Sittingstill spent 32 hours in Washington, and she is in love.
She is in love with Mark Bellhorn,
but that's nothing new. But she is also in love with Cla Meredith,
gazing all around him as he acclimates to the big leagues, and with the pint-size Masters Castilla, Williams and Cameron,
as they patrol the outfield with no self-consciousness at all. She is in love with Washington's Metro, with its big spooky stations, its lighted signs announcing the minutes to the next several trains; she delighted to step off the train at Stadium/Armory, wonder which way the stadium was, and immediately see the gigantic yellow and black sign at one end of the platform proclaiming STADIUM THIS WAY. And she is in love with the Segway she rode...
Okay, enough third person! I've written about my Segway tour here, so I'll continue from there. I raced back to my hotel (at Pentagon City, the name of which put the Cars' "Heartbeat City" in my head every time I saw it) to change for the game, running into more than a couple of Padres fans along the way. The trip to the stadium on the Blue line was a piece of cake. RFK doesn't open the gates until an hour and a half before game time, but that worked okay for me--Padres had probably just come out when I got in. Bellhorn was in the far reaches of center field, so I went down to right field to see if I could catch Cla Meredith. Not many fans down there. I put my bag down, grabbed my camera bag, heard... well, not even words, but the general vocalizations that mean LOOK OUT! Looked up--huh? Fraction of a second of really ominous silence and then WHACK! a BP ball crashed off the very top of the low wall right in front of me. Which of course is when I realize that pretty much every player in right field had been watching the ball and wondering if I was going to get killed by it. The ball bounced back onto the field, and a Nationals coach threw it to me, laughing. I was mortified. Really, it could have been headed right for my temple and I wouldn't have known. (And please don't ask me if I actually caught it or had to scramble for it when the coach tossed it...)
Duly chastened by my near-death experience, I kept an eye on the infield while I snapped pictures. Meredith came by the wall at one point--he's from Virginia and I think had a lot of family, friends, former coaches etc. around--and agreed to sign my PawSox jersey after throwing. (When he did sign, he checked the number--I thought he was thinking I was giving him someone else's jersey, but I think he just wanted to be sure he wrote the right number himself! He also called me "ma'am." Nice Southern boy...)
Had a good seat for the game, a few rows behind the Nationals dugout by third base (and Mark played third!). Had a few Nats fans around me pointedly mocking him, which made his HR just that much more satisfying.
By the time I got back to the hotel after the game, I was pretty wiped out. Not much food in the area, and it was after 11, so I caved and ordered room service before collapsing.
Sunday morning I had to resort to Starbucks for iced coffee before checking out of the hotel. This was the same hotel the Padres were in, and I had my lone encounter--I got to ride down in the elevator with Eric Young...'s luggage! ^_^ I was amused. The bellman confirmed that, yes, the team had a lot of luggage heading out that day!
Off to the park, where there was no BP, but Dave Roberts and Trevor Hoffman were interviewed for something (I heard the word "sacrifice" a lot...)
[No point in dressing all the way if you'll only be filmed from the waist up!]
and a few of the pitchers did some long toss and throwing. Got to eavesdrop on the parade of folks coming up to talk to Cla again. Sat behind the Nats dugout, this time a little farther out. Very exciting game--it looked lost for a bit, but sometimes you need to use all 27 outs. I was sitting next to a father and son, with the boy being perhaps 7. When the Padres pinch-hit Piazza in the ninth, the boy asked his dad, "Isn't Piazza really old?" A moment later, in a voice of shock only a 7-year-old could manage: "He's thirty-eight!!" You might be aware that sittingstill herself is thirty-eight. I couldn't keep my mouth shut--I leaned over and said "Thirty-eight is not old!!" And then Mr. Piazza (who is in fact only 37) made his own definitive statement that, indeed, he was not old, by cranking one into the upper deck. ^_^
RFK Stadium was interesting. I'll admit that I appreciated the fact that it didn’t look like anywhere else, even if you did get the odd sensation of sitting in a giant Tupperware bowl. The floor under your feet flexes in a way that Fenway's concrete certainly doesn't, and it gets pretty raucous when the fans get stomping, even with an attendance of 20,000 or so. The bullpen looked like a place where you would actually pen cattle--chain link fence, some big fans, folding chairs and dirt, and that's about it. The concourses kind of reminded me of the Orioles spring training park in Ft. Lauderdale, which is not a compliment. The only nonstandard beer I could find was Red Hook ESB and IPA, and Pilsner Urquell, each at one stand only. And while I guess the mascot is supposed to evoke the low-budget minor league teams, Screech is really pretty darn shabby.
Another interesting note: the Nats have stolen "Sweet Caroline," complete with cutting the PA at the same moments for the crowd to sing! Saturday I think they played it between innings--Sunday they actually played it during a Padres pitching change... as they brought in former Sox player Meredith! Strange...
After the game, it was a snap to get back to the hotel (just two stops from the airport) and on to the shuttle. Phew! Now, there's the small matter of a staggering number of photos to edit...