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The Clincher

I’ve written a lot of baseball-themed posts lately.  Here’s another one!

Thursday, September 20 was a beautiful day, so I got off the Metro two stops early and walked to Nationals Stadium.  Sometimes, the clientele on this route can be a bit unsettling.  For a brief period, I had to suffer through teenagers screaming at each other close around me.  I couldn’t make out what they were saying except fuck and fucking numerous times, which I felt was partly for my benefit.  I sighed.  Ignoring those who attempt to intimidate with aggressive displays of their own stupidity is a skill I practice so frequently that the errant behavior ceases even to surprise me anymore.

Soon, I was at the stadium.  The way the season had played out, this happened to be a game that could secure postseason play for the Nats.  Fans were anticipating an exciting and important game.

My sister and I headed to the food vendors to order hot dogs.

“Nats dog or all-beef?” the cashier asked.

“Nats dogs, please,” my sister replied.

I’d eaten a hot dog at nearly every game, but this was the first time I’d registered the meaning behind the choices.

“The Nats dogs aren’t all-beef?” I asked her.

She just stared at me for a beat, then shook her head.

“So, wait a minute.  What’s in …?”  I trailed off, then righted myself.  “Nevermind, I don’t want to think about it.”  We spoke no more of it.

Sitting in Section 131 was a little odd because we had to look right, away from home plate, to see the antics of our favorite fan, The Viking.  However, it was Hispanic Heritage Night, so instead of the usual music intervals, the screen showed fun facts and historical stories.  He didn’t get to dance much, but we were repeatedly prompted to ignite our Natitude in Spanish, which almost made up for it: Enciende tu Natitude!

The game was, as my mother would say, “freakin’ awesome!”  It was also educational.  Some Dodgers fans were sitting in front of us and turned their caps inside out about the 7th or 8th inning.  My sister’s iPhone explained to us that this is a “rally cap.”  The Dodgers did not, in fact, rally, but I learned something new!

At the last out, fireworks erupted and the already-standing fans cheered and screamed.  NATS CLINCH ran in capital letters around the stadium’s tickers.

The last time I really followed a team this closely, it was the Orioles, years and years ago when they were pretty terrible.  At one game I attended, the other team was pummeling the Orioles so badly (the score was something like 15 to 0), the Baltimore fans got disgusted and began cheering for the other team.

I’m certainly not a typical baseball fan.  Hardly a sports enthusiast, I can’t ignore the inner voice that reminds me of all the things problematic about baseball and pretty much all other professional sports: the role of women, the greed of players and owners, the physical and medical tolls, the idolization of athletes who neither deserve nor strive to earn much worthy respect, etc, etc.

But this is still pretty exciting.

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