Monday, February 21, 2005

Pitchers, Catchers, and Fans Report

I'm not going to comment on what is going on on ESPN right now. They will find a way out of this slump, or Bill Self will find himself a new job. You think what happened to Matt Doherty at Carolina was bad? Wait to see what happens if Self's old team faces Roy's new team in the NCAA championship, and KU is nowhere to be seen.

OK, enough. I'm not commenting. Really.

Back to the topic at hand: Whenever I'm in range of a major league club, I go to a few games a year. At KU I went to Royals games, when what is now Kauffman Stadium was brand new, and the Royals were an up and coming team. At IU we drove the 120+ miles to Cincinnati to see the end of the Big Red Machine. At Rutgers, I braved the D-train from Penn Station up to Yankee Stadium, even wearing a Royals hat, and surviving. (OK, I didn't wear a Royals hat in the bleacher seats, just in the main seating stadium.) When I'm in Boston in the summer I find a way to get into Fenway Park, even if it's in the Uecker section.

And for the last twenty years, I've made my way up to Balmer to see the Orioles, either in Memorial Stadium or Camden Yards. They only year I missed going to at least one game was when we were out of the country.

But now, I'm Peter Angelos's worst nightmare: I've bought a share of a 20-game ticket package to RFK to see the Washington Nationals.

It's an easy decision, really. For one thing, the Orioles have been mediocre for years. For another, I work in DC, so even though I live about 20 miles from both RFK and Camden, I pass by RFK every day on my way home. And finally, I want something I can be a part of from the ground up. That was the fun of being a Royals fan in the 70s -- here was a team in a city rejected by baseball, building itself up, overcoming the Yankees' ability to hire more expensive players (having a billionare owner helped), and actually beating the Yankees in 1980 and winning the series in 1985. Since then, of course, it's been all down hill, but there is always a chance of a future rise.

The Nationals also come from nowhere, since the last few years in Montreal and Puerto Rico were just playing out the string. It's a new beginning for what is essentially a new team, in the city that baseball forgot.

And I get to be a part of it.