“And God so loved baseball that he gave his one and only son, so that baseball in D.C would not perish.”
When the Montreal Expos left the concrete hellhole that was Olympic stadium and moved to D.C., I was skeptical about whether a franchise that had so frequently sucked could turn things around by just changing cities. Sure, any Canadian city but Toronto has proved incapable of supporting a major sports team not playing on ice, but the Expos were the Godfather 3 of baseball.
I’ve always tried to support the local sports teams (besides the Redskins), even when they’re owned by dickheads like Peter Angelos, but those first few years the Nationals made it hard. They brought in the 6th best players on good teams and pushed them like stars. They made the phrase “Dmitri Young, All-Star” a truthful statement. They traded for retarded gangbanger Elijah Dukes. They played in the house of suck that was RFK stadium.
But in 2008 things started to look up slightly. They moved into the awesome Nationals Park. Third basemen Ryan Zimmerman turned into the Nats equivalent of Cal Ripken Jr. They also hired the fantastic Rob Dibble to announce games. Best described as “looking divorced,” Dibble was a bright spot for anyone watching roughly 100 Nationals games on the local sports network. Sure they finished in last place again, but at least there was a foundation of something.
Plus, that worst record gave them the top pick in the 2009 amateur draft. Most years the top pick is a burden, a team ends up trying to project what a 17-year-old kid will become when he’s no longer the prom king with a 98MPH fast ball, and then they have to pay millions for that zit-faced lottery ticket, all for the roughly 1 in 15 chance the kid figures it out. But in 2009, as the Nationals were threatening all kinds of records for futility, their savior was on the other side of the country kicking ass and taking names. That savior's name was Stephen Strasburg, a name that sounds like a character Kevin Costner would’ve played in one of his ten baseball movies. His pitching repertoire has been projected between “fucking awesome” and “scout's wet dream.” The Nationals weren’t getting a mid-puberty one pitch wonder; they were getting a 6’4’’ 220lb franchise maker.
On June 9th, the Nationals officially made Strasburg the #1 overall pick and begun negotiations with his agent, baseball’s version of Satan- Scott Boras. The Boras philosophy of negotiating amateur contracts-
Step 1: Ask for too much money.
Step 2: Call the team cheap in the media.
Step 3: Threaten not to sign and instead play dipshit independent ball with Crash Davis, then go back into the draft so the Yankees can draft his client.
Step 4: Underachieve/Blow out elbow
Step 5: Regret/Drink heavily
Here’s where the Jesusification begins, Strasburg is tempted by what Satan wants ($$$) but in the end he doesn’t give in. He just wanted to play ball. So the Nationals gave him a fair deal. 4 years 15mil for a guy who can become the best pitcher in baseball. He goes into the Arizona Fall League (the proving ground for the best minor leaguers) and rips taint. The hype kicks up. Spring training begins and it becomes clear that Strasburg has a shot at the majors on opening day. The hype is generally described as Tim Tebowesque…if Tebow had any actual fucking talent besides getting old sportswriters to fall in love with him. And so this brings us to yesterday, when Fastball Jesus took the mound for the 1st time against real, live, roided up major leaguers. 27 damn good pitches later it was over and it was clear, the savior will arrive soon enough.