Five Questions: Washington Nationalsby Craig Burley
March 22, 2005
The Expos are dead. Long live the Expos. As for the Nationals...
1. Is "Nationals" the lamest name ever in the history of baseball?It's certainly up there. "Nationals" is long (four syllables), hard to say, generic, completely non-distinctive, and confers no identity on a brand new team that sorely needs one. It's made worse by being unoriginal; several Washington ballclubs in the 19th-century NL, AA, and Union Association have (retrospectively) been nicknamed "Nationals".
Is it the lamest, though? I think we should start off by eliminating from consideration all the retrospective nicknames. It was common, in days of yore, for ballclubs not to have nicknames, but just be "St. Louis" or "Boston" or "Washington". All those teams have retroactively been given nicknames, to make them easier to identify. Some of these nicknames are pretty bad, like the 1901 "Boston Americans", or the "Washington Nationals" I referred to earlier.
Brooklyn Bridegrooms. From 1888 through 1898 (when they became the Superbas), the team that had been known as the Brooklyn Grays and was to become the Dodgers, was known as the Brooklyn Bridegrooms. Sadly, they did not play in top hats and tails.
Toledo Maumees. During the last death throes of the American Association, a team was put in Toledo which was called the Maumees. After much searching, I finally figured out what a Maumee is. No, I'm not going to tell you. You have to guess.
Tampa Bay Devil Rays. All that needs to be said has been said. It's a bad, dumb name.
Cleveland Infants. The Cleveland entry in the short-lived Player's League in 1890 was known as the Infants. Yup. But even that's not as pathetic as...
Chicago Orphans. From 1898 to 1902, the Chicago Cubs (who had been known as the Colts) were known as the Chicago Orphans. More than lame, "Orphans" is pathetic, making it the worst nickname of all time. Even worse than "Nationals".
2. OK, this is a new team, I'm in the area, I'm taking an interest now. Where can I go to read about this team?There's the Post, of course, and even the Times (and I'm not even going to bother linking to them). And the team's official site, like all the mlb.com sites, always has good and up-to-date news. But I always find it more enjoyable to go straight to the blogs. Nats fever hasn't reached Avian Flu levels of panic down at the Center For Disease Control, but it does seem to be infecting the internet population pretty effectively.
Here are some links to get you started. I want to emphasize that ALL of these sites deserve a lot more traffic, and comments, than seems to be getting to them. I'd hang around myself, but when you're trying to stay on the wagon with a team, you can't get too close. If I start caring about the Expos again, it'll get ugly. Anyway, without further ado...
District of Baseball. Jeff's got one of the better one-man team blogs out there already. He's a strong writer, does his homework around the web gathering good links. Like a lot of good baseball bloggers, he's at his best when he's a touch flippant:
It was a jaunty piece, almost a fight song, that sounds like it had been hermetically sealed since at least 1955. While the announcers claimed that "you won't be able to get that song out of your head today", I did, in fact, get rid of the song within an hour or so; it seemed vulnerable to mild doses of Pink Floyd and Metallica. The only lyrics I remember are from the refrain, where the singers proclaim that they are "crazy about the Nationals" and "nuts about the Nats." (Perhaps you can understand how it was defenseless against even the most minor onslaught of Dark Side of the Moon.)
I think District of Baseball is the best choice for the top of your Bookmarks for Nats fans. He's even got some of the other prominent Nats blogs linked, with links to all their recent stories (via the magic of RSS, no doubt) on his left-hand menu bar. DoB is one-stop Nationals shopping. Without the shopping.
William World News. With a fresh (if jangling) approach to design, William Yurasko's site isn't all about the Nationals, but it's chock-full of Nationals content. William does an excellent job of collecting links, and I expect a lot of good stuff coming from him once the games begin.
Distinguished Senators. I was only introduced to this blog today, but I immediately went back to look at the archives. I'm already a sucker for Ryan's takes on things. This entry has two great riffs - first on a Gammons vs. Rosenthal Great Rumourmongering Faceoff, and then on the NIMBYs who are making life difficult for the Nats at RFK. This is one blog that's staying in my Bookmarks.
Capitol Punishment. A good title (at least it will be for a couple years) for a Nationals blog. Chris relies heavily on the mainstream media for his blog, but he has real good commentary.
Most Valuable Network - Nationals. Jean-Pierre (who I'm guessing is an Expos die-hard who's making the spiritual move to the Capitol city) and Harper seem to have a good thing going here. A recent analysis of Jim Bowden's historical performance in the draft was a strong piece of work.