In late July, I was working a retail job that made it hard for me to get to games. I often surrendered to the fact that I would usually get in my car in time to begin listening to the game on the radio, then finish up watching on TV. I hate the idea of going to a game late, so I would simply go with what at the time seemed like the best option.
On July 31st, however, I was getting off work a little early and the Nationals were giving out a treasured bobblehead. It was a Nyjer Morgan Bobblehead, but this was before Morgan drew the ire of baseball and Nationals fans alike. I had decided I’d bring my gear to work, and change into it on the way out and head directly to the game. Naturally, I had to grab the Ryan Zimmerman home jersey and rock that to the ballpark. I was excited at the prospect of getting my first bobblehead from a Nats game. I figured my presence was important due to the fact that the vile Phillies were in town as well.
I made the long drive to Nationals Park, and as I was finding a parking space I began to realize I’d be dealing with an enemy invasion. I went to a place I normally parked only to find Phillies fans had taken over the parking lots and left no room for this Nationals fan. I quickly located another parking lot and pulled up to the lot, but found out I was short $5 to pay for the parking, as it was slightly more than I anticipated. I pleaded with the attendant to let me park then I’d go and get some extra cash, but he responded “you know what? You are a Nats fan at least, just give me what you got.” This gesture was the kind of solidarity local fans would get in the wake of an invasion by the most infamous fans in all of sports.
I made my way to the game and I was forced to get standing room only seating. I accepted this fate hoping I’d still get a bobblehead. As I walked in, I found the supply of the treasured game time handout was diminished, I was too late. I reserved myself to enjoy the game and hope we’d crush the Phillies and their god forsaken mutant spawn they called fans. The game started out well enough with the Nationals jumping out to a big lead against Joe Blanton, scoring 3 early runs. Ross Detwiler held up well, but as the game went on he started to get hit. A friend of mine shot me a text message and informed me he was at the game, so I was glad to find this friend as the game went on. I later found out that he was dating a Phillies fan and that was what brought him to the game. Dismayed by this fact I felt too annoyed to hang out with the couple as the Phillies picked away at the Nationals, scoring runs off of Joel Peralta and Tyler Clippard to tie the game up. I left my friend to find another place to view the game and sulk in my frustration of the situation. I could have sworn to you I was the only Nats fan at the game the whole time.
With the game still tied, I found a spot on the first base side where I could easily see the game. It was the top of the 9th at this point and Sean Burnett was in. The score was 4-4, but he’d let Jayson Werth (a vile Phillie at the time) on the bases with a walk. 2 groundouts got Werth from first, to second, to third. The all mighty Jim Riggleman put in Drew Storen, the Nationals closer to get the home team up with a tie game. This was the right move by Riggs, but it didn’t play out. Drew would give up a blooper that scored Werth and gave the Phillies the lead 5-4. My head hit the metal eating stand I was at.
It was at this time I noticed the security guard near me. I jokingly asked him if he was a Phillies fan too. He said there was no way in hell and seeing all these fans bugged the hell out of him. We chatted back and forth for a while, when I said to him. “ya know, we’re gonna win this one.” The security guard asked, “how do you know that exactly?” I simply pulled the portion of my Jersey over that had the number 11 and said “because we’re gonna get this man up in this frame.”
The bottom of the 9th started and I applauded Brad Lidge’s appearance seeing as how he was Mr. Blown Save. Michael Morse got the show started with a single. Morgan went for the bunt single, but failed, still getting Morse to 2nd in the process, win some lose some I suppose. Adam Kennedy then drew a walk to put men on 1st and 2nd. A Phillies fan then walked up to me and attempted to chat. “I can’t stand Lidge” he said to me. I responded to him, “if he screws it up for you guys, I’ll like him just fine.” The security guard laughed and the fan left me alone. I was especially annoyed because he was carrying 2 Nyjer Morgan bobbleheads. Jerk. Anyway, with 2 men on and Ryan Zimmerman at the plate, Lidge left one over the plate for a strike and a 1-1 count. Riggleman would later say, “I hoped Lidge would throw that one again, I figured he (Zim) wouldn’t miss it twice.” Lidge obliged the cosmos, threw the exact same pitch and Ryan Zimmerman greeted it with a blast to deep center field and landed neatly on the centerfield batter’s eye. Walk off win, Nationals 7 Phillies 5.
I could have never imagined the joy I got from all the angry Phillies fans dropping curse words as they left. I high fived the security guard and the fan who attempted to chat with me looked at me like I punched his mother. Watching the replay was a joy, seeing the smug look on Ryan Zimmerman’s face as he began to trot around the bases. It was great. It was almost a storybook event with an ending I honestly thought I was imagining.