The air, no longer crisp by East Coast standards, blows coolly through the windows of the Uber taking us to opening day at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. Shafts of sunlight dart in and out of the broken clouds swirling overhead with the urgency of early springtime. The cherry blossoms shimmer in the mottled sunlight as we approach their show-stopping display at the Tidal Basin.
A last minute question of “why wouldn’t we go if we’re in D.C”. has left us racing to the ball park precipitously close to missing the first pitch. As we navigate the mid-day traffic near the White House we pass by a protest. It would be an easy assumption that a group of Democrats (or even some Republicans) are picketing President Trump in their manifest disappointment but this is Washington folks. President Trump is not the only game in town. The small gathering in front of the Organization of American States is protesting with signs that say “Venezuela didn’t elect a dictator!” The group is smiling and mugging for a Venezuelan camera crew filming the event for consumption by a South American audience. It’s just another day in our nation’s Capitol.
The traffic slows to a crawl as we sight the stadium and we bolt out of the Uber to surge with a crowd toward baseball. A formation of jet fighters roar overhead as we hear the last strains of the “Star Spangled Banner” drifting from the stadium. The Anthem was written by a neighbor of ours. Well, Francis Scott Key would have been a neighbor if we had lived in 1812. Now a freeway runs over the site of the Key Homestead, but that’s a song for another day.
Excitement reigns until we reach the park to find that courtesy of a world full of violent idiots we are going to be delayed by the crowd clearing security. Nevertheless our spirits soar as we pass through the portal and the field comes into view. A surge of nostalgia and joy brings a small tear that I quickly brush away as the sight of the green grass of a baseball diamond comes into to clear view. It has been at least sixty-five years since I was introduced to baseball at old Mission Stadium in San Antonio. My joy is no less on this day as I see the magic of springtime green grass and grown men playing a child’s game.
Yes, in today’s world, baseball is one of the few constants. It returns each spring with the passing of the gloom of winter and promises days and nights of hits, runs errors and that ever present “Take me out to the ballgame.” At least some things never change. Ah, spring, with all of its promise of warmer days and the fun to come is here. The Nationals win a thriller and the crowd goes home singing. Only 161 more games before the season is over. I am grateful for my team’s perfect record. It will be good at least until the next game. Spring with its promise of all things new, we salute you.