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I'M BACK, BUT NATS AREN'T

[August 25th] -- Tah dah! I'm officially a real-live student teacher, as my expensive-looking official teacher "name tag" indicates. I'll meet with my "cooperating teacher" on Friday and then, come Monday, I'll be officially be destroying the minds of the next generation. How cool is that? And please, none of that "Gee, I didn't know that Idaho had a university" stuff. We have three. Sort of.

Though I didn't blog this week, I certainly have been watching the games on mlb.tv (including one while sitting in a language and literacy class -- ah, the marvels of technology!) I think it's safe to say that the team has officially given up. Oh, I don't mean that they're standing around as ground balls roll into left field or that the pitchers are throwing batting practice fastballs so that they can shower early and hit the bars. No, not quitting in that sense. But haven't you ever been in a situation at some point in your life where you had been working as hard as you could to make something work, and though you seemed to be "paddling up stream," you believed that, given a bit of luck, you'd succeed? That's where the Nationals were a few weeks ago. They had won three in a row, four out of five, and it seemed that with a solid second half, the team could end the season with 75 or so wins, very respectable considering the difficult year they've had to endure.

Somewhere along the line, however, something went wrong. A difficult loss, an embarrassing weekend sweep, and suddenly, the players eyes and attention aren't trained on the game but rather the grass as they kick away make-believe pebbles. They are living through a nightmare and all they want is for the season to come to a merciful end.

Quickly.

I am as excited for the Nationals future as ever. This is the type of year I expected last season -- few wins and many embarrassing moments. But don't mistake my excitement for hope of a quick turnaround. Aint gonna happen. The Lerners have said, in as many ways as it could be said, that "free agency" isn't the answer. The problem is, neither is the farm system. So if free agency isn't the answer, and the farm system isn't the answer, what then is the answer?

Luck.

For the next few years, -- probably three or four -- the Nationals are going to be in a "no mans land" with inadequate players on the major league roster and the real prospects at the lowest rungs of their minor league system. Bowden could try to catch lighting-in-a-bottle one more time with another run at free agents that no one else wants (Esteban Loiaza) and trade for players that come with more baggage than just what's in their suitcase (Guillen). But, if Jim Bowden is going "young" and "building for the future," then those type of moves make no sense. Of course, if the guys he wants to "go young" with aren't major league talents, then why bother? Why play Travis Hughes and Henry Mateo if they have no chance of being successful at this level? Better to try to find another Loiaza or Hector Carrasco and cross your fingers rather than playing career minor leaguers every day. Remember, career minor leaguers are career minor leaguers for a reason.

Ryan Zimmerman has seen his batting average drop twelve points since Brian Schneider said that he was going to stop waiting for the kid to falter. Bad timing, dude. Frank Robinson made the right decision to sit him the other night, and it wouldn't be a bad thing to do it a few more times over the final month and a half of the season. The last thing anyone wants is to have Zimmerman falter in his last thirty-or-so games and carry that sour taste in his mouth into the off season. Take care of the kid, Frank. Without him, the only difference between the Nats and the Zephyrs is the color of their uniforms.

Good to be back. Sorry, Jamming Econo. Looks like you still hold the record for most consecutive days of "blog silence." And no, I'll never let you forget it. It's toooo easy.

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