The Original Nationals

When the Montreal Expos relocated the nation’s capital in 2005, after narrowly surviving a contraction bid along with the Minnesota Twins, a host of names were considered for the city’s newest franchise. Among the first to be tossed around was the “Washington Senators,” the most prominent nickname of the American League team that called D.C. home from the turn of the century all the way up until 1960. The name “Senators,” however, proved both controversial and unattainable. Some local politicians in the Washington area objected to the name because the District of Columbia does not have a vote in the Senate, believing such a name would be technically incorrect and ultimately misleading. Official ownership rights to the name “Senators” was perhaps the biggest hurdle, as the Texas Rangers, known as the Senators prior to their western relocation, still retained the rights to the name. While Major League Baseball inquired as to the rights of purchasing the name, negotiations were unsuccessful. Instead, fans and decision makers dug deeper into baseball history, where they soon found the Washington Nationals, a less storied National League team that took the field from 1886 to 1889. Read the rest of this entry »

Young Pitchers with Injury Trouble: Prior to Strasburg

Almost a decade prior to Stephen Strasburg‘s heavenly descent straight from the clouds to the mound at Nationals Park, with brief stops in Harrisburg and Syracuse along the way, similar hopes rested on the right arm of a young man newly minted as the Chicago Cubs ace. The comparison to Mark Prior has abounded throughout sports media since it was announced Strasburg would miss the rest of the season. Of course, while their meteoric ascents to the MLB center stage is no doubt similar, perhaps the comparison to Prior isn’t entirely fair, after all, many of Prior’s injuries weren’t arm related troubles, or at least not induced directly from throwing a baseball. Prior’s original shoulder injury was the result of a base-running collision with Atlanta Braves second baseman; his first season ending injury was a strained hamstring, also the result of rounding the bases. Prior’s first elbow problem occurred while he was on the mound; though not originally caused by his pitching mechanics, rather a 117 mph comebacker off the bat of Brad Hawpe. Unless you’re pitching from the outfield, not even the tidy mechanics of Greg Maddux could’ve avoided such an unfortunate circumstance. It was not until 2006 that Prior first hit the DL with a strained shoulder, augmented by a strained oblique during batting practice, after which Prior would never return to form. Read the rest of this entry »

Is Dunn Done in D.C.?

For the past two years, the Big Donkey has been grazing all across the Nationals Park grass, whether in the outfield corner or down the 1st base line. Nearly two full seasons after signing a 20 million deal with the Nats, Dunn’s contract is set to expire at the end of 2010, which begs the question, should the Nationals re-up with an extension or is it time to let the Donkey roam free?Over the course of his Major League Baseball career, Dunn has been impressively productive at the plate. Since his breakout season in 2004, in which he ballooned his long ball total from a previous high of 27 all the way up to 46, Dunn has never managed fewer than 38 dingers over the past 7 seasons. He has been a model of consistency with the bat, swatting exactly 40 home runs in 4 straight seasons from 2005 to 2008, dropping off the torrent pace by just 2 in his first year with the Nationals. Sure, he has been rated as the worst fielder in baseball, but when signing Adam Dunn, it’s not as if a team doesn’t know what they’re getting into. Read the rest of this entry »

Does Nyjer Have A Point?

Nyjer Morgan has been suspended 7 games by MLB officials, a penalty he will appeal, for hurling a baseball at a Philadelphia Phillies towards the end of a game in which the Nationals actually bested the Phillies 8 to 1. Granted, you probably shouldn’t pelt hard objects at ticket-buying customers, unless of course upon request, in support of Nyjer Morgan, it’s been a long season in the nation’s capital, better yet, a long tenure. Let’s take a look at Morgan’s best possible defenses. He could claim ignorance, saying, “Mr. Selig, it’s been a while since we we’d scored 8 runs, I simply didn’t know it was inappropriate to throw baseballs at fans,” or maybe try to sell that he was just a follower, claiming, “I saw Strasburg go on the Disabled List after throwing a baseball and I figured if I gave it a try, maybe I wouldn’t have to play for the next 12 months either?” Of course he could just be honest, admitting “Sir, I know what I did was wrong, but I’ve spent my 5 MLB seasons with the Pirates and Nationals, isn’t that punishment enough?” In all seriousness, baseball in Washington D.C. may have reached an all time low, and through nearly 6 seasons of cellar-dwelling with nothing but 5th place division finishes to show for it, that’s really saying something. Read the rest of this entry »