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April 14, 2009 5:15 PM

RealClearSports Field Trip: Nationals Opening Day, Pt. II


You might have already read Ryan’s experiences at Nationals Opening Day. I too was in attendance and while he covered many of the same points I would have (way to steal all my ideas!), there’s one story I’d like to add.

Nationals Park is extremely kid-friendly. They have video games and a playground for free, a place to get a mock trading card of yourself, a Build-A-Bear (or, Build-A-Screech), and batting cages where you can step in and face-off against a major league pitcher. This last feature is where my story begins.

It was my first time to Nationals Park, and my dad (who has season tickets) was showing me around. We stopped in to see all the games they had and I was instantly attracted to the batting cages. I’ve seen these things before but they still catch my interest. You get to select a major league pitcher like Roger Clemens or Joba Chamberlain (the best role models for impressionable youth!). Then they appear on the video screen and simulate pitching to you (there’s a slit in the screen where the ball comes out).

As I watched this little kid, probably around eight years old, I thought to myself, “Well this looks cool, but how realistic could it really be? This kid gets to stand in there and hack away with no fear of Clemens or one of these pitchers brushing him back.” And then it happened! The kid got plunked! It was unbelievable! It was like the machine was reading my mind. And what did the kid do? He did exactly what he should -- he brushed it off and kept on batting. In a world where people sue because they were injured from a t-shirt gun, this was a refreshing scene.

But then the mom entered the picture. The attendant called out multiple times, “Where are the parents of this kid?” Finally, the mom answered. The attendant said it looked like the kid was fine, and handed her some tokens, presumably for a free round. (I do think it’s pretty funny they think that might help mend the situation with the mom. “Your kid just got hit with a baseball. We’re sorry. Please accept this token where your son can play again, and maybe get hit again.”)

The mom had this look on her face like she was going to cause a scene, but the kid was fine (I left before I could find out if the mom created any sort of a stir). I understand you want to protect your kid but sometimes you have to let them take their bumps and bruises and deal with it. Let’s stop babying our kids so they don’t feel entitled to everything in life.

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