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Chimera feels Nationals pain

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Chimera feels Nationals pain

When the Nationals collapsed after leading late in Game 5 of the NLDS on Friday, the story seemed all too familiar for Washington sports fans. Teams falling short of high expectations is not uncommon in D.C. and perhaps no local team has experienced more heartbreak of late than the Washington Capitals. The Caps have won their division four out of the last five seasons and have yet to advance past the second round of the playoffs.

Forward Jason Chimera has been on the last three Capitals playoff teams, including the 2009-10 roster that lost in the first round after winning the Presidents’ Trophy. As someone who has felt the disappointment the Nationals now feel, Chimera says he can relate. The winger was actually at Game 5 on Friday night and saw the Cardinals’ comeback in person.

“It was very shocking,” he said. “It was unfortunate for the city because it would have been nice to have a long playoff run. I felt bad for a lot of guys on that team because I know the position they are in and how that feels.”

Chimera and the Capitals’ collapse in the 2010 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals is probably the best comparison to the Nats’ NLDS loss in recent D.C. sports history. The Caps had the best record in the NHL with 121 points and entered the playoffs as favorites to with the Stanley Cup. They even jumped out to a 3-1 series lead over the eight seed Montreal Canadiens before dropping three straight games to be eliminated.

The Capitals were a young team that encountered a veteran Habs goalie in Jaroslav Halak and a defensive system better suited for the playoffs. Chimera sees a parallel in the St. Louis Cardinals.

“You learn from it. It's hard, it happens, but you gotta take some stuff out of it and learn from it next time,” he said. “If the Cards weren't there they wouldn't have known how to win that game. They just kept chipping away and chipping away and eventually they came back.”

“The Cards are a good team, they've proven it, and they had all the experience on their side. That's I think what helped them.”

Despite the crushing loss in Game 5, Chimera thinks the Nationals have something similar to the Caps in the works, that they could sustain a successful team for years to come.

“I think the Nats got a lot, they are a very young team, they got a lot of the pieces in place that are gonna be here for a long time. I'm sure this won't be the last time they're in that position.  Next time they're in that position they will be better off for it.”

The Nationals certainly had a year to remember and with the best record in the majors and built a significant fan base that is now as strong as ever. Chimera includes himself in that category and says a lot of his teammates now like the team as well.

“They brought a lot of fans on board, it was cool,” he said while wearing a Nationals hat at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “You can see with our team, when we first came in there were 10 guys wearing Nats hats.”

Chimera was at Game 5, but said he couldn’t attend Game 4 because he was at home with his kids. He instead at home on television as the Nationals forced a fifth game on Jayson Werth’s walkoff homer.

“I watched it on TV because I had the kids for the night, my wife was gone. Instead of watching cartoons we were watching Game 4,” he said. “We watched Werth and I was yelling when he hit the home run, the kids were like 'what are you yelling at?' It was exciting, you were right at the edge of your seat. It was a fun game to watch.”

Chimera is on board with the local baseball team, but is no ordinary Nationals fan. Not many have a friend on the team.

“I know Tom Gorzelanny, the pitcher,” he said “We live in the same neighborhood so I've got to know him a little bit. It's nice to kind of pick his brain to know a little baseball too.”

Chimera said he and Gorzelanny talk and “hang out quite a bit” when both are home and have even have exchanged jerseys. Chimera though, of course refers to Gorzelanny’s number 32 uniform as his “sweater.”

Kellie Cowan contributed to this report.

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May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

May the odds be ever in your favor: Vegas sets over/unders for 2018 MLB season

The start of spring training is a glimmer of hope during the cold of winter. It means warm weather, cold beers and hot dogs at the ballpark are coming your way.

It's our first chance to get a taste of how our favorite team is shaping up for the 2018 season, and for those who are not quite into just the game itself, betting odds.

CG Technology, a Las Vegas sportsbook operator, has set the 2018 odds for each MLB team.

Specifically, how are things looking for the local teams?

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Washington Nationals: 91 1/2 wins

The 2018 season is looked at by many as the last World Series run for some time for the Nationals and their core group of players. Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy and Gio Gonzalez will become free agents after the 2018 season in addition to general manager and President of Baseball Operations, Mike Rizzo.

In 2017, the team won 97 games and went on to win the NL East, but couldn't make it past the first-round of the National League Division Series. In 2018, Vegas is giving the Nats 7/2 odds of taking the National League title. They are just behind the Chicago Cubs, who knocked them out of contention last season, at 4/1 odds.

As far as winning the World Series, Vegas is giving the guys an 8/1 chance of their first title, tied with the Cubs.

Baltimore Orioles: 77 1/2 wins

The O's finished the 2017 season with 75 wins, which could be considered somewhat of an accomplishment considering their pitching resources.

The same problem will occur in 2018 as the organization hasn't signed any new starting pitchers. Vegas is giving them 50/1 odds of taking the American League title and 100/1 odds of winning the World Series.

The lack of depth in their rotation will come back to bite them as division rival New York Yankees have 5/1 odds of winning the World Series and the Red Sox have 10/1 odds.

A below average season should be expected.

A few other standouts, good and bad, include the Miami Marlins at 500/1 odds of winning the World Series, the Kansas City Royals at 200/1 and current champions, the Houston Astros, at 6/1 odds.

RELATED: FORMER NATS PITCHER ARRESTED WITH MORE THAN 40 POUNDS OF SUSPECTED COCAINE

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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

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Former Nationals pitcher Esteban Loaiza arrested with more than 40 pounds of suspected cocaine

SAN DIEGO — Former All-Star pitcher Esteban Loaiza has been arrested on suspicion of trafficking drugs after packages containing a white powder believed to be cocaine were found at a home he rented in Southern California, officials said Monday.

The 46-year-old former Major League Baseball player was booked Friday on charges involving the possession, transport and sale of 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of suspected cocaine worth an estimated $500,000, according to the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Loaiza played for numerous teams between 1995 and 2008, starting with the Pittsburgh Pirates and concluding with his second stint with the Chicago White Sox. He had a 21-9 record with the Chicago White Sox in 2003 and started in the All-Star Game that year.

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He also played one season for the Washington Nationals in 2005 — the team's inaugural season in D.C. after the franchise changed from the Montreal Expos. During his one season in Washington, Loaiza finished with a 12-10 record adn a 3.77 ERA over 34 games played that year.

It was not immediately known if Loaiza had hired a lawyer and the former player could not be reached to comment. He was being held Monday for lack of $200,000 bail pending a court appearance on Wednesday.

Loaiza's agent, John Boggs, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had no information about the arrest and that he has not spoken to Loaiza recently. He said that Loaiza had called his office early last week but Boggs was unavailable at the time.

"I am shocked and saddened by the news and had no indication he would ever be in this type of situation," Boggs said in a text to the newspaper. "I don't know how he would get himself involved in this, so it's difficult to even comment on it."

Officers stopped Loaiza for a minor traffic infraction Friday after he left the home he started renting recently in the Pacific coast community of Imperial Beach, along the U.S.-Mexico border. Authorities had the vehicle under surveillance on suspicion it was used for smuggling drugs.

When they searched the vehicle, they found a sophisticated compartment used to conceal contraband, authorities said. That led them to obtain a search warrant for Loaiza's rental home, where they found the packages of drugs, according to investigators.

The packages containing a white powder are still being tested but are believed to be cocaine, said San Diego Sheriff's Lt. Jason Vickery.

Loaiza was born in Tijuana, Mexico and was married for two years to the late Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera. She filed for divorce shortly before she died in a plane crash in 2012.

The 43-year-old Rivera was known as the "Diva de la Banda" and died as her career was peaking. She was perhaps the most successful female singer in grupero, a male-dominated Mexico regional style, sold more than 15 million records, and moved into acting and reality television.

Loaiza sued the aircraft's owners in 2014 for wrongful death but her relatives accused him of trying to profit from her death. He denied the accusations and later retracted his lawsuit.

NBC Sports Washington contributed to this report.

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