April 15, 2005


At RFK, Good Times Are Here Again (Thomas Boswell, April 15, 2005, Washington Post)

Baseball arrived in Washington at precisely 8:14 last night at RFK Stadium when Vinny Castilla sliced a triple into the right field corner in the fourth inning of a scoreless game. Two swift Nationals, Jose Vidro and Jose Guillen, raced around the bases to score the first runs in a major league game in this town in 34 years. As Castilla slid into third, the crowd behind the home dugout jumped up and down in unison, just as it had risen as one at the end of the first half-inning in a spontaneous ovation for two strikeouts by starter Livan Hernandez.

However, it wasn't just the box seats that bounced. The entire upper deck, including the press box, began the same unmistakable swaying up and down that marked so many touchdowns in the Redskins' glory days. Then you could see the whole upper deck sway. The Washington crowd hasn't quite got the knack of it yet, not after one game. But the fans are learning fast. All that was required was one Washington run after 33 vacant seasons and the place rocked on its old hinges.

"Holy [expletive]," said team president Tony Tavares, who watched the game in the presidential box with President Bush and Commissioner of Baseball Bud Selig.

"It does scare you when you first feel it," said Tony Siegle, the Nationals' assistant general manager. "Does that happen often?"

If the Nationals keep winning games like this 5-3 victory over Arizona, with Hernandez allowing only one scratch infield single over the first eight innings, then this old park will shake frequently. And if the Nats stay in first place in the National League East for a while, it'll shimmy a lot more.

Go Nats! (Charles Krauthammer, April 15, 2005, Washington Post)
David Brooks of The New York Times wonders whether, as a lifelong Mets fan, he is morally permitted to jump ship and pledge allegiance to the new team of his (relatively) new hometown, the Washington Nationals (nee Montreal Expos).

It's a charming dilemma, but it raises a more fundamental question: What is with this rooting business in the first place?

It is one thing to root for your son's Little League team. After all, he is your kid, and you paid for his glove -- and uniform, helmet, bat, and, when he turns 9, cup. You have a stake in him, and by extension his team.

But what possible stake do grown men have in the fortunes of 25 perfect strangers, vagabond mercenaries paid obscene sums to play a game for half the year?

The whole thing is completely irrational. For me, this is no mere abstract question. I have been a baseball fan most of my life. I could excuse the early years, the Mantle-Maris era, as mere childish hero worship. But what excuse do I have now? Why should I care about these tobacco-spitting, crotch-adjusting multimillionaires who have never heard of me and would not care if I was dispatched to my maker by an exploding scoreboard?

Why? I have no idea.

As the poet said: Ours not to reason why, ours to try and figure out the rule on an infield fly...

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 15, 2005 9:55 AM


Posted by: David Cohen at April 15, 2005 10:19 AM

Be careful - the PC mascot police will try to punish you for that remark.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 15, 2005 10:55 AM

The Nats are endeering right now, but trust me, if there's any success after a few years the Washington media's sense of entitlement and self-importance will make them as obnoxious to the rest of the country as most other things that come out of the nation's capital.

Posted by: John at April 15, 2005 11:14 AM

How else do you explain people rooting for Cleveland?

Posted by: David Cohen at April 15, 2005 11:18 AM

Charlie Sheen?

Posted by: ratbert at April 15, 2005 11:47 AM

I'll be amusing to see the Ex-Expos do a Nordiques just a few seasons after Bud tried to euthanize them.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at April 15, 2005 12:15 PM