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Lame Opener For Nats Fans, But Not For Jill Biden

At least President Obama had a relief pitcher of sorts on Opening Day. Though the president himself declined to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park yesterday afternoon, he did have an emissary from his administration there: Jill Biden, wife of the vice president.

She didn't throw out the ceremonial first pitch. But she did show up on the Jumbotron during the 7th inning stretch, a distinction unto itself.

And let's face it: it would have been weird having a die-hard Phillies fan throwing out the first pitch of the season's first home game against Philadelphia, especially with Washington being the only winless team in baseball. So the Jumbotron may have been an appropriate honor for the second lady, who hails from suburban Philadelphia.

Suffice it say, Biden wasn't rooting for the Nats. But her spokeswoman, Courtney O'Donnell, says while Biden is undoubtedly a lifelong Phillies fan, she was still "excited to visit Nationals Park" and "really enjoyed it."

Biden attended the game with "friends and fellow fans," says O'Donnell, who wouldn't (try as we might) give up the identities of those friends and fellow (presumably Phillies) fans.

The vibe at Opening Day was very subdued, much more so than last year's Who's Who fest at the first ever game at Nationals Park, when lame duck President Bush was booed.

Could have been the gloomy, chilly weather. Or the Nationals 0-6 record heading into Opening Day (and emerging 0-7). Or maybe it was because the president blew it off, or because many movers and shakers with children had opted for yesterday's White House Easter Egg Roll instead.

And the death of Phillies Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas, who collapsed in the press box at Nationals Park just hours before the game started, cast a pall over the entire ballpark.

Still, the stadium looked pretty full. Just not with as many VIPs as last year. And with lots and lots of Phillies fans (Vice President Biden's wife among them), thanks to Nationals President Stan Kasten.

Among the Washington celebrities we spotted were former GOP congressmen Tom Davis, who assiduously kept score on his baseball scorecard as he usually does, and Mike Oxley.

NBC's "Meet the Press" host David Gregory, wearing a personalized No. 5 Nats jersey, seemed to enjoy his new seats behind home plate. He and his son were joined by the show's longtime beloved producer Betsy Fischer and her daughter.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  April 14, 2009; 6:10 AM ET
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God, that team stinks. And you folks aren't the greatest of fans...of baseball. You're certainly all very big fans of yourselves.

Posted by: MikeK3 | April 14, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

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