Yes, this is hip-hop icon Ice Cube wearing a Washington Nationals hat on the cover of The Source. It’s a few years old, and it stopped me in my tracks when I saw it on the newsstand. I’m a big Ice Cube fan - as proof, I offer up the fact that I saw him at the old 9:30 club in 1994, and that I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the TBS series “Are We There Yet?”
(Credit: The Source.com)
Nonetheless, this is not the only instance of Ice Cube wearing Nationals paraphernalia - and he’s not the only one in Los Angeles who does so. Yes, your Washington Nationals have been appropriated into Southern California culture, and it has nothing to do with Stephen Strasburg going to San Diego State. However, out here, the curly W stands for “West Coast” or as Ice Cube says it, “Westsiiide!” The colors even work - the home hats are Blood red and the away hats are Crip blue. Even in San Diego (I don’t get to Compton much these days) I see people wearing Nationals hats disproportionate to their actual fan base out here. To contrast, the only time I see an Orioles hat is if I run into an unfortunate 8-year-old who got saddled with them as his Little League team.
Last week, I went to see the Wizards against the Clippers at Staples Center. Sitting two rows ahead of us was a shaggy haired guy with a Vlad Guerrero Angels jersey and a Nationals hat (blurry picture here). After three quarters of him standing there waving around a Clippers flag (yes, they exist), I tried to figure out what his deal was.
“Hey!” I yelled over to him. “Why are you wearing an Angels jersey and a Nationals hat?”
He looked at me confused (this seemed to be a comfortable look for him).
“No, it stands for ‘Westside!’” he yelled back, making a “W” with his fingers.
“It is a Washington Nationals hat!” I told him, gesturing to the floor of the arena. “You know, like the Washington Wizards?”
He looked at me blankly. Then I realized that he probably had no idea that there was a baseball team in Washington. Or that Vlad Guerrero left the Angels two years ago. Or who the Vice President is.
So, I’m not sure how the Nationals capitalize on this trend. Maybe an Ice Cube concert at Nationals Park? “Straight Outta Compton” night? A Fan Fest event in Long Beach? Having Teddy Roosevelt bust a cap in Thomas Jefferson during the President’s Race? All I know is that when I wear my Nationals hat out here, I’m actually being cool - perhaps for the first time.