But, but . . . Davey Johnson said it’s so, proclaiming in December, “World Series or bust, that’s probably the slogan this year.”
Jayson Werth puffed his chest out last month, saying, “I think we got the best team in baseball.”
The coronation kicked off Tuesday, when pitchers and catchers reported for a spring training the Nationals probably don’t even need since they have so many Cy Young and MVP candidates. It’s not merely the players and their 70-year-old manager who predict championship bliss. Everybody and their mom said the Nationals are pretty much a lock.
Gatekeepers of the grand old game, opposing managers, players, Vegas, you name it. It’ll be shocking if Joe Buck has not yet reserved a Georgetown Four Seasons suite for all of October. I know Boswell is gussying up his own parade float in his driveway.
Most betting Web sites had the Nationals at 30 to 1 or worse to win it all a year ago. Many Las Vegas sports books had them at no better than 125 to 1 in 2011.
This year: 8 to 1, baby, better than anybody but the Blue Jays, according to some betting sites. Print those World Series tickets.
Or . . . be afraid. Be very afraid.
The last absolute, certain lock to win the World Series in April were the 2011 Boston Red Sox, who ended up not playing a postseason game, and the 2011 Phillies and all those great arms that went for naught. Go back to 2004, when the rich got richer in the offseason but Alex Rodriguez couldn’t even get the Yankees to the World Series with a 3-0 lead in the American League Championship Series.
The point being, of course, that the Nationals are paper champions. They have yet to win a single playoff series since the franchise moved to Washington.
And while Davey’s lineup card appears to be destined for greater things — while the signing of a lights-out closer like Rafael Soriano and a proven winner like Dan Haren make the Nationals that much better a pitching staff (not to mention the possibility of 200-plus innings from a no-innings-limit Stephen Strasburg), while Denard Span in center field is icing on the cake and re-signing Adam LaRoche appears to put them over the top — none of it guarantees anything except monstrous expectations.
Cruel, no? The Nationals’ patient legions that waited seven agonizing years for a real baseball team could come away from 2013 utterly crestfallen, without another season approaching 100 wins or at least a spot in the NLCS.