“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.”
— Greg, age 8
I love baseball. Love it. There’s no place in the world I’d rather be on a warm spring day than at a ballpark, with a cold beer in one hand and a hot dog in the other, listening to the crack of the bat and the cheers of the crowd.
I played ball myself for about 12 years, from the time I was 7 or 8 until I graduated from high school. I still play now whenever I get the opportunity, which isn’t often, and I miss it. In high school, I lived across the railroad tracks from the baseball field at the local college, and I used to go watch the boys play and dream that one of them would notice me in the stands (I was partial to a second baseman named Mike [and Karen laughs, because of course his name was Mike]), but of course that never happened.
Going to a big league ballpark is one of life’s better experiences, in my opinion, and I try to go as often as I can. This season, I’ve got tickets to four Nationals games at the new stadium, and partly by design and partly by luck, three of those games are against the Braves, who are “my” team, including Opening Night tonight. Tickets to tonight’s game sold out in six minutes, because everyone wants to see the new stadium, and I was lucky enough to score two of them. The seats aren’t nearly as good as the ones I had at RFK in September, but they overlook the visitors bullpen, and being a Braves fan, that suits me just fine.
Nate is coming up for the game, and although his allegiance runs, inexplicably, to the Cubs, he roots for the Nats against my Braves just to get my goat. But on the flip side, he humors me and my non-stop chatter about my baseball boyfriend Brian McCann (and seriously, why can you not buy his jersey? I love Chipper and Smoltzy and Francoeur as much as the next girl, but let’s show a catcher some love, shall we?), and the looooooong-awaited return of my other baseball boyfriend Mike Hampton, and my love of ballplayers who still wear the short pants and long socks, and the way I shout Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the 7th-inning-stretch, and just generally turn into a big, goofy, giddy dork the second I set foot in a baseball stadium.
Every time I’ve seen the Braves in person, they’ve lost. I’m convinced this is the season that ends, starting now. So think of me around 8:15 tonight when the President is throwing out the first pitch. You can even watch the game if you like – it’s ESPN’s primetime game – maybe you’ll see me in the stands. I’ll be the one in the Braves hat, standing next to a big guy in a Nats shirt. And I’m sure we’ll be the only ones dressed like that.