5 Reasons

17 wins and 14 loses isn’t really anything to cheer about in most Major League Baseball cities, then again most baseball cities haven’t suffered back to back 100 loss seasons, and 5 consecutive seasons with at least 80 losses.  I don’t think the Nationals will win the World Series this year, and to be honest I’d be surprised if they were still contending for the wild card into August.  The point is that the Nationals are off to their best start since moving to the nations capital in 2005.  I am a homer, everyone that knows me knows that I am loyal to a fault when it comes to sports.  I won’t use my “homer goggles” to breakdown why Adam Dunn is under appreciated due to the fact that he plays in the “steroid” era, and that his career should be more respected when you compare his numbers to the “juiced” sluggers from earlier in the decade.  I mean really, does anyone doubt guys like David Ortiz were on the sauce?  He is about to be flat out released by the Red Sox.  It’s too bad we’ll never really know how to look at certain guys when it’s all said and done.  Sorry, but this topic has started to bother me more and more lately when I see how guys have mysteriously fallen so far so fast once steroid testing was ratcheted up.

Back to the Nats, I figure everyone likes looking at a sports list, and we really haven’t done many on Sports Daggers yet, so here goes.  Here are 5 reasons why you should go to a Nationals game, watch a nats game on tv, or at least start to casually follow them.  This list has nothing to do with that pitcher picked #1 overall last year that everyone seems to talk about.  I hope he’s great, but I want to focus on the guys that are getting it done right now.

5.  Ian Desmond- The rookie shortstop won the starting job from 2 time all star Cristian Guzman with a strong spring at the plate.  Desmond’s numbers don’t blow you away if you are only checking his stats online, but this guy is exciting.  Desmond has some good power, some good speed, and a cannon for an arm.  His defense was supposed to be a question mark heading into the campaign, but he has been solid with the leather, and even spectacular on a few occasions.  Desmond seems to have a little bit of a flair for the dramatic too, so I’m looking forward to watching him develop over the course of the season, and hopefully over a long career in Washington.

4.  The Bullpen-I would not have written anything encouraging people to go see the nats last year because of how frustrating it was going to games where the Nats, as bad as they were, had a lead late in the game just to blow it in the end.  The Nationals bullpen was historically bad last year, and that is being kind.  Saves are blown by every team over the course of a long season, and they will happen with Washington, but this year the bullpen has gone from a disgraceful embarrassment to a team strength.  If the Nats bats get the team the lead going into the 8th inning, I actually have begun to feel good about the teams chances to get a win.  Tyler Clippard is set as the 8th inning man and to this point in the season leads all relievers in strike outs.  Matt Capps leads the majors in saves, and has been lights out when taking the hill.  Capps is a guy that is easy to root for.  He comes in, throws strikes, and gets 3 outs.

3.  Nyjer Morgan and the Base Running Burners-A lot goes into this one and I didn’t know what to call it so I settled for Nyjer Morgan and the base running burners?  I like to think I’m better than that.  Have you ever heard the term manufacturing runs?  Here’s an example.  Nyjer Morgan leads off with a walk.  Nyjer Morgan steals 2nd base.  Adam Kennedy sacrifice bunts Morgan to third.  Ryan Zimmerman hits a deep fly out to left field allowing Morgan to tag up and score.  This is how baseball is supposed to be played, you manufacture a few runs, pitch well, and play good defense.  This is why this team is so easy to root for.  They play the game the right way, and do it with the right attitude.  It’s fun watching Morgan or Willie Harris or even Roger Bernadina fly all over the field stealing bases and making diving catches seem routine.  I promise, this team will give everything it has, even when they were losing 100 plus games.  These guys never give up.  They deserve to have fans cheering them on no matter how they are doing, but especially when they are playing like they are now.

2.  Nationals Park-In today’s world I could make the argument that you should go to Nats Park just for the fact it’s called Nats Park and not something like Sunoco Unleaded Stadium at the General Mills Navy Yard in Washington DC.  I don’t know how else to say this so I’ll just get to the point, Nationals Park is beautiful.  There isn’t a bad seat in this stadium, and it is clean and comfortable with a lot of areas to enjoy yourself if you need a break from sitting.  Once you get in the stadium you have tons of good food options, and a few outstanding ones.  I suggest stopping by Ben’s Chili Bowl and getting something covered in chili and cheese.  Once you get through the line head to the upper deck and stand behind home plate for a while and get a glimpse of the Capitol building and the Washington Monument.  I’ve lived here all my life, and the sight of those two landmarks never gets old.  Take a game in this year, and the home team has a good chance of winning to make for a perfect night.

1.  Ryan Zimmerman-For the last year and a half there has been no doubt whatsoever who the Nationals best player is, and it’s third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.  I could write an entire blog about Zimmerman and talk about how he’s still under the radar nationally, or how he’s a local kid that attended UVA, but I’m just going to explain why he is worth the price of a ticket.  Ryan Zimmerman is the best defensive third baseman in all of baseball, period.  Ask a random sports fan who won the gold glove or silver slugger award for 3rd base last year and see who they choose.  The answer is Zim, and I am telling you he makes at least one jaw dropping defensive play a game.  He makes difficult plays look routine, and aside from the occasional throw into right field he is as sure handed as Lester Hayes after loading up with stick um. (when did I become so old that I make references only my Dad would get?)  Zimmerman isn’t just a gold glover, I also said silver slugger.  He hits the ball all over the field, and he does so with amazing strength.  He probably won’t reach 40 home runs, but he will rack up a ton of deep extra base hits.  Zimmerman is in a class above David Wright, I’m sorry New York, but he just is.  The sign of a true star is how they play with the game on the line, no one has been more clutch than Zimmerman.  In the Nationals short history Ryan has more clutch hits than all of his other teammates combined.  He is a guy you can’t help to be entertained by.  Get a couple of tickets and come watch the best all around third baseman in the national league, and quite possibly as of 2010 the best third baseman in all of baseball.

Those are my five reasons, and I’m sticking to them, but  I can’t just end there  because I haven’t mentioned what in my opinion is the single biggest difference between last seasons 100 loss team, and this team that is 3 games over .500 and 2 games out of first in the National League East.  Actually I’ll save it for my next blog which will come very soon, and will be all about Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez and his importance to the Nats.

Hopefully I convinced at least one person to start following the Nats, but if you still aren’t convinced I’ll throw this out there.  The Wizards, Capitals, and Redskins don’t do anything of meaning for months, so give The Nats a shot, and watch some good baseball at the same time.


~ by tuben4 on May 9, 2010.

One Response to “5 Reasons”

  1. Zimmerman plays like Eddie Mathews with a little less power and a little more stick-um, which sometimes leads to spetacular cathes and errant throws. I usually get an invitation to go to a game every spring, but this year nothing, nothing at all.

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