Friday, May 13, 2005

The Next Fortnight

Samuel Johnson said, "When a man is told he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully."

In baseball, however, the season is so long, you can fail to see the hangings. As mentioned on the aptly named Capitol Punishment, and briefly by us, the next two weeks for the Nationals are a really critical part of the season. We've just completed a stretch of 34 games where we faced a team with a losing record only 6 times (my ex, the Phils, of course) -- check out our strength of schedule on ESPN's RPI. We've come out of that forced march 18-16, damn good for a team that played a bunch on the road and has a bunch of injuries.

But by May 26 or so, our playoff hopes may be on the gallows. Why? Because we enter a stretch against lesser teams (Cubs, Brewers, Blue Jays, Reds) that we must -- repeat must -- take a lot of games from. Look at it this way: If we go 8-5 over the next 13 games, we're still 2 games behind playoff pace (see sidebar for specifics). We're not gonna make up that 2 games against the likes of the Cardinals, Braves and Marlins, whom we meet immediately after. The harsh reality, to me, is that 8-5 would be a disappointment.

So, concentrate Nats fans, on the next two weeks. I hope Frank and crew know what they are facing.


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