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2012-366 Day 291 – Nationals

Okay, a little background to start us off, since I know not everyone who reads this blog is as into sports, specifically baseball, as much as I am. The Washington Nationals play in Washington, D.C. (not the state), were formerly located in Montreal (and named the Expos) until 2005, and had an amazing season culminating in their first playoff appearance since moving to the city. They were upset by the St. Louis Cardinals in the final game of their series after holding a 6-0 lead in the first few innings, eventually succumbing 9-7. One of my favorite columnists (Bill Barnwell, although he typically writes about football) for one of my favorite sites ( attended the game and posted a great write-up about what it was like to be there for such a historic (and painful, for their fans, since the game was played in D.C.) game. Towards the end of the post he had this to say about the Nationals fans:

“It was actually remarkable how well the Cardinals fans were treated; when I was talking to one as we were standing in line on the way out, he asked me to point out just how well-treated they had been and how gracious the Washington fans had been in defeat.”

This would have passed naturally without any comment from me, except for the fact that I’ve had some trouble sleeping recently. Nothing serious, but it occasionally results in me waking up in the middle of the night, and I did so recently with a strange thought. My thought specifically related back to the above quote, and went something like this, “Of course they were gracious, they’ve had so much experience with defeat.”

At first blush, that makes absolutely no sense when dealing with a franchise that has only been in existence since 2005 and was playing in their first playoff series in that time. Ah, but that is where the interesting underpinnings lie, because the fans at that game obviously hadn’t just started following baseball at the inception of the franchise, but have a history of their own. That history is likely grounded in a long stretch of futility from one of several sources.

1) The Baltimore Orioles – Less than 40 miles away to the Northeast, the Baltimore Orioles were the team closest to DC before the Nationals came to town. Having last had a playoff team in 1997, one could imagine it would be easy to jump ship to the new team when they arrived on the scene, particularly considering Baltimore’s performance would only get worse in the first few years of the National’s existence (oddly enough, both teams made the playoffs this year). When the team you formerly rooted for submitted a year when they started 0-21 (1988), it seems much easier to accept a last gasp playoff loss.

2) The Montreal Expos – I suppose some small faction may have transferred their allegiance with the team (though I can’t imagine it would have been too many, maybe someone at the Canadian consulate?). If that’s the case, there wasn’t much better to go on. In fact, when you best season ever is cancelled by the only strike to wipe out a World Series (1994) and you team gets moved out from under you, you’ll take any number of playoff losses of any variety over that fate.

3) Washington, D.C. Sports Fans – I guarantee there are people there, like me, who root for the local teams because that’s who they can go see and who they grew up with. I had the advantage of growing up with the Lakers, and now even have the Kings, so even a 1989 to present World Series drought for the Dodgers has been salved. The D.C. natives have . . . the basketball Wizards (born Bullets) and football Redskins? Their last championships were 1977-78 and 1991 respectively, and the Redskin’s win was against the Bills during the Bills streak of losing four consecutive Super Bowls, so I’m not even sure it counts. The Wizard’s early playoff exits when the Nationals first came to town and their utter lack of success since 2008 had hopefully hardened the cross over baseball fans by now, and the Redskins have made a habit of getting people’s hopes up and crushing them, the Nationals just managed to do it in a few hours instead of months.

4) The transplants – Washington D.C. being what it is, I am certain many people who lived in the area sought to have a fresh start with the Nationals (I’m looking at you, Cubs fans) and traded in their allegiance when the new club came to town. It’s unlikely anyone would have traded down (I’m certain the Yankees fans didn’t convert), so there has to be a historically bad collapse somewhere in their sporting history. I’m sorry the Nationals added to their baggage.

Now, keep in mind that I am not at all disparaging the fans reactions and am quite proud of their fan-base for taking such a heartbreaking loss so well. I also write this as a Dodger fan, and we were stuck on the outside looking in this year, so even a painful loss might have been preferable to not making it at all (I’m saying might here, I don’t want to commit myself to something I haven’t thought all the way through). But these are the weird things that go through my mind when I am sleep deprived.

Weight: 225 Loss: 15 lbs – Running Yearly Mileage: 322 miles
Softball Stats: Game 5 – 2/3 (.667), 1 R, 1 RBI Season – 14/18 (.777), 3 2B, 9 R, 6 RBI
Fitocracy Level: 26 ID: disciplev1

Posted in Matt 2012-366, Matt General. Tagged with , , , , , .

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