There is no question that sports in D.C. are looking up. After a decade as rough as any sports city has endured, the fortune of all Washington teams has seemingly turned in the last few years. Each team has been graced with a potential superstar, or several, and each team looks to be on the rise.
Hey, even the Wizards with John Wall and Bradley Beal.
While none of the D.C. teams have won anything as concrete as a championship yet, the time we are in does deserve some recognition. And Sports Illustrated has decided to dedicate their newest issue to the cause. They call it "Washington and Baltimore: The Unlikely Sports Capital."
On the next issue of SI shipped out to regional customers, the cover will look like this:
It is a pretty nice moment for fans in the region and the fact that Baltimore and D.C. are doing well justifies their claim. But in reality, Washington teams have been here before.
In 2008 the Redskins, Wizards, and Capitals were in the playoffs and look what has happened since (see Zorn, Jim; Arenas, Gilbert; Halak, Jaroslav). It is a cool gesture by Sports Illustrated, but it only means something if the trend continues.
Bryce Harper struggled by his standards in 2016 and he says he know why it happened last year. While it was rumored last season that he was playing through injuries, Harper never really missed significant time, nor did he really say that his injuries were the reason for his disappointing numbers.
Speaking with the media today at spring training, Harper hinted at his injuries from last season as he said he was just trying to stay in the lineup every day.
Although Harper's statistics dropped off dramatically from his MVP season in 2015, his numbers weren't entirely awful last year. He still hit 24 homers, drove in 86 runs and he had an .814 OPS.
With a full offseason to heal up, Harper will be a prime bounce-back candidate as he looks to help the Nationals win their third NL East title in the last four years.
Related: Sorry D.C. sports fans, Bryce Harper is a Dallas Cowboys fan
The Nationals aren't certain to have ace Max Scherzer ready to pitch for Opening Day. Scherzer, 32, was unable to compete in the World Baseball Classic this summer due to a stress fracture in his right ring finger.
When he spoke to the media today at the first bullpen session of spring training, he said that the fracture has healed but the symptoms continue.
Scherzer also said he'd just started throwing again this week. Manager Dusty Baker confimed that the Nationals don't know whether Scherzer will be ready to start the season.
Any time a team's star pitcher suffers an unusual hand injury, it's cause for concern for the club and fans.
Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award last season and posted a 20-7 record as a starter. He also led the MLB with 284 strikeouts.
Scherzer is an especially vital part of the Nationals rotation considering the injury history of Stephen Strasburg, who landed on the DL twice last season, once with soreness in the elbow that needed Tommy John surgery in 2010.
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