Meet the Nats: Gregory a regular at openers
NBC reporter to attend sixth Opening Day in past seven years
When it comes to world affairs, NBC reporter David Gregory is the man to watch. He can be seen as the moderator on "Meet the Press" every Sunday morning.
But one could also add the title of "baseball fan" to Gregory's name. He is a Nationals season-ticket holder and will attend the team's home opener Thursday afternoon against the Braves. It will be his sixth Opening Day involving the Nationals in the last seven years. Gregory missed one Opening Day because he attended his sister's wedding.
Gregory, 40, also plans to participate in NatsFest, which is a day before the home opener. The past two years, Gregory moderated discussions about the Nationals. During the events, he plans to get autographs from players for his three children -- Max, Jed and Ava.
"For me, Opening Day is a traditional holiday," Gregory said. "It's such a special day for me. It always has been."
If this offseason was any indication, the Gregory family will be a lot happier. For example, when David received word about Jayson Werth signing a seven-year, $126 million contract, Max jumped for joy into his father's arms.
"We were really excited," David said about the Werth signing. "That's what we needed in D.C. to keep baseball going. We are totally into it, and I love it. I know a lot of people who have that tradition with their sons."
Gregory has done more than just attend Nationals games. For the past three summers, in fact, he has taken Max to the All-Star Game. The two plan to do it again this coming July in Arizona.
"I grew up a Los Angeles Dodgers fan. I continue to be a Dodgers fan, but I'm a hometown guy here in D.C. for the Nationals," Gregory said. "I love to be around players. ... I have a good relationship with the team and the folks who are running the team. It's a lot of fun."
When one talks to Gregory about the Nationals, one realizes he would make a great baseball analyst. He loves the improvements general manager Mike Rizzo has made this past offseason, such as Werth, and he's excited to have second baseman Danny Espinosa for a full season. Gregory went so far to predict that the Nationals will not finish in fifth place for the fourth consecutive year.
"I think they will stay out of last place. They will make an improvement there," Gregory said. "I think this will be a hopeful year. I think they will improve to .500 ball. I know how difficult it is to make that jump from where they are to significant improvement. I think they are capable of doing it.
"It's got to be about the pitching. I think the bullpen is strong, but the starting pitching has to improve. I'm hoping that it can. I agree with Rizzo's philosophy -- a more athletic type of team. I like the young guys [Ian Desmond and Espinosa] they have around the infield now. I think the team is going to be good defensively.
"Bottom line, I don't think the Nationals are in last place. I see the team approaching .500 ball."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.