February 20, 2005

Baseball in DC! (Finally!)

With all the news about steroids, you might think there's not a lot of good news about baseball this year as spring training begins. Well, you'd be wrong. As evidence, I offer the section of the Washington Post devoted to the area's new team, the Nationals (or Nats, as some are calling them). Day One, for example:

For the 29 other teams in baseball, reporting day is one of mindless formalities. All players are really required to do is show up and have their name checked off a list; often, teams are satisfied with a phone call saying, "I'm around."

But for the Nationals, reporting day carried an air of import. As of Tuesday, baseball's return to the District after a 34-year absence has a focal point, a headquarters, a collective face. The team will not work out formally until Thursday, will not play an exhibition game until March 2 and will not open their inaugural season until April 4. But no more does Washington have to worry that its dream will end tragically before any real players get on the field.

"It's like, wow, this is really going to happen," said veteran pitcher Seth Greisinger, a McLean native who now lives in Arlington and is trying to win a spot on the Nationals' roster. "Everyone up [in the D.C. area] thought [the deal] was going to break down. That's what D.C. was always known for. Everybody I know back home has already bought their tickets."

I used to live in Annandale, Virginia, 10 miles outside DC. While I was there the city had just lost the original Senators to Minnesota and been handed an awful expansion team, which itself departed for Texas not so many years later. All these years some civic boosters have been trying to get a new team, and they finally succeeded this year when the Montréal Expos were moved out of the increasingly empty Stade Olympique and down to Washington. Reading the Post's sportswriters as they discuss this new team is enjoyable; there's a feeling of giddiness about the whole thing. I'm happy for the neighborhood.

Posted by Linkmeister at February 20, 2005 01:48 PM