VIERA, Fla. -- Six weeks ago, the Washington Nationals convened here for the start of spring training. Stephen Strasburg had yet to face a big-league hitter. Same for Drew Storen. Ross Detwiler was a contender for a spot in the Opening Day rotation. Livan Hernandez was unemployed.
Jesus Flores was hoping to be ready for the start of the season. Elijah Dukes assumed his status as an everyday player was safe. So did Cristian Guzman.
Either Eddie Guardado or Ron Villone figured to make the club. Jesse English figured to be among the first players cut.
And a sportswriter, fueled by the generous support of his readers, packed up his car and hit the road from Northern Virginia to Florida's Space Coast.
As you read this today, I'm back on that road, heading home. Spring training isn't officially over for the Nats, who still play against the Mets in Port St. Lucie this afternoon and against the Red Sox in Fort Myers tomorrow. Much as I would have liked to stick around for those final two games, I've got to hightail it back to D.C. and get re-situated before Saturday's exhibition against the Red Sox at Nationals Park and then Monday's season opener against the Phillies.
Yes, I'm planning to continue covering this team into the regular season. All season.
From the moment I commenced my initial fundraising campaign to cover spring training, the following question kept coming up, from readers, from colleagues, from members of the Nationals: What are you going to do once the season starts? My answer all along was: I'm not sure yet, but I'm hoping I can continue to run this website.
Well, I can now definitively say I will be doing just that. Nats Insider will live on, and I'll continue to cover the club for this site, which since its launch two months ago has attracted more than 27,000 different readers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and 88 different countries. NatsTown indeed knows no boundaries.
I'll also, however, be covering the club for another media entity in town, a well-established sports news organization that has offered me the chance to write about the Nationals on a freelance basis. I can't reveal specifics quite yet, but you'll find out about it within a couple of days. This freelance gig will provide some income, though it's only part-time and will only cover some minimal travel expenses to cover the Nats on the road.
So in order to keep providing complete coverage of the Nationals for this site, I'm still going to need your support. More than 350 of you funded my spring training coverage and provided enough overflow funds to get me through April. But it's going to take more than that to fund an entire season of coverage (including as many road trips as possible).
As was the case all spring, you get extra content and perks for your money. The website will remain free and available to all who wish to view it, but those who contribute will get more.
I'm going to offer two different methods for payment/service. You can either subscribe for the entire regular season, or you can subscribe on a month-to-month basis. The full-season subscription will come at a discounted rate.
(A note about the month-to-month option: Those subscriptions all will run through the final day of the month in which they are purchased and thus must be renewed for each subsequent month. So whether you subscribe on April 1 or April 29, you'll receive extras every remaining day that month, through April 30. Much as I would like to be able to offer 30 days' worth of extras from the date in which you subscribe, as a one-man operation, that simply would be too difficult to maintain.)
Here, then, is the breakdown of subscription levels for the regular season:
RED -- Audio file of either Jim Riggleman's pregame or postgame media session, or of a Nats player or executive, from every game I cover in person. Price: $40/season or $8/month.
WHITE -- All extras given to RED subscribers, plus a weekly podcast from myself discussing the most-significant events of the week. Price: $60/season or $12/month.
BLUE -- All extras given to RED and WHITE subscribers, plus a special preview of each upcoming new series, featuring head-to-head stats for possible key matchups between Nats players and their opponents. Price: $80/season or $16/month.
GOLD -- All extras given to RED, WHITE and BLUE subscribers, plus the opportunity to submit questions to Riggleman and players for multiple interviews over the course of the season. Price: $100/season (no monthly option).
If you'd like to subscribe, please click on the link below this paragraph and enter your contribution amount:
CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE FOR THE REGULAR SEASON
Thank you to everyone who made spring training coverage possible and to all of you who made a point to write, comment or personally introduce yourself over the last six weeks. It's been my pleasure to interact with so many of you, and it will continue to be my pleasure to cover the Nationals for you all season!