Monday, September 25, 2006

True Grit

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Everybody needs a nemesis

Well, Mrs. Rocket and I finally made it to a game together during the 2006 season. We bought a pair of $5 rollback tickets in Section 506 for Saturday's game and piled in the car to make the drive into DC from the hinterlands of Prince William County. I had gone to two previous games this year -- Opening Day by myself and a game in July with my brother -- but Mrs. Rocket wanted to go to a game too, a request I was more than happy to accommodate.

When you go to only one game out of a 81 home game schedule, you stand a good chance of seeing a pretty unremarkable game. Lord knows we've all sat through boring, poorly played games featuring quadruple-A lineups and retread pitchers. While the Nats have certainly been throwing on the field a fair share of such players in the waning weeks of 2006, Saturday's game was pleasantly remarkable for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, it was a quite a joy to see Soriano finally reach the 40 homer, 40 stolen base mark. After Alfonso led off the bottom of the first with a single, it was plainly obvious to everyone in the park that he would be off toward second once the hitter worked a favorable count. Sure enough, he took off on a 2-0 pitch and slid into second without a throw.

As we all stood up to applaud, I reflexively looked toward the scoreboard fearing that it would be scored defensive indifference. However, there was nothing to worry about, since it was clear on the replay that the catcher stopped his throwing motion because he didn't have a good grip on the ball.

Although the Nationals' season has been rather anticlimatic, there was something special about being in the ballpark for a milestone that has been achieved only four times in history.

And I'm glad Mrs. Rocket witnessed it as well. She's shown an increased interest in the Nats this season. During most of season when the WDCA Friday night games were all most of us had on TV, there was many a Friday afternoon where she called me at work and asked me to remind her what channel the game was going to be on that evening. In addition, the TV has been tuned to MASN when I have gotten home from work the past few evenings. So I'm thankful she got to see an historic moment like Soriano's milestone.

Almost as significant as witnessing Soriano's 40th steal was the opportunity to FINALLY boo that rat bastard Paul Schrieber. If you need a refresher on the origins of my hatred of this sorry excuse for an umpire, click here, here and here. Needless to say, it wasn't exactly easy to explain to Mrs. Rocket why I consider a silly umpire my baseball nemesis, especially for a call that he made over a year ago.

If only I really could squash him like the little bug that he is.

And no one's surprise, including my own, I bellowed at him over a few strike calls from my lofty perch in Section 506. I wonder if that schmuck ever did get his peanuts.

So we saw Soriano get his 40-40, and I finally got to boo my nemesis. A pretty fulfilling experience for a game that attended because it was one of only ones that could fit in our busy schedule. Now if only I had had the presence of mind to put down my $8.75 plate of nachos to go after the t-shirt the NatPack shot into our section. I chose to protect my food and watch as the t-shirt bounced off the railing in front of the row before me and down to the walkway below. Oh well. The nachos were worth it.

And yes, I'm fully aware that not only has it been eight weeks since my last post, this post is about a game that happened four days ago.