Hate is too strong a word, but I do have a visceral dislike of the Washington Nationals.
Why should I? It’s not like they’re my local team, or a team I have any sort of vested interest in. Perhaps it has to do with the fondness I still retain for the Expos, the Nats former incarnation (not that you’d know it from the Senators pennant banners that hang at Nats Park. Those belong to the Twins, dammit, not you!). Maybe it has to do with my antipathy for Bud Selig, at the core of the exodus from Montreal and relocation to DC.
Todd Radom, designer extraordinaire, reminded me, while we were watching the Giants-Nationals epic 18 inning game this past weekend, of my vehement arguments in late 2012 against the Nationals sitting Stephen Strasburg. True, I was disproportionately pissed that their GM Mike Rizzo sat down his ace because, you know, the Nationals were destined to make the postseason over and over again and, really, what’s one squandered opportunity. His team would be back.
We all know what happened then. Washington, with the series tied, blew a 6-3 lead going into the 7th inning, at home, reliever Drew Storen giving up four runs in a horrendous 9th. And you know what? I was glad. Could Strasburg have made the difference? It’s easy to second guess, but the first guessers knew it was a disastrous call to end his season. That could have been their best chance at a World Series and those appearances aren’t as commonplace as Rizzo would like to think they are.
Maybe Rizzo was right. The Nationals are back and Strasburg is still the stud he was two years ago. But manager Matt Williams’ ridiculous move of yanking Jordan Zimmerman to bring in, wait for it, Drew Storen!, proved once again that the Nationals seem too smart for their own good. I was glad when the Giants tied it up, happier still when Brandon Belt hit the homer to clinch the historic extra inning affair for San Fran. It’s the hubris, the smugness, coupled with the petulant, bratty emotional meltdowns that follow setbacks, which turn me off. Sure, Washington won yesterday, but I’m hoping that doesn’t happen again.