Rachel Levitin: September baseball is family time

For just a few minutes (or at least while you read this blog post) let's try and forget that the openly-hyped 2013 Nationals are 5 1/2 games behind the Reds for the second National League wild card. Instead, I'd like to give my two cents on September baseball.

It's the end of summer and the start of the school year come September. Fall is here, even in D.C., and the conversation I had with my buddy Tom on Tuesday helped cement in my mind something that I've already felt to be true for years: September baseball is family time.

In the wake of Monday's tragic shootings at the Navy Yard just steps from Nationals Park, the Nats found themselves hosting a day-night double-header versus the first-place Atlanta Braves on Tuesday. When the Nats came back from behind to win Game 1 6-5, I got an unprompted message from Tom that said, "Unbelievable."

He went on to praise the Nats for their ability to overcome closer Craig Kimbrel and win it, then also mentioned how much he'd like to take his son to a playoff game. Granted, his son isn't born yet (he's due pretty soon), but him saying that reminded me of all the times my dad had taken me to ballgames as a kid, especially at the end of the season since he knew how sad I was that it was ending (that's Chicago Cubs baseball for you). That was family time. It was a special bonding session that only baseball could provide. I totally understood what Tom was talking about.

Which reminded me of this past Sunday's Wounded Warrior Celebrity Softball Classic played at Nationals Park. While standing atop the visitor's dugout steps, I found myself looking to my left and watching as first baseman Adam LaRoche and his kids were helping wife and mother Jennifer LaRoche prepare for the game. They couldn't help but smile and root for Jennifer and her team while all gathered around each other. It was a beautiful family moment that only baseball (or softball in this case) could have provided.

The LaRoche family weren't the only ones creating September baseball memories. Just across the diamond, there was shortstop Ian Desmond with his baby boy in hand cheering on Chelsey Desmond, who played shortstop for the afternoon, from the home dugout. Chad Tracy was there with his daughter, as well, and that's just to name a few. To me, that's September baseball.

There are only four more games at Nationals Park during the regular season. So, for a moment, forget about October. This is your chance, folks. Make the most of the next four games. Whether you're a parent, a teenager, a kid or a kid at heart, make your way to the ballpark, if you can, and create some of those beautiful end-of-season September baseball memories. You never know how long they may end up sticking with you.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation's capital 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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