Covering the Bases: Wiz and Nats moving up

WASHINGTON — You know times have changed when there’s a lot of Wizards talk in mid-July. And it’s all positive. The rebuild is taking place at warp speed.

Just two months ago, they reached the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Now, they appear to be one of the favorites for the Eastern Conference title.

Of course, LeBron James going back to Cleveland makes the Cavaliers a contender as well, and a stronger one if they acquire Kevin Love from Minnesota. The Wiz, though, see an opening and are going for it while the top two seeds from this past season, Miami and Indiana, appear to have taken a step back. The Heat lost LeBron, while Lance Stephenson left the Pacers for Charlotte.

Washington greatly strengthened its bench by acquiring Paul Pierce and Kris Humphries, while re-signing Andre Miller and Drew Gooden. Plus, we’ll see a lot more of Otto Porter and why the Wizards made him the third overall pick last year. Yep, things are heading in the right direction.

You could say the same thing for Washington’s baseball team.

It’s crazy that the Nationals reached the All-Star break tied for first place after five position players and two starting pitchers spent considerable time on the disabled list. Now healthy (crossed fingers), they appear poised to pull away with the National League East crown.

That actually might be their easier path to the playoffs. The Nats and Braves are the only two teams over .500 in the NL East, while there are six more in the other two divisions. So, a Wild Card berth may be more difficult to achieve. Four of those teams are in the Central Division and going into this weekend’s play against Milwaukee, the Nats were just 10-14 against NL Central teams. The Nationals will be at Cincinnati next week. The games against the Brewers and Reds take on more importance knowing they could have Wild Card implications.

It seems as if there are no distinct seasons anymore. All pro leagues are doing something year round affairs.

We’ve got everything going on now. Baseball’s second half is underway while the NBA held its draft in June and just played its Las Vegas Summer League. The NFL Draft was in May and next week teams open up training camps. Major League Soccer has reached mid-season as the World Cup concludes and the Tour de France begins. World Team Tennis takes place between Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. The NHL draft was last month and Development Camp was over a week ago. Plus, golf has its third major with the British Open.

If you can’t find something to root for, you’re just not a sports fan.

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