I've never been certain of the value of discussing rivals or who is and isn't a rival. A couple seasons ago I couldn't stand the Phillies but that was mainly because of their fan invasion of Nats Park on Opening Day 2010. The players on the Nats might have cared a little about that but they might have held more resentment towards the DC population than dislike towards Phillies fans and when it's all said and done the players had nothing to do with it. It is my hope that a team, especially a team that's supposed to be as good as the Nationals, views whoever they are playing that night as their main rivals.
Speaking more on rivals the Nationals are not predicted to have a rival among their NL East foes this season. They are the Clubber Lang of the division and do not accept the challenge because there is no challenge. I have to admit that something about this makes me nervous. Teams that are predicted to be this dominant and run away with divisions this easily seldom do, but sometimes they do. The 2011 Phillies might have exited the playoffs in the first round, but they did win over 100 games and were dominant during the regular season winning the NL East by 13 games. The Phillies were predicted to run away with the division that season and did, but then there are teams like the 2013 Nationals are 2008 Tigers that are predicted to run away with their division but disappoint. As with anything all answers will be revealed in time.
While looking for an article that lists the Orioles as the Nats main rivals I found this far more interesting one on SportsOnEarth.com about batter pitcher rivalries by A.J. Cassavell mentioning Bryce Harper and Cole Hamels as the fifth best batter vs. pitcher rivalry in baseball. Personally I prefer the Bryce Harper and Julio Teheran rivalry since that one has continued and morphed into Bryce Harper vs. the Braves and all their fans.
Here is one of those aforementioned early NL East previews by Tony Blengino over at fangraphs.com
Paul Hagen at mlb.com gives us a feel good story about new commissioner Rob Manfred visiting the Nationals youth academy
Because I should link to our fellow Nats blogs and I did somewhat promise the SportsOnEarth.com article on every teams' top rivals here is a link to The Red Porch Report linking to the SportsOnEarth,com piece. You're welcome.
Until Monday Natstown...