It's New Year's Eve. Time for New Year's resolutions!
What will the Washington Nationals resolve to do in 2013?
Will Bryce Harper coin a new phrase?
Will Stephen Strasburg put any limits on himself?
And what about other members of the Washington Nationals?
Here is a list of possible New Year's resolutions for Harper, Strasburg and the Washington Nationals. Let's have some fun with it.
One of the many talents of Bryce Harper.
Bryce Harper may have gained more notoriety this season for his confrontation with a certain Canadian reporter than for anything that he did on the baseball diamond.
But Harper's locker will always be a popular destination for reporters seeking a juicy soundbite. So he might as well give them something new to chew on in 2013.
Some possible candidates:
"I throw strikes. From 360 feet, six inches."
"Tide just hired me as their new spokesperson."
"Dude, I wear eye black at the beach."
But don't ask Harper if he made any New Year's resolutions this year.
That would be a clown question, bro.
Stephen Strasburg, alone with The Elbow.
So...Stephen Strasburg had a sensitive elbow last season.
Strasburg injured his elbow in 2010, tearing his ulnar collateral ligament, which prompted Tommy John surgery. He rehabbed in 2011, finishing the season in the major leagues. He was the Opening Day starter for the Washington Nationals in 2012, but he was under an innings limit for the season, a decision made by the Washington Nationals' brass that became highly controversial.
In fact, the Strasburg Shutdown debate became so powerful and all-encompassing that it even made Ken Rosenthal relevant. And the debate gained more traction when the Nationals were eliminated from the playoffs before reaching the World Series or even the NLCS.
Now, Strasburg just wants to pitch. The entire season. For the first time in his career.
To do that, Strasburg must take all necessary precautions—and then some—to ensure the safety of his $22 million elbow:
Don't take up tennis.
Protect your funny bone at all costs.
And don't play video games!
Better safe than sorry.
Oh, great. Now Ryan's knee hurts, too!
Ryan Zimmerman had a painful season in 2012.
The Gold Glove third baseman was bothered throughout the season by a shoulder injury that affected both his swing and his throwing. The injury was so severe that Zimmerman underwent arthroscopic surgery in October.
But during the season, Zimmerman's pain was temporarily relieved by a number of cortisone shots. Zimmerman responded well to each treatment, often catching fire at the plate in the weeks following the injection.
So Zimmerman should keep a healthy supply of cortisone on hand for those painful hitting slumps.
Let it go, Gio. Let it go.
In 2012, Gio Gonzalez further revealed his tendency to become distracted and frustrated by small details that are out of his control, most notably borderline calls that don't go his way. All season long, Gonzalez allowed his pitching to suffer, as he focused more on the things that he couldn't control rather than the things that he could control.
A turning point came in the top of the fifth inning. Encouraged by batting coach Mark McGwire, the Cardinals began taking pitches to make Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez sweat. Gonzalez, who seemed to be feeling the pressure, began obsessing over ball-strike calls by home plate umpire Angel Marquez. The Cardinals could see Gonzalez weakening, and that fired them up. As one Cardinal said, "Gio looked like he didn't want to be out there. The guy has a 6-0 lead, then 6-1, and he's panicking out there. We smelled blood."
Going into the 2013 season, Gonzalez must ignore the negative situations that arise during the game so as not to lose focus on the bigger picture. Otherwise, he will continue to show that he's not a big-game ace.
Drew Storen watches helpessly as the painful procession continues.
Yes, I know.
This is a very painful memory for the Washington Nationals and their fans.
But Drew Storen will be reminded for the rest of his career about how he failed to record the third out when he had the St. Louis Cardinals down to their last strike in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS. So he might as well learn from the experience.
What he will learn is that he should never pitch three days in a row.
Storen appeared in Game 3 of the NLDS, pitching one inning in a 8-0 blowout loss. He then pitched the ninth inning of Game 4, holding the Cardinals scoreless to set the stage for Jayson Werth's heroics in the bottom of the frame. But in his third appearance in three days, Storen pitched the ninth inning of the fateful Game 5.
The rest, unfortunately, is baseball history.
Now, Storen just has to convince Davey Johnson to let him stick to his resolution.
Davey Johnson hopes to be smiling at the end of the 2013 season.
His career record is 1,286-995 and his .564 winning percentage is currently the best among active managers with a minimum of 1,000 games managed (Baseball Reference).
Johnson has appeared in the postseason six times, with five trips to the LCS and one trip to the World Series, winning the 1986 Fall Classic as skipper of the New York Mets.
Now, as manager of the Washington Nationals, Johnson already plans to retire after the 2013 season. So what better way to leave this grand game than to do so as a winner?
Before the 2012 season, Johnson garnered national attention by proclaiming that the team "can fire me" if the Nats missed the playoffs.
Before the 2013 season, Johnson can make a similar proclamation, something like, "I'll retire if the Nats win the World Series."