Redskins will be #1 team in D.C. for a long time; Nats & Caps currently jockeying for #2

DC team pennants
Mike Rizzo: D.C. could become ‘primarily a baseball town’ – DC Sports Bog, The Post
I think that every professional sports team ought to be “aspirational” in everything they do. An example is trying to be the #1 team in a market. Washington Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo seems to think so too:

“I think that Washington D.C. could become primarily a baseball town, with the Redskins always being right there in the picture also,” he continued.

That’s the right thing to say, but I doubt he believes it. The Redskins 75 years in D.C. and the overall popularity of the NFL are too much to overcome. The Nats, Capitals, Wizards and DC United are all fighting to be the second most popular team in the area. My guess is the current overall ranking looks like this:

1. Redskins
2. Capitals
3. Nationals
4. Wizards
5. DC United

I think the slumping Caps are just hanging onto the #2 spot and will probably be surpassed by the Nats this spring if they haven’t been already. The Nats are certainly in the best position to win D.C.’s next major championship, a spot the Caps occupied for about 5 years.

My personal rankings look like this:

1. Nationals
2. Redskins
3. Capitals
4. DC United
5. Wizards

With me, everybody is fighting to be #2 too — the Nats are my favorite D.C. team even during extended periods of awful seasons. Prior to last fall, I’d have put the Caps at #2, but a few things changed:

As I mentioned recently, I am holding back until I know DC United are staying in the area. I also like hockey more than soccer. DCU has a great hardcore fanbase, it just isn’t very large.

The Wizards are underachievers both on the court and in the hearts and minds of D.C. fans. There are plenty of basketball fans in the area, but the franchise has been so lackluster for so long that they haven’t been able to sustain a significant fanbase. Plus, during the Susan O’Malley era, she marketed the visiting teams and not the Bullets/Wizards.

So, try to be #1 Nats, but don’t me mad when you never get past being #2. This is big market and there is room for everybody.

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Werth: Healthy 2012 Nats could have won 120 games

Responding to claims by Jimmy Rollins that the Washington Nationals would have finished second to a healthy Philadelphia Phillies team last year (The Inky), Jayson Werth suggested that a healthy Nats team could have won 120 games.

That’s just crazy, but Werth is correct that the Nats were not entirely healthy. He missed most of the season with a broken wrist. Others like Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond were ailing and missed time, as did the now-departed Michael Morse. That Nats got through it because of extraordinary starting rotation health. Counting on that for this season is a bit dubious.

Werth also points out not to sleep on the Phillies which is the appropriate approach. The Phillies showed their age last year and lost Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for much of the season. They still pulled it together late to surge to a 81-81 record.

I think the Nats are the team to beat in the NL East, but I would be surprised if they reach 98 wins again. They don’t really have to either, the only regular season “win” that matters is the division or the play-in game.

By the way, my recollection is that the only team to win 120 games was the 1998 New York Yankees, who won 114 games in the regular season and 11 post-season games on their way to another World Series title. Werth’s 120 claim is ridiculous, but he’s correct that the Phillies are still a threat.

39 days until Opening Day…

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