Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nats Sweep Away Mets, Naysayers, and Possibly Playoff Dreams

How many cascades of boos for the home team can flow from the stands during one series at Shea Stadium? How many sullen, angry close-ups of Mets fans did we get to see over the past three days, courtesy of MASN? A dozen? A hundred? The only thing more gratifying was seeing thousands of such faithful fans stream for the exits after Ryan Church’s two-run double in the ninth. Maybe they hadn’t heard about the six-run rally in the bottom of the ninth the night before. Maybe the left before the collapse of the Mets’ season took them down as well. Where’s your strategy for winning the division now, Joel Sherman? How does a 9-9 season split with these "lowly" Nats fit in to that strategy?

On the less-fortunate side, how many people in Philadelphia did the Nats make happy with their gigantic broom? It’s an unfortunate side effect, but one that can be rectified with a few wins against the Phillies to close out the season. While it galls us that either the Mets or Phillies will win the division, it is not necessary that both make the playoffs, or stick around there very long if they do.

In helping the Phillies in New York, the Nationals potentially struck a blow to the post-season confidence of the Mets (particularly considering the nature of last night’s win). Now they can strike down Philadelphia’s post-season altogether. Thanks to their timely 10-game winning streak, the Rockies are here to help put added pressure on our tied-for-least-favorite NL East team in the wild card race. Looking back to August 24, could that ninth-inning collapse against the Rockies have happened for a more noble purpose? Could it end up to be the one win the Rockies needed to smack Philly aside? Creepy. It might have been worth the pain.

It was three weeks ago today we were celebrating win #63 (aka, loss <100). Now we can kick back and enjoy 72. 72! They couldn’t even pull that off last year with the combined greatness of Frank, Jose G, Jose V, Nick, and, um, that other guy, that outfielder. What was his name? The guy whose absence was going to be the final straw that doomed the team to absolute ineptitude? Never mind. How now shall the optimism-haters among us package this one? What will the spin be now that another arrow of pessimism has been taken from them? They don’t have 100 losses to scoff at. They don’t have last place to scoff at. Now there is coldly objective numeric evidence of improvement. And they have accomplished this with:

- Exactly one pitcher, Matt Chico, who even has enough innings pitched to qualify as a statistical leader.

- Exactly one player, Dmitri Young, who hit over .300.

- A relief pitcher, John Rauch, leading the team with 8 wins.

- No player (at the moment) with 25 home runs.

- No player (at the moment, and likely at the end of the season) with 100 RBI

Sure, the above could be pessimistically spun to the tune of, “See, they really do suck, they have no players!” Nonsense. Much of this can be attributed to the biblically wrathful spate of injuries (to a team derided when healthy) and the necessity of at-times excessive platooning of players. They survived the worst that could be thrown at them, and we all know why. We’re past the point now where we can proudly say “they don’t suck” and can confidently say, “they’re actually pretty good, and getting better.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

we can proudly say “they don’t suck” and can confidently say, “they’re actually pretty good, and getting better.”

Now come on even for an optimist that is a stretch. At best a bunch of overperforming mediocre major league baseball players with owners who are laughing all the way to the bank between: MLB luxury tax, ticket gate, television, radio ad, and MLB rainy day fund revenue that is projected to be over 150 million this year. With a paltry payroll of 37 million that is a nice chunk of change on a roughly 400 million dollar investment.