WASHINGTON NATIONALS INFORMATION:
Location: Washington, D.C.
Stadium: Nationals Park
Conference: National League
Division: East Division
Rivals: Baltimore Orioles
Notable Players: Gary Carter, Tony Perez, Vladimir Guerrero, Stephen Strasburg
The history of professional baseball is a long and winding road that has consisted of multiple franchises. The nation's capital featured one of the American League's charter franchises in 1901 called the Senators, who won a World Series title in 1924 and played in the city until 1960 when they moved to Minnesota. That same year, the American League expanded, and a second version of the Senators was formed in the old team's place. President John F. Kennedy would throw out the first pitch in 1961 and the new franchise seemed to be destined for great things. However, flagging attendance numbers and little success on the field allowed fans to coin the phrase, "Washington first in war, first in peace, last in the American League." The team would move to Texas in 1971 and it would be 34 long years before the Montreal Expos uprooted and ventured to the D.C. area to become the National League's Washington Nationals.
Unfortunately for the Nationals, they joined one of the toughest divisions in the league, the National League East, containing perennial contenders like the Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies. However, the Nationals surprised MLB fans everywhere by surging to a 52-36 record and first place in the NL East by the halfway point of their inaugural season. Although the team finished with a .500 record, the team had managed to attract a new generation of D.C. baseball fans who were excited about the team's potential.
The Nationals played in the old RFK Stadium for their first three years before moving into Nationals Park in 2008, one of the most modern facilities in baseball. The team got off to a 3-0 start and a walk off win in their new ballpark, but they still didn't have the talent to provide a formidable challenge to other NL teams. The Nationals hovered near the bottom of the standings in their division for years, but as a result, they managed to accrue a steady supply of high draft picks and gradually build up their farm system.
After the big budget acquisitions of Jayson Werth, Scott Olsen and the steady growth of pitching phenom Steve Strasburg, the Nationals finished in third place for the first time in their history in 2011. With a steady supply of top-tier talent and an ever-growing fan base, the future finally looks bright for professional baseball in the nation's capital.
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