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Nats-Phils rivalry now a two-way street

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Nats-Phils rivalry now a two-way street

Rivarlies in sports have to, absolutely must, be two-way relationships. A one-way rivalry can be just about the saddest thing to be realized, just ask Wizards fans about the LeBron James-led Cavaliers. Now that the Nationals look like a good baseball team, and the once-untouchable Phillies are vulnerable, the D.C.-Philly baseball matchup is becoming one of the best and most heated in sports.It took a series win by Washington, and an overall dominant stretch over Philadelphia, for it all to be realized. It was clear last night the Nats and their brash young star Bryce Harper finally got under the Phillies skin as Cole Hamels lost his cool and is now suspended five games. Throw in a taunting kiss from Shane Victorino - a clear reference to Harpers lore - and we have ourselves some storylines.Over at CSNPhilly.com, their Phillies writers have come to acknowledge the contentious relationship as a clear rivalry that could entertain sports fans of all walks for quite some time. Columnist Rueben Frank put the hatred within the Philly perspective and sounds pretty excited for what could be waiting for us in the future.You wanted a rivalry? You got a rivalry.Were only a month into the 2012 baseball season, but this is already getting good, he writes.
After the Nationals ill-fated Take back the Stadium ploy? After a weekend of Flyers and Eagles chants infuriated the locals at Nationals Park? After Cole Hamels hit Bryce Harper Sunday night and then openly admitted to doing it? After Jordan Zimmerman hit Hamels two innings later? After Nationals GM Mike Rizzo called Hamels classless and gutless?Oh yeah, were on.
Many around baseball are looking now at the Nationals Take Back the Park campaign as the true catalyst for the rivalry, that Washingtons public efforts to turn away Phils fans shook the hornets nest. But now, if this rivalry continues it will clearly date back to Hamels beaning of Bryce Harper. According to Frank, even Hamels realizes what he did.Thats what makes it exciting in baseball, he said after pitching eight strong innings in the Phillies 9-3 win at Nationals Park in Washington. Thats what you want. To see your fans really get involved. ...You can feel the energy, and you want to play harder and I think thats what it really takes to get more people to watch our series when were playing each other. Its a long year, and when you have a series to look forward to, it kind of makes things go a little bit quicker and the excitement really takes you to another level of play.Frank and Phillies fans seem to look at Hamels pitch as a statement made by the team, on national television and against an upstart young team. The statement Hamels made when he hit Harper on national TV Sunday night was that the Phillies arent quite ready yet to relinquish N.L. East bragging rights to the upstart Nationals, Frank writes.Whether the message was received is hard to tell, but with another series between the two coming up on May 21, we should find out soon. The two teams also play six of their last nine games together. It is a rivalry that now has both teams buying in and the best could be yet to come.

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Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

Nationals sign former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters

The Washington Nationals have signed former Orioles All-Star catcher Matt Wieters to a one-year deal with a player option for a second year, according to multiple reports. 

Wieters spent the first eight years in the Majors with the Baltimore Orioles, being named to the AL All-Star team four times and winning two gold glove awards. Last season the switch-hitting catcher posted a .243 average with 17 homers and 66 RBI.  

The Nationals have been in the market for catchers all offseason after Wilson Ramos left for Tampa Bay in free agency. The team traded for former Padres catcher Derek Norris, whose role is now in question. The Nationals still have Jose Lobaton on the roster as a strong defensive backup catcher who has a proven rapport with many of the pitchers in the Nationals rotation. Wieters had been linked to the Nationals all offseason because of the team's need a the position and because of the Nationals close relationship with Wieters' agent Scott Boras. 

The only significant time that Wieters has missed due to injury in his career came in 2014-15 when he had Tommy John surgury. Prior to that surgury, however, Wieters had played in at least 130 games for four straight seasons and became a large part of the Orioles' identity. 

The 30-year-old backstop will give the Nationals lineup more depth and power. Wieters had three consecutive 20-homer seasons from 2011-13 and since 2009 when his career began, he ranks fifth among catchers in all of baseball in home runs with 117. 

Related: Nationals 2017 promotional schedule includes snow globes and fedoras

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Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

Nationals 2017 promotional giveaways include snow globes and fedoras

The Washington Nationals recently released the dates of their promotional days and giveaways this season, and there are some real gems in this schedule.

Among the standard bobblehead giveaways — Daniel Murphy on April 14, Trea Turner on May 12 and Tanner Roark on June 9 — and the highly recommended Pups in the Park days — April 29, May 13, June 10, June 25, September 7 and September 30 — pick the right game and you could get a snow globe, an American flag shirt or even a fedora. Seriously.

On May 24’s game against the Mariners, the first 25,000 fans will get a Max Scherzer snow globe, which has the potential to be the coolest knickknack in your house. Or on June 14 against the Braves — oddly not closer to the Fourth of July — Budweiser is behind the first 15,000 21-and-up fans getting an American flag tank top.

But truly the most unique item on this list is the Nationals-themed fedora, which will go to the first 25,000 fans at the Brewers’ July 26 matchup. How the Nats landed on this promotional item remains a mystery, but if you like hats beyond a traditional baseball cap, this is the game to attend.

Other cool or oddball promotions include the Nats Magic 8-Ball game April 3, the Chewbacca Koozie day May 27, Bryce Harper action figure day August 29 and Oktoberfest beer stein day Sept. 29.

Here's the complete list of the team's promotional days and giveaways

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