Not since 1951 has a Washington baseball team enjoyed an above-.500 start to a Major League Baseball season after a mere six games. Uncanny, isn’t it? You would think, in the next 20 years after that, before the city lost baseball, or in the seven since it has returned, it would have happened once. It’s not that hard to do. Teams have winning streaks all the time.
Just not in Washington at the start of the season.
It’s great that the Nationals were able to take advantage of lesser teams - on the road, no less - at the start of the season, like it was some gift from the schedule-making gods. The Cubs have one of the worst-looking everyday lineups in the game as new ownership tries to pare payroll, and the Mets, whoa man, the Mets bullpen looks downright scary bad. Like, Nats first-half-of-2009 bad. But we didn’t come here to bury the Mets, we came to sing the praises of the new Washington Nationals.
The Nats return to D.C. for the home opener in first place with a winning record. How nice is that? Sure, there are a couple of injuries to be concerned about already. Drew Storen had surgery to remove bone chips in his elbow yesterday and will likely be out until the All-Star Game. An injury like this before would have crippled the Nats bullpen, but this year it looks like one of the deepest ‘pens in the league (All kidding aside, please get well soon Drew!). Let’s just hope Michael Morse’s latest setback isn’t a worst-case scenario.
This team is winning games and taking names, and they now have a opportunity to get off to a legitimately good start. The Nationals have an 11-game homestand now. Yup, I counted. Eleven. What a great season-opening schedule! Good thing too, because later in the season they have games with the buzzsaw known as the American League East: Red Sox (1-5 so far), Yankees (3-3), Jays (4-2) and Rays (yikes, 5-1!).
And how ‘bout that Stephen Strasburg yesterday? No runs, two hits and nine Ks over six innings. Davey Johnson said he didn’t want to fight the kid on the mound to take him out. Great stuff. Wonder if Mike Rizzo will have those same thoughts when Strasburg’s 160 innings for the season are up around Sept. 1. No, stop it. This is a positive column. Don’t let the doubts creep in.
Starts like this don’t come around that often. Heck, in Washington they don’t come around for more than 50 years (minus the 30 years or so that they didn’t, you know, play baseball in the District). No, let’s enjoy it for all that it’s worth. It’s opening day at the home park. The sun is supposed to be out, temperatures warm enough you can leave your mittens at home. We’ll all get a chance to take in the pomp and circumstance of the introduction of the teams, one of my favorite parts of the whole season. The cheers for Wilson Ramos, after his harrowing ordeal this past winter, should be downright chilling.
Enjoy it all. For one day, forget about analysis. Forget about advanced statistics. Don’t be a cynic. Just enjoy baseball. Enjoy this good start while it lasts and don’t worry about what’s down the road. It’s opening day all over again.
Dave Nichols covers the Washington Nationals for District Sports Page. Read Nichols’ Nationals observations as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. 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.