Because of a combination of maturing young players, shrewd moves by the front office and deft managing by Joe Maddon, the Tampa Bay Rays leaped from having Major League Baseball's worst record in 2007 to the World Series a season later.
But what about the worst team in the majors this past season? Can the Washington Nationals make a similar way for themselves in '09? Most baseball experts probably would say no way. However, D.C. could take steps to emerge from 100-plus defeat, injury riddled, embarrassing baseball.
Here are 10 ways the Nats can become the next Rays — or something like that:
9. Tough love in '09: No disabled list.
7. Have bugs installed in the visitor's clubhouse by former Sec. of State (and big Nats fan) Henry Kissinger as they can pay off big-time.
6. Even though his name suggests he'll spend several dates performing at the Kennedy Center with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, second baseman Emilio Bonifacio must put his dream of becoming a NL All-Star before his dream of becoming one of The Three Tenors.
5. Protect brittle superstar third baseman Ryan Zimmerman this off-season by encasing him entirely in Nerf.
4. Nix harebrained scheme of GM Jim Bowden to pick up "Devil" nickname on waivers from Tampa and transform "Nationals" to "Devil Gnats."
2. Stan Kasten out, Dick Cheney in, as team president.