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Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Went to the ballgame at RFK yesterday afternoon with Von Drehle, we didn't have to make any excuses because we're journalists and everything is potentially material, and really we were doing our jobs, and needed to bring along our 9-year-old and 7-year-old assistants. It rained the entire game. It felt like late November. This was mudball, a new sport that resembles baseball only in certain technical details. Generous observers would describe the game as a "pitchers duel," meaning there was no action, hardly any hits, rarely anything as exotic as an actual run. There were a lot of squirted pop-ups and foul-outs. The best-hit balls looked momentarily promising, only to die in the rain and the mist, just another fly-out. Unless I missed it, no batter managed to hit a ball as far as the warning track, much less the outfield fence, which might as well have been pushed back to Delaware. The atmosphere was just too thick -- it was baseball on Venus. The athletes played as though they had a plane to catch. The most exciting action was when the grounds crew came out and put down dry sand. We'd say to the assistants, "Look! They're tamping down the pitcher's mound!" And: "Wow, look at them rake the batter's box!"

The food was expensive and bad. The game ended horribly: Our team lost 2-1 on a tragic throwing error with two outs in the ninth. All the shortstop's gotta do is throw it to first and we win, but maybe there's mud on the ball, maybe he can't plant his foot while throwing in the mud, whatever, the throw goes catastrophically awry, two runs score, and up in the stands we're jaws-agape as we watch this car crash of an ending.

And the kids loved it. The peanuts, pretzels, hot dogs, cotton candy, the souvenirs. The fact that we ALMOST WON. We came so close! That's almost as good as winning. You know the rule: EVERYONE GETS A TROPHY.

"That was so much fun! Thanks, Dad!" my assistant said.

And so it was a pretty great day at the ballpark.

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 22, 2005; 11:06 AM ET
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