1. With just under 10% of the season in the books, the Washington Nationals have jumped out to...respectability. Their 8-7 record has them just 2 1/2 games out of first place. If you were watching last week and suffered through the back-to-back complete games by Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, then you are aware of the LONG odds of the Nats competing in the NL East. But these days, if you turn on the Nats, you have a decent chance to watch a winning effort.
2. There seems to be good news in Wizards' country as well. As I noted during last week's edition of Pickled Hogs Radio, don't sleep on Ted Leonsis. In his first year on the job as owner, he has ushered out the era of the Big Three and ushered in a parade of young prospects. He has two first round picks in next year's draft and a rookie point guard that is good enough to build a lineup around. Leonsis also does the most important thing an owner can do--and he does it well: commit to a strategy and direction. He doesn't make change for the sake of making change. Continuity and stability are tools he wields extremely handily.
3. The Caps seem in charge of the first round of the playoffs. Sure, they slipped up on the road yesterday, but I don't think it was realistic to expect that these two teams would be involved in a sweep. They both play "close to the vest" styles, but given the relative strength of Washington's roster and the way they have proven this season they can win the close ones, it stands to reason that they will prevail.
4. I know there are many people in the DC area that still root for the Orioles, and I have been impressed with their start as well. They have some decent young pitching and if Brian Roberts can get some help (he leads the team in HR's, batting average and RBI) they should be just fine--especially with the Red Sox looking so lost.
5. As for the Redskins, well...we have not made one single stupid free agent signing this offseason. Come on...THAT'S HUGE!!
6. How about this for a positive: Bruce Allen and Mike Shanahan--two guys we trust a lot more than Vinny Cerrato--have a full year on the job under their belts. They have a much better feel for what they have and for what they need. We may second-guess decisions from here, but at this point, there is a real possibility our franchise can make a step forward in 2011. Granted, that step might not take us to the playoffs this year, but it should get us a step closer.
BONUS UPDATE (thanks to Kevin reminding me): The DC United are off to a hot start and thanks to a magical Charlie Davies, are right in the thick of it in the standings. Davies leads the league with 5 goals. Forgetting this when I wrote this column is unforgiveable, especially since I was AT the game last week where Davies tied it up against the Galaxy in the last minute. Let me have it United fans...I deserve it.