When you’ve got a team like the Nationals, who started in 2005 and didn’t really start getting good until 2012, team storylines tend to take on a life of their own. If a team isn’t losing, that’s one topic of conversation. If a team is so bad that there players are laughable, that’s another. But throughout the Nats’ time, they dug their way out of the gutter and become a feel-good story of sorts.
In 2005, when Ryan Zimmerman was called up, he became a story. His prowess down the line, including winning some hardware in 2009 and 2010 in terms of Silver Sluggers and Gold Gloves, made the Nats’ story better. But at that point, he was pretty much the story.
Then were the days of first-round draft pick signings including two phenoms, pitcher Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper. They quickly became the story, not only in Washington, but all over baseball - even before they even took the field. Once 2010 and 2011 came around, Strasburg and Harper were buzzwords in airports, sports bars, television and the like.
The 2012 season was the best year for Nationals baseball since the sport’s return to Washington, hands down. There’s no doubt about it. But after years of having no real story to tell, the team used 2012 as the year to shine a light on the team (especially due to the outcome of winning its first playoff berth despite the last-minute decimation by St. Louis).
Going one step beyond that, the team finds itself in a similar situation here in 2014, only this time, there aren’t phenoms overshadowing storylines. That and the longtime face of the franchise is sidelined due to injury. After living in a D.C. during a time in which the only Nats players known by the average area resident were Harper, Strasburg and Zimmerman, it’s actually quite refreshing to see that the 2014 Nats are a team of personalities that have jelled quite well on and off the field (much like the team the city fell for two years ago, though this lineup is not the same as it was a couple years back), and it’s not just those three guys making headlines.
This has been a big year for several Nats, including new additions Doug Fister and Asdrubal Cabrera, the leadoff tag team of Denard Span and Anthony Rendon, the ever reliable Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa up the middle in the clutch, Adam LaRoche both at the plate and at first - every player seems to be contributing and this makes Washington’s baseball story in 2014 that much more fun to tell.
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.