It was our much-anticipated quarterly lunch with Tim Kurkjian, baseball analyst extraordinaire, wherein George Will and I bathe in a constant flow of obscure statistics, Kurkjian oddities, and ribald anecdotes, like the one about the Red Sox beat writer who accidentally walked in on a players’ prayer meeting and was greeted by the burly right fielder, newly born-again and not yet practiced in the language of Christian fellowship, bellowing “Hey! Can’t you see we’re having f—— chapel here?”
After which, Kurkjian asked us about our daily reading habits. I confessed that during baseball season I give the front page of the morning paper about 90 seconds before going right to the box scores.
To which Will deadpanned, “Why waste the 90 seconds?”
True story. (You can look it up. It’s in Kurkjian’s book.) Of which there are two things you should know: (a) Will was only half joking. (b) He turned out to be prescient: Last Wednesday, I crossed over. I went straight to the sports section.
It was an important personal milestone, though the circumstances were extenuating: I’d missed the previous home game. You see, on weeknights I’m normally at Nationals Park, it being exactly seven minutes from Fox News’s Washington studios, where my workday ends at 7. If the winds are fair and the Third Street tunnel clear, I can get to my seat by the bottom of the first, in time to see Bryce Harper’s first at-bat.
Except that the previous game was a day game. I may be an addict, but I do draw the line somewhere. If I find myself at the park at three in the afternoon on a Tuesday, it’s time for an intervention. . . .
Between now and October, the Nats are my vice. I started going when they were bad, and once celebrated in this space “the joy of losing,” under the axiom that if you expect nothing, you’re never disappointed. A very serviceable philosophy when your team is terrible.
But I need a new philosophy now. The Nationals are good: young, swift, exciting — and in first place in the National League East.