Buried deep in my trolling item about Tom Boswell taking on D.C. sports radio and television folks was this comment:

Be constructive. Yes, I know where Matt Purke went to college but no, I really don’t care and it doesn’t matter anymore. What does matter is that a real baseball analyst on the MLB Channel picked the Nationals (yes, the Nationals) as his longshot to win the World Series this year. Yes, that’s THIS year and not next. There are great stories to tell about a great game - and when this franchise wins on a regular basis, I hope there are great reporters around that understand it and can write about it.

Hold up, a real baseball analyst picked the Nats as a potential World Series winner this year? Turns out this commenter was right. Said analyst was Eric Byrnes, and when asked to pick a World Series winner not included in Vegas’s top five (the Phillies, Angels, Yankees, Tigers and Rangers), Byrnes got all crazy.

“Guys, in honor of Presidents Day [Monday], look no further than the nation’s capital,” Byrnes said, to mild guffaws.

“Wow,” one of the panelists said.

“Oh,” Billy Ripken noted. “Kool-Aid, drinking it.”

“Yes, I am drinking it,” Byrnes agreed. “You just look at it, you have Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez — no one’s talking about Gio Gonzalez, one of the best acquisitions in the offseason — Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson they got for one year. John Lannan, Michael Morse, Jayson Werth, Zimmerman, LaRoche coming back. I like this team. Bryce Harper the question mark, and then the bullpen. 28-1 guys, the value play’s over here.”

This officially makes the Nats the only D.C. team that anyone is picking to win a world championship. I need to sit in a dark room and sip some Earl Grey for a few moments.

By the way, Gio Gonzalez went ahead and mentioned the WS words this week, when Comcast SportsNet’s Kelli Johnson asked him about his personal 2012 goals.

“ Every year I try to go one step further,” Gonzalez said. “If we can at least try to sniff the playoffs, even get there, I would be more than happy. I want to push past those limits. I want to see how it feels to be in the playoffs, I want to see how it feels to play in the World Series.

“I’ve heard nothing but great things from players who HAVE played in it. They said it’s a different world, it’s a different league, so my goal is to try to aim that high and always stay that high. I don’t want to go any lower than that. I think Washington took a chance on me; I want to show them that, hey, I’m working it.”

(Via Nats Inquisition.)