Gio Gonzalez had to be as excited about his first start today as a Washington National as we all were. The 26-year-old had embraced his trade from the destitute Oakland Athletics to the up-start Nats, and has been vocal both in the traditional media as well as through social streams about his desire to become a major part of the fresh baseball culture in the area.
But D.C. by nature is a town of skeptics. Give us a new monument and we’ll complain about the symbolism. Give us a Heisman trophy winning quarterback and we’ll wonder about the fit. Give us an All-Star left-handed hurler, and we’ll question the price. It’s really not our fault, after all, it’s just who we are by nature. We are lawyers, lobbyists, journalists, republicans, democrats, and bloggers, and that means that by trade we can’t help but question both the good and bad in everything.
And so, as Mike Rizzo shipped off four MLB caliber prospects to Oakland, you couldn’t help but hear the chirping that Washington had overpaid for a shiny toy that may not have had as much value as appeared on the surface. Some argued that Gio’s walk rate forecasted that his current level of success was unsustainable, others pointed to his career numbers and claimed he couldn’t pitch outside of Oakland. For the most part, we tried to ignore these naysayers, but we couldn’t fully, and neither could the pitcher himself.
Gio Gonzalez had to be more disappointed about his first start today as a Washington National than we all were. The 26-year-old knew the quiet skepticism by some coming into today’s game, and he wanted to not only prove the doubters wrong, but also to give his new fans a reason to believe in 2012. Instead he knows now that he will have to take it upon himself to find redemption next week, in a city where a reputation can evaporate in an instant.
All of the criticisms presented themselves in their own way today. He gave up four runs in 3.1 innings, but he also struggled with command, and let up too many hits to a sub par Cubs team. As the Nats bullpen allowed just one hit to the same lineup for the rest of the game, Gio didn’t seem like an ace pitcher in his first outing, heck, he didn’t even look like John Lannan.
It’s important, however, that we remember that this is a team designed to win over the course of a 162 game, six month season. And while our skeptical minds and hearts may want to leap to conclusions based on the only data that we have yet been presented with, this is a plea from a blogger to a fan base to simply sit back, let go, and believe.
You take off your lawyer hat, and I’ll put down my blogger wand, and let’s give this left-hander some time. Gio Gonzalez may pan out, and he may not, but a self-destructive nattitude that kills a season before it grows won’t help. Just ask Jayson Werth.