You might remember, from back at the beginning of the NFL season, when we previewed each team by having a writer we liked write about their favorite team.
Well, we're less than a month away from the start of baseball — spring training is here! — so it's time to do the same thing in the baseball world. Every weekday until the start of the season, a different writer will preview his/her team. We asked a gaggle of writers, from the Web, from print, from books, to tell us, in as many or as little words as they need, Where Their Team Stands. This is not meant to be factual, or dispassionate, or even logical: We just asked them to riff on why they love their team so much, or what their team means to them, or whatever.
Today: The Washington Nationals. Your author is Dan Shanoff.
Dan Shanoff blogs daily (and eponymously) at DanShanoff.com. He created and wrote the "Daily Quickie" for ESPN.com. His most recent Deadspin team previews were for Florida and the Jaguars. His words are after the jump.
When we last met in a major sport's preseason, I was pledging my fan fealty to the Jacksonville Jaguars, simply because Will needed someone to write a season preview for that team.
Just in time for baseball season, I again present myself as a fan without a team.
Will needed someone to write a Nationals season preview, and I was thrilled to take on the job — and accept the team as my new favorite. (I even have a "legitimate" reason to like them: I grew up in a D.C. suburb. So you could say that if they existed during my formative fan years of childhood, they would have been my team anyway. (Or maybe not.)
Consequently, in yet another major pro sport, the editorial needs of Deadspin's season-preview coverage will dictate my rooting interests.
Curiously, just in time for my fandom, "my Nats" are destined for epic failure. My team is, most assuredly, NOT better than your team, but it is vastly more intriguing.
The most telling statistic: 300-to-1 odds from Vegas to win the World Series, longest in baseball. (Royals: 250/1. Pirates and D-Rays: 150/1.)
But, friends, I'm here to tell you that this is precisely the moment to join me and jump on the Nats bandwagon. They say the Chinese symbol for "crisis" is a combination of the symbols of "danger" and "opportunity."
I say that the "Curly W" logo of the Nats is a symbol with two simultaneous meanings — for "crap" but also for "opportunity": If you will, "crapportunity."
Let's face it: If your team isn't going to win the championship, the next best alternative for any fan is superlative achievement. In the case of the Nats in '07, not simply being the worst team in baseball THIS season, which is just sorry, but maintaining the promise to become the worst team ever to take the field. Crapportunity!
And yet even with the chance to be a part of that kind of history, the team couldn't be more enjoyable to root for, even in merely my first three weeks of fandom.
Presenting my Top 5 Nats Crapportunities:
(The best sign: Team president Stan Kasten has hopped the local bandwagon of Leonsis, Agent Zero, Bog, Wizznutzz and KSK and recognizes the Natosphere, expanding D.C.'s dominance as THE capital of sports blogs.)
Crapportunity 2: Pitching, um, depth. If you ever wanted to pitch in the Majors, here's your chance. The team invited a whopping 37 pitchers to camp. 37! That's not a tryout — that's a state-school fraternity pledge class.
(Meanwhile, ever hear of a pitching ace that makes $850K? Perhaps that's because Nats "ace" John Patterson won 1 game in '06. Patterson could become the first No. 1 pitcher in MLB history to make the roster of less than 10 percent of fantasy-baseball owners.)
Crapportunity 3: You get to enjoy Tom Boswell, the reigning dean of newspaper baseball columnists and an unabashed Nats fan.
(He actually articulated the argument in mid-February that this Nats team is better positioned to win big soon than Kasten's late-80s Braves. There you have it, from the Boz himself: The Nats are poised to win 14 consecutive division titles.)
Crapportunity 4: Four magic words — Dmitri Young replica jersey.
(Or, like this lucky dude, a Nats jersey with the number 0 and "Arenas." This is why the "personalize-your-jersey" function was invented.)
Crapportunity 5: It will never be worse than this season.
Consequently, if you're a Nats fan now, everything after this potential 40-win season will seem amazing by comparison:
50 wins in 2008? Improvement!
60 wins in 2009? Nearly bringing the loss column to double-digits!
70 wins in 2010? "Team to Watch"
80 wins in 2011? NL West title-worthy!
90 wins in 2012? NL Wild Card!
100 wins in 2013? Meeting President Obama at the White House.
In short, the ultimate crapportunity means that there has never been a better moment to get in on the ground floor of a baseball team's future success.