Thursday, February 17, 2005


A Moment Of Zen.

The spring training clubhouse of the Washington Nationals.

While I'm very excited about the Nationals' first season, like many new fans, I'm starting from scratch. I've got to learn all about a team I barely paid any attention to for, well, most of my life. Hell, if it weren't for fantasy baseball (i.e., Jose Vidro), I wouldn't know *anyone* on the Nationals.

Some people seem to think the anonymity of the Nationals, along with their ongoing ownership limbo, is a major strike against the team. Washington Post columnist and ESPN personality Tony Kornheiser had a snarky column last week that managed to capture every last ounce of cynicism about the Nationals.

Everything Kornheiser said was true, but he just doesn't get the idea: *OF COURSE* we don't know these guys yet. *OF COURSE* the ownership is up in the air.

But c'mon, why get bothered by that. WASHINGTON HAS BASEBALL. Baby steps, Tony. Sheesh, these aren't the multi-zillion dollar Redskins, who deserve all the angst thrown at them. The Nationals are a joke because, well they're *are* a joke-- it's just that we don't know the punchline yet.

Personally, I like Tom Boswell's columns on Wednesday and Thursday much better. His attitude is spot on-- these Ex-Expos have a great attitude towards the game precisely because they've been Bud Selig's whipping boys for so long. Imagine playing every game wondering whether your franchise-- the team you put your heart and soul in-- would even be around the next year. Playing games day after day where no one shows up to cheer you on. Hell, playing games in Puerto Rico.

At least for now, for this one moment in time before a new owner can lavish the cash on fancy players they undoubtedly will spend, at least for now the Nationals are what they are: plucky nobodies who just happen to play in our Nation's Capital.

So, let's meet some members of my home team, okay?

Here's rookie first baseman Nick Johnson.

Nick is living proof that at least *one* player on the Nationals doesn't have a steroid problem. The only cream Nick's been taking lately was previously filling Twinkies.

Plus, if he were on the juice, I bet he wouldn't throw like such a girl.

Next is pitcher Gary Majewski.

I can already tell that Gary will have plenty of fans out in Manassas and Woodbridge-- Virginia is big on the mullet.

Here's outfielder Ryan Church (left) next to infielder Jamey Carroll.

I predict they'll make a great pair on the team. Church is 8 foot 4, and Carroll is 4 foot 7. It's the Nationals version of that whole Pedro Martinez/rally midget deal.

Now, many expect outfielder Brad Wilkerson to be a big leader for the Nationals.

Personally, I can't get over how much Wilkerson looks like Randall "Tex" Cobb:

Nice to meet you, Ben.

Finally, here's Nationals manager (and legendary Hall of Famer) Frank Robinson, who is approaching his 847th birthday this year.

Robinson has his job cut out for him: take a team of misfits, no-names, and that retarded looking guy who pitched for the Yankees last year, and turn them into a decent team here in Washington.

The good news is, Robinson is already halfway there-- with nobody watching, the Expos always seemed to play better than they should have. Combine that with the fact that the team will have an owner (eventually) who can spend more than five dollars a month to keep the good players on the team from bolting the moment their contracts are up, and we could have grounds for cautious optimism.

That said, I have absolutely no expectations for the team this year, or anytime soon. If they lose every game I go to, oh well, that's the big leagues for ya. This year, and probably the next two, the Nationals catch a pass from me. Every win a gift, every season over .500 a miracle. This is all just for the love of the game.

Play ball, guys!

UPDATE: Hey, whaddya know? Nick Johnson is *not* a rookie. The picture I grabbed of him had (R) next to his name, so I assumed it meant "rookie," because, let's be honest, who the hell has to caption a picture like the one above "Left" and "Right"? Oh, yeah, I see, there's a guy behind Nick Johnson that you're talking about. Well, Mister Photographer, if you cared so much about the (L) guy, perhaps you would have, you know, taken a picture of him, and not of Nick Johnson, who is not a rookie, but still does throw like a girl.

Yup, I gots a lot to learn about my new team.

Ah..but if they could only have been named "The Senators". When they left town, I gave up baseball for 20 years...
I guess I'll have to come back to town at some point and see them play.

A past Senators fan,
A current Padres fan.

Go Nationals!
Good post. Boy, they've made some horrendous moves this off-season. But like you said, the important thing is baseball is back in D.C.

Oh, and "Here's rookie first baseman Nick Johnson?"

I'd say you do have some boning up to do.

Have fun!
Congratulations! Sounds like you are about to embark on the same journey of discovery I had around 1977 when we got cable and I found the Cubs. Rick Reuschel, Jose Cardenal, Rick Monday. And also Larry Bittner, Paul Reuschel, and Pete LaCock (Peter Marshall's son). I still love the bastards today.
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