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NL East Preseason Doxology: The 2014 Nationals

Success breeds contempt.


The basic expectation of civility in discourse generally keeps us from telling the fans of rival teams just how we feel about the franchise for which they root.  Fortunately, the internet requires no such expectations: welcome to the 2014 NL East Doxologies. With our blessings.

Also, be sure to check out the hilarious if ultimately misguided response by Federal Baseball's own Patrick Reddington here.

In the most recent season of Netflix's House of Cards series, the manipulative and cold-hearted Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, spends an entire episode getting nervous about throwing out the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game. People have been complaining about the unrealistic nature of the show for a while now, but this is where it totally lost me: why would a true dyed-in-the-wool SOB like Frank Underwood throw out the first pitch at an Orioles game when the Washington Nationals were right across the street? Hell, they'd probably help him drown some puppies after the fact.

We have a lot of fun here, but I want to be very clear when I say that the Nats this year may have a shot at overtaking the Braves for Darth Vader level evil in 2014.  What's my proof?  How about Natitude, the sports slogan that began as a tepid response to Phillies takeovers of Nationals Park in 2011 and has spawned a fawning pun-loving Wehrmacht of sorts. Natitude is a boot stomping on your face: forever.  And the boot has eye-black all over it and won't stop developing pitchers with dynamite stuff.

What else? How about the projection systems just loving them for the season.  Pecota even has them winning more games than the defending champion Red Sox, so you know that this will just empower them to take on the full Yankees-level mantel of darkness.  Because, as comic books prompt us to ask, what breeds evil more than unchecked confidence?  And what breeds unchecked confidence more than acquiring Doug Fister out of thin air and adding him to an already young and dominating starting rotation?  My god if they haven't grown handlebar mustaches yet, they're twirling the invisible ones.

And let's not forget the young projectable talent on this team.  What is more evil than the true potential of Stephen Strasburg? If strikeouts are indeed fascist -- as our brightest minds have suggested -- then Strasburg is approaching cartoonish levels of super villainy year in and year out.  And the dark yin to Strasburg's terrible yang is of course Bryce Harper, conservative super hero and constant foil to Lightbringer and Good Person Mike Trout.  If you see an article that suggests that Bryce Harper could be as good as Trout, do what I do: go to baseball-reference or fangraphs, compare their respective WAR, and laugh and laugh.  Harper is good, certainly, and will be a perpetual thorn in our side, but at least he's still worse than the Eagles fan and Millville native who we do not have to see a billion times a year.

And lest we forget the various youngsters like Anthony Rendon or Taylor Jordan who bubble up Cardinals like from the Nats minor league affiliates, or the constant veterans like Ryan Zimmerman and Tyler Clippard who somehow seem to right the ship every single freaking year, let's remember that consistent quality is the staple for truly diabolical teams.  It's nothing if a team has a single stellar year; hell, I can barely hate the Giants even after two World Series because of their wide variance.  But a team that consistently puts out 3-4 WAR regulars and wins 90-100 games every year? My god they're Attila the Hun and HH Holmes combined.

Finally, we can't forget the miserable ex-Phillie contingent who have turned to the dark side.  Mega-millionaire Jayson Werth has somehow shaken his given reputation as massively overpaid injury guy and become the mascot for the tough, never-say-die, just fucking kill me Nationals of today.  And don't forget: he and Brad Lidge were the guys who called the 2012 Nationals the "most talented team they've ever played on" so you know now that the beard, while once a sign of laissez-faire masculinity, is now a marker of diabolical import.  And then there's Gio Gonzalez, whose only sin is being traded, but who we can believe has it in for the Phillies nonetheless.

So when Mike Rizzo puts on his tough guy act and calls out Cole Hamels again, or when someone trots out the "clown questions" schtick from its well-deserved grave, or when someone argues that the Nats' rebirth makes them America's team, just remember: this is not a feel good underdog story.  This is the dawn of a dark era of Evil Nationals Baseball.  Good thing we root for the Rebels.

So what blessing do I confer upon the 2014 Nationals?

May your stars never reach their ceilings.

May your view be blocked by parking garages.

May Danny Espinosa find 600 plate appearances.

May your Natitude be one of disappointed acceptance.

May your general manager not be able to back up his words.

May your free agents endlessly search for the Rib Place in House of Cards.

May your bullpen give up dingers, and may your rotation K only pitchers.

May you be blessed by more misspellings.

May your basepaths be as stagnant as the beltway.

May your throws to first be fully yipped.

And may your promise turn to ash in your mouths.

Play ball!

Next time: Not going to make a promise this time.