I can't tell you what exactly I thought was going to happen when I shelled out over $200 for seats in the lower bowl and behind home plate for the second to last Nationals game of the 2006 season, but it should have been to expect the 13-0 drubbing the Mets laid on the Nationals. For some unknown reason I was hopeful. A new relationship will do that to you, and it will also make you spend way more money than you have a right to just so another person can share in something you enjoy. Don't ask me what I thought was going to be enjoyable about Beltran Perez vs. Tom Glavine. One was a future Hall of Famer and 300 game winner and the other was Beltran Perez, but this is where the Nationals were in 2006. They were a team without a farm system and I was too immature of a fan to realize it. Perez was a September call-up and that meant he represented the hope of the future. There is something poetic about a pitcher being a September call-up for the Washington Nationals in 2006 and then never playing another game. That was the basic state of the team.
None of that was important. It wasn't important that Soriano had the night off and George Lombard was starting in left field or that Ryan Zimmerman would be pulled after two at bats and replaced by Melvin Dorta. The game itself held no importance. It was who I was with that mattered, but any baseball fan knows that is a lie. No matter how much I wanted to not care and play it cool for that chick I couldn't. I sat in my seat and stewed with every run the Mets added except when 47 year old Julio Franco hit a home run. Then I cheered because who can't cheer Julio Franco. Little did I know this is where the Washington Nationals would be for the next several seasons. If I had I might not have ever made it.
The 2006 season gave us the summer of Soriano and the rise of Ryan Zimmerman, but the only reason to go to a Nats game from 2007 until Strasburg debuted in 2010 was to watch the star players on the other team, to appreciate baseball for the sake of baseball, because the Nats weren't going to give you a reason to go. On that day in 2006 my reason was sitting next to me. I had spent the most money I would ever spend on baseball tickets and Frank Robinson had given all the star players the night off. Even for the 2006 Washington Nationals no one is coming to the park to watch Brandon Harper or Bernie Castro. It made me angry because I wanted to show someone I was starting to care about something I cared about. Isn't that what we all want to do at the beginning of a relationship?
At this point I'd been dating that chick for just over a month. Not a long enough time for me to call it a relationship or to acknowledge her as my girlfriend. In fact when I mentioned my plans for my weekends and evenings to my friends I only referred to her as that chick. Looking back it was very clearly a defense mechanism. When you give someone a name you give them an identity and you admit that they mean something to you. Instead of saying I was going out with my girlfriend or the woman I was seeing I called her that chick. She was faceless, nameless, and most importantly powerless. Someone without an identity cannot break your heart.
Looking back it was silly, but how was I to know that that chick would become my wife and that we would attend many Nationals games together. That together we'd see Nyjer Morgan lose his cool in the outfield and forget to play the ball in, Ryan Zimmerman walk-offs against the Phillies, Padres, and Mets, or the Washington Nationals lose to the Phillies just after the Pirates beat the Braves in 2012 to clinch the NL East. The future is unknown to us. Life is not that simple and so after David Wright hit a three run homer off Francisco Rodriguez in the top of the eighth inning I turned to that chick, the woman who would become my wife, and asked if she wanted to go get ice cream.