It's a good time of year to be a D.C. sports fan, with the Nationals' magic number down to 19 and the Cubs in town for another game Thursday night. (The Cubbies really are lovable losers. BP pitchers do not serve them up as well as that staff can).
Elsewhere, the Redskins are ready to kick off the RGIII Era, the Wizards have not lost in months, and we are still hopeful the Caps will get to start a season on time (long shot I know).
On the college front, Maryland got a 'W' in their opener (sure, it was close, but a win is a win; and let's be honest,there may not be many this season.) Virginia was a winner, and so were the Hokies. I could go on and on, but I will stop because this kind of optimism may be hard to digest.
I will point out that you might want to take it while you can, because a trip to New Orleans is on the horizon for the Redskins and Stephen Strasburg's season has been reduced to just two more starts
In this week's edition of "Chain Reactions," we hit on RGIII's homecoming of sorts and we get way ahead of ourselves and discuss the emotional side of a Beltway World Series.
Handicapping RGIII's Homecoming
We are just days away from Robert Griffin III losing his label as the most famous NFL rookie never to play a regular season down. The lights will be bright in New Orleans and the crowd will be angry in the Superdome Sunday. It will be an atmosphere like no other the Redskins' prized rookie has ever experienced.
Sure, RGIII will have anywhere from 30 to 50 family members in the house. It is the city both of his parents are from, but it is safe to say the Saints will do everything to make sure he does not feel at home.
No moment has been too big for the 'Skins rookie thus far. This, though, is a completely different situation. The Saints organization and fans have a gigantic chip on their shoulder thanks to Commissioner Roger GOD-ell's verdict in the "Bountygate" case.
Adding to the degree of difficulty Sunday is the Saints' offensive prowess in the Dome: they averaged over 34 points per game in 2011. They are like playing an up-tempo basketball team that also knocks down threes. It will be a tough task for Washington's rookie signal caller to try and match points with Drew Brees and the Saints.
The good news for RGIII and the 'Skins is that the subsequent road atmospheres they'll face are all down hill from here. For his part, the young rookie is coming off as calm, cool, and collected as you might expect.
"Everybody gets nervous, everyone gets antsy, anxious, any word you want to use to put on that, and it happens," Griffin said. "But you do try to stay calm. I have to. I can't go in there and stumble over my words and be too excited in the huddle with those guys. ... I do get excited when we do good things because that's what guys need to see. But for the most part, I do try to stay calm."
RGIII will need plenty of help, and among the helpers will be his inexperienced running back unit, which consists of one rookie and two second-year players. The receiving corps of Pierre Garcon, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, and Fred Davis will need to make big plays.
However, none of those position groups will be under more scrutiny than the offensive line that has to both protect the franchise quarterback, and open holes for a running game that hopes to keep Brees and that high-octane offense on the sidelines.
The 'Skins Defense, which has more questions than answers in the secondary, will need to get to Brees often and create some turnovers. Special teams will also need to be spectacular, especially when it comes to containing Darren Sproles.
RGIII will get all the headlines, though; it comes with the job title and the commercials. However, the 'Skins' success this week and next will be as much about the guys around him stepping up as well.
The Strange Emotions of a Beltway World Series
The Nationals are not the only baseball team in the area making some serious noise this year. The Baltimore Orioles are relevant once again and may be playoff-bound for the first time since Davey Johnson was their skipper.
For many Nationals fans, the Orioles were the local baseball team of note for most of their lives. Many, myself included, made the drive to Baltimore to root on the O's, first at old Memorial Stadium and then at the "Field of Dreams" that is Camden Yards.
Some never stopped rooting for the O's despite Major League Baseball's return to D.C., but I pretty much checked out on them when Cal Ripken Jr retired. Why? Pretty simple: Peter Angelos.
Yes, Angelos, the guy who singlehandedly ran the prized franchise into the ground and blocked a team from moving to DC for too long. He even owns a big key to the Nationals' success thanks to his ownership of MASN.
So as we move into September with both teams in playoff position, I can't help but think about a dream match-up for the area's baseball fans. Sure, Peter Angelos would be the biggest winner financially, but the fans would be big winners too.
First of all, any World Series match-up would be special for the Nationals and their fans. Imagine, however, your current favorites matching up against a former first love and having the ability to go to all games in the series ... that would be real special. It would also put the progress of the rivalry on fast forward.
There are still plenty of road blocks on the road to the playoffs, let alone a World Series. The Nationals will be without their ace, while the numbers say the Orioles shouldn't be here at all. However, who ever thought it would still be in play in September of this season? For that reason alone, baseball fans are truly living a dream season.