Family Journal: August 12, 2016

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We are wrapping up our summer holidays in the USA with a weekend in Washington DC visiting our longtime friend, Kim. We have known her since Nadia and I were in Bolivia.

Last night the Washington Nationals were hosting the Atlanta Braves so I took the opportunity to take Owen to his first Major League Baseball game. A father taking a son to his first MLB game is one of those experience people don’t forget. It was a wonderful night for me, regardless of the score or quality of play. The Braves have the worst record in baseball, but they played like champs, defeating the Nationals 8-5. Everyone at the game was sweating profusely with temps in the mid-90s and high humidity. Since it was Owen’s first and only MLB game this year, I splurged and we got tickets very close to the Braves dugout. We were disappointed that Bryce Harper was not in uniform (strained neck) and Max Scherzer (ex-Tiger) was not pitching. The game was highly entertaining and the size and power of MLB players was on full display in contrast to the smaller Japanese players. My big takeaway from the evening was the play of the infielders. On television it looks so easy to field a grounder and throw out the runner, but with the fast players, the catch and throw need to be perfect. I admired their skill. Nationals Park is right downtown near the Potomac and the Navy Yards and it is a fantastic night out. I can see why they have such strong attendance, plus the team is in first place. Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg was going for his 14th victory with only two defeats, but led by Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman’s three-run homer, he exited the game in the sixth inning as the losing pitcher.

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On the negative side, in MLB’s quest to maximize revenue, the average cost of attending a game for a family of four is $326. It would be nice to half this and have everyone in the league, make 1/2 the money they do, owners and players. When a player contract reaches over $300 million dollars, that should be a sign that why put the cost ultimately on the consumer. I know that television revenue play a part in these high salaries, but when you look at the game experience, $5 for a bottle of water, $30 for parking, $92 for a baseline seat, it adds up for the fan attending a game.

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On the way from the Lehigh Valley to Washington DC, we stopped by the Gettysburg battlefield in southern Pennsylvania. This was the furthest the Confederate reached in the war and the second day was the decisive battle of the Civil War. I see the are huge differences between the Republicans and Democrats in today’s politics, but the idea of a war between Americans is hard to believe. It was a young country then, (4 score & seven years), and I guess they needed to work out a governmental system for the continent. It was extremely hot and humid so we walked a bit of the battlefield near the climatic battle of the three-day conflict. There is a huge amount of interest in the Civil War and Gettysburg is one of those places every American should visit. Much of the battlefield has been preserved and there is much to be reflected upon while visiting. I recommend watching Ken Burns’s 1990 PBS series, Civil War, which is available and digitally restored on the PBS website.

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