I could not be more fucking pumped about baseball season starting back up, you guys. I could tell you all the typical boring reasons about winter finally being over and “pitchers and catchers report” being the clarion call of America’s soul—a silent sound that brings a deep and unblemished sense of hopefulness to the little boy’s heart beating in every man—but we all know that’s 90 percent bullshit and 10 percent OK fine, I’m glad to hear some non-awful news and if you have to be so florid about it go ahead. Really, I’m pumped because I have it on good authority that my favorite team is going to kick everybody else’s ass this year.
I’m a Washington Nationals fan, and if that phrase sounds strange to your not-particularly-a-sports-fan ears, that’s because there was no such thing as the Washington Nationals as recently as nine years ago. Up until 2004, they were the Montreal Expos. Which if you’re not particularly a sports fan is an even more confusing thing to hear. Forget the details. They are a baseball team that plays in Washington, DC. and I'm a fan of this team even though I live in Chicago. I'm such a fan that sometimes I wear the Nationals’ baseball cap when I’m walking around to show my loyalty to the team while shading my eyes covering my odd, unstylish head. The cap looks like this:
I like it. It is a good hat. But the most common reaction I get to my Nationals cap while I’m walking around in this town is “Hey, Walgreens!” HA HA HA. Yes, the Nationals logo looks like the Walgreens Pharmacy logo:
I mention this only to impart to you just how unknown the Washington Nationals are on a larger level. In Chicago the type of dudes who yell things at strangers either don’t know or don’t care about the difference between the Washington Nationals and a chain of pharmacies. If those dudes are sports fans, they’re probably aware of Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, because those are two great young players on the Nationals who are often topics of constant looping treadmill of conversation that is ESPN.
ESPN’s talking a lot more about my team lately—they had the best record in baseball last season, after all—and since yelling dudebros get most of their sports news from the four-letter sports media empire, fewer of them are yelling “Walgreens!” at me. I take that as a sign that America is getting used to the idea of there being such a thing as the Washington Nationals, subgroup by subgroup. First, groups of frat guys stopped yelling about Walgreens, then bros on dates stopped yelling, then the alternabros stopped, and now the only people who make fun of my hat are cocky, ignorant 19-year-old punks who sneer at any reference point they haven’t heard of, just to be safe. “Bad Brains? Oh yeah, right, they’re REAL good. Pfft. Whatever.” (FRANTICALLY GOOGLE SEARCHING “WHAT IS BAD BRAINS”)
Another thing that happens with the cap is I get homeless guys asking for money who try to get on my good side with a little “hey, alright” based on the hat logo. Usually, though these guys whiff and guess I’m a University of Wisconsin fan. This is excusable because a lot of young white Midwesterners live in Chicago and they make pretty easy marks for panhandlers for their first five years or so. I don’t expect homeless guys—who watch ESPN way less than dudebros—to correctly identify sports logos, but I do appreciate that they tend to guess Big Ten schools as a way to get an easy dollar. The University of Wisconsin logo looks like this:
It’s not anything in the same neighborhood of similarity as the Walgreens logo, but again, these are homeless guys. I forgive them, but I do not give them my money.
Well guess what: Yesterday, for the first time ever, a homeless guy correctly identified my Nationals cap. He said, “Washington Nationals! Alright! Lookin’ good this year! They got a chance to win it!”
FUCK YES. I mean, I still didn’t give him any money, but even if this dude was Chicago’s most urbane and well-informed homeless guy at the train station, this, more than any “expert” analysis, means the Washington Nationals are 100 percent for real. They exist. They are good. How good? Even homeless people in ass-backwards Chicago know about them. Look out world and FUCK CVS.