Nationals Park: The One Purple Place In Washington

Lanny Davis Former Special Counsel to President Bill Clinton
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“Ray, people will come. … And they’ll watch the game, and it’ll be as if they’d dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick, they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. … The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.” —Terence Mann, “Field of Dreams”

We know about the political polarization that is the unhappy culture of Washington, D.C. Blue state Democrats vs. red state Republicans, conservatives vs. liberals, right vs. left — on and on, insults and personal attacks. It is ugly and part of our common experience inside the Beltway.

But there is one place where all of this vitriol and divisiveness seems to disappear and become unimportant.

What brings us all together is our love of a baseball team, our Washington Nationals, and our love of baseball, as the character Terence Mann so eloquently described in my all-time favorite movie, “Field of Dreams.”

We love this Nationals team. We love Desie and Espi, Ramos the Buffalo and Michael Taylor always, Gio and Jordan Zimm and the great Escobar, who joined our family in the beginning of the year and, we hope, is here to stay for many years.

We suffered through injuries to some of our best players just as they were suffering — Span, Rendon, Werth, Zimm, Stras, Fister. We watched with awe the near perfection of Max Scherzer’s one-hitter and then, in the very next game, a perfect game until two strikes in the last inning. He only lost it because of a cheap trick by a batter who went out of his way to get hit by a pitch. Bah humbug!

And, of course, we love Bryce Harper. He is our Bryce Harper. He has heart and soul — to use understatement the way most baseball fans do, he could be the greatest in the game today, maybe of all time. He is the National League MVP by a large margin. We are proud of him like he is our son.

When we think about our political divisions and sometimes-bitter debates outside the stadium, we should think of what one of our Nats players went through inside the stadium, and why he deserves our thanks.

His name: Drew Storen.

We all shouted as he came in to pitch in relief and try to save the game. We knew he wore his heart on his sleeve when he made mistakes. After he gave up a home run to the Mets, he broke his thumb in anger punching a locker, so we were told, and our hearts broke for him.

So I hope, now that he is injured and down for a bit, he remembers the words of “Shoeless” Joe Jackson when he explained to Ray Kinsella in “Field of Dreams” his love of baseball: “Man I did love this game. I’d a played for food money. It was the game — the sounds, the smells. … It was the crowd, rising to their feet when the ball was hit deep. Shoot, I’d play for nothing.”

Thanks for hanging in there, Drew. Thanks for reminding us that adversity is part of life — and when you go through it, and come out of it, you are stronger and better. That applies to baseball players and to politicians too.

Thanks from all of us, Drew — Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives — for reminding us that when we come to Nationals Park, we can check our differences at the stadium door.

We will be there, Drew, waiting for you to come back next year, to fight back and take the mound and save another one for us and the Nats.

People will come, Drew. People will most definitely come.

Lanny Davis served as special counsel to former President Clinton and is principal in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, and is Executive Vice President of the strategic communications firm, LEVICK. He is the author of a recently published book, Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics, and Life (Threshold Editions/Simon and Schuster).