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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

In praise of the spirit of "The Bad News Bears"

The Bad News Bears came out in 1976, and has been a favorite of mine ever since. I remember my dad taking me to see it. I was ten years old at the time, and I thought the movie was very funny, and I'm certain that I was just as shocked as my father was watching these kids talk like adults (especially the swearing) and drink beer, but we both loved Walter Matthau's performance and the players certainly became endearing characters.

It may be something of a stretch to compare a beloved, if fictional, Little League team to our 2007 Washington Nationals, but bear with me, I think that there are some arguments to be made here. Maybe not a lot, but a few.

For example, there seem to be several players in the Nationals training camp who are not wanted by other teams, so it is fair to call them cast-offs and misfits, just as the Bears had players that couldn't make the other teams in the North Valley League

For another, no one seems to give our 2007 Nats much of a chance, including such people as's Mike Bauman who said,
"In the National League, 15 of 16 teams have legitimate reasons to believe that they will be nothing less than highly competitive. The lone exception would be the Washington Nationals." (courtesy of District of Baseball). If that doesn't cement their status as the National League underdogs of 2007, then I don't know what does.

So, are these the "Bad News Nats"? Does Jim Bowman need to trade for a "booger-eatin' moron", or do they currently have one under minor-league contract? Where is our Kelly Leak, who at last count, was hitting .847, I believe? Is Matt Chico our Amanda Whurlitzer in waiting, or our Rudy Stein?
Fortunately, our manager isn't a washed-up alcoholic, the Lerners have much deeper pockets than Chico's Bail Bonds ("Let freedom ring"), and there is more to the Nats than Tanner Boyle's immortal (and completely un-P.C.) description of his own teammates ("All we got on this team are a buncha Jews, spics, niggers, pansies, and a booger-eatin' moron!")

I think that we just need to remember the tagline of the movie - "together, they make it happen!" I relish their underdog status. The Nats will not lose 100 games, they WILL be entertaining and fun to watch all summer long, and we are getting to witness the birth of what I believe will be a championship club someday. Let's enjoy Nationals baseball for what it is this year, and hope that they embody the spirit of the North Valley League Bears.
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