Another baseball season has began, and as a transplanted Nationals fan living in New Jersey it will be another season following a baseball team four hours away. It really isn’t as hard to follow the Nats from afar as it seems. In fact, being out-of-market has made me a more knowledgeable and connected fan of the Nationals and baseball.

Save the season ticket holder who can attend every single game, a transplanted fan can follow the team in much the same way as someone in Friendship Heights or Fairfax. Having an MLB cable TV package makes all the difference. I get all the Nationals games (home games on MASN). Being able to see and hear all the same plays and analysis as my friends in the D.C. area helps me stay on the pulse of the team.

While I think Bob Carpenter is great and I think the early returns on F.P. Santangelo are promising, it will be good to watch half the games being called by other play-by-play teams. It’s fun to hear what out-of-town analysts think about the Nationals — although, the Marlins’ home broadcast last night was borderline unbearable to watch. The guys in the booth sounded like they would be more at home in a frat house than a professional broadcast booth. Bob Carpenter’s professionalism is definitely underrated.

Subscribing to a moderately expensive cable TV package also encourages me to watch more baseball, Nationals or otherwise. Cubs-Pirates are on? I’ve got nothing else to do? Why not, I’m paying for it. Paying for the games also keeps me a lot more connected in the case where it’s a late July game against an NL West opponent and the team is already out of the playoff race.

I’m fortunate to be located in another NL East town. I can see the Nationals when they visit, while watching and understanding their most frequent opponents. There’s also the whole missionary/antagonist feature of watching your favorite team in the unfriendly confines of a rival’s ballpark. It helps that the Mets aren’t very good and I get to witness their fans’ tortured existence each summer. Misery loves company.

I’ve also noticed the Washington Nationals hat phenomenon that Jason Woodmansee mentioned last week. The Big Apple loves the curly W. Besides Yankees caps I see Nationals fitted hats more than any other baseball team, even the Mets, which pleases me to no end.

So, don’t feel bad for us transplanted fans, it’s a pretty sweet deal.