A few weeks ago, Max Scherzer and Bryce Harper dawned the cover of Sports Illustrated as the men ready to bring a World Series to Washington. This was a perfect representation of what anticipation of the start of the regular season can do to people. We start predicting and ranking anything we can find.
For this reason, Opening Day is my favorite day of the year. It’s the one day when everyone is equal; When dreams are possible, and the day when everyone can be an optimist. Today’s opening day was no different than any of the others, and Nationals Park gave Nats fans a few special reasons to be excited.
The day began with the official announcement that the Washington Nationals will host the 2018 All Star Game. While this will be a grand event, and bring even more visitors to our great city in July, primetime tourist season. Plus, it officially validates everything DC has done to become a baseball town. We will be able to show the baseball world what Washington has to offer.
But, this was just the start of the day. At Nationals Park, the lines outside of the stadium, an hour and a half before game-time signaled that today was a special day. By the time the pre-game ceremonies were underway at 3:20 (almost an hour before first pitch), Nats Park was nearly full.
Nationals park, as expected, was as loud as ever. The entire stadium collectively let go of the 2014 season as we welcomed in new faces our beloved team during the introduction ceremony. New names like Clint Robinson, Yunel Escobar, and Max Scherzer solidified that a new year was set to begin.
Finally, at 4:07 PM ET, the 2015 season was underway, and a ball club filled with high expectations was ready to prove their worth. Now, the game, as we all know wasn’t the end result anyone was looking for, and there were a lot of negatives to take away from it, such as errors, lack of situational hitting, and the lack of hitting in general. However, there were even more positives worth looking at in my eyes.
First off, Max Scherzer SHOWED UP. And he proved to Nats fans that he came to play. During the spring, we saw his jokester side as he counted 11 “meows” during a Gio Gonzalez interview, but today we saw his fiery side and it was awesome. He was locked in loaded pregame, and animated during it. He wants to win as badly as Jayson Werth, and Bryce Harper, and as badly as we fans want to. He was advertised as a bulldog and that idea was validated today.
Scherzer also was had a no-hitter into the sixth! What?! Mets hitters not only failed to to get a hit for most of the game, but they barely hit the ball out of the infield for most of the time Scherzer was on the mound. If that’s not a positive sign that Scherzer is sharp and ready to go, I don’t know what is. If the rotation is going to be the “super-staff” that the baseball world is making them out to be, then it’s going to have to start with Scherzer and he was close to flawless today.
Ok, so Scherzer handled his business, but what about the other half of that Sports Illustrated cover that is suppose to bring the World Series to D.C? Oh yeah, that Bryce Harper guy. Well, once again, Harper was the big-time player that he has always been. Bryce showcased his power, his new patience, and even gave a preview to what it might be like for guys who look to go first-to-third on him on a throw from right where Lucas Duda wisely stopped at second.
Harper looks as comfortable as ever at the plate early in this season, and one can only hope that he is finally ready to carry this time on his back. He wants to be the guy, and he showed in the postseason, and today, that he has what it takes.
All in all, the Nationals stars were who we needed them to be, and that is enough to hang our hats on for now. Yes, the defense wasn’t there, even though Matt Williams has been preaching that. The Nationals improved upon their defense as the year went on a season ago, and that will happen this year as well. Yes, the Nationals didn’t hit, but they are missing the top third of the order. The runs will come.
I may sound like an annoying writer trying to remind fans that day one doesn’t matter any more than day 162, but really that point cannot be overstated. And the Nationals still showed today that the team Mike Rizzo has put together will succeed. While it was sad to see Anthony Rendon, Denard Span and Werth not run out with the rest of the starting lineup, those guys are coming, and with them they will bring stability in all aspects of the game.
For now we are 0-1 and looking up on the Mets, but today’s game still showed the potential that this team has. Any of our pitchers could throw a no-hitter on any given day, and sky is the limit for Bryce Harper and our soon to be healthy lineup. The Nationals record may no longer be on equal level with other teams, but our dreams were only further validated on this wonderful Opening Day.