So now that the trade deadline has passed, I figure I’m going to take a second to go off on a rant about my favorite team (20 game plan holder since season 1) the Washington Nationals. Here we go…
I hate my team. I really, really hate them. Now, don’t go calling me a fairweather Nats fan, I’m not going off the bandwagon, I understand that you have to go through the bad times to get to the good, I really do. I’m a Wizards/Bullets fan, I’m a Capitals fan, I know a thing about sucking before you see the promised land (in those 2 teams cases, I’ve never actually seen the promise land but that’s a different story). I’m a Redskins fan for crying out loud, it was great when we won, but since 1991 we have lost more games than we’ve won. Trust me when I say I know about sticking with your team through thick and thin. But when you see your team being run into the ground during the thin times, how can a true fan just sit by and say nothing?
Well, for me right now, this might be the thinnest of times I’ve ever seen and it is painful to watch and I am having a hard time understanding why I am paying Major League Baseball money for a team that doesn’t seem to be meeting many of the standards set by every other team in the league for professional play. This team was set up to fail miserably this season and we’re supposed to still just be happy we’ve got baseball in DC? Where is the progress of “THE PLAN” that is supposedly in place? What reason do we have for this blind faith the team is asking of the fans? For those of you who don’t know, this is what we’ve got going on here in DC.
- Our major league team is really just a collection of AAAA players with a smattering of young talent that is long on potential but short on realizing it anytime soon and even if they reach the potential they have we have maybe 3 people that could be difference makers on a championship team (Elijah Dukes, Ryan Zimmerman and Jesus Flores).
- A pitching staff that used to be washed up veterans but now is a collection of mostly young starters that wouldn’t be any higher than the #4 starter on any other team at best.
- A minor league system that was in ruins and is now slowly getting stocked with players, yet no other team in the league seems to agree with the Nationals’ assessment of how good those players are and none of them are projecting out to be a major impact bat or arm at this point.
- An owner with a reputation of being a cheapskate and with his recent legal actions against the city that gave him a stadium for free and not paying a single day’s cent of rent for the stadium yet, one cannot automatically discount it. Also, where is that #1 draft pick signing?
- A team president in that asks his followers to believe in the Plan. He asks for patience and faith and time but in return he gives the fans…um…I’m not sure. A pretty crappy ballpark that gauges its fanbase for a product that is by all accounts substandard. I do know we are severely lacking in bobblehead giveaway nights as well…I want my bobbleheads!
- A GM with an unfathomable love for “toolsy” outfielders and ex-Cincinatti Reds players who never perform up to the potential he seems to think they all still have. Nice job giving up Juan Rivera chief.
- The front office assistants and scouts are mostly from Arizona and have been slowly accumulating as many Diamondback minor leaguers as they can, which is eerily reminiscent of the aforementioned GM and not entirely horrible on the face since the Diamondbacks have a pretty good farm system. Sadly the last 2 acquisitions will not do anything to help the Nationals severe lack of offense but should provide some spectacular middle infield defense.
- A manager that should part time as a motivational speaker with the amount of positive thinking cliches he spouts…but he’s not the problem, if he weren’t there keeping this collection of misfits together we’d have anarchy in the clubhouse. Viva le Manny!
- A hitting coach that seems to be doing WAY more harm than he ever has good and appears to have no idea how to tell someone to take the 1st pitch. TAKE THE DAMN FIRST PITCH! DON’T SWING IN A 3-0 COUNT! STOP “TRYING” TO HIT HOME RUNS! Is it that hard?
- The Nationals might just have the worst third base coach in the history of third base coaches.
- An amazing pitching coach…sign him FOREVER.
- A stadium that is new and nice but bland as hell and like most new ballparks quite pricey to attend. This would not be a problem except we are being asked to pay this money to watch garbage. Pure garbage.
- A television contract the team cannot control that has them with just 40 HD games on a network that no one can find and only 9,000 viewers for each game on tv in one of the best television markets in baseball. On the bright side, the owners get 25 million dollars for doing absolutely nothing about the situation. Way to help out the fans guys.
So…as you can see, I am not happy. Now, I knew going into this season that it wasn’t going to be pretty, but I expected to see the same plucky group of characters that had defied expectations every single year they’ve been in town. Those teams finished up with a bad but not ugly record but watching them play was actually fun. It was fun because they had major league ball players playing like a pro team should. They had strong at bats, they got on base, they scored runs, they pitched…well they didn’t pitch great, but if they had a lead they’d do their damnest to keep it, they ran the bases smart, they played solid defense. Basically, they played the game the way it should be played. This team does all these things at some points, but never all at once. They might get 1 or 2 things right in one game and that makes it miserable product to watch.
I have a 20 game plan for this season, like I have had for every season the team has been in town, but this year I may have attended 3 games so far. Why is that? Well for starters, I hate my seats. My group got screwed in our seat change for the new stadium. I hate our seats. I have sat in my seats once and it wasn’t even for a full game. I hate our seats. I stand in the Beer Pen in the outfield because it is less cramped than our seats (yes RFK had better seats) and I get a better view of the pitcher and batter. I HATE our seats. Ok…there is that but the real problem is I cannot get excited for this team.
I am a knowledgeable enough baseball fan and I know the Nationals have no chance of winning a game unless the stars align just right, which doesn’t happen often. About 2 out of 3 times it doesn’t happen. This is a major league product? Who wants to go to the stadium, sit in cramped seats, move to a standing room only section and stand for most the game, pay out the nose for food and beer, sit around a bunch of fans of the opposing team who are happy and cheering their team because their team is winning and my team is losing and more than likely getting shut out while playing an abortion of major league ball. The team thinks so little of its fans it says “oh they’re just young” to brush aside the ugly play on the field but lately our starting lineups have average 28 years in age. They are not young, they are just bad and there is no excuse for any of it other than these players should not be playing professional baseball together.
Again, you can call me fairweather, but that would be wrong. I’m not rooting for any other team, I will stick by the Nationals but I just really hate them right now and it pains me to watch them be this bad. They are already looking towards next year and so am I. I am waiting for next season when the players are healthy, when the players start working the pitch count, when we run out ground balls, when we throw out would be base-stealers, when we have a team batting average that is over .241, when we slug over .360 and when we have an OBP over .314, when we play baseball like a major league team instead of a minor league team. Will any of that happen? Probably not with the talent we have ready to come up from the minors and certainly not with the team we have this year.
Why are the fans asked to pay major league prices for this product? I was planning on going to the stadium on Friday to watch a game and if I could ask the team president, Stan Kasten, that question I would, but except for the fact that I have already purchased a ticket, what is the point? The team has given up on the year, why can’t I?