Sunday, October 02, 2005

Bittersweet Symphony

It was hard to leave RFK today. I was sitting in section 131, right down the left foul line. Last seat in the row, all the way against the wall. Great place to sit.

The game ended. The game itself doesn't really matter. Both teams were eliminated from the playoffs, one a week ago, and one today by the Astros victory. So it was a game, and it was played, and it ended. The heat had been brutal all game, and I even took an inning off in the team store to do some shopping and to get out of the heat, as I was worried that I was starting to have some heat-related problems. But I didn't leave. I didn't want to leave. Not during the game, not after the game. I just wanted to be there in RFK, just to breath it in, just to realize that it all happened. It all really happened.

It seemed like a dream, the whole season. I've not been waiting for baseball as long as some people have. Some were waiting since Bob Short broke DC's heart so many years ago. I've just been waiting since I moved to the area around 13 years ago, so less than half of the dark period between the Senators leaving town, and the Expos coming in. And there's not been any point this season where I wasn't sure I'd wake up, say to someone "how about them Nats" and they respond with a confused look. Baseball came so close, just to shy away so many times, even during the short time that I've been waiting for a team to come here...I was certain that it was all just a dream.

Well, I think today, somewhere around the point that the last Philly out of the game was recorded, I finally, and fully woke up, and realized that this has all been real, and that it's been just a beautiful thing. 81-81. It's disappointing when considering that we were 50-31 at one point, but so what, damnit. That's 162 more games than a DC baseball team has played in three decades. I'm not going to say that baseball being here excuses any of the sins of the season, but for this night, it's all I ask of a team. For the next few hours, nothing that the Nats did matters, cause they did it in DC.

The post game ceremony was just havoc. The team had recorded messages to the fans, but they were drowned out by a stadium that didn't go home, and just kept applauding a team that just lost as though they had won the World Series. There's just one thing that everyone cared about: DC Baseball. It was fan appreciation day, and they said a lot of stuff about DC fans being the best in baseball...and there was a time that I ignored the cliche, and actually thought it might be true. Sticking with a team to the bitter end, and showing up 35,000 strong for no reason other than to take in those last nine innings.

And a magical season has now come to a close. Tomorrow a rather major postseason starts, filled with stadium plans, owners, and the question of who is in and out in the front office. But for now. DC Baseball. That's all it's about. DC Baseball.

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