Monday, June 13, 2005The First to 10
Meanwhile the fans, who would have loved them no matter what, are experiencing the sort of baseball fever that the baseball cities like New York and Boston get to enjoy annually.
In the larger baseball world, what the Nationals did over these two weeks was to establish themselves as legitimate contenders, opening a 1 1/2 -game lead in the National League East Division with 16 weeks left to play and shocking a sport that viewed them as no better than a mediocre team when the season began.
"Nobody could have foreseen [such a successful] homestand," Nationals Manager Frank Robinson said. "I know I couldn't. It's just been an unbelievable homestand for everybody -- the organization, the players and the fans."
In equally impressive fashion, the Nationals are winning the race for the hearts of the local populace, which has been starved for a summertime sporting diversion since the old Senators left town in 1971, and which has been coming out to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in increasing numbers this month to witness what could be Washington's first pennant race in several generations. Yesterday's crowd pushed the Nationals' season attendance total to 1,056,642, surpassing the 1946 Senators for the highest overall attendance in Washington baseball history.
It's amazing what a fanbase and a real home stadium can do for a team's confidence.
Beguiled by the Boys of Summer [WP]