It’s rare that Monday night baseball turns into legitimate Tuesday morning baseball, but that’s what happened earlier this week between the Nationals and Dodgers. Once the rain that held up the early evening game had passed, what appeared to be a few hundred people (if that) huddled behind their respective team’s dugouts at Nationals Park to root, root, root for their own team well into the wee hours of the morning.
One of Washington’s most reliable players, right-handed starting Jordan Zimmermann, cruised through a start that got cut short due to a 3-hour, 17-minute rain delay. The first two batters for the Nats gave them a 2-0 lead over the Dodgers that they then carried through the eighth inning before tacking on a couple of more runs and winning 4-0. All of this was originally meant to be seen, for the most part, by the 24,000 or so people tallied as part of paid attendance. What ended up happening was far more special than that.
Sure, it’s just one game in a lengthy season. In the long run, come September, this one game may not even matter too much in the overall scheme of things. But what happened was quite reminiscent of a Friday night high school baseball game under some really big lights.
There was a different kind of buzz in the air. It was one that allowed anyone in the ballpark to hear the snap of the leather as a ball cruised into its pocket, the crack of the bat as a ball ricocheted into the open night sky above the diamond, or a player call for the ball in the field.
By the time play resumed, the midnight hour swiftly approached. Everything around the ballpark was closed and quiet. While everything outside the ballpark seemed slightly eerie, there was still plenty of activity inside.
The park cleared out enough during the delay that the fans who stuck around struggled to locate the occasional foul ball in the stands. They were left chasing the balls down in empty parts of the stadium as if they were playing a game of cat and mouse. Others were left starting their own chants that were audible enough to discern among the crowd. There was plenty of back and forth between who could cheer the loudest - Dodgers or Nats fans - for those remaining innings.
And heck, those in attendance for the duration even get to say they let the subhorn echo throughout the park well after midnight at the Navy Yard because Danny Espinosa crushed a homer to the Nats bullpen to give them some safety runs.
That’s definitely not something you hear every day.
Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC. Follow her on Twitter: @RHLevitin. She 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.