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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Auspicious beginnings

In 1971, the Washington Senators left. I was six years old. Having been born and raised in Washington, D.C. and the D.C. suburbs, I didn't have a local MLB team to root for* so I decided long ago that, if MLB didn't want us, then I didn't want them, but I kept an open mind. I vowed that if D.C. ever DID get awarded another MLB franchise, that I would follow them with interest. Little did I realize how completely captivated I would become by the former Montreal Expos.

Since the arrival of the Washington Nationals in 2005, I have made up for lost time in a big way. I attended as many games as I could that first year (including the second home game and the final home game that year) and I have devoured information about Major League Baseball, trying to learn everything I possibly could about our national pasttime. Websites and blogs have become a huge part of my continuing education and I thought of writing one myself, but I was hesitant. What the hell did I know about baseball anyway? I never even played Little League. I didn't have decades of baseball observation to draw upon and the bloggers that were already in existence were already doing an amazing job, so what on earth was I going to contribute?

I finally figured it out: simple fan-experience blogging. Oh, sure, some other great bloggers already do some of this, but I've built some wonderful relationships with some people who work for the team or work at the games in some capacity and, to borrow a phrase from Jimmy Fallon's character, Ben Wrightman, in
Fever Pitch, "They're my summer family". To me, one of baseball's great virtues (and of sports teams in general, for that matter) is building a better sense of community. I've met so many wonderful people whom I might never have met otherwise, and it has been one of the great blessings of my life. I like to joke that I go out to R.F.K. Stadium to see my friends and a ballgame always breaks out!

In 2006 I bought 81-game season tickets and attended as many games as I possibly could. I have renewed for 2007 and I await the arrival of my tickets with great eagerness. No, I can't make all 81 home games, but this plan allows me to attend all of the games that I want to, and share my tickets with family and friends, spreading the wealth of the experience.

I hope to document, to the best of my abilities, the final baseball season at R.F.K. Stadium, and beyond. The Nats will move into their beautiful new ballpark in 2008 and, while I have no doubt that it will be a glorious monument to baseball and a gem in the MLB crown which I look forward to spending many happy hours attending, I mourn the passing of R.F.K.'s usefulness as a baseball venue. Sure, it's over 45 years old and very spartan in amenities that so many baseball fans have become used to in other cities, but it has character and precious memories for thousands of baseball (and football, and soccer) fans. It may be a dump, but it's OUR dump! I saw the Senators there with my dad, as well as the Redskins. A part of me will always be sad to no longer have it for these sports.

You won't find cutting-edge statistical analysis here, I'm simply not equipped to do that, and there are already so many more-qualified bloggers who can analyze statistics, both passionately and dispassionately. What you WILL find here is unbridled enthusiasm for a find organization. If you want my views on the hot dogs, the stadium sound system, wonderful vendors and how the beer tastes, then bookmark this site today.

Oh, I'm also going to post the results of the President's races and track them this season. This is my single-biggest axe to grind with the team so far. Last season, when the Lerner family took control of the team during the Cubs series, the Nationals began doing live President's races, with HUGE costumed versions of president's Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt (the four featured on Mt. Rushmore, another American icon, you see?) From that time until the last day of the season, the Theodore Roosevelt character never one ONE SINGLE RACE. As an amateur presidential scholar and T.R. enthusiast, I was outraged. Theodore Roosevelt was, quite possibly, our nations most physically-fit president, and a tremendous competitor. I worry that the children who watched his representation fail to win any races might believe that the actual T.R. was unathletic. The actual Theodore Roosevelt would have mopped the floor with any other president in our history in a fair race, and I want fans to be aware of this! Okay, I'll get off of my soapbox now.

I hope that you enjoy reading my little portion of the blog-o-sphere. I welcome your comments.

* I never watched the Baltimore Orioles growing up and never attended an Orioles game until I went to Camden Yards sometime in my late 20's. I have nothing against the Orioles except for the efforts by their current owner which kept baseball out of D.C. for so many years.


Anonymous said...

Nice...You are book marked.

Have you tried the brisket? ;-)


Joe Riley said...

Ha! Yes, indeed, I loved the brisket, but I keep going back to the Hard Times Chili-Mac 5 ways :-) Either that or a chili dog. I can't wait to see if there are even more food options this year, or if they will wait for the new stadium.

WFY said...

Welcome to the Natmosphere!

Brandon Kriner said...

Welcome to the Natosphere, Joe. I've added a link to your site on my to link back?

The Curly W: http://curlyw.blogspot.comh

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