Rich Galen

I needed a break from the Hillary/Barack story. So, I went to three spring training games in Florida over the weekend: Friday in Jupiter, Saturday in Kissimmee and yesterday in Viera.

All three featured the Washington Nationals, the team to which - as regular readers know - I am a credentialed reporter writing for the Mighty Alexandria Times.

I wrote three long, LONG Travelogue entries which you can find by clicking on the appropriate day:

Friday - Nats vs. Marlins

Saturday - Nats vs. Astros

Sunday - Nats vs. Indians

You will see that the games themselves are barely tangential to the experience of being a reporter, rather than doing what a reporter is supposed to be doing - reporting on the game.

One of the things I have learned in my two seasons (well, one-and-a-half seasons. Last year was cut short when I went on the road with Fred Thompson's campaign) is: No matter how good a fan you think you are, if you haven't played the game at the professional level or covered the game at a professional level you probably don't have a clue.

I have learned more about the nuances of the game by listening to the reporters who cover it every day six months a year than I had in the previous 45-or-so years of reading box scores.

And the reporters don't understand baseball as well as the players or the coaches. There is a reason most NFL games have former players as the color commentators. They've done it, they've practiced it. They've studied it for decades and they know it better than even dedicated fans.

It is very similar to people who think they know politics because they watch Fox or CNN and read the newspapers. People who don't do politics for a living don't know as much as people who do. Reporters who cover politics don't understand - as a reflex - as much as those who do politics for a living.

During my speech on Friday morning, there was a man in the audience who began to challenge me on something I had said regarding Hillary Rodham Clinton. We went back and forth for about 30 seconds and I said: Don't start with me. I do this for a living.

It got a laugh from the audience, but the man understood he was not going to get ahead of me on either the facts or the theories which attend to the campaign of 2008.

Getting back to the three games I watched, spring training is a time of preparing for the veterans, learning for the rookies, and testing for those who are on the bubble of either making the opening day roster in Washington or one of the minor league levels.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at