Summer sports D.C. style

I was crossing the street last week, carrying on in my normal after-work routine. Whining to myself about the 100-degree heat, applying my lip-gloss and digging through my bag for my cell phone, sunglasses and Walkman.

But my routine was interrupted halfway across the crosswalk when I came face to face with a thirty-something-year-old woman already gabbing on her cell phone. I looked at her, went back to digging through my bag, and looked up again with a start.

“Mia Hamm. That’s Mia Hamm,” I said to myself (I hadn’t located my cell phone yet). Luckily for Mia, she had. Otherwise, I’m sure I would have approached her with nothing better than to say, “Mia Hamm, you’re Mia Hamm,” which would not have been news to her.

Our moment lasted about three seconds. Mia looked at me oddly (I can’t blame her, I was standing in the middle of the street talking to myself, shamelessly staring her in the face, bag open, crap everywhere). Then she took off down M Street while I stood in the middle of the crosswalk, mouth still open, telling myself again, “that was Mia Hamm.” A car whizzed by, barely missing my big toe, snapping me back to reality.

My brush with fame reminded me even though there is no baseball team in the District yet and Jordan and Jagr have the summer off, D.C. still has some quality sports and some quality stars for those of us here over the summer months. So you can stop flying home every weekend to catch your hometown nine- or am I the only one who does that?- and take advantage of summer sports, D.C. style.

Because we have Mia on the brain, let’s start with the Washington Freedom, D.C.’s Women’s United Soccer Association team. In its second season, the WSUA has eight teams across the country including the Freedom, who call RFK stadium home.

The team, led by Hamm, rookie standout Abby Wambach, and German star Steffi Jones, is 5-5-8, including a recent win over last year’s league champions the San Jose CyberRays.

Tickets are moderately priced (ranging from $12-$23). Many games include special promotions including July 14 “Holiday in July” event when Philadelphia comes to town, July 24 “Twin Night” against Boston and Aug. 4 “Fan Appreciation Day” versus Atlanta.

Tickets can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com, over the phone through Ticketmaster, or at the RFK box office. RFK stadium is Metro accessible on the Orange or Blue lines at the Stadium Armory stop.
RFK stadium is also home to D.C. United, the District’s men’s soccer team. In its fifth season, D.C United has already claimed its place among the nation’s top Major League Soccer teams, winning the first MLS championship in ’96 and repeating in ’97. Last year was the first year the club failed to qualify for postseason competition.

Tickets range from $16-$36 and include promotions similar to the Freedom’s.

If indoor sports are more your thing during Washington’s muggy season, Washington’s WNBA team, the Mystics, is hot this summer. Led by league-leading scorer Chamique Holdsclaw (currently on the injured reserve list with a sprained ankle) the Mystics sit atop the Eastern Conference and are a sure bet for 48 minutes of basketball fun. The Mystics’ season lasts through August, with upcoming home games against Phoenix, New York and Detroit. The Mystics play at the MCI center, Metro-accessible on the Red line at Metro Center.

Tickets range from $8-$100 and are available through Ticketmaster. This summer, the WNBA all-star game will also be held at the MCI center July 15. Tickets, from $10-$75 are still available.

And, of course, there are always the Baltimore Orioles if summer’s just not summer without baseball. Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a MARC train ride away (about five bucks round trip) on the weekdays. For weekend games you’re on your own, but Amtrak and Greyhound trains and buses run to Baltimore for about $44 round trip.

While the birds aren’t faring so well this summer, American League West leader Seattle is sweeping in for a series soon (July 15-17) and should provide some quality ball. If nothing else, Oriole Park is a beautiful stadium and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where the stadium is located, full of restaurants, bars and the Baltimore National Aquarium, is worth the trip itself.

O’s tickets are still available through Ticketmaster, and even the nine-dollar bleacher seats are decent. For you big spenders, $40 tickets are also up for grabs. If you are the spontaneous type, the Orioles box office sells tickets for discounted prices on the day of the game, so if you feel like riding to Baltimore sans ticket in hand, you can see some good baseball at a good bargain.

Speaking of good baseball at a good bargain, there are also three minor league teams in the area that provide a good nine innings without all the price and frills of the major leagues. The Bowie (Maryland) BaySox, Frederick Keys and Potomac Cannons are all low-priced sporting options this summer.

So while they won’t get you out of summer Spanish I or intern hell, summer sporting events will make the chores seem more bearable. So turn off ESPN and enjoy the summer weather and summer sports D.C. has to offer.

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