The Nationals have such a commanding lead in the division that it has the same feeling as a losing season. It is like the Nationals are playing out the string, but instead of the season ending with golf outings and vacation, it will become exciting again and the Nationals will be in the playoffs. For now though, the Nationals are playing out the string. I’d say it should be a feeling familiar to Nats fans, but how many really exist that suffered through the 2008 and 2009 seasons? Let alone those of us that were there since the Nats moved to town in 2005. I bought my first Nats hats in November 2014 before it was even certain the team was moving to D.C. for sure.
There has to be a large portion, maybe even a majority at this point, of Nationals fans that didn’t start rooting for the team until they were good and now those people have been fans for six seasons. The Nationals are going to have their sixth consecutive winning season, something that has never happened in D.C. baseball history. The Nationals have been one of, if not the, most successful franchises in baseball over the past six seasons and yet their history is more tied to the 100-loss seasons of 2008 and 2009 than the past six winning seasons. And when people do mention the winning seasons, they are certain to voice their displeasure with the Stephen Strasburg shutdown.
All the Nationals do is win and because they’ve won so much this season and buried their division, it feels like they’re losing. Perhaps that’s just me. It’s fun to watch the games and see Ryan Zimmerman’s reemergence, Bryce Harper have a second MVP-caliber season, Anthony Rendon put up numbers to also be in the MVP conversation and Daniel Murphy continue to be the best pure hitter in baseball. This is a fun team to watch, but when the regular season has the meaningfulness of spring training games, it is hard to be emotionally invested and that gives the feeling of the team playing out the string.
It’s not good to say that I wish the regular season would hurry up and end, but I wish it would hurry up and end. I’m ready for the drama of the postseason and an apple cider. I think living at the beach has made me appreciate fall much more. The few weeks after Labor Day are the best down here. All the tourists have gone home and the weather remains, and then all fall and winter we get to enjoy all the great restaurants with much smaller crowds. That has little to do with the Nationals, but it might have something to do with my feeling of wanting this season to end. The Nationals are an excellent team and if they can get healthy, they have as good a shot as anyone to take it all. They will need some luck, but every team that’s won the World Series has had luck on their side. More importantly, they need health.
This portion of the season feels like waiting. Waiting for Trea Turner, Jayson Werth, Strasburg and Michael A. Taylor to return. Waiting for the team to be as whole as possible, and then to enter the playoffs and hopefully finally make the deep run D.C. sports has been longing for. I’m optimistic that they have a good chance. All the injured players will return with about a month to get ready and that’s about as long as it usually takes. In theory, the Nationals could be entering the playoffs with their lineup as productive as it can possibly be. For now though, we wait. Wait for players to return, wait for the season to end and wait to find out the outcome of October.
David Huzzard blogs about the Nationals at Citizens of Natstown. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHuzzard. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. 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 regular roster of writers.