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Washington Nationals

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Washington Nationals 2011.jpg

Previously known as the Montreal Expos. also known as "Nats"

Franchise Record: (through 2014) 3,527-3,789-4 (.482)

Post Season Record: 8-11 (.421)

World Series Titles: 0

National League Pennants: 1 (1994)

Playoffs: 3 (1981, 2012, 2014)

Ballparks: Jarry Park (Apr. 14, 1969-Sept. 26, 1976) (28,456), Olympic Stadium (Apr. 15, 1977-Sept. 29, 2004) (43, 739), Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico (Apr. 11, 2003-Jul. 11, 2004) (19,000), Robert F. Kennedy Stadium (Apr. 14, 2005-Sept. 23, 2007) (45,016), Nationals Park (Mar. 30, 2008-) (41,888)

Franchise Players: Livan Hernandez, Ryan Zimmerman, Alfonso Soriano, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper

[edit] Team History

Washington Nationals logo, 2005-2010

Before the 2005 season, the Montreal Expos were moved to Washington, DC and became the Washington Nationals. They were the first team to play in the Nation's capital since the departure of the second Washington Senators for Texas after the 1971 season. In their first season in DC, they surprisingly led the NL East at the All-Star Break, but struggled in the second half of the season. They finished the year in last place in the division but did manage a .500 record. However, they were a success at the gate that first year, drawing more than 2.7 million fans to R.F.K. Stadium. The following years were not as successful: they finished last again with a record of 71-91 in 2006, then, under the leadership of Manny Acta, managed to avoid the cellar in 2007 when they improved by two games, but fell back down in 2008, when they posted the worst record in baseball at 59-102.

The Nationals were owned by Major League Baseball when they moved out of Montreal. MLB provided the team with its manager, Frank Robinson, and general manager Jim Bowden. In July 2006, they were bought by a group headed by Ted Lerner for $450 million. After playing their first three seasons in the re-furbished RFK Stadium, the team moved into the purpose-built Nationals Park for the 2008 season. However, the expected attendance boom did not happen, in large part because of the poor product on the field and the unfinished construction in and around the stadium. The aura of failure around the team got worse in spring training of 2009 when Bowden was fired for his implication in a scandal around the team's player development complex in the Dominican Republic run by Bowden's friend, former Reds pitcher Jose Rijo: the team's Dominican scouts were found to have faked the documents of prospect Esmailyn Gonzalez in order to extract a huge signing bonus. Things only got worse as the season advanced: pitching coach Randy St. Claire was fired in June as the Nats had some of the worst pitching numbers in the majors, then Acta followed him out the door after the All-Star break. The team's play improved under interim manager Jim Riggleman, and he was retained for 2010. Nonetheless, it was their second consecutive season of more than 100 losses. Riggleman had the team playing very well early in 2011 when he unexpectedly quit, apparently because of a contract dispute with General Manager Mike Rizzo. The Nationals then went out and recruited Davey Johnson, who had most famously managed the New York Mets to a World Championship in 1986 to take over.

[edit] Photos

[edit] Further Reading

  • Frederic J. Frommer: You Gotta Have Heart: A History of Washington Baseball from 1859 to the 2012 National League East Champions, Taylor Trade Publishing, Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham, MD, 2013. ISBN 978-1589798434
  • Ted Leavengood: The 2005 Washington Nationals : Major League baseball returns to the capital, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2006.


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