Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Tale of Two Cities

Two months ago today, on June 7, Dexys, Chris_Needham, D and I took in the game between the Nats and the Oakland A's in the Nats Blog seats. It was a classic June game for the Nats -- the A's went up early in the first, but none of us were worried, and sure enough, Nick Johnson hit a 2-run homer in the sixth to win it, and we would complete the sweep the next two nights. It was the middle of our 10 game winning streak. Frank's quote from the night was:

"I've never seen a ballclub like this before," Robinson said. "Each night, it just seems to be the same script. 'OK, boys, it's the sixth inning. Let's wake up. Let's go to work.' Or maybe they just feel like they don't want to put too much effort out there and do too much work when they can get it done in half a ball game. I don't know what it is, and I'm not going to tamper with it. We're having success, so we'll leave it alone, but it's certainly not easy on the stomach."

The "I'm not going to tamper with it" line is interesting. Compare to Frank's recent statements (quoted in the free paper handed out at RFK) during our recent struggles about how he doesn't worry about it much because games are won and loss by players and coaches don't have much effect on the game. So, whether we win or lose, Frank is consistent in his effort to avoid having much effect on the game. Perhaps we should change his title from "Manager" to "Observer."

But back to the Oakland game. After that night, Oakland's record was 23-34. The Nats were 32-26. Today Oakland is 64-47, 6 games above our current 58-53. So since June 7, Oakland has gone 41-13, and we've gone 26-27. If we had managed, through some good sci-fi technology, to swap talent and personality with the A's that night, and we went 41-13 since then, we'd be 73-39 and have the best record in baseball. But, as we know all too painfully this past weeked, that didn't happen.

One might take comfort in the 26-27 record since then. That doesn't sound too bad, after all. But the 26 is mostly from June and the 27 is mostly from July/August, so the record is deceiving about present and future trends. As Dexys' latest post implies, we here at Nats Blog are preparing for next year. We'd love to feast on heaping helpings of crow come October, but I just can't see it happening. If we were a real team with a real owner, we might have some interesting times in the coming weeks and months speculating (and hoping) for firings of McCraw, Robinson, Rodriguez and Bowden. But we don't even get that luxury.

So it is on to Houston. No Roger Clemens, fortunately, so we might be able to avoid being shut out all three games.


At 2:08 PM, Blogger Raphy said...

The lineup obviously needs to be upgraded -- Brad Wilkerson and Vinny Castilla both had great starts, but neither is middle-of-the-order guy that scares pitchers -- and Guzman's having one of the worst statistical years in MLB history.

Jose Guillen, Nick Johnson and Jose Vidro are all solid players to build around, but this team needs to get some more bats.

Reasons for hope, as Rob Neyer points out, are that the Nats can't hit any worse than they have since the 11-game 1-run loss streak started and there isn't a whole lot of competition for the Wild Card.

At 3:19 PM, Blogger Michael Briggs said...

"Perhaps we should change his title from "Manager" to "Observer.""

:) What, you mean that Observer isn't his title now?


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