“You better get out here this weekend. In a couple of weeks you’ll wish you had baseball.” The offhand comment of Nats’ color commentator, F.P. Santangelo provided the very small nudge needed for the Halls to make one more trek up 95 to celebrate baseball in our nation’s capital. Growing up a Cardinals fan, I “watched” baseball most summer evenings over KMOX radio. Harry Caray and Jack Buck brought those wonderful Cardinals teams of the 1960’s into our home and car. For Dawn, her beloved Dodgers were the “anti-Yankees.” Our allegiance changed in 2005 when the Expos moved to Washington, creating a home team experience for us that we have grown to treasure.
Monthly trips to Nats Park have become the norm as we work to spend up our daughter’s inheritance.
Though cloudy and cool the last weekend in September, the outlook for this young and talented team is certainly sunny. Taking the Braves down on both Saturday and Sunday, the Nationals gave the Cardinals just the opening they needed to overtake the Braves for the National League wild card slot. Playing a late September game that actually means something is extra special, and even though our Nats did not secure a playoff berth, we certainly played a major part in crowning the eventual champion.
Just after the conclusion of the World Series, I write on this dreary Monday afternoon with a now clearer understanding of what Santangelo was saying. Our evenings seem somewhat empty now and we already miss the great game. I am forced to remember the painful truth penned by A. Bartlett Giamatti. The quote goes back to 1977, just prior to his being named President of Yale and more than a decade before he became baseball’s commissioner. In his Green Fields of the Mind Giamatti wrote, “It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”
Football is not our drawing card. In a few weeks, VCU basketball and then the Monument Avenue 10K training team will create very nice diversions for us as we struggle to make it through the winter. In the end however, it will be the beckoning call for pitchers and catchers to report that will again warm our hearts and re-ignite the eternal optimism of spring.