The Game I’ve Been Waiting For:
Phil Collins and Randy Johnson sing at the ballpark

by Gregory Pratt,

June 10, 2009

The best time I have ever had at a baseball stadium was in Washington D.C. at a Nationals game.

I don’t suppose that sentence gets written very often.

Last Wednesday night, a little before seven o clock, I walked out of the Washington D.C. Red Line Metro station at Navy Yard and walked about a block to Nationals Park. It was raining very hard, but had told me that the rain would only last an hour, so I went to the game, bought my ticket, and proceeded to get soaked for the next three hours until the umpires officially postponed it.

That wasn’t exactly the fun part, though to be fair, I do like the rain when it isn’t interfering with my chance to witness history.

Last Thursday afternoon, around four o’clock, I tried again. I walked out of my current place of summer employment and took the train across town. It was raining once more, but the rain was light this time. I guessed that the ballgame would be played around five. When I walked in around 5:10 the national anthem was being sung. I found my seat and looked around, finding no one but Randy Johnson on the marquee. The ballpark was practically empty. I took advantage of that and took a walk around the stadium while the abysmal San Francisco Giants offense took the field against the Nationals. They didn’t last long.

Then Randy Johnson walked out of the dugout and onto the pitcher’s mound. He’s as tall as his legend (the greatest strikeout pitcher of all time) and mean-looking, just like I always imagined him, exactly as I want him to be. I sat there in the front row and watched him throw the first of four innings of no-hit ball, broken up by a weak dribbler up the middle. Johnson gave up one unearned run over six frames that might not have been perfect in the box score but were in my heart. All game long, I walked from front row to front row without any problems and parked myself on the nearest seat when Johnson came out to pitch. I stopped doing that when The Relievers came out to “relieve” Johnson.

First, I watched the Giants make feeble attempts at hitting. Then I couldn’t take my eyes off of the game while Brandon Medders and Jeremy Affeldt tried to keep the Nationals from tying the game. Then I watched as the game got even more interesting with Affeldt allowing two Nats on base and forcing the Giants to turn to their closer, Brian Wilson, as Ryan Zimmerman stepped up to the plate. Of course, Wilson walked Zimmerman, bringing Adam Dunn to the plate with two outs and a one-run lead that would determine whether or not Johnson would win his three-hundredth game on this day.

Throughout the game, the Nationals kept playing the song “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins, or at least parts of it. “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for / My whole liiiiiiiiiiiife, oh Lord.” I thought about how tense Wilson must have been, facing one of baseball’s very best hitters with zero margin for error. And I realized right then and there that this was the most fun I had ever had at a baseball game. I couldn’t sit down for the rest of the game, not even as the Giants scored three runs in the top of the ninth to more or less guarantee that the Nationals would not be able to overcome the lead. I remember feeling irritated when the fans around me started chanting Randy’s name. “It’s not over,” I said, but then I gave up the superstition and kept the faith.

Randy! Randy! Randy!

Gregory Pratt is a junior political science and history double-major at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He currently serves as News Editor of the Chicago Flame newspaper. Email him at He likes email.