Monday, March 31, 2008

Field of Dreams

**WARNING** This is another "baseball, not kvetch"-related post. You have been warned.

We all hope for moments in life to justify the decisions we make. You want that new job to fulfill you more, even though it pays less. You hope the crazy color you painted your walls complements your eclectic furniture. You pray that the test comes back negative after the fun but possibly calamitous "accident."

And you hope that years of slavish (and continually mocked) devotion to a slow-moving sport will pay off eventually with one moment of bliss.

Last night was my moment.

When the Montreal Expos, the Jamaican Bobsled Team of Major League Baseball, moved to Washington, the city was excited. When the DC Council, after much recrimination and backbiting, approved the construction of a new baseball stadium, there was both excitement and dismay at the cost of a stadium in a city whose schools were crumbling. But last night, there was total joy, at least for those hardy few of us present at newly-christened Nationals Park.

When tickets for the first game at the new stadium went on sale, I had two computers and my phone working feverishly to get tickets. Alas, it was not to be. Scalped tickets on StubHub were going for 15-50 times face value. Not gonna happen. But then my wonderful cousin, with her back-alley ties, managed to get us tickets for a high, but not too unreasonable price. And my wonderful wife told me to go for it.

It was oold. The lines for hot chocolate and coffee were atrocious. But after a really remarkable half-pound hamburger (Grays Grill behind the scoreboard) we settled in to watch baseball in My Personal Mecca. And the Nationals did not disappoint.

Baseball is well-known for being slow-moving and often incomprehensible. But there are moments when even the novice fan can somehow feel the tension and excitement of a key situation. With the score tied at 2 in the bottom of the last inning, the moment that justified my decision to spend an exorbitant amount of money to sit in the cold on a late-March night, came to pass.

The crack of the bat was like a rifle shot. I didn't think the ball had the distance. But the first Home Run for the Nationals in their new stadium was the game-winner, hit by the face of the franchise, Ryan Zimmerman. I don't think anybody breathed for a moment, and suddenly I found myself jumping up and down and screaming in pure orgasmic bliss. My wife was crying. A walk-off home run, in the first game in the new stadium, agaisnt a powerful team, on national television. It was the perfect moment, and one I'm sure I will remember for the rest of my life.

I'm not ashamed to admit it. I love baseball, and last night was why.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Damnit, just pick someone!

Listening to the news on the radio, it becomes apparent that we're not going to have a democratic nominee for president until after the Pennsylvania primaries. We knew this for a while, but it becomes apparent how dumb this is after hearing that John McCain, (R-Old) has been making trips to the Middle East (and other countries), trying to solve some problems, meet foreign leaders, etc. You know, stuff that makes him look...I don't presidential material. And, in the meanwhile, there is nothing happening in the democratic race whatsoever, except for the wrangling by two crybaby states over the fact that their delegates won't count.

As an aside, there is a palpable irony to the fact that Florida (who should not, at this point, be trusted to run a high school student council election) and Michigan moved their primaries early, so that they would have a critical voice. If they had kept their primaries when they were supposed to be, they would actually gotten a critical voice in deciding who the nominee was. Instead, they chose to make themselves irrelevant, and are now whining that their votes should still count. And that the national party should pay to run elections again. No matter how those state votes turn out, it'll be a travesty on some level, and someone will cry foul, and there will be infighting and lawsuits.

You always wonder how the democrats will manage to screw up the presidential election. Well, now we know! While the undisputed republican candidate is going off, making friends with world leaders, and not having to campaign against anyone from his own party, he is free to make the democratic candidates look indecisive, non-presidential, petty, and weak.

In short, democrats, just pick someone! I know who I would prefer, but I like the other candidate too. If they were at the head of the ticket, that would be fine with me. And everyone else. Polling generally shows that while democrats have a preference, they would stiull support whichever candidate gets the nomination. But just pick someone! And in doing so, force teh republican nominee to stop going off to other countries, making himself look good, and bring him to task right here, in the 50 states that will determine who becomes our next president. (Okay, likely the 10 or so that will be in play, but we can dream of a fight that might actually have to be waged in 50 states). If we just pick someone, we can actually begin the real fight, showing the American people why a democratic preident (and a democratic congress) is better for America.

But, instead, we'll have at least another month of pointless, unproductive wrangling, where the two candidates snipe at each other, instead of challenging the republicans. Where the superdelegates will decide the winner, leaving the actual voting public feeling so disenfranchised that some of them won't even come out and vote. Where the two candidates, in their rush to win, will tear each other down so thoroughly that whoever wins will have given the republicans ammunition to fight the eventual winner with. And that, friends, is how the democrats will screw up this one. So, for the party's sake, for the country's sake, Just pick one now!

As another aside, can we finally pick someone? Yes we can.