The Late Night Nats are Worth Paying Attention To

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LaRoche being clobbered by teammates after hitting a game winning single. (C/O Patrick Smith, Getty)

LaRoche being clobbered by teammates after hitting a game winning single. (C/O Patrick Smith, Getty)

Do not take this as me telling you to not pay attention to the Wizards this week or this summer. However, do take this as a wake up call. Many people went into last year with the Nationals as their team. The team they would pay attention to, watch every night and read the articles about them every morning. But with every passing game lost by error, mistake, or inability to come back, fans slowly drifted towards looking at Robert Griffin the Third’s Sophomore year or watching their AL team. The ballpark was still full, but the Nats had made a promise and broke it, so the energy and the hope was gone.

Coming into this season, magazines and newspapers came in with the same expectations that so many called bloated, considering the fact they were the same as last year’s. But from day one, something had changed. This was a team that could come back.

After going down early on the first day of the season and losing Wilson Ramos, the Nationals came back in extra innings. Even after losing more key players, like Harper and Zimmerman, the Nats have been able to come back, showing an attitude that Matt Williams says is “In their D.N.A.”

Even after a rough start from the starters, they came back and kept the team in the game consistently. There is no official stat, the Nationals have come back 8 times out of 9 when down or tied in the seventh inning by less than two runs this year, which seems like a lot, especially compared to last year. “When you’re put in situation(s) and the game is on the line, you want to come through for your teammates” says Jayson Werth, who has been a catalyst for many rallies this year.

So I encourage you to pay attention, to not be shoved away by one bad season. Because as Werth said, the Nationals are “Taking opportunities when they’re given to us, and (continue to) win ballgames.”

Quotes from Washington Post, Adam Kilgore. 

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It’s time to Embrace your Natitude

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Terrance warms up the ol' Natitude machine. (Washington Post)

Terrance warms up the ol’ Natitude machine. (Washington Post)

If you were to pick the song that symbolized D.C. sports the most, “Hail to the Redskins” would be the answer from almost anyone. Just not me.

As D.C. counts down the days until the 2014 Draft, where the Redskins have lost their first-round pick, again to the Rams, still owing them for the R.G.3 trade, and will in all likelihood, if history repeats itself, go away from the idea they need to pick a pass defense or an offensive line. But we don’t care – who doesn’t love the Redskins in this city, and consider the Spring and Summer “The dark months”? No matter how good the Caps, Wizards and Nats are, most Washingtonians have a little thought in the back of their head,  “This is our year – this is the year the Redskins win it all”. While we’ve had that thought many times, the closest we’ve ever gotten (this century) is two first round playoff losses to Seattle.

I understand the longing for a possible championship team. However, that team is already here. That team is the Washington Nationals.

As pitchers and catchers report this thursday, the disappointment that was the 2013 season is no longer in the heads of Nats fans. The boys of summer are heading down to Viera, Florida as we read, and hope is full in our hearts. But this isn’t like saying that the Redskins are going to win the Super Bowl this year, just because of a winning record. The Nats have every single piece ready and waiting – there is no hole visible in the roster. They proved two years ago that they have the potential to go, and to win the World Series. After a humbling experience last year, I believe this year, they can have the season everybody expects of them.

But this isn’t the problem. The problem does not lie in new manager Matt Williams or in twenty one year old left fielder Bryce Harper. No, we are the problem.

Two years ago, the slogan was “Ignite your Natitude”. And oh, we ignited it, with record crowds and a division title. However, D.C.  has still yet to “Embrace their Natitude”. Embracing your Natitude does not mean going to fifty games a year or going down to Viera, F.L. for all of Spring Training, but bringing your most excited and most enthusiastic attitude to the ballpark, and cheering as loud as possible. It does not mean watching Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo each night (although I personally enjoy that). Instead, it means just talking about the Nats at school or work or wherever you spend your time, or just simply sticking a Nats bumper sticker on your car. Embracing your Natitude means believing that the Nats can win a championship, just being excited, and until November, silencing that Redskins voice inside your head.

The Nats have a great chance this year. However, with this city’s attitude, it feels like it could be wasted on the majority of us. So go ahead. It’s time to embrace your Natitude.

Why isn’t Jason Collins signed?

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Let’s go back to the year 2001. George Bush had just begun his term. Airport security was a lot faster. Michael Jordan played for the Wizards – that year, the Wizards drafted Kwame Brown first overall. That same year, some kid named Jason Collins made his debut, too. Both, talent-wise, at least, have made little affect on the league. But Jason Collins completely shocked the world of sports when he announced he was gay this april, that put Kwame Brown in the dust.

But guess who had a job at the beginning of this season? Even though everybody knew he was an injury risk and washed out, the 76ers took him in 2012 and even after averaging 1.9 points a game, didn’t get rid of him. Now, to be fair, Kwame Brown did get waived two months ago. Which takes us to Joel Anthony, another center that has accomplished literally nothing in his career and could’ve been traded or waived anytime. But no, a player who is averaging 0.6 points a game and 0.6 rebounds a game is still good enough for the Heat. Last year, he gave the Heat 87 points, about 40 more than Jason Collins, which is not the difference for the Heat, almost ever.

There are a couple more examples, although it’s hard to find. I wouldn’t recommend looking. But the point I’m making is that there are players in the NBA that do what Jason Collins did and have a job.

Now, it’s not a complete outrage. Jason Collins, for what it’s worth, was a pretty bad player. He averaged 0.7 points a game last year – but that just wasn’t that much worse than some other players.

So it leaves me with this question.

Why isn’t Jason Collins playing right now?

A commonly used reason is that it’s a lot of PR to take on for a player who will do very little. But isn’t there no such thing as bad publicity?

Another reason used is that Jason Collins isn’t good enough. I’ve already debunked that one.

The other most commonly used one is that NBA owners are homophobes. I hope that one isn’t true, or else the NBA may lose me as a fan.

Until this gets resolved, all players who are gay in the NBA are going to be scared to come out as gay, and it’s going to take another Jason Collins.

At the beginning, we thought it was a huge step. Unless Jason Collins gets signed – we aren’t doing as well as we thought.

Time to say goodbye, Dwight

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Teamwork is what the Green Bay Packers were all about. They didn’t do it for individual glory. They did it because they loved one another.
– Vince Lombardi

Which is the opposite of what’s happening in Orlando right about now.

It always happens. You just never expect it. Every star will make a mistake. And get traded. But why worry about that – stars are stars, and they’re perfect, right?

Not really.

Dwight Howard was the poster boy for the stars that were the opposite of LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Ron Artest kind of players. The not mean, not fighters, not money obsessed, not letting down their home, not tattooed from head to toe kind of players you see in the NBA.

Past tense. Was.

Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy are in warfare, although nobody really knows what for, or why. Oddly enough, Shaq had a similar problem with the same guy – but he turned out fine.

I personally think a trade is in order for Dwight Howard. Blaming the players is a fair thing to do, until the players continue to lose. Plus, with all the focus on this, he’ll be unable to succeed next year in Orlando. Also, he has a little too much pressure on him – he needs to go somewhere with another team leader, where he can shine quietly, and even though his totals are great, the others – not so much. DC and New Jersey would seem like teams with the money and interest to take him, but it’s a bad place to put him in, where he’s expected to be incredible.

I think Dwight Howard to Memphis is what is best for everyone. Memphis could send Tony Allen, Marreesse Speights and a draft pick for Dwight Howard. These two would make Dwight’s presence equal , except more balanced out – you can’t have 4 other starters only getting half of what one starter is getting. Dwight Howard would be good in Memphis because the rebounds, points, and assists are taken off of his back, and while Jameer Nelson will be missed, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will take care of that.

Dwight Howard may be having problems, but all of that can be changed with a signature.

 

The Wizards are quietly sneaking up on you…

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The Wizards aren’t good. They aren’t OK. They are, in terms, an “Airball” of a team. But keep your eyes peeled, and look out behind you – the Wizards could be a contender in the next two years.

Now, you must be saying – “He’s finally gone crazy”, or “The Wizards?? LOL!!” But take a look at the moneyball approach, if you will. John Wall is going to blossom next year, I can feel it. He’s already averaging 16 points a game, and 7.5 assists a game, plus Jordan Crawford is right behind him.

Also, the Wizards have five players averaging 9.5 ppg or more. Although assists is a tough category – John Wall is the only one with five or more. But a rookie could change that. The Wizards will most likely get the first, second or third pick in this draft – which means Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd Gilchrist, Thomas Robinson, or Harrison Barnes could be coming to town to make more assists and more points for everyone.

Plus, the Wizards have beaten two of the Western Conference’s elite – the Lakers and the Thunder, plus beating the Bulls. The Wizards can get up there with the big boys, as that proves.

Even more, Nene has given dc the center they missed. Points and rebounds make me feel like getting rid of Javale McGee was the best thing we’ve ever done.

There are a couple more things Washington has to do before really being a threat in the season, until March.

1). Get rid of Andre Blatche. For somebody who’s 6’11, 260 pounds, he should have at least more than 3 rebounds a game, which would obviously boost his points and assists status.

2). Get one of the rookies listed – they’re helpful to everyone they play with.

3). Get a coach, and try not to blame it on him. The Wizards have gone through 4 coaches – in the past 4 years – I think it’s time to start replacing players, not coaches.

The Wizards are sneaking up on the NBA like the Nationals. And as the story was the same for the Nats, it goes for the Wizards – “Just wait”.