Rachel Levitin: Thrilled to see how far D.C. baseball has come

When Tuesday night’s game between the Nationals and Baltimore Orioles kicked off the evening with a delayed start, there was still a chance for baseball to be played. Or so we thought. The delay started early on in the 6 o’clock hour before a rush of approaching inclement weather forced fans and ballpark staff to head for cover under the Nats Park concourse.

Once the storm swept through the Navy Yard and the ominous winds took flight, it sounded as if that very storm had come along to carry us off to Oz. But instead of landing all of Nats Park atop a wicked old witch somewhere in a faraway land, the structure stood firmly in place as I looked around to survey the sights from the press box.

It was announced by our staff on We Love DC’s sixth birthday (July 4th) that the time has come for our love letter to our dear D.C. to wrap up with a farewell tour. Part of this tour will of course feature our time spent covering the Nats and what I saw last night is just a small glimmer of what I’ve seen over the past nine years of watching Nats baseball in this city and the past five years of team coverage for WLDC.

Despite the fact that it wasn’t exactly safe for ballpark patrons and staff to leave before the strongest part of the storm surge was over, it brought me pure joy to see so many local and regional baseball fans hold out until the game was officially cancelled around 9:30 p.m. or so. As I made my way to the Metro, a sea of orange and red flooded the streets, and eventually the train platforms. When WLDC started covering the Nats in 2010, Washington’s five-year-old baseball team was vastly different and the likelihood of red shirts being outnumbered by orange shirts during the Battle of the Beltways was significantly higher.

Four years ago, the Nats were cellar-dwellers. Since that time, general manager Mike Rizzo played the draft and trade game with a competitive and confident nature, former manager Davey Johnson led his squad to a division title and playoff berth, and -- dare I say - the Nats are no longer targeted as a joke of a team around the league. The current incarnation of the Washington Nationals features a stacked squad of quality ballplayers despite the All-Star selection snubs, and that’s not something that would’ve been considered a notable back in 2010. (Side note: Way to go, Jordan Zimmermann on your second selection in two years. That’s a wonderful honor!)

This team has come a long way since 2005 and WLDC has been there to see the transition. In a way, it’s been like watching a kid grow up before your very eyes and it’s truly been a pleasure. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the 2014 season brings for baseball in Washington and to seeing even more red shirts flooding the stands.

Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC. Follow her on Twitter: @RHLevitin. She 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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