A rousing victory (sorta)

Monday, August 22, 2011–Nationals 4, Diamondbacks 1

Beginning today, I enter a semi-noctournal existence. My train to Pittsburgh gets into town right around midnight, the one to Cleveland drops me off close to 3 am. There are two reasons this is important. First, it’s why I haven’t committed to go to Detroit yet; I may want to call it quits before then. It also means that—for those of you who use that big ball of plasma to determine your daily routine rather than setting your internal clock by the whims of Amtrak—it may seem like I’m going to be posting things at some very odd times the rest of the way.

Ok. The game. This is one of the most average games I can think of. There were enough baserunners to keep things interesting, and the pitching was just good enough to keep it moving at a good clip. There was some good defence. Both Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Roberts (third basemen for the Nats and Snakes respectively) made spectacular diving stops to rob an opponent of  a double down the line. However, even these plays weren’t made when the outcome was at stake. So, was it fun? Yes. Was it exciting? Not exactly.

What really strikes me about this game is the crowd prompts. There are certain situations where stadium operations folk like to stir reactions from the crowd, such as the “charge!” fanfare or the exhortations for “more cowbell” in Tampa Bay. These have always troubled me, ’cause I figure the fans oughtta know when they should get excited. What was really strange about this game was that the prompts were coming at some very odd times, like every time an Az. batter had 2 strikes on him. I like to get the rhythmic clapping started at Isotopes Park when the ‘Topes are one strike from getting out of an inning, but not when there are 2 strikes on the leadoff batter.

More odd than this was when the fans were reacting to the prompts. Sometimes everybody would get the clapping going when prompted, sometimes they wouldn’t, and—at least by my judgement of what was an appropriate time—there was neither rhyme nor reason to it. Then, on top of that, there were times fans would, without prompting, get some cheer going throughout the stadium when there was no apparent reason.

Easily, the highest moment of tension came in the sixth,when Nats starter Ross Detwiler looked like he couldn’t throw a strike. After giving up a hit, he walked the next batter on four pitches to load up the bases. The Nats had a 4-run lead, but this is a situation that can very quickly get out of control. Nobody was warming up and he quickly fell behind Paul Goldschmidt and there was a lot of rustling. When Goldschmidt hit a perfectly routine grounder to third for an inning-ending fielder’s choice, the crowd didn’t need to be told to get loud about that.

Here’s the scorecard.