As a Philadelphia sports fan, it’s probably not a surprise that I’m not fond of the Washington Nationals. What may come as a surprise is that I loathe this team above all professional sports teams. I would much rather see parades for the Mets, Cowboys, Penguins and Knicks before I could tolerate watching the Nationals hoist the World Series trophy.
The most annoying thing about Washington is their fans, and the most frustrating thing about those fans, isn’t how they behave, but how they exist. The Montreal Expos were relocated to Washington and renamed the Nationals in 2005. So we’ve had eleven glorious years of baseball in our nation’s capitol. Let’s look at this. So, obviously if you are eleven years old or younger, and live in the DC area, by all means be a Nationals fan, but we all know that the eleven and under demographic doesn’t have much purchasing power. They can’t purchase alcohol at the concessions, and they certainly can’t stay awake long enough to watch a win-or-go-home playoff game on a school night. Now on the other hand, take people who do make money, can buy beer, and can stay up late, we’ll call them adults, or people over the age of twenty one. These “fans” were born in 1995 or earlier.
Am I to believe that people in the DC Metro area for at least the first ten year of their lives were oblivious to baseball, or did not follow baseball? The core of baseball is that it’s rooted in tradition and consistency. One of those timeless traditions is parents taking their kids to the ball game. Parents, passing their fandom down to the next generation. Parents, putting their newborn children in onsies of their favorite team. So, in the middle of summer, in Washington, when the mercury rises, and the dog days of summer are upon the National Mall, those babies before 2005 were wearing…. Baltimore –freaking– Orioles onsies, so help me God!
Next time you see a stadium full of fans at National’s Park, remember, they are either frauds in business suits, frauds that have just “discovered” the game of baseball since it infiltrated their home town, or they are frauds that have turned their backs on their childhood teams, breaking their parents’ baseball loving hearts. I also suppose there’s the off-chance that they could be Montreal Expos fans still hanging on (God bless their hearts).
Now I want to talk about the insane hubris of an organization that combined with its time as the Montreal Expos, is the only team in the National League never to play for a World Series title. In 2012 the Nationals won the NL East for the first time, largely due to the right arm of their young strike out machine, Stephen Strasburg. This was Strasburg’s first season coming back from Tommy John surgery and the Nationals, at the start of the year, announced that Strasburg would be limited to 160 innings pitched. Of course, that’s before they hit the Postseason.
The Postseason, that magical time when, if you’re still playing, you have as a good a chance as anyone to win it all. Baseball, more than any other sport, gives even the lowliest of playoff teams a chance to slay titans. So when you’re playing the role of Goliath, you need to strip David of as many rocks as you can before he finds that perfect aim with the slingshot. That’s why it’s so amazing that they shut Strasburg down. They didn’t let him pitch in the playoffs. The Nationals didn’t let their best pitcher, their best chance to win, go in the playoffs. Predictably, andkarmic-ly, The Nationals lost to the Cardinals in the division series 3 games to 2. The same St. Louis Cardinals that finished 10 games behind the Nationals that season. I just feel there’s a certain level of arrogance here, an expectation that the Nationals would be in the Postseason so many times moving forward that there’s no need to put emphasis on this run. That there was an unearned arrogance shared by a fan base that doesn’t have the same baseball IQ as their northern city counterparts of Philadelphia, New York and Boston. While in DC for a convention in the spring of 2015 and listening to local sports talk radio, I heard lots of callers echoing the same moronic statement. “The question isn’t how many games we’ll win, it’s how many games over 100.” (So you don’t have to look it up, the 2015 Nationals went 83-79, and missed the playoffs, I couldn’t have been happier.) The moral of the story is, when you have a shot at a title, you go for it. You never know when you’ll be back, what your team will look like next year, or what your rivals teams will look like next year. Ask the ’06 Mets….he he he.
We talk a lot in sports about curses. Heck, last Geekade article about the Cubs, excellent read by the way, out lined a few. There’s The Curse of the Bambino, The Curse of the Billy Goat, The Curse of Billy Penn, and the curse of Black Sox just to name a few, but curses don’t have to be rooted in history. Who knows when a curse is in its infancy? We could be in year four of a one hundred year drought. Therefore, I propose we are in the early stages of The Curse of Stephen Strasburg.
Finally, I’d like to give a big shout out to the Washington Nationals marketing department. You have to have some big brass ones to trot out “Nat-itude” as a marketing campaign. Yes, the ever-popular portmanteau of “Nationals and attitude.” What is “Natitude” exactly?
Is it this?
Or is it this? (Yes that’s Bryce Harper again)
Aside from the portmanteau, National’s marketing members are also great at abbreviations. The Nats….. The Nats, they are affectionately called in DC. As one long time friend points out, chants of “Go Nats” in the park sounds tremendously like thirty thousand people yelling “GONADS!”
One last postscript, how can anyone pull for a team who had this effect on a human being:
Enjoy the rest of the postseason everyone!