Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hold The Schmalz

We came not to praise it. Nor bury it. But mostly to soak up the sun for one last time, eating overpriced concessions (while hopefully avoiding e. coli), and to see some of our friends one last time before the weather turns.

I'm one of those transplants, one of those people who don't actually live here so much as occupy some of its space. I wasn't one of those who had my childhood ripped away from me by a racist, then a cheap businessman. I'm just a schmuck who lived here, ventured up occasionally to Baltimore a few times a year to root for whoever was playing the O's, then was relieved to finally have a team closer. Sure, I've adopted them as my own, so much so that when the Nats played my previous team (rumored to be the Yankees), I didn't think twice about cheering for the guys in red and gold.

All that's a long way of saying that, to me, losing RFK doesn't mean a thing. It wasn't something to celebrate, to weep for or to really care one way or another. It was a giant concrete dome with crappy services, dank hallways and corridors that made you want to continuously look over your shoulder to see who was stalking you from behind.

Oh, today's game had some melancholy, but it wasn't for the dump. It was for the team on the field, the team I'm seeing for the last time this season, the team that's somehow surpassing expectations even though 1) they're not good, and 2) they've got about the same record I thought they would. No, that doesn't really make sense, but that's the way it is.

I can't say there's a really likable player on the team. Zimmerman's obviously the 'star', but he's had a so-so season, and every time I've seen him interviewed, it's obvious that he's been to the Nick Johnson school of personality. Some like Dmitri, and he's a fun personality, but I've got my reasons for not wanting to root for the guy. Kearns? Meh. Lopez? pass. It's just a bunch of low-level jerks, mediocrities or paste-eaters.

Yet, the whole is greater than the sum of their parts. They're a likable lot, even as the individuals stink. They play hard and look like they're giving effort, and that's what we've all fallen for.

I usually mock the idiots behind third base for applauding anytime any pitcher manages to walk off the mound without tripping. But today those applause felt right.

Days like today, when the barn is packed, and when the cows are mooing, it's a good time. The claps, chants, cheers, boos, they all add to the total ballpark experience, something that's really been lacking since about mid-July '05. It's something I've missed.

It'll come more with winning. And it'll come with crowds that are consistently larger, as the new stadium should provide, at least for the first year. But it'll depend on what the bums on the field are doing.

If they're giving us a performance like today, we'll be plenty loud.

But I'm not weeping for the stadium. I'm not weeping for the ballplayers of my youth, parading on the field where they once lost so many games. I was smiling with my friends (when not drinking their mojitos), clapping with the hits, and keeping score for the first time since Jason Simontacchi's outing against the Tigers broke my will to live. So no tears. But just a sadness that that's the last time I'll see these guys for six months.

At least we have six games left. Enjoy them and appreciate them while you can.


  • Good post Chris. I agree with you about Zimmerman. When Sutton was talking him during the post game facilities he looked as though he could hardly wait to get out of there. I mean dude-show some freakin' personality instead of mumbling and shuffling your feet all the time. It just doesn't seem like he cares much for the fans, which is too bad. You're going to be here for awhile Zimm, so get used to it.

    I dunno, too harsh?

    That being said, i enjoyed Manny's speech, but what was up with the Presidents Race today? The whole set up was awkward and it really let some air out of the stadium.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/23/2007 11:39 PM  

  • What happened during the middle of the 4th cannot go unnoticed. It was one of the more emotionally gripping moments I've had at a sporting event.

    My lady and I went in large part today because -- since we went on Paint It Red! night a year and a half ago and saw the first President's race -- we've been following with distant bemusement the trials and tribulations of Teddy. We, like many others apparently, saw today as the final sendoff. Everyone knew what was coming and we wanted to see it happen.

    Indeed, before the race even started Teddy chants had began. Clearly, we were going to see him tear off from the new stadium, burst in, and win the race, right? What reason would be there for any other result. Instead, the announcer acts as if the crowd is going to chuckle at Teddy's silliness and sit back down. I don't know that I've ever heard more heartfelt booing. Maybe they had been doing it all game, but shortly thereafter I saw several players return signed balls to teh crowd. It wouldn't surprise if they felt bad to be associated with it.

    I was kind of stunned. I really couldn't fathom the idea that Teddy not only had not won, but wasn't even there. It's a difficult move to suck the air out of your own stadium in its final game, but now we know it can be done.

    I really hope this doesn't fly under the radar. Thought it was unbelievable.

    By Blogger RPS, at 9/23/2007 11:40 PM  

  • How about Nook Logan's comment after the game about RFK (from the final game story in the Post): "This place sucks," said center fielder Nook Logan, as he walked through the dank tunnel to the team's clubhouse before the game. "No one -- the fans, the players -- wants to come to this place. It's old."

    "This place sucks?" Ironic statement coming from someone with as much suckitude as Nook Logan. Please do all us fans a favor and play for someone else next year Nook. Please.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/23/2007 11:59 PM  

  • My feeling is this team plays on emotion. When things are going right, and they feel good, they seem to get wins. When you hate your own home stadium, things aren't good. It must suck to go to new parks, see the facilities and wish you had better. It's a double edged sword. Home sucks, away reminds you how much home sucks. I am excited about next year, but I am sure the players that stick around, or don't get dumped (read as N.Logan)are elated.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 12:14 AM  

  • I too was disappointed at the responses of some of the younger Nats players who had some negative comments about RFK. Even with its bad food and some terrible games, it was still home to me. I 'm glad it was still around so that a team could be brought back to the area and continue our baseball history which was stolen from us 33 years ago. Obviously,the younger players did not form a bond with the old Senator's history and just considered RFK as a temporary "place" to play until "their" stadium is ready. When the Senator left in 1971, RFK did not have a closing because the area was waiting for baseball's return. Now that baseball has returned, the official closing of RFK is completed and we can continue our baseball history.What a shame that tradition is waisted on the youth!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 8:14 AM  

  • Wait, Teddy didn't even show up? What a joke.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 8:33 AM  

  • Exhibit #203 in the case that Nook Logan lacks the proper degree of self-awareness. Yes Nook, RFK's amenities leave a lot to be desired. OTOH how do they compare to Columbus' park? Hopefully, Nook will be given an opportunity to reflect on that distinction next year.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 8:47 AM  

  • Man, you guys are harsh! Zimmerman has no personality and mumbles... and Nook has a simple opinion (which most people concur with) and he is raked over the coals for it.

    Anyway, I too was wondering what was up with the presidents race. That was weird.

    I did love the SHORT STILL STINKS banners. I was at the last Senators game many moons ago, and distinctly remember that banner, along with the Short effigy.

    It was good (for me anyway) to see Hondo again.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 9:01 AM  

  • I have to disagree with your premise that there are no individuals on the team with personalities worth rooting for. The bullpen seems to have a number of obviously good guys, starting with The Chief and Rauch. Zimmerman, Kearns and Schneider seem like pretty good guys without effusive personalities. Hardly worth shooting them over. In fact, I thought Zimmerman was okay during the post-game festivities, and he made a point of saying that he hopes he is here for a long time. Bascik seems to have the personality if not the fastball. He co-hosted Phil Wood's radio show Saturday and was pretty good.

    I also think Logan seems like a good guy, and I can hardly blame him for saying RFK sucks; I basically said the same thing (usinf "stinks" instead) when my six-year-old daughter teared up and said she would miss RFK. Remember, this was the guy who dragged himself around to all the Nats caravan preseason events.

    One (maybe the only thing) that MASN has done well is "miked up Wednesday." That gives you a little insight into the players. And, sure, they are picking the good stuff to play on the air, but this seems like a pretty good bunch of guys. I just wish they could get more guys in from third with less than two outs.

    By Blogger John O'Connor, at 9/24/2007 9:19 AM  

  • In what was a poorly stage managed race, Teddy was on the main video screen, shown entering the new ballpark as his colleagues raced at RFK. He raced on his own after inviting everyone to join him.

    The problem with that approach is that nobody was looking at the video screen. Everyone was looking at the race! Therefore, we all thought Teddy just wasn't there.

    Poorly managed, to split the focus like that. It just points to the fact that they really need to get some professionals in there to manage the in-game entertainment. Do it right, or don't do it at all.

    On Zimmerman: He's likely still uncomfortable in front of crowds and cameras. I'd cut him some slack. Not all players have that kind of comfort level.Or personality. It's not something you blame someone for. It just is.

    By Blogger Jim H, at 9/24/2007 10:01 AM  

  • wow, Who are you and what did you do to Chris?

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9/24/2007 10:01 AM  

  • I'll just say that the Teddy thing clearly went over different for different people. What happened was, the race started, and the Nationals players poured out of the bullpen and piled on Abe, George, and Thomas to stop them so Teddy could win. But after you minute, you realized Teddy wasn't there. Where was he? Everyone was looking for Teddy. Then he came up on the video running around the new stadium.

    I thought it was great, as did my kid. I'm not arguing with folks who found it disappointing, and I too was thinking how many seats can't see the video so that's a problem. But just wanted to point that not everyone reacted the same way.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 9/24/2007 10:15 AM  

  • I remember the last game at Cole Field House. Sad to leave, and looking forward to the new palace at the same time.

    But a problem with Comcast: Big money took over. All the tricks I knew to get good seats at Cole no longer worked at Comcast. We have lousy seats at triple the price (what the Terps call "donations" needed to keep your seats). It is not as good as Cole, all things considered.

    So I'm wondering about the new ballpark. Just another excuse to get more money from fans for poorer seats, or a real improvement for fans?

    The food will be better anyway. And the game experience will likely improve, especially as the players are upgraded. So I'm thinking positively so far.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 10:17 AM  

  • Zimmerman does seem to lack in the personality department. Then again, maybe he'll just grow into that a little bit down the road. What does he really have to say nowadays? "My bosses have a plan for the future, and I can't wait to get into that new ballpark"? Not exactly riveting material.

    It seemed like teh Nook was developing into a personality guy around the time of the caravan thing, but that hasn't really happened.

    Dmitri wins the crown by default, I suppose, since his contributions to the Wireless Wednesday gigs seem to indicate he's aware of a world outside of the baseball industry. I'll take that stuff over Schneider/Snyder quizzing a rookie on what count it is without resorting to looking at the scoreboard.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 10:57 AM  

  • As someone who grew up watching the Senators (briefly, it turned out), it was nice to see Frank Howard (God, he's a big guy!) and Dick Bosman yesterday.

    That said, it's time to close the book on the Sens and RFK. It's hard to think of tradition when that experience has a 30+ year gap in it. Very few people can relate to it, much less care about it.

    The Nats need to write their own story. Nook speaks for us all. Onto the new ballpark!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 12:05 PM  

  • Totally OT: Might want to go through that Blogroll. Probably a third of those Nats blogs are dormant or gone altogether.

    Love this blog, though.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 12:08 PM  

  • The place is a pit. Tip of the hat because it got us a team, but good riddance.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 12:11 PM  

  • RFK was great for the Redskins, and the big Rock Concerts.

    Who were the Senators anyway?

    Seeing the BudLight sign shake during "Can't Buy Me Love" in '89 for McCartney - and being on those the stands as they bounced during football games. Those were my moments for the place.

    We said good-bye a long time ago.

    The only think I'll miss is the backdoor parking lot - no better experience than getting up to highway speed inside of 10 minutes from leaving the stadium. But, I'll be there on Saturday for DC United - so let's get on with it already.

    By Blogger Ray Firsching, at 9/24/2007 3:46 PM  

  • If you want to know the real Ryan Z. Come to the UVA Baseball "Step Up To The Plate" in Charlottesville, VA. and meet him in person.
    For the past 2 years, I have attended the event, Brooks Robinson and Ryan Sanberg were the guest speakerst.
    Ryan Z signs every autograph for anyone at the dinner. 2 years in ar ow.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/24/2007 10:42 PM  

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