. There’s still reason to question how good this squad will be this season, but there’s still hope—and besides, after years of futility Washington baseball fans will take what they can get.
I’m not ready to get carried away just yet, though—next time, I’m making sure I get a five dollar ticket.
Want to help Tim sneak down to the good seats? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org