Washington, D.C. may have a Major League baseball team again, but it’s still a minor league town.
The long-suffering residents of our nation’s capital are twitterpated over the Washington Nationals, the first Major League Baseball team in Washington since the expansion Senators moved to Texas in 1971. As a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, who lived through thirty-two years of that franchise’s eighty-six year curse, I find the monomania over the displaced and hapless Montreal Expos a bit affected and tedious. Moreover, there is perhaps no place on earth less deserving of a baseball team than the town that brought us the steroid-in-baseball show trials.
Regardless, it’s here. And I am forced to suffer in ways like I did last Thursday, the day of “the Nats” (Gnats?) home opener at RFK Stadium.
You see, I work in downtown Washington, D.C., and I live in Annapolis, Maryland. That means I endure the crowded and jerky Orange Line on the D.C. Metro, with its omnipresent scent of urine and squalid padded seats, every morning and every evening. As torturous as my commute already is, it just got worse, because RFK Stadium sits right on the Orange Line.
Boarding a train at Metro Center Station last Thursday evening on my commute home from work took three tries. Each train, including the one I eventually boarded, was packed to the rank armpits with all the usual mole people plus the geeked out losers in Nationals caps who don’t even know what they’re all excited about yet.
Amidst the sardine can was a plump, surly woman who shouted, “I’m getting so f—king irritated,” and about fifty other people who offered the unhelpful admonition, “Move back folks, move back.” Any further back and an attractive woman smushed against the side door would have spilled out onto the track itself, left for road kill. But thanks for the tip.
The only comic relief, for me at least, came when a guy who had obviously enjoyed some pre-game refreshments blurted out randomly, “See you in Hell, Trebek,” reminiscent of the Sean Connery caricature on the long-running Saturday Night Live Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches. His impression was way off, but valiant. I laughed. So did he. Everyone else seethed.
The city fathers who orchestrated this baseball-returns-to-our-nation’s-capital contrivance obviously didn’t think through how people would get to and from the games. But neither were the food hustlers at the stadium prepared. The morning after the home opener, rumors reverberated all over town. A forty-five minute wait for chicken fingers. Three innings missed while buying a hotdog. Apparently they didn’t prepare enough food in advance of the game. They just started cooking when the home plate umpire yelled, “play ball!” How could they live in this town and not know about the rapacious entitlement mentality of its average citizen? Every other person in this swamp is on some form of government assistance. When they want a hotdog, dammit, you better have a hotdog for them. Make that a government-subsidized hotdog.
As for one key constituency of paying customers, well, they’re really fans of some other team back home. They’re unlikely to form any lasting emotional bonds with the Gnats. A huge portion of the population in Washington and Northern Virginia is transient. Young people move here from all over the country, their suitcases bulging with high ideals. They nab a gig on Capitol Hill; a Congressional page, an intern, an LA, an LD, what have you. Things will be different when I’m in charge, they say. Only it stays the same or gets worse. So, burnt out, our subject grows disillusioned inside of two years and moves back to wherever it was he/she came from. How do the Gnats plan to build a loyal following when they are a living example of how useless, pointless and corrupting this town is?
See you in hell, indeed, Trebek.