Setting The Scene...
If the 2008 Washington Nationals are to avoid losing 100 games they will have to go 5-1 in the last six games remaining on their 2008 schedule...Three games against the Florida Marlins starting tonight in DC, against whom the Nationals are 2-13 in 2008, and three games with Philadelphia this weekend in Citizens Bank, with the Nationals trailing 6-9 in the season series with the Phillies, and threatening to once again decide the NL East in the last three games of the last weekend of what could soon be a 100-loss '08 season for DC.
A 100-Loss Season? What They're Saying?...
AP sports writer Howard Fendrich has an article up at yahoosports.com entitled, "Washington Nationals nearing 100 losses", which he starts with two lines that will, at their conclusion, simultaneously amuse and infuriate any true Nationals' fan:
"Nationals president Stan Kasten, GM Jim Bowden and manager Manny Acta all love to throw around the word “progress.”
They love to talk optimistically about the team’s 'plan.'”
The Plan! What Nationals' fan hasn't heard enough about the Plan? When did that Plan start again? With the new ownership group buying the team or when the new stadium was built? I was just wondering so that I can know when to expect the team to start winning more than they lose...According to Mr. Fendrich's article, DC GM Jim Bowden, (as he's quoted in the article looking befuddled in print), isn't quite sure when all the work behind the scenes will pay off in success on the field, or as Mr. Bowden himself puts it:
"'I can’t put the timetable on it, because I don’t know, you know, what trades you make, what signings you do,' he said. 'There’s too many intangibles you can’t jump into.'”
As I've mentioned a few times before, I've been a Montreal Expos' fan as far back as I can recall, and still have one of the old powder blue away uniforms hanging in my study to prove it, with a time-worn Expos pinwheel cap resting nearby, right next to my '05 Nationals Wilkerson home white...So, having been a fan of the Expos my whole life, and then the Nationals after the move to DC, I've developed an ability to enjoy other things about baseball, outside of all the winning...and the losing of individual games...for example: 1) The endless succession of top draft picks and prospects, 2) The grooming of talent for the free agent pool, 3) Spoiling the seasons of nonplussed teams and their heartbroken fans, 4) Wondering how an MLB-owned team was allowed to trade away prospects to teams owned by the same owners with whom they were dealing?...But through it all I've remained optimistic...That was...until I read this paragraph in Mr. Fendrich's article:
"As bad as the Montreal Expos were—so bad that Major League Baseball was ready to fold the franchise before moving it to the nation’s capital, remember? — they played their final quarter-century in Canada without once losing as many games in a season as the 2008 Washington Nationals will."
That's when it really hit home...even without owners, without being allowed to make September call-ups, even while playing a portion of their home games in Puerto Rico's Hiram Bithorn Stadium...the Expos/Nationals' franchise hadn't lost 100 games since 1976 when they dropped 107, and before that 1969 in Montreal's inaugural campaign which saw them lose 110 of 162. Those were the only two times. Where is the "progress" Mr. Fendrich starts the article saying the team's management likes to talk about so much? (ed. note - "Where is the Progress?: Possible answers...1) On the field with Zim, Dukes, Lasto, Lannan, Mock, etc...? 2) In The System? 3) In Next Year's #1 or #2 and 9A pick?")
On The Hill...
In the first of three to end the '08 matchup with the Marlins, DC turns to rookie right-hander Shairon Martis, (0-3, 6.23 ERA) who has already faced Florida once in his three major league starts, (since debuting on 9/4 in Atlanta), pitching against the Marlins in the second start of his career on the road in Florida, where he pitched 5.0 innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 runs, (1 earned), with 3 walks and 9 K's in a 2-1 Nationals' loss. Against the NY Mets in his third start, the last time out, here at home in DC, Martis surrendered 6 runs on 5 hits, 3 of them HR's in 3.0 innings of a 9-7 DC loss to NY.
Marlins' left-hander Scott Olsen will be making the 100th start of his 4-year MLB career and the 12th opposite the Nationals, against whom Olsen's (6-3) with a 3.86 ERA in 70.0 innings pitched in which he's surrendered 69 hits, 35 runs, 30 of them earned, 9 HR's and 44 walks with 45 K's collected and a .263 BAA. Olsen, of course, was on the other end of the Martis' 2-1 loss in Miami, throwing 6.0 innings of 6-hit, 1-run ball for his second-straight win after a 6-game losing streak which had stretched back to July 24th of this season.
Nationals' #'s Against Scott Olsen...
Aaron Boone - 3 for 8, .375 AVG, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI's.
Kory Casto - 1 for 2, .500 AVG.
Elijah Dukes - 1 for 5, .200 AVG.
Cristian Guzman - 4 for 9, .444 AVG, 1 HR, 1 RBI.
Anderson Hernandez - 2 for 4, .500 AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI's.
Shairon Martis - 0 for 3, .000 AVG.
Lastings Milledge - 7 for 24, .292 AVG, 3 BB.
Ryan Zimmerman - 5 for 29, .172 AVG, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 4 BB.
The "If They Were Playing" List...
Ronnie Belliard - 8 for 22, .364 AVG, 1 2B, 2 HR's, 5 RBI's.
Jesus Flores - 2 for 6, .333 AVG.
Austin Kearns - 4 for 19, .211 AVG, 1 2B, 2 HR's, 3 RBI's.
Wily Mo Pena - 3 for 8, .375 AVG, 2 HR's, 3 RBI's.
For A Florida-Based Perspective On The Weekend Series, check out the SBN's Marlins' blog:
DC reliever Jesus "Everyday" Colome in MLB.com's Bill Ladson's article entitled, "Colome wants to stay with Nationals":
"'When you throw strikes, you have a better chance of getting the hitters out,' Colome said."
Aaron Boone in Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's article entitled, "For A. Boone, 'Neat Moment' Still Resonates":
"'I kind of set [the moment] aside,' Boone explained. 'But now, I can appreciate it and respect the fact that it's a pretty neat moment, and a lot of fans -- especially Yankees and Red Sox fans -- will remember me for that.'"
Ryan Zimmerman in Washington Times' writer Mark Zuckerman's article entitled, "Lonely at the NL bottom for the Nationals":
"'I mean, if we win out and only lose 98, it's still a horrible season to our standards compared to if we lose 104,' Zimmerman said. 'I think it's to the point now where it's been a disappointing season.'"
The first of the last three with Florida gets underway at 7:10 pm EST in Miami, Florida's Dolphin Stadium. Martis vs Olsen. Will Dukes get #14? Will Lastings end the season in the Nationals' HR lead? Can Zimmerman (13) or Harris (13) catch up to Dukes and Milledge? Sounds like a POLL?? Who's Watching The Nationals?
Who Will End Up Leading The Nationals In HR's?
This poll is closed
Lastings Milledge? (14 HR)
Elijah Dukes? (13 HR)
Ryan Zimmerman? (13 HR)
Willie Harris? (13 HR)