At the thankfully still going Nationals Journal, Barry Svrluga poses a question that I'm sure has been asked more than once in the trailers the Nats are operating out of: "Will you remain interested throughout the course of the summer?"
The responses to the post are positive, but that's to be expected. People who post on Nationals Journal are a subset of people who read it, who are themselves a subset of people who are interested enough in the Nats to go to the trouble of finding online discussion of them. The hardcores, in other words. It's like going on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer cruise to Alaska and asking who likes Buffy.
My response to Svrluga's question . . . well, I know I resort to quoting Zhou Enlai far too often around here, but it's too soon to tell. I haven't made it through a whole season yet, but there are a couple of things working to make it possible that this is the first: 1) TV coverage the whole year. This is really, really important. B) Trust me, losing interest in an 81-win team only to be enthralled by an 18-win team is exactly the kind of thing I'd do. I think I'm a Dadaist at heart.
A helpful comparison can be made with the team forcing us to preempt BookTV, the Baltimore Orioles. The O's are bad, of course, and have been for a very long time. No hope to compete, little hope of a future, etc. I follow the Orioles, so I know what I'm talking about when I say that they're the worst kind of team to follow. They're going to win 70 games, but they aren't going to win 90. Last night I went to bed after the 10th inning -- I figured that if they lost, that's no reason to stay up. If they won, well that's just one of the not quite 81 they'll slog through. They lost, by the way.
The Nats, on the other hand -- Oh, the Nats! If they lose, it's comedy. Bunts into double plays, fat guys dropping balls, Disorderlies-style comedy. It's like Stan Kasten hired the Three Stooges to fix his plumbing in the middle of a hoity-toity dinner party! (And you're welcome for that link -- God bless the internet and all who sail on it.)
A win for the home nine, though, is a stunning upset, a do-you-believe-miracles once in a lifetime (well, once in a weektime at least) event. Every Nationals win should be commemorated with a bronze statue and an epic poem. The Nats' season is -- for lack of a more original metaphor -- a roller coaster ride of humiliating lows and lung-taxing highs. The Orioles' season is like getting up and going to work every day, and I get enough of that without having to listen to Jim Palmer talk about it.
UPDATE: I was thinking of hundreds of different ways the Nats could blow that game (meteor shower makes Church drop a fly ball, Bill Buckner comes out of the stands to play first, hara kiri). It never occurred to me that they'd win. Where should we put the statue?