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A Few Thoughts on the Washington Nationals’ Superb Season

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In no particular order, here are a few of my (bleary-eyed) thoughts on the Nationals season that ended, in heartbreaking/heartstopping (is there a cardiologist in the house?!?) fashion early this morning.

*First of all, anyone criticizing Drew Storen is an idiot. The guy is a great pitcher, period. Furthermore, he will be a great pitcher for many many years, and nothing that happened last night in any way changes that. Thank you, Drew Storen, for coming back from injury this year and pitching your heart out, also for being a class act all around. Don’t let the brain-dead haters get you down!

*Second, just to get this out of the way: the Nationals’ decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg when they did was absolutely the correct one, both at the time and in 20/20 hindsight. The guy was coming off of Tommy John surgery, which is obviously major surgery, and if allowed time to heal properly – following the advice of medical experts – will be the Nats’ ace for years to come. Thank you, Mike Rizzo, for sticking to your guns and not giving in to all the backseat drivers out there.  

*Kudos to the entire Washington Nationals organization, from high-quality owners (hello, Peter Angelos, are you watching this?!? note – I grew up an Orioles fan, have blamed Angelos for ruining the team for many years) to a superb General Manager (who should be named Executive of the Year), to manager Davey Johnson (a throwback in some ways to my all-time favorite manager, Earl Weaver, who Johnson played for during the O’s glory days of the late 1960s and early 1970s).

*Despite last night’s stunning loss, this is a team, and a franchise, that is high-quality up and down, built to last, and one that will be playoff contenders for years to come.

*It looks like the decision by Major League Baseball, against the opposition of Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos and several from the DC council (David Catania, Phil Mendelson and Jim Graham and Adrian Fenty “voted against baseball 12 times”), to put a team in Washington, DC, is working out quite nicely, thank you. 🙂

*The Nationals could have been in Northern Virginia, but as DC Councilmember Jack Evans explained the other day, “Northern Virginia fumbled on the bonds where the governor at that time, Mark Warner, said he wouldn’t back the state — wouldn’t back the bonds.” Also see here for details on how Arlington County told Major League Baseball no thanks! (“the Arlington County Board drove the final nail into the coffin on July 18, 2004 ,by sending a letter to the VBSA explaining that an MLB Stadium was unwanted in their county-period.”), and also how House Speaker Bill Howell “changed his tune [about baseball in Virginia] on August 11, [2005] saying that he would not vote in favor of using the state’s ‘moral obligation’ to back the construction bonds.”

*Good luck to the face of the Nationals’, Ryan Zimmerman, who may very well need shoulder surgery this winter.

*What a debut for teenager Bryce “Bam-Bam” Harper, a throwback (in a good way) to how baseball used to be back in the “old days” (run out every ground ball, get your uniform dirty, etc.). On top of being a strong Rookie of the Year contender, Harper also coined the instantly-famous phrase, “That’s a clown question, bro,” which was picked up by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Gotta love it.

*Jayson Werth proved his “worth,” and then some, to the team with a superb season following a broken wrist in early May, and culminating with his dramatic, 13-pitch, walk-off homer on Thursday night to win Game #4 for the Nats.

*I absolutely LOVE this pitching staff, which believe it or not could be even better next year.

*Go Teddy! 🙂

*Excellent late-season acquisition of catcher Kurt Suzuki by the front office. The question is, what happens in 2013, when Wilson Ramos (presumably) returns from the DL?

*Finally, since this IS a political blog after all, let me draw a couple lessons from the Nats’ loss last night for the Obama-Romney race, and for politics in general: a) No matter how big a lead you have, you can NEVER assume that it’s safe (not that the Nats’ did anything like that last night, I’m just sayin’…). That’s why when you have your opponent down, you do whatever it takes to make sure you don’t let him back in the game. b) You need to do whatever you can to “make your own luck,” by building as strong an organization – baseball or political – as possible. In the end, though, there’s always an element of luck, serendipity, ridiculous stuff, wackiness, etc., as we saw last night, and to an extent as we saw in the first Romney-Obama debate.

P.S. Whoops, almost forgot, but thanks to Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler for their radio broadcast of the Nats’ games this season, it was a pleasure listening to you guys most nights!

Photo by Keith Allison from Flickr Creative Commons