If you think about it, the Nats and Angels shouldn’t have too much in common. One team hails from a densely populated urban area, where as the other lies in a suburb. One team is in the AL, the other is in the NL. One team is on the east coast, the other is on the west coast.
The two teams are so far from each other that if one were to go from one stadium to another, it would take 38 hours (37 without traffic) to travel the required 2640+ miles to get there.
Moreover, the two teams have only met five times in the Nationals’ brief history (it’ll be six by the end of the year when the Angels come to Washington in mid-August). Plus, one of those times, the managers have got into an all-out argument.
By all known laws of baseball, these two teams should not be friendly acquaintances, much less friends, or whatever the baseball equivalent of cousins is.
But by some combination of trades, free agents, and the constant Bryce Harper vs Mike Trout conversation, the two teams have bonded. Indirectly, albeit — Dusty Baker and Mike Scioscia probably aren’t planning to get lunch when the Angels come to town, but it’s happened in other ways.
There are a few ways this connection works (it would be slightly stronger if Danny Espinosa wasn’t designated for assignment by the Angels right before the Nationals came to town).
First off, the obvious: Yunel Escobar was one of the best hitters on the Nationals’ 2015 club in the absence of Anthony Rendon. He was a little off-beat, a little weird, and very expressive, but apparently got along with the team well. And then the team, with an overflow of middle infielders once Rendon was healthy, promptly traded Escobar away in the 2016 offseason in exchange for Trevor Gott.
On Tuesday night, Bryce Harper hit a triple in the eighth inning, and then turned to the third base umpire to ask for time.
Then Escobar tried to gain a, uh, competitive advantage, which Bryce enjoyed, apparently.
Next off is Ben Revere, who the Nationals acquired in exchange for Drew Storen in the 2016 offseason. Revere was coming off of a streak of four straight seasons where he hit above .290, and then pulled his oblique on Opening Day and was never quite the same, hitting .217 for the Nationals, who didn’t extend him a contract at the end of the season.
Revere caught on with the Angels, and hasn’t started, but still gets some playing time (he has 173 at bats this season).
When Bryce Harper tried to extend a single into a double in the top of the third inning that same night (spoiler alert, he didn’t), the Nats challenged and gave Harper some quality time with Angels outfielders Mike Trout, C.J. Cron, and of course, the lovable (and infuriating) Ben Revere.
Harper just winked at Revere as he walked off the field.— Chelsea Janes (@chelsea_janes) July 19, 2017
Also of note: Harper may or may not have been trying to swing C.J. Cron over to his side of the argument as to who the best player in baseball is during this same interaction.
When u see your mans getting wooed by another MVP pic.twitter.com/twuiacIU5k— Mina (@maddc8) July 19, 2017
So, that’s the obvious stuff. On to the less obvious stuff: when Albert Pujols reached first base in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game, he went up to Ryan Zimmerman, gave him a pat on the front/hug, told him how happy for him he was, to which Zimmerman responded with a smile. Aww.
And then, the really, really less obvious stuff. The most well known Nationals draft pick from the 2011 draft is third baseman Anthony Rendon -- however, Rendon was selected alongside pitcher Alex Meyer (who started Wednesday night’s game for the Angels) and outfielder Brian Goodwin (who started in center for the Nats on Wednesday).
Goodwin and Meyer were both present on the 2012 Hagerstown Suns roster (the Nationals’ low-A affiliate) and apparently struck up a friendship while they were there, because the two got breakfast together before Goodwin broke up Meyer’s no-hitter.
Alex Meyer took Brian Goodwin out for breakfast this morning. Goodwin returned the favor by breaking up Meyer's no-hitter.— Maria I. Guardado (@mi_guardado) July 20, 2017
All in all, not what you would expect. One would only think that the bromance/hijinks/fun will continue when the Halos come to town in August.