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  • A Historic Laugher for the Nats

    Last July, Jill and I were at the game when the Washington Nationals hit eight home runs — including four consecutive and five overall in the third inning — in a 15-2 rout of the Milwaukee Brewers.

    This year has been an exercise in frustration for Nats fans, as the team has struggled throughout the season. But last night, against the even more hapless New York Mets, the tide turned briefly in a 25-4 rout that we attended.

    How bad was it? Here are some real-time observations I posted during the contest:

    • The Nationals have 17 hits and 16 runs and the 4th inning isn't over yet. For a moment, they're playing up to their potential. But, with apologies to my New York friends, the Mets coming to town is a salve to anyone's season.

    • It's 19-0 in the bottom of the 5th. Rain may prove to be God's version of the mercy rule.

    • The guy wearing a Yankees jacket just left after pitcher Tanner Roark got his second hit. Even he couldn't take it anymore.

    In the eighth inning, the Mets put infielder Jose Reyes on the mound. He threw 48 pitches, more than the Mets’ starter, and gave up six runs to make it 25-1. Shawn Kelley, one of the Nats’ disappointing relievers, gave up three runs in the top of the ninth inning. He was demoted to the minor leagues after throwing his glove to the ground in frustration after giving up a home run.

    Yes, it’s one game. And yes, the Nationals have dug themselves into a hole that they can — but probably won’t — climb out of this year. Still, as someone who intensely dislikes the Mets dating back to their 1986 NLCS win over the Astros, I reveled in the coverage of the game this morning.

    A few more facts:

    • It was the worst loss by a National Leage team since July 1929, when the Cardinals beat the Phillies 28-6. It also was the worst loss in the Mets’ history.

    • Because they (mercifully) didn’t bat in the ninth, the Nationals ended the game with more hits (26) and runs (25) than outs (24).

    • The 21-run margin was the largest in Nationals/Expos history, and Elias Sports Research noted that Washington was just the 10th team since 1900 to score 25 or more runs in a home game.

    Fortunately, there is humor to be found in baseball. At one point, Mets announcers Keith Hernandez, Ron Darling and Gary Cohen stopped calling the game and read verbatim from the team’s media guide while the theme from “Masterpiece Theatre” played in the background. And even the Mets social media person got in on the joke:

  • Random Thoughts: Political Seasoning

    With only thirtysomething days until the election (thank goodness), I guess it’s not surprising that this edition of “Random Thoughts” is heavily tilted toward politics in some way. So here are some observations from the past month or so.

    • Pronoun Trouble: As the son of a middle school history teacher, I think I've finally figured out one of our country's biggest problems: We have pronoun trouble.

    Every time I try to make a seemingly rational comment about this election, or one that at least merits more discussion, I get lumped into the "you people" group. But if I remember my history lessons correctly, "We the people" is how it should work.

    • What Matters: Several weeks ago, I made a "mistake" when I said "all lives matter." And while I believe that to be true (as we all should), there's no question that the antagonism and, at times, outright hatred that folks in power display toward African-Americans is just wrong.

    Just because you have an itchy trigger finger, or are afraid of a person just because the color of their skin, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation frightens you does not give you or anyone else the right to do what is done over and over and over.

    Put the damn guns down. Stop this uninformed hatred. Take 60 seconds and use the brain you were given before you hit "Post."

    For God's sake, this has to end now. Please.

    • Wise Advice: Courtesy of the Internet, here are some things to think about:

    • Drop the Mic: No matter how you feel about the issue, this is campaign ad is one of the best I've seen in years.


    Dear Former Gov. Perry: Charles Durning did it better. Sincerely, Cast and Crew of "So You Think You Can Dance"

    Mr. Breathed Continues to Hit it Out of the Park: Rather than watch the first presidential debate, Jill and I went to watch a somewhat meaningless major league baseball game. What did you do?

    Post Debate Observation: Fact averse (n., adj.): Epidemic affecting voters across the nation.

    • And finally…: Perhaps my eyes deceive me, but doesn't Kathy Bates look like she's auditioning to play David Bowie's role in the "Labyrinth" sequel?

  • Happy 75, Mom!

    "So my Mom turns 75 today. Not sure how that happened, because she always says she was just so young when she had me."

    Pause. Punchline. Followed by, "Of course, calling your mom a liar in public is not polite."

    She's not really fibbing. Mom and dad were 23 and 24 when they had me. But this is the type of humor we share, a back and forth that has been a never-ending game of ping pong for years.

    I wish I could put into words the influence my mom has had on me. Perhaps the best way is to describe her as "my first, best teacher," who has shared her talent with countless school children, friends, and family for her entire life.

    I love you, Mom. Happy birthday. And may the ribbing continue for a long, long time.

  • “Smiling at Costco”

    Given the start of school — and the running around we must do to get supplies — stores like Wal-Mart and Staples are slammed this time of year. Earlier this week, a friend sighed when I asked if she was prepared for another school year to begin.

    "Nope," she said. "I've got to spend this weekend running around to get all of the supplies. Costco is going to love me by Monday."

    That reminded me of a former work colleague, who several years ago told me that her then-boyfriend seemed to like Costco more than he liked her. They later got engaged and, as a "present," I wrote this tongue-in-cheek "country song."

    Needless to say, the relationship didn't last, although I don't think this was to blame for it.

    “Smiling at Costco” (to the tune of any George Jones song)

    On our first date they made us show ID.
    He pulled out his card, winked and said, 
“Let’s see.”
    I blushed and turned away, / Not knowing what to say.

    Who knew this was his favorite place to be?
    I’d never seen anything like it before.
    Where I grew up / There’s no room for this type of store.

    I asked him if this was where he brings all his dates.
    He checked his watch —  “It’s getting late.”

    We hurried inside, and I did not know
    Where my life was going to go.

    We sampled microwaved food at the various stops.
    “Fresh corn,” the vendor said. “Nearby crops.”
    Her plastic covered hand offered me a chance to say,
    I wish he’d smile at me
    The way he smiles when
    He’s in Costco.

    As we walked down the aisle,
    The fluorescent lights blinking all the while,
    I wondered if this is what life should bring.
    He says there’s no need to sulk.
    You can’t buy what we have in bulk.

    Wouldn’t ya know, it’s my luck.
    But I won’t say that this just sucks. 

    I just wish he’d smile at me
    The way he smiles when
    He’s in Costco.

    I thought I’d found it all

    But as I waited for his call.

    I wondered if he really knew.

    He works the floor like a pro.

    Shows me the tires and the towels

    And the Mop-and-Glo.

    He loves the size of econo-paks

    And swears it’s not something that I lack.

    I wish I had the tact

    But I can’t turn back now.

    I wish he’d smile at me

    The way he smiles when

    He’s in Costco.

    He says there’s no need to sulk.

    You can’t buy what we have in bulk.

    I thought of my wedding day.

    You can’t find this sort of guy at Sam’s — no way.

    I’ve harbored a secret dream

    To get married on a cement floor.

    Sometimes I suppress a scream.

    But I’ll never show him the door.

    Cause I know that someday soon

    He’ll smile at me

    The way he smiles when

    He’s in Costco.