MLB Should Be Rooting for Washington Nationals to Win World Series
A World Series Championship is the greatest accomplishment for a Major League Baseball player, no matter what team he plays for.
But for the institution of Major League Baseball itself, the team that wins its ultimate prize carries heavy implications.
Like it or not, a small-market Cinderella team bringing home the trophy bears little impact compared to one of baseball's legendary franchises. Teams like the Oakland A's or the Pittsburgh Pirates are difficult to market for baseball, leaving the more casual fanbase apathetic to the story of the season as a whole.
By the same token, any sport is happy to tap into a potentially expansive market would gladly put exciting fresh blood at the forefront of advertising the sport.
For these reasons, the Washington Nationals are the perfect team to capture the World Series this year.
The Nationals moved to Washington D.C. before the 2005 season after baseball failed to catch on in Montreal. Since the move, the Nats have never finished above .500 or made the playoffs. Despite the large market of the District of Columbia and surrounding states like Virginia and Maryland, the Nats could not put up significant attendance figures due to the futility of the franchise.
Other D.C. teams like the Wizards (NBA) and Capitals (NHL) have not completely monopolized the fanbase, largely because neither team has won a championship in more than thirty years.
Which WS contender offers MLB the best opportunity to grow the sport?
A parade in the capital could turn the attention of millions to the Nats.
Additionally, youngsters Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper have already proven to be two of the most marketable future stars in baseball. Strasburg, of course, is shut down for the remainder of the season, but his bright future would correspond nicely to marketing a Nats' championship defense.
Harper is one of the most-followed baseball figures in years, and he does not shy away from the spotlight.
Strasburg, Harper and their supporting cast, including Jayson Werth, Gio Gonzalez and Ryan Zimmerman fit nicely in baseball's strategy of promoting key players on successful teams.
Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard became household names across the league as a result of Philadelphia's 2008 World Series victory. Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey were catapulted to stardom in 2010.
Thanks to their big-stage success, these names are as recognizable as Derek Jeter, David Ortiz and Josh Hamilton.
More so than any other surprisingly successful team in baseball during 2012, the Nationals present baseball with the opportunity to add a new squad of players to its nationwide identity.
The team has compelling stars that the league can market and the potential to create a brand new rabid fanbase in the nation's capital.
Like it or not, baseball wants to see the Nats in the World Series.
Dan Kelley has been a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist since 2011. Follow him on Twitter: @dxkelley
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