Of course, additions mean subtractions, and Nats fans are struggling with that reality. The 2012 roster was special, but it wasn’t perfect. So Edwin Jackson is gone, as is lefty reliever Sean Burnett and — perhaps the hardest for many fans to accept — Michael Morse.
Morse was one of those guys, the ones with whom you want to hang, the ones who make every good time better and every bad time tolerable. And then there was that song. Morse used “Take On Me” as his walk-up tune, Nats Park sang along, and pretty soon the A-ha hit from the dark ages of MTV (i.e., when it still aired music videos) became the Nats’ anthem.
Few fans wanted to lose Morse, and none from whom I’ve heard want to lose the song. Morse has said that he might just leave it as a parting gift to Washington (illustrating once again that he’s one of those guys). The team needs to make it the seventh-inning stretch song. Its impossible high notes just make it more special. And of course one can always lip-synch. Everybody’s doing it.
The team also unveiled a fifth racing president, William Howard Taft, a move that at least will send many to their history books — who am I kidding? Wikipedia! — to read up on the, uh, let’s see, 27th president of the United States. A Jeopardy answer recently involved the only man to be both president of the United States and chief justice of the Supreme Court. The right question was, “Who is Taft?” The unanswered questions remain: Why Taft? Why a fifth president? Why do we care?
That last one is easiest: It’s the Nats’ own thing, part of the franchise’s identity, especially now that it’s had national playoff exposure. My dad was in the hospital during the Nats-Cards series, and when he saw the Rushmores, he asked me, “What the hell are those?” I think he was afraid his meds were too strong.