Concession Speech: 2012 Washington Nationals

With the regular season over, teams are facing an offseason filled with golf rounds and hot-stove strategy.

But we're not going to let them get off that easy. No sir. No way. In an attempt to bring some closure between franchise and follower, we're giving a blogger from each team the opportunity to give a concession speech for this year's squad. Up next is our old pal Chris Needham, who has writing about the Nats on the Internet way before anyone outside of the Beltway was paying attention.

My Beloved Washington Nationals Fans: I stand here before you today, a humbled man. My proverbial tail between my non-proverbial legs. The baseball gods have spoken. We have been handed a great loss, and although I do not agree with the outcome, I will respect it.

Before I speak to you, I want to speak directly to the American public. I understand how many of you were supporting us, pulling for our Nats to defeat the red menace from St. Louis. Although your support was fleeting, I do appreciate it, and I can only apologize that we let you down. We shall do better in the future.

But to my comrades in the army of the Potomac, I urge you to hold your head up. We can confidently say that we are First in War. First in Peace. And First in the National League East! That banner we will unfurl next April noting this city's triumph shall not take the sting of defeat away, but it shall be a cottony balm, a steady reminder of that long, successful campaign.

Mistakes were made: In the end, we lost. With the season on the line, runs hemorrhaging from the bullpen, we came up a pitcher short. All season long, we played with just enough pitchers, enough to lead the league in wins. But in the end, it was just one more steady arm we needed to stem the tide. And who could have possibly forseen that?

Sure, our opponents will point and laugh and mock us for going into the campaign while refusing to deploy one of our biggest strengths. But this is not about Stephen Strasburg or the decision to shut him and his Cy Young arm down. It's not about the willful choice Mike Rizzo made to stubbornly stick to his preordained plan, no matter how blindingly obvious it was to any moron that this was a special season with as good a chance as any to win the World Series. It is not about Mr. Rizzo's inflexibility, lack of adaptability, or his chutzpah. For he hath a 50-page binder, a doctor who hasn't examined the patient in months, and a player agent who stands to make millions when his client signs with the Yankees in four years on his side. This decision cannot be questioned because .. science! Don't question science. Ok? Where's your degree, Einstein?

Mudslinging time: Instead, this is about us, announcing our candidacy for the next six years. In Rizzo we trust. And he hath assured us that our window did not open in 2012, despite what your lying eyes saw. It will open in 2013 and run through 2018. So while we're licking our wounds today, we're ready to spit in our opponents' eyes tomorrow, and every day for the next six seasons -- especially if they're run by an anonymous GM.

You scoff, but look around the East. The Mets? Ha. If ever there were a franchise in need of a Federal bailout ... The Marlins? If ever there were a franchise in need of being declared a disaster zone ... The Phillies? If ever there were an entire city in need of being declared an EPA superfund site, bulldozed, then buried in a landfill under a cement dome...

And that leaves us with the Braves. Oh, those silly Braves. Sitting there all high and mighty, crowing how their plan to deal with a young, potentially injury-prone pitcher was superior because it allowed him to pitch in the postseason. Yeah, brilliant plan there, guys. You scaled back his innings during the championship season so that you fall a few games short of the real goal, and get stuck playing in the play-in game, which your so-called ace gacks away, done in by shoddy defense by the 74-year-old gomer playing third? That's not the kind of leadership we need. That's not the kind of leadership that wins divisions. There's a reason nobody calls them America's Team anymore.

A change is going to come: For us to live up to achieve our lofty goals, we must reload, not rebuild. A tweak here, a tweak there. I do not suggest we need big changes, as the flag that will soon fly over Nats Park attests to the strength of our team. But with the uncertainty surrounding Adam LaRoche's commitment to our campaign, we must explore every option, whether that's having Michael Morse live in his shoes or getting LaRoche and his steady glove to commit to this franchise for the coming three years. We must explore improving the bullpen. As you saw, our fortunes rose and fell with the quality of their pitches. And we must consider our options for replacing Edwin Jackson ... although replacing a sub-.500 pitcher with an ERA over half-a-run higher than any other rotation mate should not prove to be an impossible goal.

Hope for the future: My fellow Nationals fans, as we look forward to these upcoming campaigns, we must reflect on how we got here, and how the solid foundation laid this year is strong enough to hold all the Commissioner's Trophies we are sure to earn in the coming years.

We will move forward with good young men like Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper leading the way. We will move forward with grizzled veterans like Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman leading by example, fighting through injury, and giving the team maximum effort every night. And we will move forward led by the young arms in our rotation, exemplified by Cy Young contenders Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.

And lest you forget, our secret weapon will be fully operational next season. We are prepared to unleash a rested Stephen Strasburg on the league's unsuspecting batters. All along, our opponents told us we would not win without Stephen Strasburg. We accept their challenge, and next year, we are fully prepared to win with him.

My friends, the skies may seem dim today, but I assure you the future is bright. Our competition may have some individual stars that burn brighter, but I assure you that none have as many bright, young stars, and certainly none form as beautiful a constellation in the sky. And that means our competition is looking up at us, at our lofty heights. The future is bright, my friends, so do not despair. We may have lost this race, but nobody -- not New York, not Miami, not Philadelphia and certainly not Atlanta -- will be looking down on us again.

Follow Chris Needham on Twitter

Previous Concession Speeches: Baltimore Orioles, Oakland A's, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates,Cleveland Indians, Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins, San Diego Padres, New York Mets, Miami Marlins, Chicago Cubs, Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros

Make sure all your bases are covered this postseason ...
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