Nationals Baseball: Absurd

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


Forgive the diversion away from the Nats... 

Ten years ago on this day I wrote my first blog post about this franchise.  You can see it here at expos baseball DOT blogspot DOT com (I prefer to pronounce it emphasizing the dots).  Impressive, right? By my accounts this means that I've been writing about this team longer than anyone save "Rocket" Bill Ladson.  When I think about that it strikes me as completely and utterly absurd.

It's absurd because as most of you know, I don't live and die with the Nats. I live and die with the Yankees. It's nothing personal. I grew up in New York (state) and I've never lived in or even near DC (or Montreal for that matter). But if that's the case, why write about the Expos and then the Nats? Well because when I started I was afraid that by writing about a team everyday it would change how I viewed the team. I kind of think now that was a stupid thought but maybe it would have, I don't know. 

It's absurd because I didn't start blogging because of some goal of being a sports reporter, or media liaison, or sabermetrician. I didn't start because I was bursting with things to say either. Why did I start? Spite. I started because I wanted to prove to a friend how easy it was to blog about something on a semi-daily basis because he wasn't updating his blog enough for my taste. Really once I proved him wrong, (IN YOUR FACE DAN) I should have stopped. Say... September 2004? Early 2005?

It's absurd because 10 years is a long time to do anything. A decade! That's like a third of my cognizant life! Wasted! Why am I still doing it though? Because I found that I really like to do it. I like digging into stats to find something interesting. I like following a team on a crazy level. I like writing stuff, having people read it, and interacting with them (on some level - it was easier when there were fewer of you). At one point I was responding to a comment and I was writing something like "I'm not writing this for anyone to read" which I realized was not true, because if that were the case all this would be scribbled notes in a row of journals in my house, not online.

Anyway, I didn't want this moment to pass without recognizing it.

Return to baseball tomorro, maybe.


Donald said...

It's all about the fame and recognition as a quasi-celebrity blogger to the stars! You were even quoted (and cited) in the latest ESPN power rankings.

Jimmy said...

Love the blog, easily my favorite since I found it years ago during 2012 or 2011, anyway please keep up the good work.

Strasburger said...

Yeah; I've spent a lot of my 24 years reading this blog. Keep it up. This is the best source of legitimate nats news out there. It's also nice that it has a great readership because I like hearing from a lot of the same guys that actually know something about baseball.

Chinatown Express said...

So here's my question: Why are you so much better at this than anyone else? This is, by a mile, the most objective, most thorough, and best-written blog about the Washington Nationals. And you're just some guy with a day job who has no special access at all. Why can't one of the people at MASN or ESPN or SBNation or whatever do this as well?

Anyway, that's a backhanded compliment. Congrats on doing really good work for a decade. Or at least for the three years I've been reading you. Maybe 2004 – 2011 was just total crap.

Section 220 said...

Love the blog, keep up the great work.

Chaz R said...

Thanks for sharing this Harper. I have always been curious about who you are and why you are doing. From the blog time stamps, I take it you now live out West somewhere, which makes it even more odd that a Yankees fan living out West would write cool and interesting stuff about my favorite team.

You do a great job! Please keep it up!

Jeff Hayes said...

This is an essential site for Nats fans to follow closely. Harper, you fill a void that isn't being addressed by anyone else. You do in-depth analysis, objectively, and don't let your opinion shift after every plate appearance. I do like some other sites, like Zuckerman's, the Post, and even some of the MASN folks, but for completely difference reasons. I find that many of those guys, when they do try to step back and do a deeper piece, aren't capable of getting past the latest blip. Or, as in the case of someone else, can't move past their relationship with specific personalities.

I do have to say, however, that I have started to sense a slight shift in your attitude towards the Nats. I wouldn't go so far as to call you a Nats fan, but you do seem to be a little less standoffish than you have been in the past. That isn't a bad thing, given that I don't detect any effect on your objectiveness. It's actually a little encouraging to me.

Donald - I believer Harper is the (quasi?) official Nats blogger for He writes the Nats blurb for the power rankings each week. And his blog is listed on the ESPN MLB blog network. Is that right, Harper?

All in all, keep up the good work. Congratulations on 10 strong years. Hopefully you'll have things to write about longer this season than any season before this one.

Wally said...

Harper - thanks for doing this. I enjoy it and the interaction that happens in the comments with you and the other posters. I can see the appeal of doing something like this, but can also imagine that it gets to be draining. But, from afar, it seems like you are doing it the right way for someone who doesn't want to be a journalist. Just post when you want, on whatever topics you want. Although being truthful, I am too lazy even for that, so kudos to you!

Funny, I had a similar journey as you, and some similar reactions. I too am a transplanted NYY fan (from northern NJ, although I do live in the Nats area). I switched to the Nats cause I wanted a local team to follow and the other teams all competed against my original fan teams (also was a season TH for the first 5 years). But the intensity of my fandom isn't nearly as high as it was in the NYY days: maybe that is just growing up, but it helps to maintain a little perspective for me. And as a reader, it is also easier (and more enjoyable) to follow sites where there isn't a crushing amount of followers. The trolls make following something difficult, and I think that they are unavoidable once you get to a certain size.

So thanks and congrats for the past 10 years, and hope that you can keep up the enthusiasm for the future.

Zimmerman11 said...

Your BYOBBBQ posts were also excellent :)

The extra BB is for Beer... and THAT extra B is a typo.

Nats have no representative in the All-Star Game... so at least I don't have to stay up late to watch Znn's 2/3 of an inning whenever that was going to happen.

Max said...

JK- I've been a reader for a couple of years now and it's definitely my favorite source for Nats info. Thanks for the content.

Matt said...

Harper -- to echo the love parade here, I love your work. I've been reading since 2008 (I found you through the sadly now-defunct FJB) and commenting when I can't suppress my compulsion to say something stupid. You write my favorite Nats blog by far.

Like other posters here, I've spent some time thinking about why I enjoy your work. For me, at least, the big reason I like your blog is that you have an independent take. The team has had a variable number of beat guys and gals over the years, but when you read the different stories they're substantively the same -- the same quotes, the same narrative, etc. I don't think of you as a replacement for that, but it's nice to come somewhere for analysis that's not influenced by talking to Rizzo, to Williams, to the players on a daily basis.

I also think much of the value you add is that you don't have relationships (at least as far as I know of) with any of the above. I think that frees you up to call a spade a spade in a way that the beat reporters can't.

All that said, I also think you're just a talented blogger, and probably that's the reason that we all love your blog so much. Like others here, I've read your other blog as well (I'm dreaming of/quasi-planning a NC trip based on your posts!), and I think it's possible that you could write entertaining posts about paint drying!

In any event, congrats on the decade and thanks for lots of enjoyable reads over the years!

Steven Biel said...

You're sick. You need help.

Bryan said...

I date back only to the O&M days, but I've really enjoyed the blog throughout the entire time. Its odd that you can't find sports writers with this type of insight and take on the team.

Not to demean what you do, but instead of writing umpteenth story about "chemistry" and "grittiness," you'd think they might write a story now and again about the best role for a closer, but you never see it. Not even, or especially, on teams where closer is a question mark. Maybe a wide audience makes it impossible. I don't know.

Anyway, I've loved this thing since O&M (when I get the feeling I was one of the few readers) and glad you write it. A part of me began reading your intro and thought you were doing an outro and got very worried.

Thanks for dedication, insights and unique viewpoints.

Nattydread said...

Thanks and congrats Harper. Yours is the only Nats blog not tainted by biased ebullience. Great to hear from one that looks at the team from a relatively neutral perspective --- and who also deeply understands the players and the management.

Here's to 10 more.

WiredHK said...

Love the blog, enjoy your posts - they make me think and you dig in to get a perspective nobody else I've seen in providing on the Nats. It's refreshing. I enjoy that you are a contrarian by nature. There isn't another Nats writer or reporter out there that carries that unique style to their POV. So, keep up the good work.

And, I can also assume that, any moment here, you're going to respond by saying something to the effect of: "Thanks for the supportive comments, but I honestly didn't write this post to receive kudos. It was more just to remark at how easily something that started on a lark can turn into a much larger project."

Go ahead, say it. :)

John C. said...

Congratulations on 10 years of baseball blogdom! I enjoy this site a lot, so here's another vote for keepin' on keepin' on.

I also understand your appreciation of the Yankees. Although a DC native, I've been rooting for the Yankees over 40 years. I certainly wasn't going to root for a Baltimore team. I go back to the Horace Clark, Gene Michaels (as SS, not GM), Bobby Murcer, Roy White, Sparky Lyle days. I went to Yankee Fantasy Camp in 2002 and got to meet a bunch of those guys - great experience.

Once we had a team in DC I picked up the Nats and am more a Nats fan now than anything else. But I still root for the Yankees - especially when they play the O's!

Alex said...

Congrats on reaching this milestone, and thank you for the effort you put into this endeavor.

Just to add my story to the mix, I didn't discover this site until late 2011 (through the SweetSpot tie-in). I became a regular reader in the lead-up to the 2012 season, and have found myself quite entertained (by yourself and others in the comments) ever since.

As one who attended Nats game as a season ticket holder from day one and had to endure back-to-back 100-loss seasons (not even 5 years ago!!), it's wonderful to see this team's nascent fanbase grow by leaps and bounds. Keep up the great work, and thanks again.

Rob Evans said...

I really enjoy reading your blog too. I hope you continue to do so. It's really the only thing I read to keep up with the day-to-day of my Nats.

Bjd1207 said...

@Harper - Like all the others said, congrats on the 10 years. I've only been around a few of those but has been a regular read for me ever since.

I think the best part of this blog is the regular readers. Smart, polite, interested Nats fans that I always enjoy sparring with over any topic (baseball or not).

So thanks for the community, and thanks to my fellow readers for a very enjoyable 3 years.

Here's to many more

JE34 said...

I offer my harrumphs ( in echo of the well deserved praise for your work, Harper. I believe your mild-affection-at-arms-length for the Nats is what makes it work... you serve effectively as the sober yin to our raging yang, grounding us in the fancy stats.

Perhaps you've stumbled onto a new standard in sports reporting and analysis. Blogs and sportswriters become harder to take (a) when they let their emotions intervene or (b) when they are clearly forced to write, when they have nothing to say. Thank you for having so much interesting stuff to say. And when you don't, you cut it short, as opposed to saying lots of nothing. Again - much appreciated.

I wish I had a blog like this for my beloved but beleaguered Buffalo Bills, but instead I get silliness like this:

Lee said...


But thanks! Glad we didn't end up with Dan!

Froggy said...

Harper, as a lifelong A's fan transplanted to the DC area, I can relate to your Yankee loyalty but appreciate your objectivity and begrudging support of our Nats. I don't have much more to add superlative wise regarding your well written, and refreshingly honest perspective on many things Nats. You write about topics in a way that encourages a healthy dialogue that is rare and reminds me more of a bunch of friends drinking beer, and having safe, but friendly arguments at a game about the thing we love, America's Pasttime.

As has already been mentioned, I really like the knowledgeable followers of your blog and I always learn something from each column and the fellow posters. Mostly, the lost art of conversation and how to be respectful while disagreeing without being offensive and disrespectful of each other.

Sincerely appreciate it man!

Anonymous said...

I think you combine independence, open mindedness, and intelligence in your blog. This is a rare and spectacular thing.

blovy8 said...

I absolutely thought that this was an "I'm quitting" post. Thanks for proving me wrong yet again.

Anonymous said...


Seriously Harper, when Svrluga left the beat, there was you and Needham, and then just you. (I mean, I was a proud paying member of Zuckerman's blog when the Times folded but mostly out of principle.)

I think Chinatown Express backed into that compliment accurately: there is no one covering the Nats as objectively and thoroughly. It's been 10 years, and I haven't found anyone else. Not since SBF packed it up. (KIDDING)

Not to get too schmaltzy, but I work in a stressful career (I know, in DC of all places) and for the last two years I was at a place that was particularly toxic. Lunchtime with this blog was often all I looked forward to. So if your google analytics show some poor sob huddled into a corner booth at Jimmy Johns logging in for 15 minutes everyday, you know who it is.

I hope you keep up the great work. And if there's any more tangible way I can show support, LMK.

Collin said...

Long-time lurker... I think since 2005... maybe 06. One or two posts max but this is my favorite Nats blog. I appreciate the hard work and humor. Best!

Eric said...


NatsVA said...

You and Chris Needham used to run the best Nats blogs out there. Since Needham retired his blog a few years back, there remains only one.

Thanks, Harper. Keep up the good work.

Nick said...

Thanks Harper! I have really enjoyed reading your blogs over the years and it has even encouraged me to start a Nats blog myself. You and others (Jeff Sullivan comes to mind) have shown that it's more than possible to write objectively (and well!) about a team that you also root for. I look forward to another 10 years

Mrs. Harper said...

Long time non-reader, first time commenter. Congratulations on 10 years! Maybe you can make it a little less boring over the next 10 years.