Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Bandwagon That Could – Why it’s time to pay attention to the Washington Nationals

It’s every sports fan’s dream to be one of THOSE fans. The guy that will not shut up about how he suffered along with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays before their unprecedented rise to the top of the American League as the newly minted Tampa Bay Rays.

Or the guy that says he never lost hope when the Yankees went through that horrendous TEN YEAR drought of zero titles. These are the fans that feel passionate about their loser team without any semblance of embarrassment. They are the opposite of the bandwagon fan; they’re the intrepid, “it’s a rebuilding year,” fan. Now it’s time for you to become that fan. Five to ten years from now you WILL be that guy: the anti-poser. The Nationals fan.

The Nationals have a superstar talent that will likely cement their “dynasty” or rather, over .500 streak for a while to come. He’s a pitcher and he’s a relatively new face on the scene for causal baseball fans. He possesses incredible command over his upper 90s fastball and a space warping slider that would make physics teachers wince. His name is Matt Capps.

Capps has been one of the best closers in the Majors this season after collecting ten saves in ten opportunities with a 0.68 ERA for the month of April. The foundation of a great (not good) team, lies in the bullpen and Capps more than delivers.

Oh yeah, Stephen Strasburg is lurking in baseball purgatory right now and the baseball gods are about to pluck him out of there and place him on his throne sometime in June. Watching Stephen Strasburg pitch is like watching Joey Chestnut eat a hot dog or Stephen Hawking do a math problem. The guy is almost too good. You kind of wait for something bad to happen because there is no way such a young guy could be so good already. Granted, he’s in the minors. But I have a feeling that pinpoint control of a 98 mph fastball coupled with an unfair breaking ball will do all right in the bigs.

O.K., so the Nationals aren’t exactly pacing the National League East right now but that’s because they’re still getting used to the fact that they can actually compete. Their record has been steadily hovering around .500 this season and that’s a far cry from their last place finish a season ago. Also, the market in D.C. will always be attractive in any sport and for some reason, the sports gods have been smiling on the District of Columbia for about a year now.

Nothing would make me happier as a member of the “D.C. Sports Fan Radius (Northern-ish VA and parts of MD), to see our beloved Nationals contend. They have the makeup, the youth, the athleticism and the future right-handed Sandy Koufax to work with. Now all they need is a cool gimmick for the fans. Remember the “Rayhawk” that Tampa fans sported when the Rays had their run? I have one for the Nationals: The Riggleman Rat-tail.

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