They could not have scripted it any worse for the Washington Nationals today.
The stadium was, by a conservative estimate, two-thirds full of the opposing team's fans. The presumptive "ace" of the squad was hit hard and knocked out in the fourth inning. The rookie shortstop made an error on the first ball hit to him.
A pair of relievers were torched for six runs in the middle of the game, including surrendering a grand slam. And the offense, presumably the strongest element of the team, got nine hits but could manage just one run.
To add insult to injury, the President of the United States dissed the team by pulling a Chicago White Sox hat out of the pocket of his Washington Nationals' warmup jacket while on the Nats Park mound to deliver the ceremonial first pitch.
Yup, baseball is back in D.C.
The final result was an 11-1 clobbering on Opening Day to the division-rival Philadelphia Phillies, much to the delight of the legions of Phillies fans that packed buses to travel down I-95 and invade Nats Park.
It was so bad, late in the game the Nats HD scoreboard displayed a reminder from a Philadelphia-area charter group, advising Philly fans where to meet their tour guides after the game.
As for the actual baseball, John Lannan (L, 0-1, 12.27) looked good the first time through the Phillies vaunted batting order, surrendering just one hit and one walk in the first three innings. He would not escape the fourth, however.
Lannan allowed eight of ten batters to reach in the frame, turning a 1-0 lead into a 5-1 deficit before giving way to rookie Jesse English, making his major league debut after never appearaing above Double-A.
English retired all four batters he faced on the afternoon; his performance would be the high point of the affair for the Nats.
Reliever Miguel Batista poured gasoline on the fire when he entered, giving up two runs in his first inning of work. Manager Jim Riggleman allowed the veteran right-hander to go out for a second, and he promptly loaded the bases.
At that point, Riggleman brought in Jason Bergmann to relieve Batista. But Bergmann would provide no relief, as he surrendered a grand slam on his second pitch to Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco.
With the count 11-1 at that point in the seventh inning, Nats fans could be seen streaming from the park as their Philadelphia counterparts continued to chant "Let's Go Phillies" and even the occasional "E-A-G-L-E-S, EAGLES!".
The Nats got their sole run off Roy Halladay (W, 1-0, 1.29), making his National League debut, in the first inning. Nyjer Morgan led off with a high chop to short that he beat out and immediately stole second base, sliding feet-first. He scored on a Ryan Zimmerman blast to right center that hit off the top of the wall, missing a home run by mere feet.
That completed the scoring summary for the Nats on this beautiful, sunshine-filled afternoon.
So the first game of the 2010 season is in the books, and it will do nothing to erase the stigma of ineptitude attached to the Nationals in the public eye.
There will be better days ahead for this team and the organization. It's just tough to see it from here.
NATS NOTES: Ivan Rodriguez, in his Nats debut, went 3-for-4 with two doubles.
Desmond misplayed a grounder off the bat of slugger Ryan Howard in the first. Desmond was pulled around on the second base side of the infield in the exaggerated shift employed to defend Howard. There was no impact of the error.
Brian Bruney needed 33 pitches to get though the Phillies ninth inning, as he gave up a hit and walked two, loading the bases. He managed to escape with no damage, however.
Cristian Guzman went 0-for-2 and stranded four runners after being inserted as a pinch-hitter for Bergmann in the seventh inning.
Approximately 12 hours after the media reports of Donovan McNabb being traded to the Washington Redskins, a man was proudly sporting a McNabb No. 5 Redskins jersey on the Nats Park concourse.
Ryan Zimmerman was presented with his Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards in a ceremony before the game.