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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Nats rally hopes washed out in 6th as game called due to rain. Phillies 7, Nats 5

I was looking forward to returning to the ballpark tonight. You heard me correctly. Despite the losses, there's still magic for me in attending baseball games. It was Saturday night, I was meeting up with a friend, and it was "Jackie Robinson Day", with every player wearing Robinson's #42 and fans wearing #42 white and blue buttons.

The forecast had been for rain at various times of the day, and it had rained briefly after the 1:05 game and before 6:00. I was starting to think that team president Stan Kasten was working his meteorological mojo again, but his magic wore off around 9:20 in the top of the 6th inning as what seemed like a monsoon arrived and halted play for the night.

I found my buddy Myron over at The Bullpen across the street. There was live music there, but the rain was coming down, so the tent was completely packed, Despite that, there were plenty of people who looked as though they were having fun. Sadly, most of them looked like rowdy Phillies fans. I guess I can't blame them for being cocky - their team is the reigning World Series Champions, and they'd just beaten the Nats earlier in the day, and the previous night, but I cannot use the word "gracious" to describe them.

We entered the ballpark through the Centerfield Plaza and went to find people we knew. Our friend Neal, a beer vendor, wouldn't be there as he was working the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico racetrack in Maryland earlier. We found our friend Ellie, and spent some nice moments catching up with her (and drying off in the process) Ellie is a complete sweetheart and she always tells me the nicest things about the people she works with. She really loves her job, and whatever else anyone criticizes the Nationals organization for, they cannot convince me that the club isn't stocked with decent, kind, hard-working folks. For some time now, Ellie has labored without the benefit of knowing what was going on during the game unless she heard the crowd roar or something like that. Back at R.F.K. stadium, she had T.V's around her to keep track, but she hasn't had one at the new ballpark. That finally changed, and she has a nice flatscreen T.V. to keep up with what's going on. Very kind of the powers-that-be to provide that for her, she deserves it.

We ran into some other friends and chatted with them as well. I looked for our old buddy Howard, beer vendor extraoirdinaire, and eventually I saw him, but wasn't able to go and chat with him. He left when the rain hit.

The game itself was pretty good through five innings, with the Nationals trailing 7-5, they'd rallied to put a scare into the Phillies and their fans. In the top of the 6th inning, though, the Phillies looked as though they might break the game wide open, as they had the bases loaded and no outs when the rain storm arrived around 9:20. Myron and I hung around until about 10:15 when we decided to leave and I was going to drive him home. The game was called at 10:52, so we made the right decision to leave. One always worries that such decisions are premature and hasty. I'd have been mortified (though elated) if play had resumed and the Nationals continued to rally and win.

Starter Daniel Cabrera has had an awful spring. He's started eight games, and is 0-5. Manager Manny Acta believes that Cabrera is improving, but he's still had problems with his control (I think he still leads the National League in wild pitches so far this season, but perhaps not any longer).

I realize that I haven't been saying much (if anything) about the opposing players, and that is an oversight, but really, most of them I don't know enough about to comment on them intelligently, but I can say this: The Phillies Raul Ibañez is this season's Nats-killer. His teammate Ryan Howard is bad enough, with all of the homers that he hits against the Nats, but Ibañez is the Nats reigning nemesis.

Thanks to my friends and "summer family", even when the Nats lose, my Saturday nights can still be special.

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