Swatting Flies

August 24, 2009
DC029

The Nats stadium that night.

Last Thursday night, my dear friend Doug Ross and I hied ourselves hence to Nationals Stadium to plop butts in his season-ticket Washington Nats seats. First of all, the in-person baseball was lousy, because the temp was near 90 and so was the cloying humidity. Even President Obama, a Hawaii native (or is he, mmmwahahahah!), split town the next day for Martha’s Vineyard and bronchial comfort: Michelle, kids, this weather stinks!

Wetness without rain means that even solidly struck baseballs don’t go as high or as far as they ordinarily would. Those of you who couldn’t care less about the previous sentence (“couldn’t,” not “could,” goddammit!) are free now to skip to this sign: ***

I love baseball in big-league stadiums (stadia?); you had me at “baseball.” So much so that now I’m going to sit in unendurable heat with Doug, only he’s such a VIP that we can duck into the air-conditioned horizontal shopping- and food mall whenever we want. In fact, whenever the doors to that VIP mall occasionally open, a burst of A/Ced air fans out and cools everything for about :10. But hell, it’s still thrilling to be sitting there as nothing happens, which is basically what occurred in the first three innings. You can talk casually while you’re witnessing an (ever-increasingly corporate and) amazing spectacle. The Nats are currently the worst team in the Show, but I liken the experience to watching a Broadway musical composed entirely of understudies: the stars aren’t there, conceded, but the overall  level of expertise is still mightily entertaining. The very worst big-leaguer, whoever he may be, is still so much better at his job than you could have ever dreamed when you were a kid swatting a Tee-ball. (They didn’t have that sport when I was growing up, but still.)

I became an honorary but heartfelt Nat fan (Doug gave me a Nat hat!) the moment the Presidential Race took place before their 4th inning: four Presidents, with costume-heads so huge that their flailing feet make them resemble Hanna-Barbera characters, book it from left center field to the first-base dugout, and “Teddy,” who is always the fan favorite, has to compete against “Abe,” “George,” and “Tom.”  “Teddy” always loses, mostly inventing ways to lose. I loved it, and so did the fans. Only in Washington.

Please don’t think I have anything against the baseball team. But when the Presidential Race was announced as “The Main Event!” I felt for the players. (A guy came down the stairs with a popcorn box and told his buddy, “We made it!” He was talking about the Presidential Race, not the game.) Doug and I left after the 7th. I felt too many Nats fans had done the same, but it was a brutal evening. Coming soon, why the Nats and Mets play real baseball, but the Yankees don’t.

*** We also got in a round of golf (Doug is good, but he’s also one of those encouraging personalities, so my blatant suckage didn’t feel so bad), and he and Kathie are oenophiles, so it was a swell long weekend in Arlington. You cannot drive past the glorious monuments without feeling a patriotic twinge. Hey: Washington must have really been the father of our country, if you get my drift…

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