July 15, 2008

Gratuitous Nats Posting


Thank God for the All-Star Break.

Here's the first half's post-mortem from the Sporting News:

As the Washington Nationals limp into the All-Star Break (both literally and figuratively), there is certainly more bad than good to talk about in terms of baseball in the Nation's capital. A winning percentage (.375) slightly below Chipper Jones' batting average (.376) is one place to start, but the stories behind that win-loss record speak volumes about a team whose fans expected more this season.

[T]he Nationals had to expect something good this season. And things started well enough. The new Nationals Park opened with a sellout crowd that, along with an ESPN audience, watched Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run to give the Nats a win on Opening Night. Two wins at Philadelphia later and a 3-0 start looked to show something very good was happening for Manny Acta's club.

But that success did not last for long. Since then, the Nats have only managed to win 33 of 93 games. Fifteen players have spent time on the disabled list with at least closer Chad Cordero out for the season. Only Cristian Guzman - Washington's lone All-Star - can claim to have been in the Opening Night starting lineup and not spent time on the disabled list this season.

The team ranks last in the National League in team batting average (.239), slugging percentage (.358 ), and is tied with the Padres for the fewest runs scored (350). They are tied with the Reds and Diamondbacks for the second-worst fielding percentage in the NL (.981), slightly above the Marlins (.977).

Sadly, the Nationals have been making plenty of negative headlines off the field as well as on it. Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell does an excellent job of pointing all of the recent negatives, so I advise you to go to his column to get the details, but here are the highlights: (a) the Nationals television coverage on the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, MASN, is the least watched in all of baseball; (b) two Nationals fans died last week on a shuttle that transports Nats fans from the parking lot at RFK Stadium to Nationals Park; (c) GM Jim Bowden and special assistant Jose Rijo have been contacted for questioning as part of an FBI probe [Robbo: They deny the contact]; and (d) the Lerner family, the Nationals' owners, have refused to pay rent to the District of Columbia.

Add to all this the latest nooz that it looks as if Wily-Mo may be out for the season, and one can say only two words.

Yeee. Owitch.

But you know what? Watching the Nats drop game after game and reading of these sorrows that come not as single spies but in battallions, all I can do is remind myself of my Thomas Paine:

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

Of course, for "Tyranny" here you have to read "the Phillies" and for "FREEDOM" a "DIVISION TITLE", but the sentiment is still the same.

Yes, friends, I am o-fficially a Nats Fan and I'm going to stay that way come hell, high water or a .375 second half (not that I want any of these, of course). And indeed, here's hoping that the rest of the Division has been lulled into such a false sense of security that we'll make up that 16 game deficit before you can say "Manny Acta's Momma!"

UPDATE: Of course, with the break I can also briefly turn to my other sports headache. Is it possible that Favre might QB in Miami this year? Laces out, Brett!!

Posted by Robert at July 15, 2008 10:34 AM | TrackBack