IT IS A Wednesday night at the Capitol City Brewing Company in Washington, D.C. After-work coed softball teams file in; pints of Yuengling and Fat Tire pass from trays to tables. Meanwhile, the televisions that surround the bar underscore a sudden truth: A region dead to sports is coming alive. The first-place Nationals are on the big screen against the bottom-feeding Mets. So take that, New York. On the smaller screens, the last-place Red Sox (take that, Boston) are trying to play spoiler to the Yankees, a game that matters because at the same time, the used-to-be-nothing Orioles are playing the Rays with the AL East lead in sight. Outside, throughout the city, into the vast, ever-expanding suburbs, the leaves are changing and, take a deep breath now, baseball matters again. The vaunted Phillies are 17 games behind the Nationals -- chew on that, Broad Street -- and the last time the city's baseball team played in the postseason, back in 1933, television barely existed. So take that, history.