I started this blog a bit over two years ago, disgusted with the complete absence of professionalism in the way the organization was being run and the total downward spiral on the field. I saw Jim Bowden as the personification of what was wrong, but the dysfunction went beyond him. In truth, it was just a totally broken organization.
No one knew who was in charge. Kasten was supposed to pick the GM, but Mark Lerner did. The GM is supposed to pick the field manager and AGM, but Kasten did. The manager is supposed to hire his coaches, but he inherited half of them.
Since then, the team bottomed out with a series of historic blunders that made the Nationals a laughingstock. Smiley Gonzalez. Natinals. The Manny wig. Chad Cordero non-tendered on sports talk radio. The Segway. The food. The 9,000 households. Aaron Crow. And, of course, 205 losses in two years.
But in the last year, slowly, surely, the Nationals have finally become a professional, competent organization. That's a low bar, but considering where this team was in Spring Training of 2009, there was a long way to go.
Just think of what's happened in the last 48 hours. Set aside Strasburg's otherworldly performance. Just from a business and management perspective, this team chose the #1 overall pick in the draft, debuted the most hyped prospect probably ever, managed the hottest non-opening day ticket they've ever had, and become the center of the sports media universe, and you can't think of a single serious blunder.
People aren't complaining about lines at the box office, you aren't hearing about snafus with parking, you don't have the GM or anyone else in the front office or clubhouse creating distractions or embarrassments. It was, dare I say, smooth.
Mike Rizzo had a plan for the front office, and he made it happen. He had a plan for Strasburg, and he stuck to it. He had a plan for the draft, and he executed it.
And now we have the best damn pitcher on the planet. No matter what happens with the rest of the team, Nationals fans will never have to hide their hats or endure laughter from out of town fans. Now, when you wear your Nationals cap, the first thing people will say is, "man, you got quite a pitcher there."
It's never been a better time to be a Nationals fan. We're a long way from the World Series, but the worst is over. Praise the lord.