Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

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IRAQ: National pastime, in Anbar province

February 20, 2008 |  6:20 pm

In the U.S., thoughts have turned to spring training. The same is true at Al Asad, despite the cold weather.

Games will soon be played at the Flying Diamonds Bloomfield-Martino Baseball Field, named for Major Gerald Bloomfield of Ypsilanti, Mich., and Major Michael Martino of Oceanside, Calif., both Marines killed in November 2005 when their Super Cobra helicopter crashed.

The field is dusty and has a few pebbles. But helicopter squadrons have their logos painted on the outfield walls, and there is a bench for the home team and one for the visitors.

And behind each bench is a bomb shelter in the unlikely event a game is delayed by a rocket or mortar attack by insurgents.

— Tony Perry at Al Asad

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