Yes, I know that's supposed to read "Take BACK Our Ballpark". But who is kidding whom?!?
Despite the Washington Nationals quick start and positioning at the top of the National League East, they are still scrounging through homeless camps and the Halls of Congress - because no one can really tell the difference - for fans of any stripe, color, religion or national origin! Check the video from any recent game. An almost boundless sea of empty seats ...
The situation was even a topic of discussion today on the political talk show, "Morning Joe" when political analyst and Meet the Press moderator David Gregory visited the show. Gregory admitted to being a big Nationals fan, not something a lot of people even in Washington, D.C. are willing to admit! He bemoaned the lack of support a first-place team was receiving in its early season run to overthrow the Philadelphia Phillies, winners of the last five NL East regular season campaigns.
But baseball teams in Washington, D.C. have NEVER drawn well in my lifetime, which is why the country's primary political city went for so long without a team after the Senators left (their SECOND iteration!) in 1971 to become the Texas Rangers. The original Washington Senators/Nationals were founded in 1894 as the Kansas City Blues. They moved to D.C. in 1901 to become one of the eight original Major League teams.
In 1960, MLB granted Minnesota an expansion franchise. But the Senators' owner, Calvin Griffith, perhaps seeing the writing of Take Back Our Ballpark on the wall, pleaded with MLB to let his team flee to Minnesota (You KNOW you have a serious problem when you're chasing people to Minnesota!) and allow Washington D.C. to have the expansion team.
I also seem to recall several attempts by various groups in both houses of Congress - at one time or another - petitioning MLB to grant D.C. a team.
My hunch is that the Nationals ticket sales team - or the U.S. Senate, take your pick - came up with this brilliant marketing scheme, not to attract some Nationals fans to the park, but to lure even more out-of-town Phillies fans down to D.C., just to liven the place up a bit! It's the only way the marketing move makes any sense, since D.C. area dwellers would rather attend a State of the Union after-party than go to a Nationals game!
Anyways ... as the good Phillies fan I raised him to be, my eldest son came up with the great idea of buying me - and him - two tickets to one of the games during their "Take Back the Park" initiative for my February birthday. What a GREAT idea!!
Of course reality strikes when you consider the benefits of saving the Earth from the ravages of global warming/chilling/wetting/changing and taking the Amtrak down to the Seat of National Government. $300 for round-trip railway tickets, including regional trains bracketing the Amtrak portion of the junket!!
Take Back the Ballpark with a three-hour drive and $50 in environmental poisoning, I say!
Should be a great time, though I'm not thrilled with the prospects of a 1:05 PM start time, requiring an 8:30-9:00 AM departure. But at least Congress will be off the streets!
We'll be sitting in the first row of the left field bleachers!
(For more from Hatboro Mike on Phillies baseball, visit The View from Section 135!)