Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Worst Is Over, Finally

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.


Positively Half St. said...

Yes, I agree that your "right direction/wrong direction" poll should be positive for quite a while now. It will be satisfying, I am sure, for the statistical analysis of the team to continue to improve.

It may become necessary to change the name of the blog again, perhaps to reflect the position you have taken as the Anti-Boswell. Then, those of us who enjoy reading both of you can recognize that the clear point-counterpoint is always available.

Anonymous said...

My gosh, Olsen on the DL and Baseball Jesus have saved your soul. I am happy for your happiness. Are you sold on the Nationals draft yet?

I'm still waiting to say that I fully endorse the direction of the franchise and am optimistic for the future. We haven't had much recent homegrown talent (Zim in '05 just after we moved, Desi and Bernie are Expos draft picks) and the upper minors don't have much in the way of a top drawer prospect.

I am still waiting for us to do something of significance in the international market.

Strasburg and Harper are two picks any idiot could make. The way they've handled the Strasburg phenomenon to this point has been rather impressive, and Rizzo deserves a lot of credit for that if Strasburg consolidates his gains the rest of the year.

Will said...

Wow, one three game stretch without any embarrassing blunders and you're ready to say the worst is over? That really is setting expectations low.

Don't forget that we've been playing .360 baseball since May 13 (9-16), which is coincidentally the exact same winning percentage we had in those 205 loss seasons you mentioned.

We have owners who still have proven not to be willing to spend an extra million dollars here and there to make noticeable improvements to the team. (Maybe you disagree, but I'd much rather have Orlando Hudson's .363wOBA than the rotten .310 (Kennedy) and .314 (Guz) wOBAs we currently have there.

The management still show an utter lack of understanding of how to run a franchise. Have you already forgotten Stan's refusal to admit that he was wrong to explicitly court Phillies fans to come to the game- preventing Nationals fans from attending Opening Day?

Our best prospect now (since Storen and Strasburg are in the bigs) is a power hitting catcher who's slugging% is closer to Wil Nieves' than Joe Mauer's.... Do we have any prospects after that?

Does it really only take one 14K performance to forget half a decade of incompetency? This is still the same organization, whether Strasburg is on the mound or not.

hleeo3 said...

The Nationals are now 10-16 since May 13th and 1 game from being .500.