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[April 11th] -- Have your finger ready. The time is getting close.

It was a bad day in Washington; the game was just part of the problem. It was a beautifully warm spring day in Washington. Everything should have been perfect. but it wasn't. RFK was almost full. The fans sort-of made noise and and third base stands maybe bounced. A little. The Vice President, not the most important man in the free world, threw out the first pitch. There was the opening day pomp and circumstance that accompanies opening day, but less than we've seen here in years past, and about what you'd expect to find in Detroit or Atlanta.

Washington D.C. isn't Detroit or Atlanta.

There was a "ehh" feel to the day. It was nice, but not nice enough.

Blah blah blah. Blah.

It's becoming a well choreographed play; get behind early and often, attempt a comeback that is too little and too late, then allow the opposition to end the game by pushing the team's face in the toilet and flushing. The rap against Ramon Ortiz has always been "that inning."

Take away "that inning," and he's a stud. Ortiz cruised until the 4th, when he gave up four runs over the next two innings. Felix Rodriguez gave up a Bonds-esque homerun in the 9th that bounced off the upper deck facade. Final score: 7-1.

Not even close. Again.

Offensively, the team had only two hits until Alfonso Soriano smashed his long homer to left in the 7th. They ended with only those three hits for the game. It's pretty sad when you can sum up nine innings of team offense in one short sentence.

Is Brian Bannister so good that he can hold the Nationals to six hits in twelve innings this past week with a .105 batting average against? I don't know. He hasn't pitched against anyone else. My guess is, though, that most pitchers don't come into the league from 'AAA' pitching like Bert Blyleven.

The Nationals are now 2-6 and face Pedro Martinez tomorrow night. When do we start to worry? When do we push that panic button? I'd say soon. Think about this for a moment: The entire starting eight are pretty much playing up to their capability (Brian Schneider wasn't early on but is now). Livan and John Patterson aren't pitching particularly well, how much of a difference would they make when they only pitch forty percent of the team's games?

40,530 saw opening day. The Washington Senators, who averaged 9,000 or so during the mid to late 1960's, had little trouble filling RFK on opening day. Does that worry you?

That panic button is looking bigger and redder each passing day.

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