I recently stumbled across a documentary online called, “Sonicsgate, Reqium for a Team.” I went into it expecting to see poorly constructed arguments and bias edits constructed by an impassioned few who still wished the team was in the rainy city, but who were not overall representative of the people of Seattle. Instead what I found was an incredibly moving piece that should strike to the heart of any sports fan who loves the bond between city and team.
In the closing minutes of this film however I am struck by a theme that is rather haunting. Sherman Alexie, an Author, filmmaker and poet from Seattle talks about the opportunity of receiving a new NBA franchise in his fair city in the coming years and how he would reject it. Despite previously comparing the cold damp basketball-less winters to a daily funeral, he says that he would never want a new team in the city because it would be at the cost of stealing another town’s love. He simply could not take revelry in what the same thing that happened to him.
“If we get a team it’s going to be somebody else’s team,” Alexie said. “To get a team I’m going to have to break the hearts of people just like me.”
This thought, of course, reminds me as a Nationals fan that our beloved team came at the expense of other baseball fans hearts. While baseball in Montreal may have been failing, and the fans may have been scarce, there was still a 35-year history and livelihood to those fans that remained.
Despite the result and the effects it may have had on our brethren baseball fans in Montreal, I do not regret Major League Baseball’s decision to bring baseball to the Washington D.C. I do not regret it because I believe that it was a crime for baseball to be the only professional sport not represented in the capitol of our nation, and I do not regret it because I believe our city can do a service to greater the baseball community as a whole by having a loving and supportive fan base that provides great baseball on the field.
I have not seen any of the above in Washington during the teams young tenure. The organization has been poorly run, the on the field baseball has been abysmal, and the overall fan attendance (not us dedicated few) has been dreadful.
The Nationals and the city of Washington owe more than that to the city of Montreal. There are fans who grew up with the Expos, fans who laid their emotions on a limb at the success or failure of the Expos, and fans who communicate through friends and family based on their bond surrounding the Expos. Washington took all of that in order to try and create a better situation for baseball everywhere.
So far, we have failed.
Washingtonians I implore you to give baseball a chance. Yes the team may not be great now but the experiences you gain along the way will far outweigh the bragging rights of being a winning franchise. Being a fan is about community, about people, about uniting each other over one goal. Let’s do this together.