Thursday, April 19, 2007

Nationals full of something. Dare I call it pluck?

Wednesday was a feel-good night for Washington sports. First, the Bullets won their final game of the regular season over the sloppy drunk sorority girl of a basketball team that is the Indiana Pacers. In so doing, the Bullets acheived a .500 season and a first-round playoff draw with LeBron and the Cavs, which is probably the best possible matchup they could have hoped for.

However, secondly and perhaps more interestingly (if not more importantly),
the Nats gutted out a 13-inning win at home over the Phillies. Fairly meaningless on a practical level, but in a Washington Zeitgeist sort of way, it was big.

It's the little things.

Now, Washington sports fans are smart. They may not be what you would call rabid, but they support their teams and have a high level of knowledge. So the locals know that the Nats suck, and will continue to suck for the forseeable future. In a few years, if they have a couple seasons in the new stadium and all this ballyhooed young talent doesn't start panning out, then we have a problem. But that's an issue for another day. In the meantime, people just seem to want to watch a team that plays hard and cares about winning, even if they don't always acheive it. Basically, we want our losers to be lovable.

And then, when the team (hopefully) gets good in a few years, we can talk fondly about the lean times we all went through together in that old rustbucket of a park once known as RFK Stadium. We'll be like an old married couple recalling their newlywed days in the poorhouse, when you were livin on Ramen noodles and swingin for the fences. I don't want to get too sappy or whatever, but these formative years are when a team, just like a person, establishes their identity.

So with gutty displays like last night, along with community-building gestures such as the players wearing Virginia Tech hats on Tuesday, there are definitely a lot of good feelings surrounding this plucky bunch. Attendance is still down (not even 19,000 made it out last night), but these things take time. And I'll be damned if I'm not seeing more and more Nats caps around town. Hey, if nothing else, they definitely work as the anti-Redskins. If they can counteract some of the it-sucks-that-we-have-to-root-for-such-an-unlikeable-team feelings around here, they've done their job.

(Speaking of which, are the Phillies the Redskins of baseball or what? A bunch of big-talking, underacheiving, can't-produce-in-the-clutch collection of alpha dogs with no team chemistry to speak of. Kind of an interesting comparison.)

So anyway, here's hoping the Nats keep it up. With last night's win, they assured themselves of not being in last place for the entire course of a season (the cellar now belongs to the Phils). So another tiny moral victory. But this is how you build a fan base. Nicely done. Go Nats!

Wizards Bounce Into the Playoffs [Washington Post]
Nationals Go 13 Innings, Win on Lopez's Fly Ball [Washington Post]
After Tragedy, Nats Show Their Support [Washington Post]
- Washington Nationals attendance []

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(Photo credit: By Joel Richardson For The Washington Post)


Manatee said...

Nice post! I wouldn't worry about the attendence numbers. They will come up when the weather improves. Go Nats.

Poster Nutbag said...

no, the phillies are not the redskins of baseball; the redskins actually have a tradition of winning. also, much of the phillies talent (rollins, utley, howard, hamels, burrell, myers) is homegrown, whereas the redskins simply make stupid free agent signings. the phils are more like the...the...well, there is no comparison for the phils, unless you show me another sports franchise that is 35 losses away from the 10,000th loss in franchise history.

MSH said...


Todd said...

Washington sports fan and smart? Have you met Redskins fans?

Anonymous said...

The Phillies are the Chargers of baseball. Both have similar histories of being a very good franchise but not one of the greats and the thing which is most memorable of each is how cool their uniforms were in 1980.