Sports commentary: Nats and dogs

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Great trip to DC marred by lousy game

By Mike Forster

  The wife and I showed up.  So did the First Lady.  The foam-headed presidents also were there.

Heck, even the Dalai Lama pulled into town.

The teams, though?  They didn’t make it.

Ma and Pa Kettle (otherwise known as the wife and I) headed to our nation’s capital last week for a festive time, which included a Nats game featuring my beloved Cubbies.

Oddly, that ball game was the lowlight of our trip.

There was plenty that was great about it, though.  First, we took Amtrak to the big city.  The price to ride the train:  Fifty-eight bucks for a round-trip ducat.  For perspective, I saw plenty of parking lots in the city that charged $35 for an overnight.

Ah, the train.  No dealing with the beltway traffic.  No watching your fuel gauge light up like the Fourth of July.  No getting lost.

Another great thing about the train?  The Quiet Car.  Ah, the Quiet Car is a sanctuary that prohibits loud talking, cell phones and screaming babies.  By comparison, the Quiet Car makes the Library of Congress seem like the Tower of Babel.

This being a trip for the wife and me, dining played a central role.  No sooner were we off the train than we found ourselves at the Cafe Berlin.  Weisswurst for her; Bauernwurst for me.  A big honkin’ hunk of poppyseed cake for the two of us.  All washed down with a draft of German Pilsner.  

While all was well on the food front, I’m going to air our only complaint about the trip:  The game was a dog.

The pitching matchup had Chicago’s Ramon Ortiz (0-0) going against Washington’s Ross Detwiler (0-0).  When was the last time you saw a lineup in early July in which the two pitchers did not have a decision? 

The Cubs also were absent Starlin Castro, their only selectee for this year’s National League All-Star team.  That was a fairly noticeable hole.

The Nats, for their part, played neither Pudge Rodriguez, my favorite catcher, nor Michael Morse, the team’s hottest player.

In essence, it was like watching a minor league game.  When you consider our tickets cost a mere ten bucks apiece, though, that makes it a bit easier to accept the poor quality.

Nothing could save this pig (or dog), and that included an appearance by Michelle Obama.

That’s right, the First Lady showed up at the old ballpark.  It seems she’s very involved in the support of the families of deployed troops.

The Nats have a program that also supports those families, and they honored them before the ball game by having them come onto the field.

I hadn’t expected a White Sox-loving First Lady to come to a Cubs game, but there she was.

As for the Dalai Lama, I didn’t exactly see him at the game.  He was, however, in Washington to conduct a very devout religious ritual.  While I doubt he had time (or interest) in the game, having him around was certainly a thrill.  I saw lots of  guys walking around with my same haircut (the baldo-waldo look).  Of course, they were adorned in special Tibetan robes, while I passed by in a golf shirt and shorts.

The presidential foam-head guys?  Well, the Nats host a race between innings.  At each game, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt square off in a footrace.

Sure, Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves and preserved the Union.  Yes, he led the nation through its most trying times.  No doubt, he was a martyr to the very principles for which he stood.

But, on this night, Honest Abe’s glory came as the winner of the fourth-inning footrace at Nationals Park, edging out Teddy Roosevelt, who had become distracted by some fans along the right field wall.

Hopefully, there’s a history lesson in all of this for the tykes, though I’m hard-pressed to come up with it.

Still, while the baseball was bad, it was a great experience.  In short, I urge you to get to D.C.  Catch a Nats game, eat some great food, watch the foam-head presidents.

And say “hey” to the Dalai Lama’s guys.