Thursday, April 16, 2009

Opening Day: Washington Nationals vs. Philadelphia Phillies at Nationals Park

by Matthew Borlik

Coming into the 2009-2010 Major League Baseball season, there was little reason for Washington Nationals fans to hope for an improvement from last year’s miserable 59-win, 102-loss, last-place finish. The resignation of incompetent general manager Jim Bowden last month might have left some fans feeling optimistic, but it sure as hell didn't result in any significant roster upgrades by the remaining management. I mean, if it's broke, and everyone is used to it being broke, why fix it, right?

Really, all trace of hope was dashed back when the 2009-2010 schedule was first released, and it was announced that the Nationals would face the 2008-2009 World Series Champions Philadelphia Phillies in their home opener. On paper, it was the perfect setup for another season wrought with futility and humility for the Nats: During the one home game of the season that the Nationals can actually fill their stadium (with potential new fans ready to open up their wallets should the team show any signs of fielding a winning squad, no less), the packed house would undoubtedly be treated to a “d’oh!”-inducing display of incompetence and ineptitude as the home team had its ass handed to them by last year’s champions.

When it comes to limping out of the gate this year, the Nationals did not disappoint. But they also had a little help.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama—an admitted Chicago White Sox fan—declined to throw out the ceremonial first pitch of the season. When the man whose presidential campaign ran on the promises of hope and change doesn’t see enough of either in the home team to be bothered with throwing one lousy pitch in celebration of America’s pastime in our nation’s capital, well—that’s pretty deflating. As if that wasn’t enough of a downer, longtime Phillies announcer Harry Kalas straight-up DIED IN THE FUCKING PRESS BOX IMMEDIATELY BEFORE THE GAME, significantly amplifying the sense of sadness that is, by default, part of every Nationals game. And that was all before the team—which has yet to win a game all season—even hit the field.

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