The injury bug is biting the Nationals at the right time

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It’s not ideal, to say the least. The Nationals have fallen to what you could argue has been their worst foe over the past few years, once again – the injury bug.

This year has been marked as the last year when a core group of players will all be together before free-agency. This year has possibly the most “World Series or Bust” connotations no matter what the management or players tell you. However, it’s going to be pretty hard to win without a 1-2-3 punch. The Nats have lost their players in the top three spots in the lineup due to injury, all of whom were incredibly productive last year and a key reason why the ballclub made it as far as they did.

Denard Span, after a Sports Hernia Surgery, felt pain in a right core muscle and had to undergo surgery. He’ll won’t return anywhere from the third week of the season to mid-May. Anthony Rendon went down and is doubtful for opening day with a sprained MCL.  Jayson Werth underwent surgery on his shoulder over the offseason and will be sitting out for a few days or a week from Opening Day barring a sudden spur in recovery speed.

The lineup is now left with three replacements preparing for Opening Day and new spots opening up. It may not look bright, but this may be the best thing to happen to the Nationals all season.

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Looking at the lineup (48 days in advance)

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The Nationals haven’t had a lack of hype surrounding their last two seasons. The magazines were filled with predictions of parades on the National Mall, banners on South Capitol Street and a Curly W in the books for the last game of the season. We all know the rest of the story –  two seasons, one regular season disappointment, one 18-inning heartbreak.

Despite the incorrect predictions, there are still two large and legitimate reasons that in the past two year’s baseball previews, in big, bold letters, under the “World Series Champions” label, the words “Washington Nationals” have appeared more often than nearly any other. One is their talented rotation, which analysts like me and those on MLB Network could babble on about for hours. The other is the depth of their lineup, the “Red Line”. The Nationals possess what many would call the most dangerous lineup from 1-8, with offensive weapons at every stop.

Given the changes in the lineup made over the offseason, the lineup has the possibility to be different. It’s hard to believe Matt Williams and Mike Rizzo would mess too much with last year’s success excepting an injury.

Last year, the Nationals lineup eventually stacked up like this:

1. Denard Span, CF

2. Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B

3. Jayson Werth, RF

4. Adam LaRoche, 1B

5. Ian Desmond, SS

6. Bryce Harper, LF

7. Wilson Ramos, C

8. Asdrubal Cabrera/Danny Espinosa/Kevin Frandsen, 2B

9. Pitcher

Despite early season woes, this lineup took the Nationals to an NL East Championship. The majority of the players remain – all but two. Even so, Ryan Zimmerman will move to 1B but it does give Matt Williams a couple options on how he wants to shape his lineup. Here’s (barring any trades or injuries) the official Side of Natitude prediction. Continue reading

Side of Interviews: Dave Jageler

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On June 21st, I had the pleasure of sitting down and interviewing Dave Jageler. You might know him from the Nationals radio broadcasts on 106.7 The Fan or player interviews at occasions such as NatsFest. He had a lot of interesting things to say and knows lots about the Nats, and is also a pretty funny guy. So without any further ado… Continue reading

Nats fans are obviously passionate about Bryce Harper being the Face of MLB

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As a relatively new team, the Nats are one of the most adept to social media. Their fans are also some of the most loyal on twitter, with Anthony Rendon’s Mullet, Jayson Werth’s beard and countless archives and blogs posting, plus players. Today, MLB opened the voting for the Face of the MLB between Ryan Braun and Bryce Harper. This is where it gets interesting.

One thing to consider on that last one is that Braun has done ‘roids, but even so…

While it’s unlikely he’ll beat Kershaw or Trout, everyone obviously needs something to do until spring training.

Soccer Weekly: Homegrown talent taking over

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Wigan is on a roll. A steamroll, actually. They have beaten two of soccer’s superpowers – Manchester United and Arsenal in their past two games. And yet, none of them this year have more than five goals. How do they do it? Homegrown talent, no room for superstars, and moneyball style.

More and more, these types of teams are taking over your superpowers – Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City.

But, it’s extremely important to keep the talent where they are. For instance, Andy Carroll was sold to Liverpool FC for 35 million pounds, and at Newcastle scored 14 times in 19 games. At Liverpool, he’s scored 4 goals in 31 games. Yowch.

These homegrown talents need to stay where they were, because there, the focus is on them. Elsewhere, it’s not a major focus on them.

What really annoys me, is when things like the Andy Carroll sale happen. While I am a Liverpool fan, it always annoys me to have a team woo a player with great money from his place.

It’s not just a trend in soccer, it’s a trend in baseball – (Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth), football, (Ladainian Tomlinson and Matt Hasselbeck) and basketball (Chris Bosh and Rashard Lewis).

Think about those guys… How have they done?

This is why it’s always fun to see teams like Wigan win.

 

Best and Worst: Athletes true to their fan bases

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So, it’s that time of year again – the time where the once all-mighty Wizards, Cavaliers and Raptors are in a battle – for the number one lottery spot. After so much love given to their all-star  – well, stars, the stars couldn’t show love to them. Gilbert Arenas was using guns, LeBron took his”talents” to south beach (Not 7, not 8, not 9, not – uh – eleventeen) and Chris Bosh also took his “talent” to south beach. And let’s also not forget these guys – Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, Johnny Damon, Jose Reyes, Cristiano Ronaldo, and of course… Alex Rodriguez! These are examples of athletes not true to fan bases.

Many teams have wooed these players with money, talent, and winning. But, take a look here – none of these guys won a championship for at least another 2 years. They come to prominent talent, now. But, as I said in the LINSANITY post, you need chemistry. I think the teams with that have more of a chance of winning than a team that randomly takes talent.

I love the Sox and Nats and all, but I feel like you’re talking about leaving your fans, the people who love you – and then you leave to be booed by them later on that same season (well, most of the time, that is)

So without further ado, here they are – the top 10 athletes true to their fan base – and not true.

TRUE                                                        NOT TRUE

10. David Ortiz                                   10. Fernando Torres

9. Steven Gerrard                                9. C.J Wilson

8. Dwayne Wade                                8. Carl Crawford

7. Lionel Messi                                    7. Terrell Owens

6. Tom Brady                                        6. Cristiano Ronaldo

5. Chris Cooley                                     5. Johnny Damon

4. Andre’ Johnson                              4. Alex Rodriguez

3. Ryan Zimmerman                          3. Jose Reyes

2. Ryan Howard                                  2. Prince Fielder

1.  Kobe Bryant                                     1.(Tie) LeBron James and Ablert Pujols

NOT MENTIONED:                          NOT MENTIONED:

Vernon Davis                                     Chris Bosh

Steve Nash                                           Gilbert Arenas