Thursday, September 4, 2008

Potomac Nationals Playoff Game

Last night, my husband and I made our annual trek up to Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge to see Carolina League baseball. These days, the stadium is home to the Potomac Nationals, the single A team affiliated with the Washington Nationals. Just like last year, they were playing the Wilmington Blue Rocks, although this time, it was the opening game of the playoffs for the P-Nats, and their first trip to the playoffs since the start of the franchise in 2004.

I’m not a big fan of watching baseball on TV, but I do enjoy the occasional (no more than once a year, please) trip to the ballpark. I’ve been to the bigs, where you get top-notch ball without too many frills, but there’s a lot to be said for the small minor league stadiums, where you can get up close to the players, and where the management tries to keep the “entertainment” coming. And then there are the promotions, where fans are enticed by the promise of giveaways, or fireworks, or discounts, or like last night, food. It turned out to be “Belly Buster Night,” where for $12, we got better than our usual seats, and an all-you-can-eat buffet of the finest ball park burgers, dogs and burritos (ballpark burritos?). Talk about your fatty, salty overload.

And for those of us who find baseball less than mesmerizing, between innings there are the goofy contests. In addition to the always popular dizzy bat race, last night’s competitors raced Uncle Slam, rode tricycles, tossed stuffed chicken legs, and did pushups. For a chance at $10,000, one poor guy got to humiliate himself by trying to hit a target with a teed-up baseball (the ball never getting anywhere even close). But my favorite was a new one to me, the frozen T-shirt contest. A wet t-shirt is folded and frozen, and then contestants see who can crack open the shirt and get it on first. Now that’s entertainment.

I learned a new baseball term last night, too: an easy-to-catch pop fly is referred to as a “can of corn.” Here's the most popular explanation.

The game itself was what I guess would be called a defensive battle. That means not much scoring. After 9 innings, the teams were tied at 1-1. Ultimately, the P-Nats won after 15 innings (that’s right...3 hours and 45 minutes of baseball), but 12 was all I could take.

Warming up:

The Belly Buster Buffet:

My pal and yours, Uncle Slam:

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