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Introducing The Biographical Encyclopedia Of The Washington Nationals (2005 - Present)

On the left sidebar, you will find a section entitled Biographical Encyclopedia of the Washington Nationals (2005 - Present) and a list of names following. I am very excited to introduce the Biographical Encyclopedia project. While I am probably the worst blogger in history when it comes to features or series (neither of which I see to fruition), I nevertheless hope to see this project mature into a success. To that end, I will refer to this as a project, rather than a feature or series, and hope the distinction makes a difference.

The project is inspired by the "Biographical Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball," which originated in the Bill James Baseball Book 1990 but, sure enough, never saw completion. What James aimed to do was, year-after-year, provide biographical sketches of varying lengths on figures in and associatied with big league baseball. Starting with the top of the alphabet, he would publish these biographical sketches in annual books until, presumably, he had covered everybody.

Obviously, this proved a daunting task, and by the Baseball Book 1991, James had closed shop on that project. Or at least he had done so for the purposes of the Baseball Book series; he claimed he would publish the "Biographical Encyclopedia" in hardcover, but he never really has. Sections of the Historical Baseball Abstract and other books are evocative of this project but not in a dedicated sense.

Needless to say, covering everybody in big league history is an immense task; if one were to focus on a single team, even, the labor would probably be prohibitive. But what of a team with a limited historical scope?

In a way, I envy my colleagues from the sister Sports Blog Nation sites; these bloggers, like Al from Bleed Cubbie Blue, follow teams with long and rich histories, and they're able to rattle off wonderful All-Time Top 100 series with plenty of notable players excluded. The present incarnation of the Washington Nationals, on the other hand, is a different story entirely. Trying to get to ten or fifteen decent players over two-plus seasons is a chore. We know Henry Mateo is the Greatest Nat Ever, but beyond him and, say, Alfonso Soriano? Slim pickings indeed.

It won't always be this way, of course, so the thought occurs to me that it's a perfect time to start writing this team's history. On the left sidebar, you will see just over fifty names from the team's past. These names are mainly players, but also broadcasters, coaches, front office guys, and a manager. They are all gone from the organization -- a part of its history -- and 99 percent of them will not return. Their work for the Washington Nationals is completed, and it is time for us to start recording who they were to this team and what they did for it. Simply stated, this is my vision for the Biographical Encyclopedia.

Although this project is mainly suited to the offseason, it can begin today. There are more than fifty stories to tell here, more than fifty individuals to sketch. Some of these entries will be short, as there might not be much to say about a particular individual's stay with the team. Some, on the other hand, will necessarily be quite involved. Regardless, just like James's vision, these entries are not to be regarded solely as research; they're meant to be read.

I see this as a group project, so I open the doors to anyone interested. If you want to compose the tale of Ryan Drese or Tomo Ohka or Dave Shea, please be my guest. I don't foresee myself writing every entry; in fact, I don't foresee this project being hosted at Federal Baseball forever. Some day, this blog will cease (whether tomorrow or ten years from now), and I want to pass the Biographical Encyclopedia to a good home. I want to see it grow.

As I see it, every entry -- whether short or long -- will have a few common characteristics. They will be written in something approaching a professional manner; no rants or joke posts, though of course humor isn't discouraged as long as it is germane to the topic and comports with the research. Second, they will be researched and stick to facts established in the mainstream press; although criticism is welcome (as is intelligible statistical analysis), the value of this project comes in relating what the person did or said, not how he was regarded by the cranks or bloggers. Finally, they will contain references at the end of each entry (in lieu of hyperlinks). Emphasis will be placed on a readable, representative, and truthful account of each individual's contribution to the Washington Nationals.

The Biographical Encyclopedia will cover only the 2005 incarnation of the Washington Nationals. While I value the long history of pre-2005 Washington baseball, those stories have been told -- and told well -- at places like Senators Nation. Furthermore, while I have no particular problem with "franchise" records including statistics compiled by individuals who played for the Montreal Expos, I am not looking for a "franchise" register as defined by Major League Baseball Advanced Media. This project entails the current (and future) Washington Nationals.

Each of these Nationals -- in whatever capacity may be -- contribute to the team's story in some manner. Once an individual's employment ends with the Nationals, he (or she) becomes a fixed part of the Nationals' history. At that point, the individual's name will become ripe for the Biographical Encyclopedia. If you would like to help this project bear fruit, I would love to work with you. Just let me know.