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NOTHING TO SMILE ABOUT [AGAIN]

[April 13th] -- Look, I'm a "glass is half full" kind of guy; always have been and always will be. But I've got to tell you, I spent two and a half hours watching the game tonight and I couldn't even find the darn glass.

Nine games into the 2005 season, the Washington Nationals were 5-4 before playing their first game at RFK, a win against the Arizona Diamondbacks that featured a long home run by Vinny Castilla. Everywhere we looked, we saw promise and hope. Nine games into the 2006 season, the Nationals are 2-7, and could easily be 0-9 if they hadn't caught Billy Wagner and Roy Oswalt on bad days. And with only a few minor exceptions, individual players are playing up to their level of ability. Who is going to get hot and help the team? Brandon Watson is playing terribly, but we all expected that. Jose Guillen is cold but, based on his current physical limitations, no one was looking for a hot start. Where does the extra offense, the better pitching, going to come from?

Nowhere.

I'm afraid that while the Nationals aren't playing up to their potential, they're pretty darn close.

The Nationals are getting "dinked" to death. They aren't giving up 10 runs in an inning. They give up one in the third, another in the fourth, two in the 7th and one in the 8th. Suddenly, you look up at the scoreboard and the team is down 5-1 and that, as they say, is that.

The Mets won on Wednesday 3-1, beating the Nationals with their dinking stick. Pedro Martinez pitched well enough, but again, he didn't win; the Nationals lost. Jose Vidro continued his hot hitting with a long homer to right, but one home run a game just isn't going to cut it. Did RFK beat the Nationals? Well, I counted at least four, perhaps five balls that might have been home runs in most other parks. The Nationals loaded the bases with no one out, only to have Jose Vidro strikeout and Jose Guillen ground into a double play to end the threat. The season has been one of bad timing, bad calls, bad judgment and, generally, just plain bad.

The team has no electricity, and as a result, the fans are suffering from a power outage. 29,000+ fans filled 64% of RFK's seats last night.

They reminded me of the fans in the old "Tom Slick" cartoons that I watched on Saturday mornings when I was a kid. While Tom zoomed around the race track to beat the bad guys, the fans in the seats would join together in a very monotone "yay." Nats' fans keep waiting for something to cheer about, but eighteen innings later, there have been only two swings, two home runs, to excite them.

Eight hits in eighteen innings. Yay.

The Nationals have one more chance against the Mets, a day game on Thursday. Livan will try to give the Nats' fans something to cheer about when he takes the mound against Victor Zambrano. Sooner or later, the "bad" karma, or whatever it is that's sinking the guys, has to lift. And these dark days will be forgotten.

At least, I hope so.


Comments:
keep that "glass is half full" attitude -- they'll come back.
 
Glass? What glass.
 
I'm afraid that I've lowered my sights in terms of wins. I thought 75 was reasonable half way through spring training, but now, after injuries and poor play, I'm thinking more in the area of 67 wins.

Sad.
 
If Guillen is just in a slump we'll have better times ahead.
If he's done, I'd be real worried about hitting 70 wins.
 
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