Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, April 28, 2009 | , | 4 comments »

C'mon folks.

Seriously, c'mon.

I don't know how else to say it. I know it's tough to watch the Nats right now. I know it's disappointing to think they've got the game won and then KA-BOOM! And I feel the frustration that it just doesn't seem like there's an end to it.

In the past week and a half, the team has lost four games that they statistically had a greater than 97% chance of winning as late as the eighth inning.

But c'mon. The team is bad. It was bad last year. It was supposed to bad this year. Maybe not 102 losses bad, but still bad.

We knew that this team was going to be one of the worst defensive teams in baseball. And it is.

We knew that the bullpen--formerly a strength--would be terrible this season. And hit has been, beyond anything imaginable.

We knew that they would hit. And they are.

So if you let yourself be fooled by the projections that .500 was a possibility, well, you only have yourself to blame for your expectations.

To be a fan of this team, you have to put away the child-like notion that "This could be our year," or, "We could be this year's Rays!".

You have to take a realistic approach to this team:

1) They can't play defense to save their lives. Dunn's a DH. Dukes is out of position. Willingham is average, at best. Kearns, despite all the media fawning, is just above average. Willie Harris makes great plays because of his speed, but he's just a tick above average too, and historically won't hit like he did last year.

Zim is good, but erratic. Guz is only passable. Gonzalez and Hernandez are career back-ups. Cumulative injury has taken its toll on Johnson.

2) They made no effort over the winter to address the needs in the bullpen, instead the plan was hope. As in; they hoped a couple of these guys would finally figure it out, including the left-over closer, Joel Hanrahan.

They've already lost a season worth of games in a gut-wrenching, eighth inning or later fashion. Someone will step up and do the job at some point. Closing is about opportunity, and baseball is full of guys that haven't been able to take advantage of that opportunity.

Maybe Hanrahan finds his confidence and can be serviceable in the role, maybe not. But he's got big league stuff and they'll find a role for him. Maybe Mock or Bergmann or Beimel shows aptitude for it. Or maybe they just play match-up all year.

3) They are going to score runs. But some nights it'll be a lot, and some it won't be any. The 2 through 5 spots in the order are strong, but the other spots are still trouble. When the middle of the order has an off night, or when the really good pitchers pitch selectively to Johnson, Zimmerman, Dunn and Dukes, they'll struggle.

4) Worst of all, we have to be prepared for the idea that maybe Manny Acta, Mike Rizzo and even Stan Kasten aren't the men for the job at hand.

The Lerners aren't going anywhere. They are going through a learning process on how to own a major league team. They still have a lot to learn, and there have been small steps. But there are still too many problems in the organization--and not just baseball--to think that the people they have in place are ultimately the right people for the job.

They no longer have the Jim Bowden excuse. It'll take a while to correct some of his debilitating mistakes. But the fact that Mike Rizzo doesn't have a title, and that Manny Acta is managing without a contract for next year, might suggest that major, comprehensive changes could be coming.

Perhaps a new direction is needed. Perhaps not. Maybe we've all underestimated the damage Bowden did to this organization, and all it will take it time.

My advice: develop a thick skin. Learn to quickly forget. Treat each game like it's the first game of the year. Find the small things and enjoy them. Enjoy the process, not the result. Otherwise, you're going to go crazy before the Fourth of July.

It's hard to be a fan of this baseball team. But it's the only one we've got. Just get some perpective and hang in there.

It's all any of us can do.


  1. natsfan1a // April 28, 2009 at 2:07 PM  

    Great post!

  2. Big Train // April 28, 2009 at 4:16 PM  

    Thank you for a great post, and bringing a little sanity to a situation that is not the end of all that we know!
    I am really tired of the naysaying both in the media and on several of the blog sites that have had nothing positive to say about this ball club since it arrived in 2005. Yes there are problems, both on and off the field, but hey, we have major league baseball in DC, and I am willing to give this latest venture a bit of time to sort things out and build upon some of these "building blocks"! I for one am grateful that the Lerners haven't spent like crazy to bring some of these overpriced free agents here....why don't we ask Mr. Dan Snyder or Mr. Angelos how that plan works!! The free agent they do sign (Adam Dunn) does just what they paid him to do, hit home runs, but now they want to hammer his play in left field. Anyone remember watching our beloved Frank Howard play left field? He wasn't the greatest of fielders, but he was ok, and he hit those home runs and now has a statue at the new park and a special place in hearts of Nats fans. I say that instead of picking on anything and everything, let's get fanatic about this team. Go to the games, cheer, boo, cry, laugh, get on the Nats bandwagon and hang on for a great ride.

  3. AD // April 28, 2009 at 4:27 PM  

    Great post, Dave. There's only so much that we can expect this season, but the blogs are full of people who think that one player is going to turn the team around. We're far short of being a good team, but if we can take some steps in that direction this year, it'll be a good season.

  4. DMan // April 28, 2009 at 8:02 PM  

    As someone who has rooted for bad teams all his life, learn to revel in the bad. This Nats team has elevated being bad to the rarified air of high art so for this season. Learn to appreciate your team as lovable losers. Just like back in the '60s!. Learn to enjoy and appreciate the individual performances through the losses. We finally have the chance to see what Zim can do now that he finally has protection in the lineup. It will be fun to how many Dunn and Dukes can hack. And now JorZim looks too good to be true. Does he make it through the season, or blow his arm out like seemly every other promising Nats prospect has so far? The Summer will tell ...

    We have no proven pitching this year. I fear we are going to see many more games like last night. I think it will take a serious run at matching the '62 Mets to shake the Lerners into making effective changes. I work in Baltimore, and folks up there are now commenting that at least Angelos isn't as bad as the Lerners. No joke. Ugh!