Having followed and blogged about the Washington Nationals since before they took the field in 2005, the expectations of success are still kind of strange. There are glowing stories like this one from Sports on Earth: Smells Like Team Spirit. Then there are the wild predictions that the Nats could win 105 games (How the Nationals can make history – ESPN and Can the Washington Nationals make history in 2013? – Beyond the Box Score). I suppose the prediction aren’t wild — if everything comes together they could surely win 105 times before September 30. That’s asking a lot and winning 105 games does not mean much once the post-season starts other than getting in. We saw that last year, the 98 win Nats couldn’t get past the 88-win St. Louis Cardinals.
Last year, despite the heartbreaking ending, was wonderful because the 2012 exceeded expectations. Thought to be a year away, they won, kept winning, and then won some more. In his book True Believers, Joe Queenan noted that the best seasons are ones when a team wasn’t supposed to win — no expectations equals enjoying winning for its own sake without the burden. He’s a Philly fan, so he endured a few generations of not winning anything so in a sense, he is correct, Last year came close to that for a Nats fan.
I’ll admit I’m echoing what Thomas Boswell recently said in his column Washington Nationals, as one of MLB’s best are guaranteed . . . almost nothing. We are probably going to see the best D.C. baseball team since 1933 if not 1924.
I expect the Nats to be in a tough race with the Atlanta Braves this season with the Philadelphia Phillies being good enough to be a threat. The season will probably be tenser and with less wins. Don’t worry if they don’t win 98 again. Hope they win the division again and then 3 in the NLDS. This may be the norm for the next several years. Let’s hope so and have fun with it, it has been a long-time coming.