Sweet Sixteen

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This post has nothing to do with a birthday and everything to do with the longest regular season game in Nationals history; 16 innings, 5 hours and 56 minutes long. And yes – the Nats pulled out a Curly W in the end. Talk about picking an epic game; literally a historical game, to watch as my first game at Nationals Park for the 2016 season. Amazing!

Just a quick selfie before the game got underway!
Nationals Park – 2016
Perfect baseball weather – seriously. *sigh*
Sunday I definitely woke up much earlier than necessary – I was just that excited. If you are reading that last sentence and thinking to yourself that I have a problem…well…really, no. I don’t. I just love Nationals baseball…and if loving Nationals baseball that much is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
My friend Katie joined me on Sunday’s adventure to the ballpark; she’s not been to a major league baseball game in some time and she’s never been to a Nationals game, but based on the texts I’ve been getting since Sunday night…I think I might have successfully sucked her into the madness. So – victory in more ways than one!
After having lunch at the Budweiser Brew House (formerly known as the Red Porch) we perused the Team Store…with about 5,000 other people…and took our seats in Section 225. We were settled in and ready for nine innings. We had no idea what we were really in for – I’ll go with Dusty Baker’s description of the game…The Twilight Zone. 🙂

Stretching? Trying out new dance moves? Who can say…
Play ball! 
The game started with a bang – after Stephen Strasburg got three outs on the Twins, Matt den Dekker stepped in as the lead off batter for the Nationals and immediately sent one sailing out of the park to put the Nationals up 1-0. The Twins countered in the third inning with a run that tied the game up 1-1 and the game continued in that fashion into the eighth inning…all tied up at 1-1. 
It was Kids Run the Bases Day – God bless those poor children – I’m guessing a lot of them never got around to running the bases. Where Katie and I were sitting, we were surrounded by wee Nationals fans who were all enjoying the game in different ways: the toddler in front of us was in awe of Jayson Werth’s leaping catch that robbed a Twins player of a home run, delightedly telling his Dad “hey..hey..that one over there…he jumped…and he did catch it. He did.” The kids to our left were obviously born and raised Nationals fans…they may have been young, but they knew their Nationals players. And well, the poor kids behind us, they had a bit of a know it all for a Dad and we listened to him talk incessantly about what was happening on the field for almost a full six innings before he finally went on a snack run. Sigh of relief.
Stephen Strasburg came in to pitch the eighth and allowed two Twins players to get on base before giving up a three run homer to Dozier…making the score 4-1 in the eighth. The Nationals fought back in the bottom of the eighth, putting up two runs to make the score 4-3 and Felipe Rivero held the Twins off in the top of the ninth…keeping that score at 4-3. What happened next was essentially what “started” the second game of the day…because in the bottom of the ninth, a baseball game is usually almost over – but this game was just beginning.
Murphy, Zimmerman and Harper at bat…not necessarily in that order…
Bryce Harper – MVP of the DMV and all around love of DC’s sports fandom – had Sunday off. So sad, right? Well…in the bottom of the ninth, the Nationals needed a little boost to get the game going again. Lo and behold, who should appear in the on deck circle but Bryce Harper? Stepping in to pinch hit and hopefully tie the game…and now this was my first game at Nationals Park since Harper was named the unanimous National League MVP after his stellar 2015 season. When I say “and the crowd went wild..” that might be a little bit of an understatement. Harp worked the count up to 3-2…really raising the stakes, you know? And then…well…then this happened….

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Of course he did that – because what else was he going to do? The crowd goes wild wouldn’t even accurately describe a fraction of the reaction to that moment. If that ballpark could have levitated – that would have been the moment. It was crazy. And so…on to the 10th inning we went after Harper’s home run and three quick outs.
Somewhere along the way I’d mentioned that if the game was tied after the ninth, we’d go to extra innings…and Katie heard “eleven” innings. She asked how the game would go on after the 11th inning if it was still tied and I told her “oh no – the game goes on until someone wins, ha-ha!” We definitely assumed that we’d see maybe another inning or two and then head over to Ice Cream Jubilee to end the day. However, the game stayed tied through the tenth…through the eleventh…through the twelfth…you get the picture, right?
Extra Innings? Let’s do this thing!
A different vantage point for the thirteenth inning…
Around the twelfth inning, the ballpark really started to empty – folks just weren’t into hanging on for the entire game. Since so many people were vacating their seats, Katie and I agreed that if the game went into the thirteenth we’d get up and move around the park, taking in the game from different view points…and as the game went to the thirteenth…and then the fourteenth…and the fifteenth…we made our way around the park. We took pictures in between the top and bottom of innings – honestly, a lot of them were pictures we’d have never gotten with 35+ thousand people still at the park – but considering how quickly it had emptied – we were golden for some great snapshots! 
The MVP of the DMV
The newly painted steps – love them!
Getting this picture would have been impossible earlier – it will probably be impossible the rest of the season…
We had faith this whole thing would end in a Curly W.
In the fifteenth inning, the Twins took the lead and made the score 5-4…it was starting to look like all this would end in heartbreak for Nationals fans…but then the almost impossible happened in the bottom of the fifteenth. Danny Espinosa worked the walk and having run out of position players to pinch hit, the pitcher Oliver Perez came up to bat…let me set the scene for you: two outs, Espinosa on first and Perez at bat…a guy who hasn’t batted since 2010…seriously. He laid a bunt down the third base line and the Twins snatched it up to make the play at first – and OVERTHREW THE BALL! Espinosa raced from first all the way home and tied the game again and with that, the game went to the sixteenth inning and officially became absolutely crazy!
Fifteenth Inning – let’s watch this one from Center Field
I promise she had a good time – even if she doesn’t look like it here…ha-ha!
The Nationals held off the Twins in the top of the sixteenth and then…Chris Heisey came along and played the hero, smashing a one run homer to Center Field and winning the game for the Nationals. After five hours and fifty-six minutes, the Nationals came out victorious. I’m just saying – not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon (and early evening…)…

Winner Winner…Curly W – we have a winner!

And because I couldn’t resist – here are just a couple pictures from the MASN broadcast of the game that I borrowed. Nothing like having fun for the entire game…rally caps and all. Love my Nationals!
I think Bryce might love Dusty Baker just a little bit – so awesome to have such an amazing manager this year!
Rally Caps on! Also – Ben Revere…what are you wearing?!?
I believe I can fly….

Until next time ya’ll…all I can say is…Ain’t Baseball Great? 

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