WASHINGTON - One of the neat things about this city is that sports really aren't all that important. Oh sure, Washingtonians love their teams - especially the Redskins - but what drives the news and the talk here is the industry.
In D.C. it's all about the government.
Sports seem to be nothing more than a pleasant diversion unlike in Philadelphia where it is everything. In Philadelphia the athletes just don't play for the local teams, they represent us.
It's definitely unique in that way.
D.C. is unique, too. Even though Nationals Park is barely a month old, the Nats rate 17th in the Majors in attendance and 13th in the National League. Usually it takes a year for teams with a new ballpark to see the business at the turnstiles wane, but it's happening right away here in The District.
But the power structure is different here than it is in Philly. The jocks don't have the Q-rating - the folks with the power do.
Nevertheless, I'm sure there are plenty of reasons why the attendance has been so low here. For one, the Nationals aren't very good. At 20-27 they are in last place in the NL East. Plus, aside from Ryan Zimmerman, Dmitri Young and Nick Johnson, the fans don't have too many players to rally behind.
Additionally, this is a presidential election year. That's like the biggest thing they do in these parts, so people are focused on it all day long. Couple that with the fact that Congress (and school) is still in session and our representatives are busy trying to make laws and stuff and it's easy to understand why the last-place Nats kind of fall between the cracks.
Yet before he went to work trying to override a presidential veto of his farm bill and dive into his work as the chairman of the senate budget committee, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) took the time to hang around with one of his constituents this afternoon.
Chris Coste, the Phillies catcher from Fargo, N.D., spent time with Conrad in his Hart Building office, talked some baseball, signed copies of his autobiography and then had lunch in the U.S. Capitol building. There, Coste and some of the hangers-on from the Phillies enjoyed the senate dining room's famous bean soup and also chatted with Democratic Pennsylvania senator Robert P. Casey Jr.
According to reports, a good time was had by all. Plus, the Phillies' group was quite impressed with Sen. Conrad's baseball knowledge.
Meanwhile, Coste found himself in the lineup against Nats' lefty Matt Chico tonight. Actually, Coste has been in the lineup more than "regular" catcher Carlos Ruiz lately. One reason for that could be that Coste hit .438 (7-for-16) during the last homestand.
However, the Phillies are 17-11 in games started by Ruiz this season.