Last night, we went to (I-hope-not) my last baseball game of the season. The Nationals have a chance — a long-shot, but still a chance — of grabbing a wild card spot. If they do, then I’ll get to go to post-season games. If they don’t, then I had a great “last taste” of ball for the current season.
Nationals Park is about three blocks from Navy Yard. We usually park in a lot that is directly across from the Yard. While I’ve only been in the Yard once (for a Fourth of July celebration, years ago), I feel like it’s part of my neighborhood, a place I walk by every week, during baseball season.
The team canceled their Monday night game (partly, I suspect, out of respect for the victims of the shooting, and partly out of logistics — streets were still blocked off, and police investigations were ongoing.) They played a double-header yesterday; we went to the evening game.
The game began with a lengthy moment of silence in memory of the shooting victims. Flags were flown at half-staff at the stadium (and all around town.) The color guard and the retired Marine who sang the national anthem seemed particularly meaningful, as did the Marine gunnery sargeant who handed off the baseball to the starting pitcher. The regular scoreboard listing of birthdays and anniversaries and visiting groups ended with a salute to the “patriots” at Navy Yard. I liked that phrasing — it avoided the endless debate on what makes a “hero” (and I fall in the group of people who believe that one becomes a hero through action, not simply by being a victim of a horrific attack.) After the game, the team auctioned off game-worn jerseys, to raise funds for the victims.
The entire observance was tasteful, mournful, appropriate. I was most saddened by the feeling that we’ve been there, done that. There have been hundreds of such memorials for victims of gun violence, and I couldn’t help but note the “compassion fatigue” that has set in — the lack of shock, surprise, out-of-the-ordinary-ness that seems to have taken hold, in the ballpark, in D.C., and in the nation as a whole.
Of course, if the slaughter of innocent schoolchildren didn’t change things, the death of twelve adults isn’t going to have an impact either. We’ll have more shootings. And more moments of silence. And more fundraising for victims. And we still won’t have improved mental health services or limitations on firearms or any other meaningful response.
Oh – the game itself was superb. The Nats pitcher, Tanner Roark, pitched seven shut-out innings. The team grabbed three additional runs in the eighth, to give a comfortable cushion. We broke the Braves’ closer for the second time in the day.
And I have a few more ideas to weave into PERFECT PITCH.
So. A somber evening. But an enjoyable one, too, with escapes from the horrors of the daily news.