Well, I attend my fair share of games, but I’m guilty of leaving sporting events early. The reasons vary. Perhaps it’s a work night or maybe our team is down 461 runs in the top of the 9th and the bases are loaded with Braves. Heck, sometimes I decide to go home simply because I’m 42 years old and, at 42 years old, the mind tells the body, “That’s it, I’m out.” This wasn’t as pervasive a thing when both body and mind were 21 years old.
The amount of amazing games I’ve left early from would probably put me in the Hall of Fame if there were such an ignominious thing. Perhaps instead of a bust of a Hall of Famers’ face, the Hall of Fame for Leaving Early would have the bust of the back of its members’ heads emblazoned in bronze for all of eternity.
Nationals coming back to score seven runs in the bottom of the 9th against the Mets a few weeks ago? That was me, heading for the Geico parking garage. I left so early that I caught the ending from my couch in Rockville. Great win! Capitals coming back in the third period after being down comfortably the entire game only to win it in the final seconds? Yup. Multiple times.
Max Scherzer striking out 20 against the Tigers a few years back? Yup. Scooted out in the 7th when he had, what, 15 strikeouts? Caught the history-making ending on the radio. That one stings a little.
I even left a Redskins Monday Night Football game early back in 1992 when they were good! In my defense, I was in 10th grade and had no control over the logistics.
These days, I never leave Redskins games early, mostly because I never attend Redskins games. It’s hard to get excited over a team that hasn’t had sustained success in nearly three decades.
Last week, my son commented, after seeing FedEx field filled with Dallas Cowboy fans, “Wow, the Redskins aren’t very good.”
“Where have you been for the last 30 years,” I asked him. “I’m only 11, dad,” was his response.
Before leaving said sporting event early, I do purchase the requisite food items, cold beverages and team-store apparel. In fact, my closet is so stuffed with Capitals, Wizards, Nationals and Redskins gear that my wife jokes I should put everything on eBay and simply retire early. It’s a thought I’ve entertained, but you never know when an old Darrell Green jersey that hasn’t fit me in 20 years might come in handy.
Despite all of my leaving early, I’ve still managed to carve out a decent life for myself. I have a loving wife, great kids, a decent job, a nice house in the suburbs and a cat who couldn’t care less when I leave a Wizards game.
The point of all of this? I’m there. Well, at least I’m there for some of it. That’s me, over in section 102 with one of my kids or my wife or my good friend. We’re stuffing our faces with lobster rolls, popcorn, peanuts, etc. We know when to cheer and how to ignore the influx of out-of-town fans who’ve turned our stadiums into Lincoln Financial Field south or SunTrust Park north.
I’m old enough to remember going to games at RFK for baseball and football, or Bullets and Capitals games over at the Cap Center and cheering on Alan May and Calbert Cheaney. Look ‘em up, kids.
So, some of us leave early. So what? If these teams really want our loyalty, along with our time and money, perhaps they could win a few big games and stop living off accomplishments that entire generations of people weren’t around for. You know, build loyalty the old-fashioned way by giving us something to cheer for every once in a while?
Now, if you’ll excuse me. I have to go order one of those fantastic “Let’s Get Wild,” Nationals postseason T-shirts. They’re overpriced, but who cares?! Perhaps I’ll even get wild myself and buy some playoff tickets. Heck, I might even stick around for all nine innings this time! Or not.