xml:space="preserve">
Members of the Washington Nationals watch during the ninth inning of Game 4 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Washington. The Astros won 8-1 to tie the series 2-2. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Members of the Washington Nationals watch during the ninth inning of Game 4 of the baseball World Series against the Houston Astros Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, in Washington. The Astros won 8-1 to tie the series 2-2. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Patrick Semansky/AP)

As a lifelong baseball fan, I felt somewhat elated when I found out last week I’d be getting a chance to attend a World Series game.

Hard for me to pass up the opportunity to take in Game 3 in Washington DC, with the Nationals hosting Houston and the home team in good shape leading 2-0 in the best-of-seven series.

Advertisement

Don’t get me wrong, the nation’s capital was a fine host to its first World Series game in 86 years. Sure, there may have been many a Capitals or Redskins fan jumping ship for the time being, grabbing their gloves and whatever baseball paraphernalia they could find for the weekend. Sub out the Alex Ovechkin sweater for a Ryan Zimmerman jersey, right?

But they came in droves to support their team and maybe, just maybe, bear witness for a four-game sweep and Washington’s first World Series title.

It was loud. It was red, for the most part. And then, it was boring.

I’m in my early 40s, and lucky enough to have seen some pretty cool moments in baseball history. I was there when Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr. set the all-time consecutive games played record. I watched (Orioles legend?) Delmon Young’s three-run double nearly blow the roof off the Warehouse for Game 2 of the 2014 AL Division Series against Detroit.

I remember them for the noise generated within the ballpark, an atmosphere that remains with me still.

Game 3 in DC had the same feel, but it didn’t linger for very long.

Of course, some of that had to do with Houston taking early command of the game. I get it, watching the visiting team score first can take the air out of the place. But from my seat out in right field, tucked under the overhang and among the fans who roamed the concourse, it just seemed like a normal game.

Hard to miss the World Series ads and placards all over Nationals Park, so it was tough for everyone to avoid the message. And with plenty of time between pitches and innings, fans had time to take it all in.

Maybe too much time, as it turned out.

Forget the mind-numbing notion that we can’t get through too many playoff baseball games in less than 4 hours. (Game 3 came in at a crisp 4:03, with Game 2 clocking in at 4:01.) But with every pitch scrutinized during every at-bat, these things take time.

With repeated throws to first, batters stepping out of the box ad nauseum, and mound visits for pitching changes like a conga line. This is baseball in 2019. It tests the mettle of even the hardest of the die-hards.

I grew up watching rotations set in such a way that the ace of the staff was penned in for Games 1, 4, and 7. Now we have designed “bullpen” games, with “openers” making World Series starts and doing everything they can to get through 4 2/3 innings.

Well done, boys.

Just for the old-timers, the 1933 World Series — the last time a DC team played in the Fall Classic — went five games, with the New York Giants winning the title. Carl Hubbell pitched a complete game with 10 strikeouts, and won Game 1 for the Giants. He pitched Game 4 three days later, and New York won 2-1 in 11 innings.

Advertisement

Hubbell tossed a complete game in that one, too, and the Giants won the series in five games.

OK, so maybe it’s not fair to compare a Hall of Famer such as Hubbell to the likes of Patrick Corbin or Jose Urquidy. But long gone are the days of starters going the distance, or at least long into the game.

So, why would casual fans feel the need to stick around for extra hours of pitching changes and drawn-out innings?

Well, because it’s the World Series? That’s what I would think, but I saw scores of fans heading for the exits after the seventh inning with the Astros up 4-1.

Hard to believe that many people would want to bail out on a Friday night with the first World Series experience of their lives. But with the way the game plays out these days, part of me wanted to join them.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement