Sunday, May 07, 2006

Tepid Pitch

So I went to the Nationals game last night. This would be rather unremarkable but for the fact that part of my identity is the guy who plays fantasy baseball without actually having gone to a major league game since the strike of 1994 (#94, to be updated). I've been to minor league games since '94, just not the big leagues. Sheer stubbornness tinged with principle has been what's kept me away so long -- of course baseball is about money, but when the owners and players allowed the World Series to be canceled, it became clear that they really don't care about anything else.

On top of that, these are the Nationals, the team that screwed up the field for DC United because they now share the same stadium (though I must concede that after the first few games things have run fairly smoothly), and which the city is paying out over $600M in a sweetheart deal to build a new stadium for multi-millionaires.

You might ask what drove me to this decision, to which I respond that all the principle I've been holding onto has no place in resisting the wishes of Kathy when it's her birthday weekend -- a friend of hers had invited us, and amazingly enough, it was she who wanted to go. Later I constructed a rationalization that really I was simply attending the nearest minor league game -- the Nats were hosting the Pirates, and the two teams entered the weekend with a combined winning percentage (not batting average) of .288, at 17-42.

So after all that, the question remains whether I enjoyed myself. The answer is, not really. It wasn't because there was resentment at Kathy for making me go -- I was actually in decent spirits, and enjoyed the company. Among other things I was working with Kathy's friend to teach her to keep score (it was the friend's idea). I was underdressed for the game (it actually got pretty nippy), but I survived that ok. The problem was that these teams were simply bad. The Nats' pitcher labored through five innings, throwing over 100 pitches in the process. The Pirates' catcher had the dubious distinction of making two errors on the same play (threw it into center in trying to throw out a runner, letting the man on third come home, then misfielded the return throw, allowing the runner who started on first to make it to third). At least the Pirates' pitcher settled down after giving up four early runs, at one time retiring 10 straight batters. Another weird thing about the game was just how much the fans relied on the loudspeakers and scoreboard to induce them to cheer -- there's no piped music or anything at United games and we still cheer plenty, but then again, there's much less down time in a soccer game than in baseball.

After nine innings, Kathy was ready to head home -- the pregnancy leaves her exhausted and it was already past her bedtime. Sadly, the game went to extra innings, so we left without knowing who would win, but truth be told, neither of us really cared. Kathy says she's not inclined to go back, and I can't say I'm itching to return. But I guess I can no longer say never.