Pittsburgh. You did a great thing Monday night. You helped us win the NL East. I know this might feel good in a way, as it negatively impacted the Braves who had hurt you so badly in 1992. But I can still sense that even with this, you’re still depressed. 20 losing seasons is tough. To never have personal success is tough. But as a thank you for how you have helped us, I want to assure you of one thing that us in the Nationals family know to be true that can hopefully get you through this time.
It gets better.
Like all of you, I was shocked and saddened by the collapse of your team this year, which ultimately resulted in the death of any hopes you may have had for a playoff spot. As a fan of the underdog, it breaks my heart. It’s something that just shouldn’t happen in this sport.
We’ve got the dispel the myth that being bullied by the entire league is a normal rite of passage – that it’s some inevitable part of growing as a team. It’s not. We have an obligation to ensure that our league is competitive for all our teams. And to every young athlete out there you need to know that if your team is in trouble, there are more competent GMs who can help.
I don’t know what it’s like to be picked on for being a Pirate. But I do know what it’s like to watch baseball while feeling that sometimes you don’t belong. It’s tough. And for a lot of teams, the sense of losing and losing – I know can just wear on you. And when you’re beaten, it can seem like somehow you brought it on yourself – for being shitty, and for not fitting in with everybody else. Except the Cubs, they’re as pathetic as you guys now.
What I want to say is this. You’re not alone. You didn’t do anything wrong. You didn’t do anything to deserve being beaten. And there is a whole 2013 season waiting for you, filled with possibilities. There are people out there who love you and care about you just the way you are. It’s hard to believe I know, but I guess they were born in Pittsburgh and have to root for you or something. And so, if you ever feel like because of losing, because of what people are chanting, that you’re getting down on yourself, you’ve got to make sure to reach out to people you trust. Whether it’s your teammates, fans, groundskeepers that you know care about you just the way you are. You’ve got to reach out to them. Don’t feel like you’re in this by yourself.
The other thing you need to know is, things will get better. Just look at us. We know what we’re talking about. 30 years between playoff births for this franchise could have driven some to the edge. But despite losing season after losing season, we believed in this franchise. Well, except the people who didn’t think it could succeed in Montreal. But who cares, we overcame being bullied and are finally in a position that all teams would envy.
More than that, with time you’re going to see that your differences, like run differential (when it’s finally positive), are a source of pride and a source of strength. You’ll look back on the struggles you’ve faced with compassion and wisdom. And that’s not just going to serve you, but it will help you get involved and make this league a more competitive place.
It will mean that you’ll be more likely to fight for a playoff spot – not just for the wildcard, but playoff spots in all their forms. It means you’ll be more likely to understand personally and deeply why it’s so important that as baseball players we set an example in our own games and that we treat everybody with respect. Except the fucking Phillies. That we are able to see the world through other teams’ eyes and stand in their cleats – that we never lose sight of what binds us together.
As a league we’re founded on the belief that all of us are equal (again, minus the Phillies) and each of us deserves the freedom to pursue our own version of happiness; to make the most of our talented players; to speak our minds (unless it’s about the umpires cause that can get you fined); most of all, to be true to ourselves. That’s the freedom that enriches all of us. Or maybe the luxury tax, that actually enriched you guys quite a bit. That’s what Major League Baseball is all about. And every season, it gets better.