My top five baseball games

A while back, Tom Bridge listed his top five baseball memories. I thought, hey, that sounds like fun. Then I got sick, so I’m not just getting back to it. These are all games that I attended. Here they are in no specific order:

Opening Day 2005 Washington @ Philadelphia

I lived in Northern Virginia since before I turned two, but we never had a D.C. baseball team. Five days before the very first Nats game, on a whim, I check Opening Day ticket availability. They had some, but a little pricey. I went on to ebay and found four together at or below face — hit Buy It Now. I called up a friend here and he was in. Then I called a fan in South Jersey who was a Phillies fan and he responded with my invitation wtih “is the Pope German?!” My wife bailed out because she got a job interview that day (got the job). I got to see the first Washington baseball game of my lifetime.

Opening Night 2008 Atlanta @ Washington

Tickets were scarce, but there were ticket lotteries. My family all got in so I could get a chance. My father wound up winning it and he gave me tickets. Walking into brand new Nationals Park I had a feeling that the Nats were finally here for good. The Nats scored early, but a blown save left the game tied. Then Ryan Zimmerman homered off of Pete Moylan and I started screaming “RYAN ZIMMERMAN IS MR. WALKOFF!” I gave him the nickname that night. I felt like a dawn of a new era and an ascending Nats team. They started off 3-0 and after Jesus Colome blew a save in Philly, lost over 100 of their next 158 games.

Strasburg’s debut Pittsburgh @ Washington

In 2010 we all hoped to see Stephen Strasburg’s debut, but I decided I wasn’t going to worry about when it would be and try to get a ticket for it. By chance, a Pirates fan was convinced to go to a Tuesday game with me and another friend and his girlfriend. It turned out to be Strasburg’s debut.

Nationals Park was electric in a way I hadn’t seen it, hanging on every pitch. Sure, Opening Night 2008 was like that at the start and end, but in the middle (a long middle with no Nats hits) it was just another game. Another cold game. But for Strasburg’s debut, every pitch was a moment of breathless anticipation. Fourteen strikeouts later he was done, an incredible debut. The best debut in D.C. sports history? I’ll say it was better than Alex Ovechkin’s first game and that was really good.

Nationals Park 2012 final game

The season finale, the Nats had clinched and were just tuning up for the playoffs. Teddy finally won. The Nats won. It was the last baseball game I saw with my dad – he was gone a month later.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Any game at Yankee Stadium. I went to four of them between 1989 and 2008. The Yankees split with the Seattle Mariners and Kansas City Royals in those games.

Final Nats game at RFK Stadium

The exhibition game that didn’t happen — Yankees vs. Mets in 1993. My dad took us out of school to go to RFK Stadium. Frank Howard’s number was “retired” and then the game was called.

Bachelor Party in 2005 — Nats overcame Tony Armas Jr. pitching and won their 10th in a row or something. Ah, June 2005.

The Memorial Day game in 2005 where Frank Robinson got a Brian Jordan home run overturned.

July 4, 2006 Ryan Zimmerman walk-off

I’m probably forgetting some, but at some point, you have to close up. I could put together a “vicarious” list with games I watched on TV too and maybe I will.

Also, The Post has a good feature about baseball memories from Nats players, fans, George Will, etc.

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