Karl Marx is credited with saying that religion is "the opium of the people." But here in the nation's capital, baseball is the drug of choice that rescues political junkies from the unpleasant realities around them.
Currently providing relief from the congressional stalemate over the deficit that has produced the "sequester" of spending cuts, job furloughs and general fiscal paralysis is the return of last year's Cinderella baseball team, the
After rising from traditional doormat to champion of the
On Opening Day Monday afternoon, the largest crowd ever to turn out for a regular season game at
What marked the day particularly were the performances of the rebuilding team's two budding young stars, fast-ball pitcher
It was almost enough to make an old would-be sportswriter wish he had pursued his original career ambition, instead of riding political campaign buses around the country most of his adult life. Almost, since chasing would-be and real presidential candidates from New Hampshire to California can be a bit of an opiate in itself.
But the nation's foremost political town has been badly in need of distraction the last several years. That is especially so now in light of official Washington's seeming inability, after an uplifting presidential campaign and re-election of President
Last fall, after a similar football drought, the local sports fans thought they had found another savior on the gridiron in rookie Washington Redskins quarterback
Getting back to Karl Marx, himself a Communist Hall-of-Famer, what he really said in the German translation of his "Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right" was: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people."
That's not a bad analysis of what political Washington is going through now, as well as the ordeal the city's long-suffering fans have endured over the mostly failed years of professional baseball in the town. Its original entry in the other major league led to the play on the town's namesake, that Washington was "first in war, first in peace and last in the
But the arrival of Messrs. Strasburg, Harper and an array of other new blood has made the new Nats, whose fans are said to be bursting with "Nattitude," a heavy favorite of the sport's pundits to make it to the World Series this year, and even win it.
All this headiness over the gang at Nationals Park is not quite dissipating the concern that the likes of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid,
For now, though, Washington's baseball world promises a spring, summer and maybe even a fall of joyful distraction that may soften the season of discontent that its political world seems more likely to encounter in the long months ahead.