Rachel Levitin: Creating a sense of baseball community

When baseball returned to the District in 2005, the $5 grandstand tickets were the only reason my new-found friends at college would go to a baseball game with me. Now, in 2011, those same $5 grandstand tickets are the reason I'm not burned out when it comes to baseball.

I'm going to be honest here: I love baseball, but the past two seasons have been draining in many ways. The opportunity to cover the Washington Nationals has been fantastic. I've met the people I now like to call my "summer family" and I've watched a team as well as its players grow into a product I believe will produce winning seasons in the near future (really).

The not-so-glamorous part of it all is the late-night Metro trips often getting me back to my studio apartment around midnight and the early mornings allotted for copy editing my work. But you won't see me complaining about these things. Why? I love baseball.

On Friday night, my little sister came to town. She was never as die-hard about baseball as I was, so our dad tended to take me to games over her just because I'd sit and stare at the game with the same attentiveness of Phil Mickelson trying to hit the ball for par. It was my sister's first time at a Nationals game, so I bought us grandstand tickets to appease her budget. That night reminded me that baseball is fun and isn't about being bogged down in the analysis and details of the game.

I asked her why she left Nats Park smiling after the game. She said she liked the ambiance and community feel of the place. Even though it wasn't packed, she said, you could tell people still wanted to be there. That's important. An outsider, someone who's never seen the Nats faithful in action, could tell from one night that Nats fans love their team just as much as any fan all over Major League Baseball loves the game.

So this year, on the Fourth of July, let us celebrate the fact that Washington has baseball. It's a long season but if you ever feel like you've burned yourself out on the game at any point, just head up to the grandstand and hang out. It's fun.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation's capital this week as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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