Does this piling on the Nats, fashionable once again after the more-successful-than-anyone-thought 2007 season fades into memory and a few more losses than wins start accumulating now, ring a little familiar? Sure it does, because 13 months ago to this very day, similar invective were being published in the Post. Maybe that’s too strong a word, but it was, and is, mostly along the lines of, oh those Nats, they stink, whatareyagonna do? Oh we’re so bad, yuck yuck yuck. Then follows the typical condemnation by the fan and pundit alike of the Plan, the players, etc, with the typical Philly-like woe-is-us, no-light-at-the-end-of-this-tunnel, tired shtick. Back then, a little eight-game losing streak brought out the optimism-hating. Today it’s a little five-game skid. DCO responded to last year’s panicked calls of awfulness with a seer-ish guarantee of fewer than 100 losses, swimming against the tide of those rushing to declare the 2007 Nats “Worst Ever”. It was true then and it’s true now: the Nats will not lose 100 games. They will yet surprise us all and be closer to 75/80 wins than anyone now thinks.
Remember when the afformentioned yucks were being had at the expense of that woeful starting pitching staff? That starting pitching staff that was beset by something beyond all known magnitude of injury? Not just one or even two, but five or six key components of what was supposed to be a terrible unit to begin with? The patchwork staff, of course, pulled it together and was something of a strength all year long, giving us fond memories such as Levale Speigner outdeuling Johan Santana in Minnesota. We even got to know Mike Bacsik, that cute little footnote to something big that might have happened while he was pitching (heard he’s great with kids, too).
This year, as we well know, it’s those batsmen getting hit by the injury locusts. Names of starters or potential starters like Kearns, Johnson, Zimmerman, Dukes, Belliard, Lo Duca, and Young being found on a disabled list for good lengths of time will hurt any lineup, even one expected (again) to be so very wretched. But there’s light and, as usual, it’s brought to us by our spiritual leader in ‘tism, Manuel Acta. Weeks ago, before the pile-on began in earnest, Manny spun yet another positive, making us all remember why his name is so lauded in this space, and why he was such an inspiration to start this blog to begin with. In declaring yet another brutally barbaric string of injuries to be “an opportunity”, and expounding so eloquently on the reasons for such, Man Act once more refused to dwell on the negative, to resort to the self-flagellation too often found amongst sports fans, and perhaps prophesized a batting turnaround, much as the shuffling of injured pitchers a year ago ushered in a pitching turnaround of just-good-enough-to-stay-competetive-and-respectful proportions. It’s all we can ask for, really. And while we’re being thankful, let’s repeat our thankfulness, echoed in these pages all last summer, that such a young and promising team is not being led through its temporary dark age by someone named Girardi or, much much worse, Pinella. Not a speck of ‘tism to be found there in a time of need such as this.
So let’s calm down. Everything’s going to be fine. The batting will come around, as we have been told it would, with this new park and all. There are already rumblings to indicate resurgences from those outfielders getting their Manny-declared “opportunity” named Dukes and Milledge. Wins will follow. Snarky ‘tism-blocking commentary will end.