Political strategist Lanny Davis wrote a column for the Huffington Post entitled “DC’s Purple Field of Dreams,” the end point being that President Obama and Congress should use the backdrop of Nats Park to hammer out policy issues. Here it is. I’ve added some footnotes to help you along.
Thomas Jefferson said at his first inauguration in March of 1801: “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.”
Two hundred twelve years and a few months later, there is only one place in “This Town” where we are all red states and we are all blue states.
I am walking down the final block approaching this place, and I am wearing red — a red shirt with the name Strasburg on the back and a red hat with a curly “W” on the front. And I love that color. Red all around me.
As I walk, my heart starts to beat faster. I only care about one thing. I am possessed.1 I am a Washington Nationals Fans. And the place is Washington Nationals Park.
As I walk through the centerfield entrance, I see the most beautiful green grass in the world, glimpsed through the gates of the baseball field oasis2 in the middle of urban Southeast Washington. I remember holding my dad’s hand countless times more than 50 years ago, walking into the centerfield entrance of the Polo Grounds in Harlem, New York City, across the river from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, and can almost imagine I’m about to see again my hero then and now, No. 24, Willie Mays, possessing centerfield as if he owned it, which he did.
My memory now goes to Oct. 11, 2012. It’s the bottom of the ninth, the score is tied 1-1. The Cards lead 2-1 in the National League division playoffs’ best of five. If the Cards win this night, the Nats are knocked out and the season is over.
Bearded right-fielder Jayson Werth is first up. The count is 3-2. St. Louis pitcher Lance Lynn is throwing 98-mph bullets and Werth is on his 13th pitch, after hitting seven out of eight foul balls. And then… swing… crack… line drive… it’s heading to the left field wall… it’s going… going… A walk-off home run for Werth.
“SEE… YOU… LATER!”3
Nothing could be more exciting than this. I kiss the perfect strangers around me — male and female, Republicans and conservatives,4 who cares?5 We are one. We are family. We are Nats fans.6
But then, inevitably, if you are a Nats fan, you move from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat. The next night, Oct. 12, the Nats go up 6-0 by the third inning, with the invincible Gio Gonzalez pitching. IT’S OVER! WE HAVE WON!!!7
But not quite; then it’s 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 by the seventh inning. My friend, Al From, former head of the Democratic Leadership Council, emails me, “I am worried.” I email back: “I am sick.”8 We both sense the inevitable. A four-run inning in the top of the 9th finishes off our beloved Nats. It’s 7-5, end of season.
The winter depression is too much to bear.
But then winter ends and it’s spring again. All is forgotten.9 It’s the first Nats game, April 1, 2013. And our young 20-year-old superstar, Bryce Harper, hits two home runs in his first two at-bats of the season, and now all we know again is the thrill of victory.
“You can’t make this up,” I think. Baseball, baseball. Who can explain it?10 Who can understand the devotion, more important than politics, that takes over the mind when the heart throbs with joy during a baseball game when the Nats are winning.11
“Is this heaven?”12 I ask a stranger next to me,13 who is hugging me after Harper’s second home run.
No, it’s the Nationals Stadium. And that’s heaven.14
It’s our Field of Dreams.15
The perfect purple place.16
Thank you, Lerner family, for bringing winning baseball back to Washington.17
Now we can only hope that members of Congress from both parties and President Obama will decide to put aside their partisan differences, regularly meet at Nationals Field,18 solve our nation’s important problems19 — and then, almost as important, stay to root for the Nats.20
1. A Metro ride to Nats Park will do that to you.
2. And amber waves of grain?
3. Copyright Bob Carpenter.
4. But not Democrats and liberals. Blegh.
5. Probably the dude you just kissed who is now signaling for security.
6. We are begging you to stop kissing us.
7. NOTHING WRONG WITH DECLARING VICTORY IN THE THIRD INNING!!!
8. It’s probably hepatitis from kissing perfect strangers.
9. Tens of thousands of Nats fans might disagree with you.
10. This might help.
11. Who can explain it? Who can understand what any of these words mean?
12. Pretty sure heaven doesn’t charge $9 for a Miller Lite.
13. Do you ever go to games with friends, or did they get tired of you kissing them?
14. So is it heaven, or not?
15. Except we didn’t have to clear a cornfield. Just some warehouses and low-income housing.
16. We are all Ohio.
17. One winning season since 2005. Slow your roll.
18. Or Nationals Park. Whatever.
19. Until Mitch McConnell calls Harry Reid a pinko commie for drinking an imported beer and everyone goes back to hating each other.
20. Also meeting at Nats Park will be actual fans and residents of the city who have absolutely nothing to do with national politics, and get kind of annoyed by all of this nonsense.