Haven’t been able to say that since…I can’t remember. It was 1997 actually. Anyway, through some bizarre twist of fate or precise alignment of the planets, the team of my youth (Them O’s) and the team I adopted when I moved to DC seven years ago (the Nats) have both managed to make it to the post-season for the first time in a long time.
In honor of the end of a long and rewarding year we took the kids down to Nationals Park for its final game of the regular season to watch some daytime baseball. Even though opening pitch aligned perfectly with Loren’s regular afternoon nap everything went great. And I didn’t even come down with a terrible illness this time!
This was Ruthie’s first game. It was also the first time I had ventured the Metro by myself with both kids. Nat had a work lunch downtown just before the game, so we decided to just meet at the Park. Ruthie rode in the Ergo, while Loren went from umbrella stroller to walking as our trip warranted.
We walked back over to the Green Line and hoped on the Metro at Columbia Heights to beat the crowds transferring farther down the line. The move was a smart one: as the crowds did join us as we reached Chinatown and L’Enfant Plaza (packing in like sardines), our decision to take the Green line farther up stream netted Loren a shared seat with a nice eight year old while I was able to stand next to them at the end of the train and out of the way of the incoming masses. We got plenty cramped, but not having to squeeze our way on to an already packed train made things a lot easier on us.
And Ruthie slept the whole time. My sainted daughter.
We made it to the stadium in time for bottom of the first inning. It was a mostly full house (amazing what a little winning does for attendance), and the crowd, knowing the Nats had already secured a playoff spot and the division crown, was plenty into it. That includes our two little ones.
Like last time, Loren’s biggest takeaways from the day had nothing to do with the game at hand. You’ll be forgiven if you don’t notice the most memorable thing about this next picture:
It’s ok, take a hard look. See it yet?
Loren? “Frog bat.” If you look really closely you’ll notice the Geico billboard in left-centerfield. That gecko holding a bat was the first thing Loren really noticed at the game beyond the crowds of people. Frog bat. Just like Screech the Eagle became a Chicken that bonked his head in Loren’s mind at a game a few months ago, so too would the Geico Gecko become a bat-wielding frog.
But as big a deal as that frog would become, there was something much bigger that would take center stage in this toddler’s memory, and for much longer. As you may have heard, a certain Theodore Roosevelt won his first Presidents’ Race during game 162.
We were there man.
“Teddy! Teddy! Teddy!” Loren’s still talking about it. ”Teddy! Run, run! People. Back home, mama.” Translation: Teddy ran, when he was finished he went into the stands and then back home to see his mama. That’s how it happened.
And then, as we were later walking the concourse who should we see? Oh, just the four lager than life presidents heading to a photo shoot. You don’t pass that up. So into the line we crowded:
And then it was time for our close up:
And Loren lost his sh*t.
Completely, utterly, lost it.
Now, in hindsight I can’t figure out how we didnt see this coming. Looking up at the Presidents has to be terrifying for a little kid. The giant heads, fixed and crazy expressions on their faces – it’s nightmarish.
But he was able to bounce back shortly thereafter. We went back over to the made-for-parents lounge area and watched a few more innings before heading home. Despite the moment of terror, he has fond memories of Teddy and the Frog. And there was baseball. Even a few homeruns. And win number 98 – the best in the Majors. Over the Phillies, no less.
So Happy Playoffs to all those fans out there who have waited way too long to be able to enjoy them close to home. How ’bout them O’s? Let’s go Nats! Just don’t get too close to Teddy.