On the eve of opening day some 5 Â˝ months ago, we published a story about the Nationalsâ€™ coming emergence as a national attraction. Players, television executives and even the commissioner foresaw the Nationals as a team poised to grab attention of not only local fans, but the entire baseball world.
It has come to fruition all year, and will culminate (at least in the regular season) this weekend in Atlanta. Today at 4:05 p.m., the Nationals will play a semi-national game on Fox. Sunday at 8 p.m., they play under baseballâ€™s biggest regular-season spotlight, ESPNâ€™s Sunday Night Baseball. All weekend, camera crews from the all-access show â€śCaught Lookingâ€ť have followed the Nationals around. The show airs at 9 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.
The Nationalsâ€™ decision to shut down Stephen Strasburg obviously garnered the brunt of attention. (Fair warning for those tuning in to Fox or ESPN the next two days.) But they are a team brimming with story lines and, more important, athletic players who are a thrill to watch. Even if you donâ€™t root for the Nationals, they are the team you want to watch if your favorite team isnâ€™t playing. The Nationalsâ€™ success in the playoffs has yet to be determined. But as a commodity, there is no question they have arrived.