Rachel Levitin: Quake can't shake fans out of baseball routines

Tuesday was no average day in Washington, D.C. Residents, tourists, visitors and members of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Nationals felt a 5.9 jolt from the earth beneath their feet. The tremor was shallow, at just 6 kilometers underground, and was felt from the epicenter in Virginia to a widespread portion of the East Coast.

While the earthquake has nothing to do with baseball itself, baseball as a game did play a role in getting D.C. back to its normal pace. The game between the Diamondbacks and Nationals was only delayed 21 minutes from its original start time. The delay was not caused by the earthquake, which struck the area at 1:51 p.m., but rather by the need for D.C. inspectors and structural engineers to survey Nationals Park as a precautionary measure.

That did not keep fans away from the ballpark, though. It was by no means a packed house, with the paid attendance just over 17,000. That number seemed a bit high based on the amount of people filling actual seats but the park didn't feel too much different than an average weekday game night. What fans lacked in physical bodies, they made up for in cheering for the home team.

The Nationals also kept it exciting enough on the field, despite a 2-0 loss, enabling a distraction from the earthquake - which was a first for many individuals occupying D.C. during the rumble.

A few Nationals players - including Collin Balester, Jonny Gomes and Danny Espinosa - spoke with MASNsports.com's Byron Kerr about the day's events, since California is their home and they have been through earthquakes on more than one occasion.

"It wasn't that big of an earthquake," Espinosa said. "A (5.9) is pretty big, but nothing fell off the walls. We've had some big ones that have gone through my neighborhood (in California). Here's how small this one was: We didn't even feel an aftershock here. The earthquakes we have in the valley that are two hours from me (in Southern California), you get an aftershock."

In all fairness, Espinosa was correct. There was an aftershock in the area during Tuesday's game but if it hit Nationals Park then fans didn't feel it. Tweets were coming in from throughout the Virginia and Maryland region of an aftershock felt during the 8 p.m. hour, but there was no notice of it at the ballpark.

After a day of experiencing an oddity of nature, catching a ballgame was a good distraction. Things got back to normal. The Nats stranded runners on the base path. A few beanballs were exchanged between the Diamondbacks and Nats, who unintentionally hit Arizona's Justin Upton for the fifth time this season. Despite the earthquake, it was just another day at the ballpark.

It's like what Terrence Mann told Ray Kinsella in the 1989 film, "Field of Dreams":

"The one constant through all the years ... has been baseball ... It reminds us all of that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come."

And come they did.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation's capital as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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