In the past few days, I've really liked what I've seen. Here's why I'm loving being a Nats fan right now:
7.) The fan support has been fantastic. Maybe it was just the Fourth of July weekend, but there seemed to be a good number of people at the park this weekend, and they were actually cheering! Even watching games on TV, this is exciting to see.
6.) Nyjer Morgan. I'm still not quite sold on the long-term value of the trade, but Morgan has certainly had an immediate impact on the team. As an outstanding defensive player, he brings confidence back to pitchers, and fans to Nationals Park.
5.) Of late, Nick Johnson has been incredible defensively; in yesterday's fourth inning, he fielded every single out. I guess this is part of a broader point, that the Nationals as a whole have played better defense -- the last multiple error game the Nats played was on June 30th!
4.) Games have become exciting again, because they've been close. Whether or not the Nationals win is irrelevant at this point, but when games are exciting, fans want to watch and are willing to spend the money to see games live. Every extra penny the fans bring in makes the Nats' owners more likely to spend extra dough for players in the future, especially players they know fans will come out to see, like Strasburg.
For 3-1, surely the most exciting reasons, read on...
3.) The Nationals' seem willing to make trades. As Thomas Boswell pointed out, the Morgan-Milledge trade was a signal to the rest of the league that the Nats are willing to make moves. As much as I like Nick Johnson (see point 5 above), I doubt there will be a better time to trade him than right now. He's healthy, he's playing well, and there are definitely teams looking for a good first baseman (see: Jerry Manuel's Mets).
2.) Manny's confidence is skyrocketing. When the batting order became stale, he changed it up. Instead of taking Scott Olsen out in the 8th on Sunday, he went out to the mound, talked to Olsen -- and let him stay in. With every win, with even every close game the Nationals play, Manny (and the team) will gain confidence and hopefully play at a higher level.
1.) Finally, and most importantly, the Nationals starting pitchers have really begun to step up. We saw John Lannan go deeper than a flaming-hot Tommy Hanson on Saturday, Scott Olsen one out away from throwing his first complete game on Sunday, and Craig Stammen turn a game against Jason Marquis, now the league-leader in wins, into a pitching duel. These are the kinds of games the Nats need to turn their season around and draw fans to the park. I have my fingers crossed that they can keep it up.