Monday, June 7, 2010

A Changing of the Guard

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the death of the worst team in baseball, the 2008/2009 Washington Natinals Nationals. There were few things in life as consistent and reliable as you blowing three-run leads, committing two errors, and generally finding any possibly way to lose. It was refreshing to know that when reality seemed to turn upside-down, we could always count on you to lose. You didn’t discriminate. You lost to the best and worst alike. You lost to rich clubs, you lost to poor clubs. You lost when the weather was bad, you lost when the weather was perfect. If you scored 10 runs, you always allowed at least 11. That kind of consistency is hard to find, and with teams as bipolar as the Wizards and the Redskins, we Washington sports fans appreciated it.

Now your existence is finally starting to pay off. Back-to-back 100-loss seasons have delivered us Steven Strasburg, Drew Storen, and Bryce Harper. Seeing this light at the end of the tunnel, the team has been over-achieving in 2010 in anticipation of these superstars riding in on white horses as their saviors. Your 2010 version is a mere 4 games under .500, and despite the last few games, there is hope for a win when they bring a lead into the 8th or 9th inning!

Repeated high draft picks are slowly filling gaps in Nationals’ lineup, and once Strasburg takes the mound tomorrow night, it will end one era and begin another. This team will immediately command more respect in the closest division in Major League Baseball. Hopefully the presence of Strasburg will pick this team up. I’m not saying Strasburg should be a leader, in fact, I think it is more important to have Ivan Rodriguez catching him and help complete his development. What I mean is that hopefully the team will feel they need to play better for Strasburg. Ideally, they will feel the need to play better and not let their pitching down. They will want to support a young player who will hopefully be a part of their franchise for a long time.

Whether they play like it or not, this Nationals team will never be the same after tomorrow night. Expectations will be higher, stakes will be higher, and (hopefully) their performance will be higher. Adding another starter to the rotation is something the Nats need, especially considering how inconsistent this bullpen has been. Maybe it’s exactly what they need to get out of this funk. Answers will being to come tomorrow night, and while it would be ridiculous to expect a sudden flip of the switch, it is not to think that the tide will begin to turn. This team will never be the same, and hopefully that change is for the better.

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