The Washington Post

Washington Nationals: Report from spring training

I don’t believe in jinxes, any more than I believe in ghosts, leprechauns, UFO aliens or liberal Republicans. So I’m not worried about Sports Illustrated putting the Nationals on the cover and picking them to win the World Series. This simply means that the magazine has been paying attention to what is clearly a very good baseball team. This team is so good, it could win not only the World Series but possibly also the Super Bowl.

Hype? Overstatement? I’m a believer, to quote Mickey Dolenz. And it so happens that I did a drive-by of Viera last Friday on my way to Hogtown. Caught about half the game. Strasburg on the mound. Sunshine. Saw some great friends from Washington who had just flown in. It was some good times. Ian Desmond homered,  and Strasburg struck out a bunch of Tigers. I’m not sure who won, ultimately, and my ability to report on the game is limited by the fact that I can’t SEE very well, lately, due to age-related issues with my eyeballs, and I lost my glasses a year ago and haven’t gotten around to getting a new pair (it’s hard to be me), so I couldn’t quite pick up the rotation on Strasburg’s curveball or know precisely how much it dipped. Based on the body language of the guy caught looking flatfooted at a Strasburg curveball for strike three, I think he’s got good stuff.

And Bryce Harper looks like he’s going to bat .500 this year.

And LaRoche is back, and Zimmerman has a new shoulder, and there’s a new guy out in center field, Denard Span, who supposedly is really good, and the team signed a new top-shelf closer, Rafael Soriano, and there are just not a lot of obvious weaknesses here. Yeah, they still gotta play the game and anything can happen and blah-blah-blah, let’s not automatically assume they’re the ’27 Yankees. But I predict they’ll be watchable. A really good Washington sports team — virtually a miracle, these last 20 years.


One problem, though: I wasn’t blown away by the beer options at Space Coast Stadium. Where were the microbrews? There were lots of fans there from the Washington area, and you know how we are in Washington. Can’t drink Michelob Ultra and show my face in public later. Can’t a fella get a Sierra Nevada around here? And shouldn’t the stadium have a wine bar? What happens if you’re taking in a spring training game and you feel a sudden, powerful hankering for pinot noir? There is a limit to how much a guy can endure. I am not an animal.



Joel Achenbach writes on science and politics for the Post's national desk and on the "Achenblog."
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