Temporary ticket for me for the Nat’s bandwagon
Let’s get this out of the way from the start: I am not a fan of the Washington Nationals baseball team.
It’s not that I dislike them, necessarily. They’ve just never really registered on my radar, even though I grew up a hop, skip and a jump away from their stadium. Why am I, a devout baseball fanatic who grew up in the Washington metropolitan area, not a fan of the hometown Nationals? Timing, mostly.
The Washington Senators left town in 1971 to become the Texas Rangers. Maybe I should clarify this. The baseball team known as the Washington Senators moved to Arlington, Texas, and became the baseball team known as the Texas Rangers. A bunch of elderly lawmakers didn’t become a bunch of cowboy-hat-wearing lawmen with shiny stars on their lapels, though that would have become way cooler. Can you imagine Bill Roth going all “Chuck Norris” on bad guys and...
But I digress.
So, the team left when I was 2 years old, and I obviously didn’t form any kind of emotional connection to anything other than a pacifier and some strained carrots at that point in my life.
As I got older, and baseball became something that was far more important to me than it probably should have been, my father took me to a bunch of Baltimore Orioles games, thus starting a longtime love affair with a team that has provided me joy, sorrow, hope and despair — sometimes all in the same inning.
Some of my best memories of my childhood involve watching Eddie Murray lead the infield in warmups between innings, or Rick Dempsey entertaining the crowd during an extended rain delay or that elegant, breathtaking view when I’d first come out of the tunnel with my dad, seeing that impossibly green grass and crisp uniforms on the players that qualified as heroes to me at the time.
There were also countless summer nights sitting outside with my dad and friends, listening to the Orioles on the radio, imagining Tippy Martinez firing a pitch home or Doug Decinses making a diving play of a hard ground ball down the third-base line.
The Orioles were a gigantic part of my youth, and continue to hold a significant part of my sport-fan heart.
On a side note, I do get asked a lot why I’m a fan of the Baltimore Ravens and not the Washington Redskins, since they were, in fact, my hometown football team. It actually goes back to the Orioles, and those remarkable times spent at Memorial Stadium. The signs around the stadium that basically owned a good chunk of my mortal soul were for the Orioles and the Colts. Fans in the stadium were often wearing Colts shirts and Orioles hats. I was hooked.
When the Colts left town in the middle of the night in 1984, I, along with so many others, was heartbroken. Sure, I rooted some for the Redskins during their absence, but I mostly pulled for players after my team left town — loving Walter Payton, Ronnie Lott and Joe Montana, in particular.
So, yeah, I never had a dislike for the Redskins, and I’ve never had a dislike for the Nationals since they came to Washington from Montreal in 2005. They were just, well, two teams that I liked to see win because so many people I grew up with (or are related to) love them so much. But I never really lost any sleep if either of them lost.
But I am buying a temporary pass for the Washington Nationals bandwagon this fall.
Let’s really focus on the “temporary” part of this, folks. I’m not deserting my Orioles. I’m not spending my money on any Nationals gear. I’m probably not going to try to force myself to stay up extremely late to catch a World Series game, to be honest with you.
But I am finding myself caring about this team.
It’s been a great storyline for any real sports fan watching them overcome their propensity to blow games in the playoffs, and to advance to new heights one season after losing their generational star in Bryce Harper — a player equally talented and annoying in the eyes of many (Yes, my eyes. I find him incredibly annoying).
It’s been remarkable watching uber-talented pitchers Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer dazzle from the mound and seeing the much-traveled Howie Kendrick deliver clutch hits time and time again.
And, most enjoyably to me, it’s been fantastic seeing those people from back home get as wrapped up in this Nationals team as I have found myself caring about the Colts, Ravens, Capitals, Wizards/Bullets and Orioles at different times of my life.
Plus, a small part of me is hoping to see them demolish the New York Yankees in a potential World Series matchup, as any demolishment of the Yankees is a welcomed demolishment in my eyes. Of course, I’d be happy if the Astros smacked them first. Just so the Yankees lose.
But, for now, Go Nats! Go on and win this thing.
By Darin J. McCann