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For Nats Fans, Dismal Season No Reason to Give Up on Fun

Fans at a Nats-Blue Jays game try for a foul ball in the sparsely populated left-field corner. For many Nats fans, the thinking is that last-place baseball is better than none at all.
Fans at a Nats-Blue Jays game try for a foul ball in the sparsely populated left-field corner. For many Nats fans, the thinking is that last-place baseball is better than none at all. (By John McDonnell -- The Washington Post)
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By Paul Schwartzman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 18, 2009

On a night when he could have seen, say, a production of "King Lear," or watched "Wheel of Fortune," or even stared at his living room walls, Brian Smith chose to spend $135 and suffer through yet another nine innings with America's worst baseball team.

A team so bad that it has inspired sarcasm from no less than the president of the United States.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Washington Nationals.

"I love baseball," said Smith, 32, a Barnes & Noble assistant manager, trying to explain the money he'd spent on three tickets as he stood outside the Nationals Park before Thursday's game against the Chicago Cubs.

"I've got blind optimism," he offered a moment later.

Finally: "Okay, it's $135 I don't spend on gambling or alcohol. There are worse vices you could have."

Losing has long been a great American pastime, the vanquished sometimes even mythologized as noble warriors. Think Joe Frazier after Muhammad Ali defeated him at their "Thrilla in Manila."

Yet to be a serial loser, as the Nationals have become, is to be a gum-chewing, tobacco-spewing punch line, even for the White House's Humorist-in-Chief, who remarked during Tuesday's All-Star Game how "terrific" it is that baseball is so competitive and that fans across the country have "a little bit of hope for their team."

President Obama then added, for the benefit of the game's TV audience: "Maybe with the exception of the Nationals."

Ouch.

"He was honest," acknowledged Pam Seay, 58, a retired Virginia State Police trooper, as she walked into Thursday's game with her brother, Rick, 44, a teacher who drove two hours from his Salisbury home. Both wore Nats caps and blue Nats jerseys.

"We're native Washingtonians," said her brother, by way of explaining their commitment.


CONTINUED     1              >

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