On April 17, 2010 the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals played a 20 inning, six hours and 53 minutes marathon. The game was FOX’s MLB Game of the Week and pretty much wiped out their entire schedule for the rest of the day. It was the longest scoreless game since 1989 and a memorable game early in the 2010 season.
The game I attended was the following day between the Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers and it didn’t quite fit into the annals of history like that game. It was the game where newly signed top starter Jason Marquis allowed seven earned runs without recording an out. The Nationals, of course, lost 11-7.
If I remember correctly I got free tickets through one of my parent’s coworkers for the Sunday afternoon game. They were two tickets in section 215 or thereabouts, in the upper deck, right behind home plate. After some asking around at school I was able to convince my friend, Luke, to come along with me. Sure the Nationals at that time weren’t any good, but it was an excuse to hang out outside of school.
The day began with me running late, as usual. That meant that we had no time to eat the Chipotle Luke had picked up for lunch until after we arrived in DC. Since we weren’t sure if they would allow us to bring burritos into the stadium and the first pitch was thrown as we were parking, we decided to walk and eat. Aaron Sorkin would’ve been brought to tears at the sight. This was also the day I learned that parking lot W outside of Nationals Park is exactly one Chipotle burrito away from the stadium. Useful knowledge, that.
As we got to our seats the shellacking had already begun and we were just in time to see Marquis get the hook as the boos rained down from all corners. The Nationals ended up giving up ten runs in that first inning, but after that the game was actually pretty great. The Nats bats cobbled together seven runs to get within spitting distance of a comeback and the fans who stuck around were enthusiastic and energetic despite the circumstances. That tends to happen in those early April games when the full weight of a lousy season hasn’t dwelled on a fan base yet.
The highlight of the game for me wasn’t on the field though; it was a couple of seats over from us. For some reason that day the Nationals gameday entertainment crew really liked playing “Charge” which in and of itself isn’t incredibly entertaining. However, a person a few seats down from us was really into it and would always yell “charge!” at the top of his lungs. The best part was that he insisted on attempting to make charge into a monosyllabic word, which led to a hilariously rushed version of the yell. Every time they played that song he would yell “charge!” as if attempting to startle an unseen adversary. This still ranks as one of the most unintentionally funny events I have ever been witness to.
In a few months later I got to watch Stephen Strasburg’s debut in person with my dad, I went to prom and I graduated from high school. But before then, at this random baseball game in April, everything seemed a bit slower and relaxed. I had already been accepted to college, my future was ready and waiting and I had that time to really enjoy myself. I would never trade those later moments for anything, but to me baseball is meant to be that slow day where you sit back with a friend and take in all the sights and sounds that surround you. The proverbial stop and smell the roses moment. And to me, no game epitomizes that more than what we officially dubbed the “charge!” game.