Monday, March 19, 2012

Opening Day: A Retrospect

This is my 5th year in a row attending opening day for the Washington Nationals. I got my Opening Day fetish from my friend Chris, we attended Opening Day for the Capitals in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the good old days before demand rose and prices rose as a result. I've attended  opening days for other sports, but it doesn't feel the same as baseball

2008

Hands down my favorite Opening Day. My 10 favorite games has this game in the top 5 of games I attended. Since this was a Stadium Opener, "fans" bought tickets in advance and were reselling them with an enormous markup, so me and Jesse got to the park real early to make sure we got our 5 dollar tickets. Randomly while waiting in line, I met up with my old friend Jay and his friend. We let them cut, cause it was questionable whether there were enough 5 dollar tickets for their place in line. We tried to get another ticket for our friend Raquel, but weren't able to cause the ticket office was strict about ticket sales and required all available parties to be present, some random person in line circumvented this rule by claiming his wife was parking the car.

I remember read online that a condition of the ticket was that you had to enter immediately, to prevent scalping. No one was enforcing it, so we went to the Ugly Mug to drink and watch NCAA tournament games. If they were, I would have faked having diabetes and needing to go back to College Park to get my insulin pump. When done,still 2 hours before gametime, we went back to the park, Jay and his friend went inside, Jesse and I waited for Raquel. She came anyway, even thought we couldn't get her a ticket. We tried to scalp but had no luck, but somehow Raquel bought a ticket from a random person she struck up a conversation with on the metro at face value. All of us sat together in the 5 dollar section all the way up on the 3rd base side and were ecstatic with the Zimmerman walk-off.

Going into the season, I had the Nats as a .500 team. We overachieved last year with 73 wins, and I expected a healthy John Patterson and Christian Guzman and a young Lastings Milledge in CF to make a run at 500. No! I was very wrong. 59 wins and 102 losses.

2009

This was a loss against the Phillies, and I don't remember it being that bad. Might have been because I started drinking at 10 in the morning. I was able to buy reasonably priced tickets from the box office a week before the game. I got 4 tickets to the game, but the fourth backed out at the day before the game. Ended up putting the ticket on Craigslist and the first person who got back to me was a Phillies fan, so I sold it to him. In this day and age, knowing that I have a lot of twitter followers that follow the Nationals, I would have made some sort of an announcement on there, but I digress... Steve, the Phillies fan, was a lawyer, and not an ass.. Anyways, me and [name redacted] got to RFDs as soon as it opened, we mainly stuck to beer but there was a J├Ąger shot at the end, and we had a solid 2 hours of pregaming. We got there before first pitch but we weren't able to get the free giveaway. I didn't feel too drunk but [name redacted] must have cause he started chanting "10,000 losses" at Phillies fans and told a man and his young son that the "Phillies lead the league in taking the most dick up their ass."

The game wasn't too bad , sucked that the Nationals lost but they were in the midst of a 7 game losing streak. Surprisingly Daniel (Wild Pitch) Cabrera pitched decently but the team was undone by what was a reoccurring theme from 2008-2009 seasons, errors and bad bullpen performances.I thought since Brad Lidge went 48-48 in save opportunities the year before, he was bound to blow one in exciting fashion soon and with the heart of the order coming up, today would be the day.I was not right.

The Phillies fans around us weren't too bad, but I do remember telling a pair to kill themselves. Ryan Zimmerman hit a 2 run homer to cut the lead to 1. Of course I was happy, I clapped, I yelled my support, didn't do anything obnoxious but they said something snarky. I don't appreciate opposing fans telling me what I can and can't do in my home park during a close game so I told them to kill themselves. If you're out there and are somehow reading this, I don't apologize and I hope you will take my suggestion and kill yourselves.

I don't remember what my prediction was for the Nats that year. I remember most of Manny Acta's assistant coaches were let go, so I knew he was pretty much a dead man walking. I think I just wanted not to be the worst in the league again. Didn't get what I wanted, 59 wins, 103 losses.

2010
 
This was bad. So many Phillies fans. This was like the Washington Phillies were playing the Philadelphia Nationals. The infamous Bus Trip Game . Individual tickets sold out in 7 minutes, because Philly fans got the jump on us and organized bus trips to see their team play on opening day and group tickets were available before individuals. I was very close to going down real early to make sure I had a 5 dollar ticket, but my friend Sherri had an extra and sold it to me at cost. We were blown out 11-1. It was nice getting an RBI double from reining Silver Slugger and Gold Glover Ryan Zimmerman in the 1st, and staring some Phillies fans down, but it quickly went downhill from there.

The few bright spots of the game was me getting an Abraham Lincoln bobble-head from one of my twitter followers and me eating 5 feet of hot dog. One of the new few items at the park were NL East themed foot-long hot dogs. Philly was with peppers and onions, Atlanta was with cole slaw, Miami was a cod dog, New York was with mustard and sauerkraut and D.C. was with chili and onions. My plan was to try all of those hot dogs, and this would lead the Nats to victory that day. Did not work but I still had fun. I hate fish, so I had 2 D.C. dogs. My favorite was the Philly dog. The NY dog finished 2nd and the D.C. dog finished a very close 3rd.

2011

I used the presale to make sure I got my tickets early. I went with my friend Matt. Once again, I started the drinking way early. Had an innocuously looking coke bottle on the metro with a very strong Rum and coke in it. Had a nice time drinking and hanging out with Nats fans from twitter before the game. The weather was horrible. I'm convinced that home openers against the Phillies are always sunny for some reason...


Game was exciting but another loss . I love watching Livan "Not so Fast My Friend" Hernandez pitch. I don't care if he probably is older than documents say he is, but who doesn't love a guy who uses a 61 MPH pitch effectively. There weren't many exciting moments in game. No new food items that I tried or any ornery fans that I wished death upon. After the game, did some more drinking at Rocket Bar and used my free happy hour at Sign of the Whale. I felt weird going into a Philly bar with a Nationals shirt on, but drinks were free for me. Afterwards my friend and I went to some random bar to meet some girl, I was wasted by then.

I had the Nationals pegged as a 70 something win team. There was a potential of a Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg sighting at the end of the season, the team looked like they were on the path to improvement and it looked like the brain trust was willing to spend big money to get free agents. We actually did better and finished with 80 wins and 81 losses.

2012

I ordered a mini plan. I pay for 4 tickets and got a voucher for a 5th game. I'm planning to use that on the day Bryce Harper makes it to the big leagues. Tickets arrived a couple days ago. I'm hoping to see another opening day win. As for win prediction, I'm going with 85 games. We will be in contention for the wild card. I will try real hard to not tell opposing fans to kill themselves. Don't know what will be in my belly for this game. There is an 8 pound Strasburger that I want to try, but I might save that for Stephen Strasburg Bobblehead Night.

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