Now that we're in our seventh season of having a major league baseball team in D.C., memories of wandering 34 years in the desert without a team may have started to fade. I guess that's both good and bad - good in the fact that we're growing in to a baseball town with new history being made an, bad in that the years of struggle to get a team and the hard work that so many put in to make it happen is being forgotten. Count me among those who remember the years without, and now appreciate the years with.
With my wife and son, I made going to the Nats-Cubs game part of my July 4th celebration. Aside from the usual July humidity in our town, it could not have been a more enjoyable way to spend the afternoon. Shouldn't the nation's capital have a baseball team, and stadium as a venue, to honor the nation's independence and those who have sacrificed so much to protect it? What a crime it was to have not had that for more than three decades.
The pre game ceremonies really drove that home. The highlight, for me, was the children of service men and women killed in action, who took the field just before the first pitch. Each went to a different position on the field and shook hands with the Nationals player manning that spot. That's one of the really nice things that come along with having a team to call our own. If the Baltimore Orioles were still considered the hometown team, it wouldn't be the same.
The game itself will hardly be remembered as a classic with errors, walks, wild pitches and an ending that would have had a little league coach pulling his hair out. Jayson Werth (un-aptly named with a .221 average. He's not worth it!) stole third while Cubs reliever Carlos Marmol wasn't paying attention and scored the game winner on a wild pitch in the 10th. But it made the Nats .500 on the 4th of July! I'll bet that's only happened a handful of times in the entire history of major league baseball in Washington.
After that it was off to the Quarterdeck in Rosslyn for crabs and fireworks at Iwo Jima. It was one of the best 4th of Julys ever, thanks in large part to having baseball in town. We are Washington, D.C. - the All American city if there ever was one. The All American game should always reside here. Never was that more evident than on the 4th of July.
A Peek in to the Basketball Future
Last week I was buying a few things at Marshall's when a very tall guy with a huge afro got in the checkout line behind me. I said, "Boom!" He said, "Yeah man." It was Bambale Osby, who played basketball at Maryland from 2006-2008. He seemed happy to be recognized and was quite chatty.
Turns out he's been playing overseas since leaving College Park and has done quite well. He played in Romania and spent last season in Estonia, winning the MVP award in the league's All-Star game. We talked about the possiblity of NBA players going to play in Europe with the lockout in effect. He said the money probably wasn't enough to attract most players and the fringe guys might have trouble getting in. He said the European teams are more interested in signing players with experience playing in Europe.
As for money, he said he made $150 thousand dollars, was given the use of an apartment and a car. Not bad for a kid three years out of college. And he spend the offseason hangning at a place he has in Adams Morgan. As we talked, he was waiting to hear about a spot on a team in Puerto Rico. Best of all, Boom seemed happy and well grounded. Hell, he was shopping at Marshalls!
It was really refreshing to talk to an athlete with his athlete. Current NBA players might learn something about perspective talking to Bambale Osby.
When I was a kid, my father bought a 1965 Dodge Dart convertible. I loved riding around with him with the top down on the car. Unfortunately, family financial issues forced him to sell it after a couple of years. I figured when I entered the real world I would get a convertible of my own. Nearly 35 years after I started working for a living, I did.
Marriage, kids and always doing the responsible things delayed this gratification. Happens to most of us, I guess. But now as I approach my 53rd birthday, I finally have the wind in what's left of my hair as I drive around the beltway.
I bought a 2007 Saab convertible. It has a back seat, unlike the purchases of some of my friends who have gone through a middle-age crisis. I guess it's as practical a wild and crazy purchase as one can make. I can't wait to give my Dad a ride.