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Yeah, I get it. The Washington Nationals are one frustrating team to watch.
But this morning, I was reminded of a different perspective of why most of us are sports fans in the first place.
We’re dealing with the passage of time in the circle of life in our house these days, as in the last 9 months, we’ve lost my wife’s mother and both of our dogs. They all lived full lives, but no one outruns Father Time.
With my wife’s mother, we’re in the phase of disposing of the house and all her possessions. It’s an emotional task, as it seems just about every other thing you come across sparks a warm memory. My wife just bought back another load of treasures this past week from the other side of the state, and this morning showed me a ragged, worn out Washington Nationals teddy bear I had given to her mother years ago.
She explained how in her final years she became quite a Nationals fan. She lived alone, so in the spring and summer, she looked forward to watching the Nats and she always watched it clutching that teddy bear. Given how the team has played at times the last few years, I’m surprised the head of the bear hadn’t been torn off. But it was in relatively good shape, although you can clearly see it’s been held by someone frequently.
The Nationals, to her, were company. When you reach your advanced years like she did, you face both the blessing and curse of old age. Living as she did until she was almost 90 afforded her a lot of great memories, but she also outlived her husband and most of her friends. Her children were grown and moved away. My wife called just about every night and we visited when we could, but there’s no question her final years were at times lonely ones.
So she looked forward to seeing the Nats. She knew all the players by name, and she looked forward to hearing the voices of Bob Carpenter and FP Santangelo. She knew little about baseball and certainly didn’t care about the finer points of broadcasting. But they all were familiar, like friends or family, and she looked forward to seeing and hearing from them through the magic of television each night. All while clutching that Washington Nationals teddy bear.
To me, that’s the magic of sports, and I consider it a blessing I live in an area where we have sports teams. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see my Washington teams, as well as those who wear the jerseys of Virginia Tech, win more. They have contributed as much to my thinning and graying hair as just about any other facet of my life.
But having a favorite team you’ve pulled for since you were a kid eventually becomes another point of comfort. There was a poll published by Awful Announcing the other day that rated Carpenter and FP as the worst announcing duo in major league baseball, and to me, they totally missed the point of the fan-team relationship. They may not be the greatest announcers to ever live, but they’re MY announcers. And while I have never met, nor ever will meet either, hearing them has become part of the experience of being a fan for me.
It's the same with the Redskins with Frank Herzog, Sonny Jurgensen and Sam Huff. Did they occasionally fracture the King’s English? Certainly. But hearing Frank say “Touchdown, Washington Redskins” evoked memories of all the great times watching the team. They all became part of the family. And it’s why what the Wizards have done jettisoning Steve Buckhantz is such an idiotic move.
Getting old stinks, and you take your enjoyment where you can. For my late mother-in-law, it was watching the Nats, hearing Carp, FP and Uncle Ray, and clutching a worn out teddy bear. I’m thankful they all existed to bring her comfort in her final days.
So Washington Nationals, my old friend, let’s watch another one today. You’re part of the family and I too enjoy the comfort of seeing you each day. It's something I don't appreciate enough.
But try to win games you score 14 runs in. You're making me crazy....