For the last two weeks, I've been stuck home sick from work. It sounds sort of nice, but I assure you that after a while, the novelty of that sentiment wears off and then the boredom hits. As a result, I had to miss one of my favorite baseball games of the year - the Fourth of July.
As I sat home that day waiting for the results of that 9-4 victory against the then-first-place San Francisco Giants, I longed to be at the 100-plus degree ballpark sweltering in the hot, hot D.C. heat. That's when I realized that the Fourth of July wasn't a baseball tradition I grew up with but rather a tradition that I grew into.
The tradition of attending Fourth of July games - in my lifetime - was July 4, 2007 at RFK Stadium. The Cubs were in town, it was George Washington bobblehead day and the Nationals won 6-0 after seven innings of four-hit ball from Matt Chico and a grand slam off the bat of Dimitri Young. Manny Acta was still manager. It was a different team then, but still the same game in the way that baseball is always going to be baseball.
I've been going to Fourth of July Nats games (as the schedule allows) since then. It's a newly minted tradition of my young baseball-watching life.
Tonight will be my first game back at it in a live ball park since June. I tried watching one game on television, but that's really not baseball to me. In my opinion, baseball is about the experience as a spectator. Sure, getting down to the nitty gritty details of who's on first or statistics can be fun if you're into analysis or keeping a scorebook, but those are also all bits of evidence suggesting that baseball is more than a game for those who aren't on the field playing or calling outs.
What I missed most while being away on the Fourth of July was the cliché of it all. The Fourth of July in Washington, D.C., as the the Nationals play America's pastime in the nation's capital. But beyond the cliché is an even bigger truth: Nationals Park really has become a second home.
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.