Last night, Kellie and I, along with friends attended the Nationals game against the Phillies, the last night game at RFK before the Nationals move to their new stadium next season.
It was fun to be there, but, to be honest, the game wasn’t that great at all. The teams were tied 1-1 when the bottom of the 9th ended and, at that point, we decided to pack it in.
Charlie Manuel pressed his chest against the railing of the visitor’s dugout at RFK Stadium last night to watch the latest in a long string of what he calls “gotta have ‘em” games. For the third consecutive season, the Philadelphia Phillies’ manager had endured a few weeks of such pressure, and the cumulative stress had exacted a physical toll. Manuel’s hair, long ago turned gray, looked practically white. He pounded his fists on the dugout fence and chomped gum and sunflower seeds, which he sometimes does impulsively until his jaw is sore.
The Phillies afforded their manager little relief from anxiety last night during a 4-1 win over the Nationals in front of 26,412 fans at the second-to-last game at RFK Stadium. Philadelphia took an early one-run lead, gave it back by committing a string of costly errors and then rallied to win in 10 innings.
First baseman Ryan Howard ripped a line-drive single to left field off reliever Chris Schroder in the 10th to score Chase Utley from second base. The Phillies rallied for two more runs in the 40-minute half inning, and Clay Condrey held the Nationals scoreless to secure the win. Philadelphia has won three straight, and it will try to sweep the Nationals in the series finale today. Once again, Manuel’s team seems destined to spend the final days of its season caught in the erratic swings of a playoff race, which has become an annual rite of passage since he took over the team in 2005
The last Nationals game will be played at RFK today and, quite honestly, I think its more than about time. Watching baseball in that place wasn’t really a great experience, and maybe the Nationals will have better luck when they’re playing in a real baseball park.