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[February 16th] -- So, I was wondering -- why is it exactly that all of us are expecting the Washington Nationals to be one of the worst - if not the worst - baseball teams in the major leagues in 2007? I understand that the team's only real hope of finishing with a winning record is to play in the International League, and even that might be a stretch. And sure, having thirty-seven guys try out for four slots in the team's starting rotation isn't exactly a good sign. And when Nook Logan is your de facto starting center fielder .... well ... I get the idea.

But I was watching "Rudy" this evening and I got to thinking .... if some underweight, pint-size no talent like Rudy Rudiger could work hard enough to be able to play a series of downs for Notre Dame, why can't this rag-tag bunch of no-names currently assembling in Viera play well enough to surprise the naysayers this year?

Many years ago, when both George Allen and Richard Nixon called Washington home, the Redskins used to hold a series of tryout camps in and around the district. No one believed for a second that any of those weekend warriors had any real chance of finding their way onto the 'Skins forty man roster, but the whole process was more about meeting and greeting the fans than it was finding any capable players hiding behind a blue Giant Food apron.

But no one told Herb Mul-key that. Mul-key, an Atlanta native, had to borrow money so he could make it to D.C. in time to join more than 300 wanna-be's at Georgetown University. During time trials, he blew past coach Marv Levy, leaving a 4.3 40 in his wake. The Redskins signed Mul-key, who had no professional experience, on the spot. He was on the roster all year but didn't play until late December against the Cowboys. With Larry Brown hurting, Mul-key stepped into the backfield and stunned the Cowboys, their fans, and his Redskin teammates. Mul-key ran a kickoff back 102 yards for a touchdown and ended the game with 271 total yards, averaging 7.5 yards per carry. Mul-key started for Brown the following week against the Bills and totaled 123 yards. The Redskins as a team had just 177. Mul-key made the Pro-Bowl the next year as a special teams player and is second only to Bobby Mitchell in the Redskins' record book for best kickoff average (27.3 yards per return).

So, if Rudy could do it, if Herb Mul-key could do it, then why can't Ryan Church ... or Kory Casto ... or Joel Hanrahan? At every position, well almost every position, there is a player with the ability to produce at the major league level. There is no reason that Ryan Church can't hit 30 homers or Joel Hanrahan can't win 14 games this year. It's not that the Nationals don't have talent, it's that the talent they do have has yet to produce at the major league level. With a little luck -- no, with a lot of luck, and a little magic, the Nationals might have a respectable season. After all, the Kansas City Royals won 83 games a couple of years ago with a roster a lot like the Nationals.

Heck, if the 1969 Mets could win the World Series, anything is possible. Right?

I think you answer your own question Farid. You expect to happen what the situation tells you is most likely to happen. You hope for magic and luck and for the best that the situation plausibly allows.

The Rudys and the Mul-keys make great stories because they counter our expectations. The 2005 Nats did so for 4 months. But the expectations exist for a reason. 99 out of 100 Rudys don't make the squad. We shouldn't adjust expectations based on the exceptions. We simply must hope for them to come about and enjoy them when they do.

Longwinded way of saying the Nats fans expect 65+ wins, and hope for 80-85.
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