Those Amazin' Nats and Why They Should Be America's Team
Today's column --www.washingtonpost.com/fisher-- highlights the one big flaw in the rebirth of baseball in Washington, but not even the worst food on the planet could undermine the excitement and inspiration that this team is creating throughout this area and, increasingly, across the nation as well.
When I saw Mr. Achenbach at the Palisades Fourth of July parade yesterday, he argued that what's most amazin' about these Nats is that they have achieved this extraordinary record without stars, without mega-salaries, without any of the trappings of contemporary baseball that we have come to loathe. He is, of course, largely right. But the Nats do have star players, and they were unfairly snubbed by the All-Star selection gods. Nick Johnson and Jose Guillen deserve to be on the All-Star team as much as any of the first basemen and outfielders who are on the team. But fine--this is a team that is accustomed to being underestimated, and that's a significant part of what keeps them going.
This is the perfect team for Washington: While the rest of the country thinks of us as a cynical burg teeming with transient, rootless cosmopolitans, in fact, this is a hokey piece of small-town America yearning to be treated just the way the rest of the country is treated. So we have charming Fourth of July neighborhood parades coming out our ears--Palisades, Takoma Park, Waterford, Herndon--and we have the greatest fireworks show in the country and we have flag-lined streets in both the red and the blue parts of town. And now we have a baseball team whose players actually give fans autographs, talk to fans (find me another major league park where that happens), and even applaud the fans when we give them our now almost routine end-of-game extended standing O.
This is a team whose very existence is a huge and bold thumbing of our collective noses at so many American evils: Peter Angelos, the Greedy Lords of Baseball, the insidious impact of big money on the national pastime, the colonial arrogance of Americans who refuse to permit Washingtonians the same voting rights that other Americans enjoy.
The Nationals' story is even more compelling than those of the Cubs and the Red Sox. It is a story of a city that was spurned and rejected not once, but twice by Major League Baseball, a city that was used for decades as a negotiating tactic and a rhetorical device ("if you don't give us what we want, we'll move [NAME THAT TEAM] to Washington"). Now, through an extraordinary turn of events, we have that team, and it has responded by turning abject mediocrity into the 2nd or 3rd best record in all of baseball.
Now that would be one helluva story for TV viewers across the land to watch--if only Nats games were televised. But that's another story for another day.
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