Saturday, July 18, 2009

Game 26: Chicago Cubs 6 @ Washington Nationals 5

Tonight was the third game in three days, which is the third time it has happened on the trip even though it was originally planned to only happen twice. We left the campground around 11am after getting there around 8:30am and setting up camp. We parked the car at the end of the Green line and took the Metro into D.C. to go to the National Museum of American History before heading to the game. That did not really kill much time as it was too crowded to enjoy and I am spoiled from experiencing the D.C. museums mostly in the off season in the middle of the week. Thus we still got to the game about an hour before the gates opened, but that gave us time to hit the gift shop before the park opened.

Once the park opened we waited another hour for the part of the park where our seats were to open up. Mik was surprisingly really into this game from the start and it only got better. For one someone gave him a ball during batting practice, which is his third of the trip. Then not long after we got to our seats the lady that manages the Diamond Club, Marj Hopkins, came to tell us she had passes for us and reserved us a table there for the game. She had seen the stickers on the car while we were driving to the Metro earlier in the day and asked us where we were sitting for the game. She said she worked at the park and would come and see us at the game, but I never imagined it would lead to such an awesome experience, which of course meant even more to me being a Nats fan, although both Mik and Dad enjoyed it as well.

The Diamond Club seats included an all you can eat buffet until the end of the 5th inning and drinks. It was amazing and way better than the normal ballpark food. More on it later in a Mik’s Food Scrapbook post, but for now I will say my favorite was the salads that included a variety of tomatoes and Mik loved the cookies and pot pie.

The buffet part and drinks were cool and probably Mik’s favorite, but the seats themselves were totally awesome. We had a table located behind home plate. It was a perfect place to see the whole game, scoreboard, and the President's Race (Lincoln won by the way). It was also great for scoring the game because I could have the scorebook on the table rather than balancing it on my lap. Even Mik enjoyed watching some of the game between innings on his PSP baseball game, which believe me has not happened much on this trip except the first game when we saw the Diamondbacks.

You would think the awesome seat upgrades to the Diamond Club would have been the end to our surprises for the day, but it was not. We were also presented with two Nationals backpacks. Both had a t-shirt and a beach towel in them. One had a ball signed by Christian Guzman and the other had a bat signed by Austin Kearns.

The game itself was also an exciting one with a lot of hitting by both teams. The Nats had the lead first with two runs in the first and two more in the second. The Cubs began to come back with two runs in the third. They then took the lead with three runs in the 6th and padded their lead with another run in the 8th. The Nats had several chance to come back included several bases loaded situations, but they only managed to score one more run in the 8th and ended up losing 5 to 6. It was sad to see the Nats lose, but at the same time it is not that sad because I am still partially a Cubs fan and Dad and Mik were both rooting for the Cubs. At least the Nats put effort into it and did not make it an easy win for the Cubs.

Overall today was an awesome experience at Nationals Park. It was certainly an experience I never expected. I definitely did not expect it to happen on this trip and never expected to get the opportunity to sit where we did, although I have seen the Diamond Club on the park tour before. It is not the same to see it on the tour, as to actually get to experience the game from it. Obviously experiencing the game from here is way better. Getting the bat and ball signed by two great Nats players was also a wonderful surprise.

Any Nats game makes the game one of my favorites on the trip even though they lost, but the experience we had made it near the top of the list in experiences on this trip for all of us. It not the same as seeing Hank Aaron or the Greg Maddux number retirement, but those are historical things everyone at the game experienced. This, however, was an unique experience that made the game extra special just for us and that makes it up there on the same level of highlights of the trip.

Thanks Marj for a fun, unique, and very memorable experience at Nationals Park!