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The three baseball periodicals we recently purchased from Barnes & Noble have the Nationals on top of the National League East but in the World Series. For those with memories of the vaudeville tag-line, First in War, First in Peace and last in the American League,” these are great times
But the question we all have is how will it play out. Will this be the start of a dynasty? The poster child for this of course were the great Braves run that started in 1993 when they acquired, sorry Cubs fans, Greg Maddox and teamed him with Smoltz and Glavine. Think of Strasburg, Zimmerman and Gonzalez together for a long run and it is possible. Or is this the 2002 Chicago Cubs version when they had 21 year old Mark Prior and Kerry Wood and sadly still no pennant to show for it. Or have some have suggested is this the Washington version of the 1989 Seattle Mariners with two of the most talented players at their positions and not much to show for it.
No one knows but it is clear that for the first time in eighty years local baseball fans have high expectations, a rarity in these parts. For the current generation the fun started in 2012, except for that brief period in 2005 when the Nationals were in first place until the 25th of July. Their experience was one of defeat after defeat and a decline in interest.
Those of a previous generation were excited just to see a winning team. Leading Ted Williams to remark on the interest generated by the 1969 team. But fans of this era also remember the earlier treachery of major league baseball when they took a young and talented team and spirited them away to Minnesota and in return deposited a team of leftovers and has-beens in the District.
Those of the 50s remember some good players like Roy Sievers or Mickey Vernon but little in the way of success.
Questions and concerns. Always questions and issues that will take up article space in the papers and blogs. Will Zimmerman stay healthy? What about Gio. Will the team stay healthy, if not, who will get injured?
We will find the answers soon enough and there will be surprises, and disappointments, heroes and goats. Now we expect to see post season baseball. Who woulda thunk that in 1980! Baseball has a way of surprising us. Even if you have gone to a thousand games you will no doubt see something you have never seen before.
So the refrain, “pitchers and catchers report,” warms our hearts during these cold winter days. Spring training is finally underway. Soon the Grapefruit League will be in full swing. Like a game of “Go” the baseball season builds slowly but the decisions made and performances performed during the days to come will cast a long shadow over the season. With expectations comes a new dynamic. Fans expect the team to win, and win big. Davey Johnson mounting his last campaign hopes so too.
The next generation of baseball fans will have a different experience than those that preceded it. Hopefully they will remember the past.