Lights Out at Nats Park

You look forward to it all week.  A Friday night under the lights at the ballpark.  Just kick back and unwind.  No agendas.  You don’t have to be your best.  You just have to be there and take it in, like a great summer movie.  The perfect end to the work week grind.  In my case I had been looking forward to the Nats/Dodgers game all week.  The first game after the all-star break.  The start of the second half of the season.  The serious fan starts to pay attention because the serious teams, the contending teams, start to make their moves.  Oh, and did I say the Nats were playing the Dodgers?  The LA Dodgers?  The glamour, flagship major league baseball team from Southern California and Chavez Ravine where the palm trees beyond the outfield beckon the dreamers.  The Dodgers and Vin Scully were meant for Friday nights.  Perfect.  And it doesn’t hurt when your wife gets free Diamond club seats from work, that means access to the air conditioned lounge and all the free eats and Cokes you can handle.  You’re one meal away from going on Statins anyway so you might as well as enjoy the hot dogs, sauerkraut, and sausages.  You’re at Nats Park and it’s Friday night and the living is easy….until, the lights go out above the third base side.  Washington does a lot of things well; it’s a beautiful city and a great place to grown up, the fan experience at Nats Park is first rate, but one thing Washington doesn’t do well is the basics (haven’t we heard that before?) The lights stayed out, and the teams waited in the dugout.  I even had a great view of Bryce Harper in the Nats dugout…waiting, doing his thing, like the rest of us for the lights to power back up.  It’s Friday night and you’re tired, your wife’s tired, and your 9 year old who loves baseball and wants to stay, is tired (and in youthful denial) after a long week of sports camp  After 45 minutes the lights powered back on and the players slowly trickled back on the field, and the umpires appeared, and play eventually resumed…briefly, until the same lights went out, again (they would do this three times before the night was over).  And when they once again resumed playing the Cardinals/Mets game from Busch Stadium on the center field scoreboard, I knew it was finally time to go.  One thing the Cardinals do well is they get the basics.  This was a reminder. Their red-clad fans are in their seats from the first pitch on, not many empty seats in their house, and those sensible Mid-westerners know baseball, unlike us Washingtonians who really are quite newbies to baseball.  The game is almost a distraction to our cell phones, Presidents’ races, girls throwing t-shirts into the crowd, and that ubiquitous Nats pep-guy rep who shows up on the scoreboard from time-to-time during the game live at various venues around Nats Park, like we’re at a rock concert.  Nah…Washington’s not there yet when it comes to being a solid baseball town. When you hear the old grizzled fan next to you naming the third base coach who had just made the call to send the runner home from second after a single to center, the fans are in their seats ready at the first pitch, and the lights stay on, then you’ll know Washington baseball has arrived!

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