NL East Infection: Nationals ‘Pride’


Washington Nationals

It’s been a historical year for the Nats, who will in all stupid likelihood reach the playoffs for the first time in their extremely brief franchise history, pleasing all nine of their fans and turning Nationals Park into a raucous thunderdome of celebration.

Actually, Nationals Park may have a hard time being anything but a desolate field, occasionally touched by a gentle gust of autumn wind.

After the District of Columbia coughed up $611 million to watch a baseball team finish in last for seven years, they were pretty thrilled to see a young, competitive squad take the field.  Sadly, that squad’s ownership now has to give some of that money back in order to install a late night Metro service from the park so that fans attending home playoff games can get home without being successfully murdered.

Seems odd, given the presumed enthusiasm the fanbase would have about making the post season.  But that’s not as much of a concern anyway, because if stars align correctly, the Nationals won’t even play more than one home playoff game.

Thanks to the manipulation of MLB’s schedule to accommodate the one-game Wild Card playoff, the best team may not have home field advantage.

"“It is possible that the team with the best record in the league will play only one home playoff game. For home-field advantage to favor the higher seed, the series would have to reach the full five games.”—Adam Kilgore, Washington Post"

Jayson Werth, of course, explained that baseball is the same game regardless of where it is played, so the Nats, as a good baseball team, still have an advantage.  But Werth is a known flip-flopper, whose words should be taken with a grain of salt.  One minute he’s claiming he will single-handedly prevent Philadelphia from ever winning a major sports championship ever again, and the next he’s sheepishly retracting that statement as if it’s worthless hyperbole from a man delirious with wrist-pain.

Atlanta Braves

If you can stop crying about Chipper Jones leaving baseball forever for just a second, there is another Braves storyline for you to feel warm about inside.

Kris Medlen is one of those guys that really makes you think about what Tommy John is.  For most, it’s just that term they use as a death sentence for pitchers and Carl Crawford.  But when a guy like Medlen starts ten games (like he did last night and shut out the Marlins), allows six earned runs, wins eight, and registers an ERA of 1.51, you wonder, “Wait, what is Tommy John again? Does he have someone else’s blood now?”

Not, he just had his arm systematically taken apart and then rebuilt and then pitched very, very well.  The way the Braves handled Medlen while he was recovering from injury puts the mismanagement of another NL East folk legend into perspective.

"“Essentially, [the Braves did with Medlen] what the Washington Nationals didn’t do with Stephen Strasburg. Now, the Nats are without one of baseball’s best pitchers, while the Braves and Medlen are gaining momentum toward the finish line – with no worries about the amount of innings Medlen is throwing.”—John Parent, Call to the Pen"

Well at least the Nationals will get to see a playoff game at home, maybe!

New York Mets

Is that some sort of… party over there? Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

Always awkward to do one of these while currently playing in division, but hey, maybe if we do this quietly enough no one will hear us, like all six of the Mets fans at Citi Field last night.

“Hey, you already made that ‘single-digit fans in attendance’ joke back in the Nationals section!” says you.  Well, it’s not my fault nobody shows up for NL East baseball games anymore, regardless of how shitty the team is.  Unless of course you’re the Phillies; then your fans don’t need too much of any kind of reason to come out.

Someone else who doesn’t need a reason to be out on the town is Ike Davis, who we’ve recently learned is a real bad seed in the Mets clubhouse.  Reports indicate that Davis will sometimes leave the stadium at midnight, then stay awake at his private residence watching a movie until 2-2:30 in the morning!

What sort of example is this for our youth?  That modern ball players can go to their homes and do things there.  It sickens me to think about old school players who played the game right, showered, smoke a couple dozen cigarettes, verbally abused a woman on the trolley, then headed on home eight hours later for some good old fashioned dangerous alcoholism.

Meanwhile, R.A. Dickey had another meeting with the Fraternity of Knuckleballers, whose loopy, barely functional plan for world domination will most certainly slip by global authorities, who in retrospect will wonder how they could have missed it so entirely.

And lastly, to follow up on a story we covered in our previous installment:

Miami Marlins

The Marlin can’t even finish above last place in this post, let alone in the division.  Obviously, the frighteningly disappointing season will wind up changing things for the team.  But the team may not have the finances for yet another shake-up for some reason.

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

The one whose job may be in the most danger is manager Ozzie Guillen, who may not deserve it, but whose position wouldn’t cost the team as much and still indicate a legitimate change had been made.

Or maybe we should all just ignore the Marlins until they die.