Nationals Preparing to Clinch NL East Against Phils, Rub Everyone’s Faces In It


Noted Philly pincushion John Lannan gets the Nats’ second crack at clinching tonight. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Man, those Washington Nationals sure know how to hold a grudge.

In what was obviously a blatant ploy to string out their clinching of the National League East by a couple more days, the Nats lost two out of three to the Cardinals in St. Louis this weekend, and are now set to clinch the division in one of their final three games of the season against the Phils in the nation’s capitol.

Yes, I know. They’re being very petty about this whole thing. Why?

Perhaps it’s because the Phillies clinched the NL East against Washington on three separate occasions in recent years; 2007, 2008 and 2010.

Everyone remembers 2007. That was an historic moment, one of the greatest moments in the history of the franchise, as the Phillies hunted down the New York Mets in one of the greatest late season comebacks in baseball history.

In 2008, there was the incredible double play to end the game, which helped propel the Phillies to their second world championship ever.

In 2010, well, I don’t remember anything about that one, but the Nationals were there, and they were probably sick and tired of having to watch the Phillies jump up and down and put on fancy hats and oversized T-shirts and stuff for a third time in four years.

What a bunch of babies, right?

Washington could have clinched the NL East by winning their series in St. Louis this weekend. But doing so would have deprived Jayson Werth and his cohorts in the Wallgreens hats the opportunity to rub the Phillies’ faces in the fact that they are now the top dog in the division.

Instead, it seems apparent that they tanked two of those three games just to give themselves a chance to clinch against what’s left of the 2012 Phils.

“We’ve had rough outings before,” manager Davey Johnson said after Sunday’s game. “We’ve bounced back. It’s better to clinch it at home anyway.”

You see! It’s like Davey doesn’t even care! Your motives are plain to see, Mr. Johnson.

It’s perfectly obvious to anyone with a functioning brain stem what’s going on here. The Nationals want to clinch against the Phillies at home this week. They want payback for ’07, ’08 and ’10.

And now, they’ll likely get it.

Some would say this is poetic justice. Some would say this is the circle of life completing itself. Some would say it’s a great sports story, filled with redemption and warm fuzzy feelings and stuff.

To that, I say, poppycock.

But at the end of the day, there’s not a lot the Phillies can do about it, other than sweep the series. Tonight, John Lannan will be first to try and close things out against Kyle Kendrick. On Tuesday, Gio Gonzalez will face a Phils bullpen that will be tasked with pitching an entire game, mainly because Tyler Cloyd’s arm has officially come off the hinges and we all need to see more B.J. Rosenberg. And if somehow the Nats aren’t able to seal the deal by then (and the Braves haven’t managed to win either of their first two games of the week, either), the season finale will feature Edwin Jackson against Cliff Lee.

Of course, the Phillies would like nothing more than to spoil Washington’s quaint little celebration with a three-game sweep. But the odds are long.

The Nationals couldn’t be more thrilled to have the opportunity to celebrate their first ever National League East title against the team that’s done it against them three times in the last five years.

Man, those Nats can be so petty.

What’s that? No, I’m not familiar with the term “pot calling the kettle black.” Why do you ask?