Nationals fans lost one of the best damn things about being a Nationals fan (not much competition, but still) today, as Washington Post beat writer Chico Harlan announced he's leaving the job.
Chico had the job for less than two full years, but by the time he hit his stride this season, he was a real pleasure to read. He was well known for his excellent writing and story-telling ability. Harlan's stuff was at least three grade levels above the rest of the Post.
And he clearly took a "student of the game" approach to the job. He knew plenty about the game when he started, but close readers couldn't help but notice that he was a sharper analyst and observer with each passing month on the beat.
But what I really came to love about Harlan's gamers was his blunt willingness to tell it like it is. With the absurd, eye-rolling optimism that you hear from guys like Bob Carpenter, Byron Kerr, and Johnny Holliday, with all their arbitrary end points analysis and willingness to repeat the StanSpeak unfiltered--you could always count on Harlan for a straight shot of truth.
He wasn't mean or biased, he just refused to polish that turd. And let's be honest--you had to have a special talent as a storyteller to accurately portray how awful the Nationals have been the last two years and really bring it to life. For me, it was like therapy.
Good luck, Chico. And make sure to leave the next guy your copy of Baseball Between the Numbers. I don't want to have to start over on why RBIs are a dumb stat.