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There's No Time Like The National Pastime

By Norman Chad
Monday, March 28, 2005; Page D02

Baseball left the nation's capital after the 1971 season. This effectively stripped me of my childhood -- well, actually, seeing portions of "Carnal Knowledge" already had done that -- and prompted me to glumly tell my best friend Victor Littman, "We'll never get another baseball team."

A scant 34 years later, I have been proven wrong again.

A father, not pictured, and his son, center, were arrested after they attacked Royals first base coach Tom Gamboa on Sept. 19, 2002, at Comiskey Park. (Ted S. Warren -- AP)

For next week baseball returns to my beloved home town of Washington, D.C. -- last in peace, last in congressional representation, but first in new, tax-funded stadium construction -- as the Nationals open their inaugural National League season.

Since the Senators became the Texas Rangers in '72, I have openly missed the national pastime. Or so I thought. What's to miss? I mean, look at what's happened in the interim:

The DH was instituted in 1973, and soon after, America was in the throes of cultural decline.

There was a strike-shortened season in 1981. (In baseball's defense, it's not as if the World Series was canceled.)

The World Series was canceled in 1994. (In baseball's defense, it's not as if the entire season was lost.)

Pete Rose gambled here and there, and here and there, and here and there.

In lieu of a commissioner, MLB appointed Bud Selig to take most of Donald Fehr's calls.

Players switched from designer jeans to designer steroids.

Sometime in the early 1980s, probably in Dodger Stadium, The Wave was invented.

George Brett had a pine tar bat and Sammy Sosa had a corked bat.

Baseball inadvertently expanded into Puerto Rico for portions of two seasons.

The four-dollar soda became a ballpark standard.

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