Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Andre Dawson was NOT a National

The blogosphere full of comments from Nationals fans about how the team should retire Dawson's number and how he should go into the Hall of Fame wearing an Expos cap.

Newsflash: Andre Dawson was not a National.

Yes, I know the Nationals are a reincarnation of the Montreal Expos and that they possess the legal rights to all things Expo, but Dawson never played baseball in Washington, DC. There WAS no baseball in Washington, DC when the Hawk was flying across Olympic Stadium. The only connection Dawson has to the Washington Nationals is corporate. That's it. There's no sacred bond, no soul. Just cold, hard cash.

Now, I realize that there isn't much for a Nationals fan to root for. I stopped going to so many games in 2009 because I was tired of seeing shitty baseball. (Rooting for one shitty team is hard enough, but rooting for two shitty teams is depressing.) But mooching off another city's hero?

Baseball is a game of three periods of time - the past, the present, and the future, with the past arguably playing the most prominent role in the love of the game. Baseball exists to create memories. In no other sport is the sense of nostalgia so strong and so necessary. That's why a team belongs to the city in which it plays. What happens on the field becomes a part of the collective psyche of the city's denizens. No, baseball teams aren't about trademarks and copyrights, they are about the people who invest their emotions into them. That's why the Cincinnati Reds claim to be established in 1869. Sure, the current franchise dates back to 1882, but the baseball teams that played before the business were as much a part of the city as the corporation that owns the trademark. George and Harry Wright are as much a part of the Cincinnati Reds as Johnny Bench and Frank Robinson, and that is why they are enshrined in the Reds Hall of Fame.

Inside Nationals Park stand three statues - Walter Johnson, Frank Howard, and Josh Gibson. These three men never played for the Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos franchise. Yet they belong here. They were an inherent part of Washington baseball, part of the city itself, its history, its culture, its people. Those statues deserve a rightful place here in our nation's capital. Dawson, as good as he was, does not.
_

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

As always, I agree completely.

Look at the Minnesota Twins. Is there anyone in their right mind who associates Walter Big Train Johnson with the Twinkies? How about the Oakland A's. Any mention of Cornelius MacGillicuddy or Jimmy Foxx out there. Nope. Andre Dawson was an Expo and a Cub (and a couple other teams before he retired). He made his name in Montreal, and was probably one of the best players in the history of the Chicago Flubbs (how difficult is THAT?) But he was never a National or a Senator, and the people of Washington D.C. (and the Nationals management) should be quite aware of that fact. Well written. I especially liked, "Baseball exists to create memories. In no other sport is the sense of nostalgia so strong"

You are without a doubt the best baseball blogger on the nett. Let's hope the Reds can fight for the division this year so we can read a motivated Sister Daedalus all season!

-Gary Maloy, Norway

Daedalus said...

Thanks, Gary. I'll be writing about baseball from Beirut for the next few months, so I don't know how much time I'll have, but I do tend to write a lot more when I'm abroad. I'll only be an hour ahead of you!

Anonymous said...

You are lumping two discrete groups of people into one when you say that there are Nationals fans who are trying to claim Dawson as one of their own. Those two groups are (a) Expos fans pre-2005 who are still clinging to the Nationals as their team, and (b) Washingtonians and those with Washington connections who adopted the Nationals as their team in 2005. No one, but no one, in group (b) is trying to glom onto any of Dawson's glory. There is and will be no evidence in Nationals Park that Dawson or any other Expo ever existed. It is true that MLB.com Nationals beat writer Bill Ladson frequently invokes the Expos, but that's because he was the beat writer in Montreal and moved to DC with the team. He falls into group (a).

Anonymous said...

Actually, let me amend my last comment to read "any other Expo who never played in Washington."

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