Nationals Baseball: Optimism is the new reality

Monday, March 11, 2013

Optimism is the new reality

The Nats are probably the best team in the major leagues. They had a great starting pitching staff last year. They arguably improved it. They had a great defense last year. They certainly improved it (assuming Danny stays healthy). They had a great relief core last year. They arguably improved it (but I'm not so sure the results will be better). They had a decent offense last year.  One could argue that they'll have a better season this year (there are forces pulling in both directions so either argument is valid).  They possibly have the best young starting pitcher and the best young offensive player in the game today.

They won 98 games last year. Nothing obviously got worse.

I'll still blog in mostly the same way I always have.  This is wrong. This could be better. This is good here and overlooked. This is fine, but this could use some work.  The difference is it's not .500 or even the playoffs we're talking about here. Any negative by itself fits into this season as a "how will this effect their chances of winning the NL East again". Pennants are the new baseline.

Could things change? Of course. Injuries, surprise let downs, great performances by other teams, these can all affect how the Nats season goes. It's a long year. But right now there is no overly optimistic view of the 2013 Washington Nationals, unless you are looking for 120 wins. 

Three weeks fans. 20 days.


Zimmerman11 said...

I have to admit... I used to enjoy spring training game a lot more than I do now. Used to like seeing the young guys... and be hopeful for the new season (since we hadn't already been eliminated from contention). Now that pennants are the new baseline I'm going to have a lot less patience for 6 months of games that are only kinda sorta meaningful.

Donald said...

The problem with the new reality is that we can only be disappointed. It's almost impossible to be surprised on the up side. In the past, it was the opposite where any positive result was a pleasant surprise, and any let down was expected.

I'm glad the Nats are better and have a legitimate chance to win the pennant and WS, but it's going to be a hard season. I think most of the time, we're going to be dwelling on the problems. And god forbid the Nats aren't even in first place for any stretch of time.

Froggy said...

I think I agree with you guys in that it does seem now that it is a forgone conclusion that the Nats must win the division or at least get in the playoffs AND go to the WS, if they don't it is a waste of time. It's like we now must 'suffer' through the season to get to the season, so why waste our time talking about real spring training stuff, like individual players and how they look or if they are improved, etc.

Don't forget it's Davey's last season as the manager, so no pressure. Yeah I know, these guys are professionals and all they care about is winning. In the same way that the souless automoton Harper really only cares about stats and his Yankees. Right. But these guys are also human and they read the papers and the blogs and look at stats in the sports pages too. The biggest challenge to Nats success will be if this crap gets all up their heads and they stop just playing the game like they did in 2010-2012...for fun.

Sirc said...

World Series or Bust is a terrible situation for fans. The games stop being fun. The results are either as expected or WTF DOOM.

Not fun.

So, I'll leave the WSoB expectations to the Yankees, and I guess the Dodgers now, and blame their game-busting financial situations for it. For us mid-majors we must enjoy the journey or else it all stops being a source of entertainment.

Harper said...

z11 - You are overthinking it. Trust me, when your team is winning 3 games for every 2 they lose you get enjoyment from it. Not the same surprise magic as last year but it's still a lot of fun. The difference is it will now reset when you hit the playoffs and unfortunately what happens then will determine what you feel in the offseason. But the regular season is still fun.

Donald - Certainly at season's end that's the case - I don't think the season will be that hard, but then again I think they'll win a ton of games.

Froggy - Every fan is going to have different goals, but I think most settle inbetween "must win a series" for the more patient and "must get to the WS" for the less.

Sirc - yeah WSoB isn't fun. I only ever really had that feeling, that it really bothered me in the offseason that the Yanks didn't make/win the WS in the mid 2000s. But that was all talk radio based. I needed an end to the "can't win with A-Rod" talk. Now I'm back to "make the playoffs and let's see what happens"

Wally said...

I am enjoying the new normal. Good play by your favorite team is always better than the alternative, by a wide margin, regardless of the expectations.

Plus, I have never bought in to the WSOB talk. I mean, isn't it relaxing to know that the season isn't tanked if one guy goes down?

Anonymous said...

I think that was the point of Boswell's column. Enjoy the ride - it's a long season. Don't worry about the postseason until the postseason. It really is completely different than the regular season.

blovy8 said...

Nobody expects things to go smoothly. This is DC after all.
But improvement is always the goal. I think the wildcard game has changed the calculus a bit. The Nats can be a better team but have a worse record, come in second and be out in one game. That won't seem like progress.
There'll be a new manager in 2014 too. Maybe they'll want to bunt.

I suspect a lot of Yankee fans would disagree with your perspective. They read the back page of the NY Daily News and Post. If they're behind the ORIOLES, (whose ballpark they always called Yankee Stadium South) in the standings, I don't think it will be fine even if they're winning most games. 2009 notwithstanding, there's an element of how are are those old guys gonna screw it up in the postseason this year about that team now.

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