Rachel Levitin: Could patriotic Nats become America's Team?

In theory, the Washington Nationals should be proclaimed "America's Baseball Team" due to proximity and fact. But thanks to the Patriotic Series and a little bit of time, that fact could turn into one of the Nats' longest-standing ballclub legacies.

Take an annual contender in playoffs, for example. They're used to baseball during mid-October in front of a prime-time crowd. A D.C. fan hasn't had that opportunity since the invention of television. Plus, the Nats' end-of-season goals differ from that of a team atop the American League East standings.

Military Appreciation Night, which was May 2, was the first of five home games the Nationals' ticket office is calling the Patriotic Series. This series also includes: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and Heroes Day (Sept. 11).

In 2002, Michael Aubrecht published a piece that appeared in the Baseball Almanac entitled "America's Team?"

"I believe that 'America's Team' should come from a special place, a city where people come from all over the world to experience the American way of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," he wrote.

Sounds like the Nationals, right? They play baseball in our nation's capital, do they not? Although, in 2002, the Nationals did not exist and the franchise was still in Montreal.

Aubrecht continues: "They should be a competitive franchise with legendary players, championship titles and a logo that is recognized around the world as an American icon for winning. Finally, it should be a team that stays true to its roots, its city, and its fans. That's 'America's Team.' "

The team Aubrecht continues to describe in length during this essay is not the Nationals, but rather the New York Yankees. Do not be quick to discredit the Yankees. They spent decades cultivating a reputation as one of the most successful franchises in major league history. They've earned their respective spots in the history books and Cooperstown.

Washington has a long way to go until they reach the ranks of their baseball predecessors in New York, but that doesn't mean anyone should count them out. There's a certain atmosphere at Nationals Park on days such as Memorial, Independence, Labor and Heroes Day - and Military Appreciation days too.

The Nationals' devotion to honoring our servicemen and women who are serving active duty or are now living life as a veteran is commendable. I think that that honoring those men and woman on specific days and American holidays puts an extra sense of responsibility into the player's minds and shoes during those games.

I mean, think about it: a come-from-behind, walk-off wild pitch to win the game against the Chicago Cubs on the Fourth of July in Washington, D.C.? It doesn't get more American than that.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation's capital this week as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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