I’m looking at the Ryan Zimmerman jersey I just bought. It’s no cheap knock-off — it’s the real MLB product, with the heavy, stitched Nationals logo (with all of the letters, although I would have loved a ‘Natinals’ jersey) on the front and a similarly heavy, stiched player name and number on the back. At the ball park last year, they were asking for $150 for this thing. I just paid $20 for it at Marshall’s.
That tells you all you need to know about the Nats. Here’s the jersey for the best baseball player in Washington and probably the best third baseman in the National League, if not in all of baseball. You can buy his pro-quality jersey at the closeout store at a price that’s lower than what you might pay for a T-shirt. Why? Because he plays for the Nats.
But that hasn’t stopped me from caring about the fate of baseball’s worst team. I’m back for more pain this year, as I feared would happen even after I got so disgusted last year. I did moderate my ticket-spending habits — after buying a bunch of expensive club seats last year, I opted for half as many upper-deck seats this year. In addition, thanks to an e-mail offer I got, I also picked up some half-price seats to see the Nats and the O’s play in Baltimore on a Saturday in June.
That’s six games. My wife will probably score freebies to another couple of games, bringing my total to eight. If Strasburg gets assigned to Potomac, as is the current rumor, I’ll probably drift down there for a game as well. That’s nine. Last year, I saw at least 14 games.
The Nats have been stinking up the pre-season, going 2-12 so far. That may not mean much, especially since early pre-season games feature players who will never make the roster, but it still has me worried. For the last several years, the Nats have been horrible right out of the gate — in fact, they’ve basically eliminated themselves from competition by mid-April, a nearly impossible thing to do. Their pre-season this year makes me fear they’re about to do it again. But here I sit, tickets in hand, filled with the happiness of spring. And I hope that this is the last year you can buy a real Nats baseball jersey for $20.