Game 3 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
Associated Press/Photo by Nick Wass
Game 3 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

Dismal performances in D.C.


WASHINGTON—In the fall of 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt was beginning his first term as president and the country was in the throes of the Great Depression. Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, the current oldest member of Congress, was just 10 years old. 

The world has changed a lot since the nation’s capital last saw playoff baseball, but classic postseason action was back on display Wednesday following a 79-year hiatus. I joined a record crowd of 45,017 to watch Game 3 of the National League Division Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals after the series had shifted from St. Louis to D.C.

The pre-game festivities included lots of military appreciation and a flyover following the national anthem. Fans entering through the stadium’s main entrance passed under a massive American flag suspended between two fire trucks. 

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I took a stroll around the concourse to soak in the pre-game atmosphere and heard chatter about memories, long waits, and excitement. The game took place in the middle of a workday, but that didn’t stop Nats fans from filling the park with red and white. 

Sadly for the hometown faithful, by the end of the game some of them probably wished they hadn’t skipped work. The defending World Series champion Cards thumped the Nats, 8-0, to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, meaning that Washington will face possible elimination in Game 4 this afternoon at Nationals Park.

Yesterday, veteran 37-year-old pitcher Chris Carpenter, whose last win came in Game 7 of last year’s World Series, led the Cardinals to victory, pitching 5 2/3 shutout innings and giving up seven hits while getting two hits of his own at the plate. 

As the Nationals failed to score, much less win, I couldn’t help but draw a mental analogy between Congress and the home team’s dismal performance. Maybe it was appropriate that it happened within view of the Capitol rotunda. 

When lawmakers return from campaigning next month, they’ll be met with the grisly reality of huge budget issues the Congressional Budget Office has dubbed the “fiscal cliff.” Despite the importance of the issues, recent events give voters little hope that any serious progress will be made before the edge of the cliff arrives at year’s end. 

Political commentator and sports enthusiast George Will once said sports serve society by providing vivid examples of excellence. That may be true, but the opposite was on display Wednesday in the nation’s capital.

Let’s hope it wasn’t a sign of things to come.

J.C. Derrick
J.C. Derrick

J.C. is WORLD Magazine's Washington Bureau chief. He spent 10 years covering sports, higher education, and politics for the Longview News-Journal and other newspapers in Texas before joining WORLD in 2012. Follow J.C. on Twitter @jcderrick1.


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