There’s something undeniably sad about attending your last baseball game of the year. This is particularly true if you’re a Nats fan, where pain comes with the territory, especially when you realize that this certifiably pathetic team is likely to remain awful for years.
And it was with that in mind that I roamed into the stadium on Wednesday to use up my last season ticket. The friend with whom I shared a ticket package got called out of town and couldn’t make it, so I went alone.
The promised NatsTown hasn’t come to be, of course, so the baseball stadium still is surrounded by cement plants and garbage truck parking lots and storage facilities and a transmission shop and of course, the many holes in the ground where the buildings were supposed to be. I walked around the park’s exterior, admiring the detritus and wondering if there was an uglier setting for a ballpark in all of baseball. Note to self: Get used to the holes. They’re not going anywhere.
Year Five of the team’s Get-Worse-Every-Year Plan is almost over, and everybody’s mailing it in: Half of the aisles had no ushers, a third of the concessions stands were closed, more than half of the seats were empty, I didn’t know several of the starting players, and the Nats were getting no-hit into the 6th inning by a tomato-can Dodgers pitcher with junior-high velocity.
I wandered through the stadium, spending a couple of innings in my ticketed seat, a couple sitting 10 rows behind the visitor’s dugout (nobody bothered to stop me), a couple eating a Five Guys burger under the scoreboard and so on. I felt listless and bored as the Dodgers scratched out a 3-0 lead in uninteresting fashion. Teddy didn’t even show up for the Presidents’ Race.
And then Ryan Zimmerman hit a three-run homer after a couple of walks to break up the no-hitter and tie the game, and then more weirdness went on, and then the Nats scored a genuinely bizarre 5-4 ninth-inning win over the best team in the National League.
I wasn’t there by then. I left after seven innings, walked away alone, went to my car that was parked next to the garbage trucks, headed home on near-empty streets. I saw the winning 9th inning from my couch.
The outcome was sort of amusing, I guess. I didn’t feel much. I stopped caring a while back.
Goodbye, Nats. You took my money this year in the same way a carnival barker takes a kid’s allowance, and with the same results. I saw you play 13 games in three cities, and you went 2-11. I saw the worst baseball I have ever seen in a major league park — and I have been to hundreds of baseball games in my lifetime. And I just can’t take any more of this. I can’t.
April is a long way away, though. You can recover from a lot in six months. You can learn to love baseball again.
On the other hand, scars are forever.
Update 9/25: Naturally, my wife has scored free tickets to a Braves/Nats game over the weekend. They’re in a suite, even. We’re going, but the fact that I thought long and hard about whether I could stand to do this only reinforces my point.