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There  was an old saying regarding baseball in Washington DC...“First in Peace, First in War, Last in the American League.”

Of course that quote applied to both of the Senators teams, which have since moved to Texas and Minnesota, but today there is a new team in town.  Sadly all that has meant until this point is that the quote now reads “First in Peace, First in War, Last in the National League.”

But that’s about to change. The Nationals, under the leadership of General Manager Jim Bowden, have been moving in the right direction and the future of baseball in DC looks bright.

It has been a five year journey to get to this point.  In 2002 the ownership of the other twenty nine teams took control of the Montreal Expos and subsequently moved them to Washington renaming them the Nationals.    But for almost four years the team was run by MLB and it drifted rudderless with bare bones budgets, no long range plans, and a farm system that had been stripped essentially into non-existence.

And Jim Bowden under those circumstances laid the groundwork for the future.  He concentrated on fielding a decent team, not a contender, but a team that wasn’t so far on the wrong side of .500 that improvement over a few years time wasn’t impossible.  Winning wasn’t his primary concern, but rebuilding the farm system was.

The verdict on his accomplishments aren’t quite in, but players who have come up via the team’s minor league affiliates like Ryan Zimmerman and Ryan Church, not to mention a plethora of young pitchers, suggest that Bowden has done a very good job.

In the end he was laying ground work and treading water while waiting for new ownership to appear on the horizon.  And early last year that finally happened when MLB sold the franchise to a group headed by real estate magnate Theodore Lerner and his family. They have taken over and given the team a stability it has lacked for more than a decade.

And the Expos turned into the Nats, and the Nats are turning into a baseball team.   All of the ingredients are there and the team finds itself truly ready to rebuild by acquiring quality players at discount prices.   First baseman Dmitri Young was one of those reclamation projects, and in many ways he has become the face of the Nationals, a player that no one wanted due to his personal and medical issues, essentially a misfit that had nowhere to go - just like the Expos.

With a core that will include Austin Kearns, Willy Mo Pena, Dmitri Young, Ryan Church and Ryan Zimmerman they seem to have found some offensive punch and they have tested their young arms albeit more out of necessity than desire.

While that bodes well for this team, so does the new ballpark which is scheduled to open next season. That will bring increased revenue to the club and should open the door for the team to compete for free agents.

It’s not an instant cure, and I don’t think any of us expect to see the Nats winning the East, or even the Wild Card next year - but I don’t think that any of us would be surprised to see them climb out of the cellar in the next few years.  With ownership in place, Bowden at the helm, and Manager Manny Acta teaching the youngsters the proper way to play ball the Nationals are doing it right.

It’s a slow plan but a good one and a sustainable one.