Commanders game day: Where to tailgate, park, and more

Carson Wentz #11 of the Washington Commanders throws a first quarter pass against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on August 20, 2022 in Kansas City, Missouri.
Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz #11. Photo: David Eulitt/Getty Images

Football is back and we’ve got you covered if you intend on heading to the stadium this season.

  • Here's what you need to know to be game-day ready.
Jeff Tracy
Aug 10, 2022 - Sports

How the Nats will rebuild after Juan Soto

Planes lift off in formation above the Washington Nationals marquee at Nats Park in Washington, D.C.
Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Though Juan Soto’s departure is still raw and seeing him in any uniform but the Curly W stinks, the Nats' future is actually brighter today than it was before the trade deadline, Axios' Jeff Tracy writes.

Why it matters: Our home club is currently baseball’s worst team. We could use the silver lining!

Catch up quick: Before the drastic slide of the past three seasons, the Nats spent a decade as one of baseball's best teams, culminating, of course, with the magical 2019 World Series run.

  • That didn't happen by accident, as GM Mike Rizzo made numerous shrewd trades and signings to build a winning ball club.
  • But since 2018 we've watched five superstars named Bryce, Anthony, Trea, Max, and Juan leave in succession. Meanwhile, Rizzo's win-now trades left our farm system barren of many top prospects.
  • On top of that, the franchise has become hamstrung by the mega contracts of Patrick Corbin and Stephen Strasburg: Corbin’s been the worst pitcher in baseball since 2020, Strasburg’s future is in doubt after thoracic outlet surgery, and they're owed nearly $200 million combined through 2026.

Yes, but: The five prospects the Nats just received for Soto and Josh Bell are so talented that their arrival improved Washington’s farm system from MLB's seventh-worst to its eighth-best, per FanGraphs Prospects.

Let’s meet them:

  • MacKenzie Gore: The 23-year-old left-hander was the top pitching prospect in all of baseball two years ago. He'll join the rotation when he comes off the injured list for elbow soreness and could be the staff ace in just a couple of years.
  • C.J. Abrams: The 21-year-old who entered this year as the “best hitter” with the “best speed” in the minor leagues, per Baseball America, could become our new Trea Turner. He's expected to be the starting shortstop before this season ends.
  • Robert Hassell III: A speedy 20-year-old outfielder with no real weaknesses, he’s now the Nats' number-one prospect and will probably debut late next year or in 2024.
  • James Wood: At 6’7” and 240 pounds, the 19-year-old outfielder could one day lead the league in home runs with a left-handed bat that, if all goes right, could call to mind current Astros superstar Yordan Álvarez. He’s a local, too, having grown up in Olney.
  • Jarlin Susana: The tantalizing young talent from the Dominican Republic is 6’6”, throws 100 mph, and was the consensus best pitcher among this year’s international signing class.

Between the lines: Pair those five guys with Josiah Gray and Keibert Ruiz acquired in last year's Max Scherzer/Trea Turner trade, plus Luis García, and you can see more than a faint outline of a promising core.

The intrigue: The Lerner family is expected to sell the team by the end of this year. Will the new owner be willing to write some big checks to complement this young core with a few established stars? TBD.

Jeff’s thought bubble: If you’re looking for a date to circle on your calendar, make it Opening Day 2025.

  • I know that’s not a short wait, and I hate that this team may not look much better in the meantime. But Soto — as much as I miss him — is happier and better off thanks to this trade, and someday soon the Nats and their fans will be too.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected by taking out a reference that James Wood graduated from St. John's College High School and adding that he grew up in Olney.

Cuneyt Dil
Jun 29, 2022 - Sports

Town Talker: Ted Leonsis, would-be king of Washington sports?

Illustration of sports symbols as medals.
Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

It’s been two months since the Lerner family began exploring a sale of the Washington Nationals.

What I’m hearing: Ted Leonsis is very much interested, per several sources. Out-of-town fat cats are buzzing around.

  • And no, Jeff Bezos is not part of the process.
Cuneyt Dil
Jun 9, 2022 - News

Commanders stadium search imperiled after Va. lawmaker ends support

FedEx Field
Photo: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder is getting boxed in: A majority of the D.C. Council opposes a new football stadium at RFK, and a key Virginia lawmaker pulled the plug on his stadium incentive bill.

Why it matters: Snyder is casting about for a new stadium that includes a wraparound entertainment district, but his options are rapidly diminishing amid controversies surrounding the team and little appetite to spend taxpayer dollars on the sports franchise.

Chelsea Cirruzzo
May 26, 2022 - News

Nationals launch summer reading program

Photos courtesy of the Washington Nationals

Nats players Sean Doolittle and Josh Bell are taking their talents off the field and into the stacks.

Driving the news: The Nationals Summer Reading program kicks off this Sunday, which means our two favorite players will be reading to kids over four weekends this summer.

Paige Hopkins
May 10, 2022 - Sports

A casual fan's guide to the 2022 Mystics

Mystics players huddle during a break.
Copyright 2022 NBAE. Photo: David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Mystics tonight play the third game of their 25th season, and this team is worth paying attention to. Here’s a quick rundown for casual fans:

The big picture: The pandemic seasons haven’t been great for the Mystics, who won the WNBA championship in 2019. But with star forward Elena Delle Donne returning after a back injury, things are looking up.

How to fake it: Your guide to the Nats 2022 season

fans cheer at Nats park
Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Yep, we’re excited. And we’re not even superfans.

In that spirit, and with a little help from Axios sports reporter and Nats fan Jeff Tracy, we present our mini guide to faking your way through the 2022 season.

What to expect at Nats Park in 2022

Nats fans cheer
Photo: Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Masks won’t be on the roster when Nationals fans head back to the stadium this Thursday for the home opener against the Mets. The stadium is following city guidelines, which do not require masks or vaccine verification for patrons.

Here’s what else you can expect at Nats Park this year:

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