We're kicking off a new feature on MASNSports.com, where we'll tell you a little more about some of the bloggers covering the Nationals. I'm trying to sit down with one blogger each week to talk with them about their site, how they got started and what makes them passionate enough to write about the Nationals on their own site. And in the second part - most of these will have two installments - I'll do a little back-and-forth talk about the Nationals with our featured blogger.
Up first is Patrick Reddington, who blogs about the Nats for Federal Baseball. He lives in New Jersey, but grew up an Expos fan, and transferred that to a love of the Nationals when the team moved to Washington. Each weekend the Nationals are at home, he drives from New Jersey to Washington to cover the team (the Nationals started a program last month to credential a handful of bloggers for on-field and press conference access). Here's the first part of our discussion:
BG: Tell me a little about the site and when you got started with it.
PR: It started in August '07. I was writing my own site on MLBlogs, and (SB Nation) was kind of going around, looking for a new Nationals site on there. So they went searching for me, and offered me a position with SB Nation. I was kind of sitting down and wanting write every day, and (MLBlogs) was a good way to do it, because I was already watching baseball, and they went looking for somebody.
BG: So Federal Baseball started because SB Nation was looking for somebody?
PR: They had a writer there, and he moved on right before I got there. They went looking for somebody to replace him, because they wanted to have everybody represented.
BG: They've got the regional sports sites now. How does that help you or affect you?
PR: It's another outlet for us. They're kind of trying to tie all of DC sports in together there, and make it a DC sports page, as much as I've been involved in it from the beginning. I've been trying to integrate it back and forth, kind of trying to link the stuff they're doing on there. It'll be interesting to see if it drives traffic, or if it pulls traffic away.
BG: You live in New Jersey, right? Where did the Nationals connection come from, and what's that been like, driving back and forth to cover the team?
PR: It's a little bit rough, but I grew up with a single mom, and she had no interest in sports whatsoever. So my brother and I were kind of on our own to pick teams. At that time, when I was a kid, the Expos had Tim Raines, Gary Carter, Andre Dawson. They had a really great team at the time, so I kind of got drawn to them. My brother's a big Braves fan, so there's a little bit of driving. The (team's) move down here, I mean, it saves me about six hours of driving up to Montreal, which I was basically doing once or twice a year, just to get out there and see some games. It makes it a little bit easier to follow the team.
BG: So you must have become an Expos fan in the early 80s?
PR: Yeah. I was about five or six years old. I've been following them ever since. I kind of had to go through all the really lean years, right before they got them out of there. They seemed to be kind of trying to devalue the franchise as much as they could before they moved them. The Expos were basically Major League Baseball's farm system at that point, where they'd groom talent and send them off right before they came up for arbitration. They wouldn't pay anybody at that point.
BG: Yeah, I mean some of those trades - I just finished writing a kid's book on the history of the Nationals and Expos - going back and looking at some of the franchise's history, it's really sad. I mean, the one time they had a chance to go to the World Series, they lose on the Blue Monday game (in 1981), the 1994 team that probably would have made a deep playoff run, and the year they didn't get the September call-ups in 2003. It's kind of a sad history. But you've probably been with it as long as anybody.
PR: Yeah. I've talked to some of the guys, like (Roger) Bernadina and (Ian) Desmond and those guys that came up in the system, and asked them, 'Did you want to play for the Expos? What was it like to not get that chance?' They all said they wanted to come up, that was the team that drafted them, and they wanted a chance to wear the Expos uniform. I've been kind of pushing for an Expos Day, to get the Nationals to acknowledge the past. The only way they do that, at this point, is in the statistics. I don't see why they wouldn't take a step further, and at least one day a year, at least acknowledge the team existed, keep the history going a little bit.
BG: It's interesting you bring it up, because they've made such an effort to link this team with DC baseball. You kind of want to establish that the Nationals are the next thing. But they're not an expansion team; there's a relationship there. And some people would probably say, 'I don't care about the Expos; I had no connection to them.' But it's interesting.
PR: Yeah, even the Orioles brought back the St. Louis Browns uniforms when they did a throwback day. So (it'd be nice) once a year, to take out the old powder blue uniforms and tri-color caps.
BG: It was such a great logo, too.
PR: Yeah, everything about it, it's just sad to see it disappear. The next person to go into the Hall of Fame - Vladimir Guerrero, maybe Tim Raines if he gets his percentages up for the Hall of Fame vote - after those two, there's not going to be anyone that's Hall of Fame-worthy. The name's going to disappear, and the whole team is going to fade into history, unfortunately. It's sad for someone who grew up with the team.
BG: Let's talk a little bit about the course of the season. They're (eight) games under .500. You're kind of in this, do you buy, do you sell - there's talk that they've got payroll to take on a contract. Where do you come down on that? Put your GM hat on for a minute.
PR: I think they're going to need for a position player, because I don't see anyone in the system - no outfielders that are MLB-ready at this point. If you don't hold onto Dunn and sign him, I don't know what they're going to do at first base. As far as the pitching's concerned, they've been building that up ever since (Mike) Rizzo's been here. If they've been talking for four years that you can never have enough pitching, the idea of trading it for a chance at maybe competing doesn't seem like a good idea. I'm kind of hoping they just stick with what they've been doing, let the kids come up and see what they've got. But I think they might have to make a deal to get a right fielder in here, second base, if they're not going to keep Guzman around.
BG: Yeah, the middle infield thing is going to be interesting. You've got an option on Adam Kennedy. You've also got Danny Espinosa sitting there (at Double-A Harrisburg). You can go in a couple directions there. You've got that, you've got right field and you probably need another starter. The right field thing, you've got some kids in the minors - (Michael) Burgess, (Destin) Hood, (Bryce) Harper at some point. But they're a ways off. You're still talking about a matter of years, not weeks or months with those guys.
PR: What have you been hearing about Espinosa? We've been hearing a lot of talk on our site about what they're going to do and who's going to end up switching to second base.
BG: Yeah, it's an interesting question. Desmond, to me, has shown the athleticism to play the position. Espinosa might be a little more polished, but Desmond gets to balls that a lot of guys can't get to. And by the time Espinosa gets here, Desmond will probably have some priority there, just because he's gotten a year at the majors at the position. So my hunch would be, they'd put Espinosa at second. But they may keep Kennedy.
We also talked about Stephen Strasburg, the upcoming Bryce Harper negotations and a possible contract extension for Adam Dunn, and I'll have those topics in the second part of this week's blogger profile. Check back for that tomorrow.