Quick Links

Ready for more interleague play?

787600.png

Ready for more interleague play?

The Nationals probably won't face a more daunting stretch of games this season than what they're experiencing right now: 32 consecutive games against the NL East and AL East, with every team in each division cracking the .500 mark at some point during this period.

We've passed the midway point of that stretch now; yesterday's series finale against the Mets was Game No. 17 of 32 (Note: It would have been 33 consecutive games if not for a rainout against the Braves.)

So how have the Nationals fared against these tough opponents? With yesterday's loss, they're now 9-8. Not bad, though certainly as good as this first-place club would prefer.

The first three games of this gantlet came at home against the Orioles. Everything since has come against the NL East. Now, though, interleague play resumes again across baseball, which means the Nationals are about to play five straight series against American League opponents.

The home stretch begins tonight in Boston, where the Nats make their first appearance at Fenway Park since 2006. It continues next week in Toronto before the Nationals come home to face the Yankees and Rays, then head just up the road for a final series in Baltimore.

The 2012 Red Sox aren't nearly as imposing an opponent as they've been for much of the last decade, but they're no picnic, either. And nobody doesn't get a least a tad fazed the first time they set foot inside Fenway.

So it'll be interesting to see how the Nationals respond to this weekend's high-profile series, especially Stephen Strasburg (who starts tonight) and Bryce Harper (who should be in the lineup unless he's severely downplaying the state of his lower back).

This, of course, is the last time we'll see interleague play conducted in this manner. Beginning next season -- after the Astros switch to the AL, giving each league 15 teams for the first time -- there will be at least one interleague game every day of the season.

How exactly this will work, and whether it involves adding more interleague games or not remains to be seen. But it will be different.

So as the Nationals brush up on their New England accents in preparation for this weekend's series at Fenway Paaahhhhk, here's a morning topic of discussion: Do you like interleague play? And what (if anything) would you do to change it?

My personal opinion: I've never been a huge fan of it. I'd prefer to see teams play more games against opponents from the other divisions within their own leagues. But since that's not about to change at this point, I at least hope the new-look format in 2013 ensures that every team in a particular division plays the exact same interleague schedule. Have all the NL East teams play all the AL East teams, one series apiece. No extra games against made-up, geographic rivals.

That's my two cents. What do you think?

Quick Links

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

Quick Links

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

MORE NATS: Bryce Harper knows why he didn't play well in 2016