Rachel Levitin: Die-hard Nats fans have been waiting for this

As it stands, the Nationals are 13-4 and the division rival Phillies are 8-10. It's early yet, but that doesn't mean it's not fun for fans to fantasize about winning baseball in Washington. This tiny taste of what it feels like to sit atop the standings for more than a day or two is special for long-time Nats fans.

It's been less than a decade, but the die-hard Nats fan contingent have held out for what they expected would eventually occur. These are the fans who braved the conditions at RFK Stadium from 2005-2008. These are the season ticket holders who tweet nearly as frequently during the day about the Nats as the team's beat writers.

They're a welcoming group. They're a hopeful group. And when I talked to some of the Nats about their fans in September 2010, the consensus was that they wanted to win for their fans to prove to them once and for all just how much they appreciate their support.

Granted, those interviews were conducted in a different baseball atmosphere. Jim Riggleman was still the manager. Stephen Strasburg was sidelined due to injury and there was a different environment in the clubhouse.

"Over the last couple years since I've been here, (we) haven't really won as much as we have liked to, but the fans have really kind of jumped on board," relief pitcher Tyler Clippard said. "It makes us want to win even more for them because they've been so great even though we haven't."

Outfielder Roger Bernadina isn't even from America and D.C. isn't his capital, but the Netherlands Antilles native still realizes how special it is to play baseball in Washington. "It's something about D.C. It's the fans, the way the atmosphere is so different," he said. "It's always great to come here and hear them."

Players' perspectives aside, the fact is that all this winning - even if it's early in the season - is something Nats fans have been waiting to see. The rest of Washington may not be clued in on it just yet, but that's all right. Let the faithful savor it for a little while longer until the hordes of people decide to bum rush Nationals Park.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation's capital 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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