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The Nats' Home Opener: Winning Day, Losing Team

George Will, one of the higher-ranked VIPs at an opening day low on star power. (Roxanne Roberts/The Washington Post)

There were two winners at Nationals Park yesterday: the world champion Philadelphia Phillies and giant foam-head Abe Lincoln, who breezed to victory in the fourth-inning presidents' race. Hey, at least one president made an impressive showing.

President Obama was invited to throw out the first pitch at the home opener, but declined because he's traveling out of the country later this week. (Yeah, but he had time for the Easter Egg Roll. Just sayin'.) Instead, members of the military tossed the ceremonial first ball. The only member of the administration who showed up? Jill Biden was somewhere in the stadium, but we never saw her.

But, never mind. It's fine, really. It was Opening Day, gosh darn it, a sacred day for baseball fans. The sun came out, the air warmed up, and for a few minutes all was right with the world. The stadium was full of happy people who may not attend another game this year -- and a few die-hards like George Will, who was unperturbed by the Nats' 0-6 record so far.

"We've got 157 more games to go, and you really can't lose them all," he said before the first inning. "It just can't be done."

Will was one of only a few VIPs in the stands this year: NBC's David Gregory emceed the pregame show, Patti Austin sang the national anthem, and Mayor Fenty said, "Play ball!" In the primo seats behind home plate: Millionaires Steve Case, Joe Robert, Jim Kimsey, Mark Ein and Russ Ramsey. James Carville sat behind the visitors dugout, this year without his pal Tim Russert. "It's different," Carville told us. "A little sad." Keeping the Opening Day tradition alive: Russert's son Luke.

The Nats lost 9-8. Still, not a bad way to spend an April afternoon. "It's a nice day," Al Hunt told us. "It's a nice ballpark. Maybe we'll have a good team ... one day."

By The Reliable Source  |  April 14, 2009; 1:04 AM ET
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I sat directly behind Mrs. Biden at the game. We were in section 126. She was very pleasant (introduce herself to everyone in the area) and enviably thin. Plus, people kept sending her and her friends free food, which she politely declined.

Posted by: shalinaw | April 14, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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