The Washington Nationals seem to have finally have hit their stride this year. They are young, confident and, most of all, they are talented. This could finally be the year the Nats make a real push toward the postseason, and in doing so, start something that has been lacking in the NL East for the last few seasons: a rivalry.
Much has been said about the Nationals current “Take Back the Park” campaign for the series this week against the reigning NL East Champion Phillies. Most of the talk has been negative. Critics have said the fact the Nationals will not allow fans from outside of their local area to purchase tickets to this series is unconstitutional. Believe it or not, I love it!
Anybody that reads my articles knows I am a diehard Phillies fan. I’ve had season tickets for most of my life, and I pride myself in being a fan. I have been one of the thousands of Phillies fans who have made the ride down to DC and turned the stadium in to Citizens Bank Park-South on multiple occasions, but still I see this campaign as a positive.
The Phillies have not had a strong rivalry since the 2007 season. This has made the divisional games more lackluster than fun and the regular season seem less important. However, this year, with the Phillies early struggles and the Nationals youth playing up to expectations, I can see clearly a hatred starting to brew. There is nothing better than the heated rivalries of the NFC East in football. The Eagles, Giants, Cowboys and Skins all have a hatred for each other, and it’s obvious when you watch each game that the play on the field is impacted by the rivalry. How great would it be for the NL East to become the same way!
The Nationals should show some swag. They are young and exciting. They have two of the best prospects to come around in decades in Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, and they are on a roll so far this year. Their owner seems to get it. He seems to understand that if an atmosphere of pride exists, then an atmosphere of winning may follow. We have it in Philly, and I really hope that it does come to DC. It will make the games more fun and bring a little life back to a division that has been sleeping for a handful of years.