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With the Redskins set to begin training camp on Thursday, the Nationals' place as the temporary lords of this town is about to end. No longer will they be the only team in the four major sports playing games. No longer will they captivate those fairweather fans that were looking for a D.C. team to follow while the others enjoyed their offseasons.
But that day is two days away. For now, the Nationals are still the only team playing games, and in this sense, the timing of tonight's game against the Braves could not be more fortuitous. Why? As Ben Goessling noted, tonight is the moment where we finally get to see Stephen Strasburg square off against fellow rookie phenom Jason Heyward.
The two were supposed to face each other last month in Atlanta, but Heyward was hurt and did not play. That obviously would have been an ideal matchup, since both players were buzzing far more then than they are now. In fact, Heyward's production has taken a bit of a dive thanks to his injury, and there are some even arguing that the Braves should send him down to AAA so they can avoid having to give him a long-term contract a year early. But regardless, tonight is the first chance the league's best pitching prospect will face the league's best hitting prospect. Since they play in the same division, it will not be the last time. That's a nice little hook the Nationals can use to rope in those fans ready to bolt for Redskins training camp.
At this point, the Nationals' best chance to maintain any positive buzz they got from the summer is to provide a glimpse into the franchise's future. Having Strasburg himself dominate is one way to do that. Beyond that, though, marquee future matchups like tonight's help. Here's hoping the Strasburg-Heyward duel lives up to expectations.
Today's must-reads from around the SB Nation network:
- The Wizards introduced Kirk Hinrich to the media yesterday. Bullets Forever has a recap and a few thoughts on Hinirch's professionalism and his salary.
- Tomas Fleischmann's arbitration hearing is scheduled for tomorrow, so Japers Rink is holding a mock arbitration of their own. Yesterday, they went over what the team's case should look like. Today, they'll come back and go over what Fleischmann's case should look like.
- Which Redskins players match up with Simpsons characters? Hogs Haven answers that burning question here.
- Federal Baseball wraps up the latest Adam Dunn trade chatter that you may have missed.