Jinx be damned, I am going to come right out and say it: The Washington Nationals are going to make the play-offs this year. Period. They’ll probably win the division, but even if they don’t, they’ll be a wild card team. Which means there will be post-season baseball in D.C. for the first time since 1933.
If I am wrong, I’ll eat this column, literally. (The Examiner tastes great served with fava beans and a nice Chianti.)
The credit for the Nats wonderful season goes to the General Manager, Mike Rizzo. Any G.M. would have drafted Steven Strasburg and Bryce Harper. Rizzo not only did that, but he got the Lerner family to cough up the big bucks to sign them, no mean feat.
Rizzo also has been proved right in letting manager Jim Riggleman resign. His replacement, Davey Johnson, the oldest manager in the big leagues, has provided just the right touch to handle this young, talented team.
Two years ago I was among those at Nats Park chanting “Sign (about to be free-agent) Adam Dunn.” Rizzo didn’t listen to us. Thank goodness. Though Dunn continues to be a prodigious homerun hitter for the White Sox, his departure made way for the blossoming of slugger Michael Morse and the glove magic of Adam LaRoche at first base.
But the key to this amazing team is 19 year old Harper. I thought manager Johnson was nuts insisting Harper be promoted to the majors at such a young age. But the enthusiasm and energy Harper brings to the field every night has provided the spark that took a team from good to great.
Think about this: Harper was a catcher his whole life until the Nats made him an outfielder to save wear and tear on his body. With only one season of minor league baseball in right field, Johnson moved him to the most difficult outfield position, centerfield. Harper not only has learned to play center, but done well enough to make the All Star Team. This is storybook stuff, folks.
If you haven’t been to a Nats game this year, put it at the top of your to-do list. At long last, the national’s capital has a championship caliber baseball team. Natitude is a Core Value.