Sunday, July 03, 2005

The State Of Our Union Is Strong

At the mathematical halfway point of the Nationals' inaugural season, it's time to step back and evaluate the big picture and what the Nats have accomplished this year. I'm not going to get into numbers and formulas; if you want that, head over to The Nats Blog. They do a great job at that stuff. I'm going to write more generally.

After 81 games, the Nats are 50-31. If anyone predicted this before the season, step forward so I can give you a prize or call you a damn dirty liar. The most optimistic among us would have been thrilled with 40 wins at this point in the season.

I think it comes down to the core group of guys this team has. Schneider, Wilkerson, Vidro, Johnson, Cordero - all these guys (among others) were part of a team that was neglected, and frankly, screwed by Major League Baseball. Playing over 100 games on the road forced them to make inhumane roadtrips from Puerto Rico to Seattle. They had minimal support in Montreal, and that wasn't necessarily the cities fault. MLB's abandonment of the franchise gave the city very little hope.

All this crap they dealt with must have really bonded this core group. They were the orphans of baseball. In the off-season, the franchise added a bunch of additional castoffs. Jose Guillen was run out of Anaheim after his run-in with Crybaby Scioscia. Esteban Loaiza hadn't pitched well in New York, and his services were not highly sought after. Vinny Castilla was considered a product of Coors Field. Even the maligned Cristian Guzman has made some stellar plays in the field. Carlos Baerga and Wil Cordero weren't getting any looks from other major league teams, but they have been solid clubhouse leaders.

And Washington was the city that was spurned by baseball. Two teams left the District, and baseball fans in the area were forced to attend games at the den (Camden Yards) of the spawn of Satan (Angelos) if they wanted to see live baseball.

Moving the orphaned Expos to the city that baseball forgot was a match made in heaven. The size of the crowds for which the team plays has increased exponentially. Soon, the franchise will have an owner to build an economic base. And Washington has been unified by the magic of Major League Baseball. The Nationals go out and play on a near-daily basis. Caps with the pretzel W have sprouted up across the metro area. The nation's capital had been without baseball for 34 years and now it's the center of the best baseball story in the nation.

Skeptics say that this team can't keep it up. Well, even fanboys like me and Boswell will be shocked if the Nats finish with 100 wins, which what they're currently on pace to do. A lot of things have gone the Nationals way; we've got a lot of breaks and a lot of timely, clutch performances. And if you crunch the numbers and statistics, we shouldn't be 19 games over .500.

But at this point, we've accumulated so many wins that it would take a monumental collapse not finish at least close to .500. And if the Nats only win 31 of the remaining 81 games, they'd finish the season at .500. I can't believe that a team this focused and determined isn't going to lose that many games the rest of the way.

Even the most optimistic fan could have only reasonably hoped for that record. But winning only half the remaining games would put the Nats at about 90 wins, which very well may be enough to make the playoffs.

Yep, the state of Nationals baseball is more than strong.


Blogger pete said...

nice work rocket. the attitude of mlb over this franchise has been unforgivable. it's good that they've now found a good home in dc, though i do feel for the sports fans in montreal.

their loss is dc's gain.

as a bethesda resident (97-01), i feel i can jump on the bandwagon.

i felt honoured to be able to tune in to sunday's game through - even though i now live back in england. it's the first time i've watched the nats though i've been following through gamecast when time difference allows.

gotta say there is something about this team. i was around for the '69 metsies and there was a similar feeling. they just defy all logic and keep on winning.

and for the coming series, i will ditch my old favourites and root for the good guys.

go nats!

9:32 AM  
Blogger Basil said...

If anyone predicted this before the season, step forward so I can give you a prize or call you a damn dirty liar.

Ain't that the truth, Rocket? Great line.

I feel utterly stupid for picking 75 wins, then I remember that a lot of people did, too.

Congratulations to those who picked > 85 wins. You're on steadier ground.

12:19 PM  

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