Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Anti-Spoilers

This time of year, fan of bad teams (not to mention the completely heinous), sometimes try to stay interested via schadenfreude. You want to play the spoiler, make someone else feel a bit of the pain you've been suffering all year.

It's not the most attractive impulse in humanity, but when you've been getting your head beaten in all year, it can make you feel a little better to take out some revenge on your tormentors. It's especially satisfying if you can win games that your rivals need.

The Nationals seem to have sunk into a different psychological tendency: Stockholm Syndrome. Because I'll be darned if they aren't trying to help the other guys win. The Nationals are the anti-spoilers of Major League Baseball, the team every contender desperately wants to play. If you're sinking out of the race, Nationals Park is where you go to get well.

Here are the Nationals records against the contenders since they took two of three from the Braves July 4 weekend:
  • Atlanta: 0-5
  • Philly: 1-5
  • Colorado: 0-6
  • Los Angeles: 1-2
  • St. Louis: 0-4
That's a combined 2-22 against contenders down the stretch. Seriously. Think about that. And the two wins they have were the Chad Billingsley near-no-hitter and that awful game against the Phillies when they were up 8-2 going into the ninth and barely held on to win 8-7. They could easily be 0-24 in these games.

(I was at both of those wins, by the way. Enough about me being the bad luck charm!)

Why is San Francisco fading? They haven't seen the Nationals since the first week of June!
If Colorado gets bounced from the playoffs over the final week while Atlanta plays seven of their last ten against the Scats, Rockies fans will have a reason to gripe.

This weekend I really started to wonder if the fix was in. On Friday, Pete Orr, Willie Harris, Justin Maxwell, and Josh Willingham combined to hand the Braves three runs in the first inning. Saturday, Elijah Dukes and Orr again committed two errors in the first three innings which, combined with two walks by Garrett Mock gifted Atlanta a four-spot. Dukes added another error later for good measure.

But, alas, I don't actually think the Nationals are tanking. They're doing their best. Nothing shows how far the Nationals are from contending than the way they've been abused by the better teams in the NL this year.


John said...

I was there yesterday. I saw it. Levan batting in the bottom of the sixth,instead of being pitch hitted for, then giving up the tying run in top of the seventh. Willie Harris leading off the bottom of the 7th and stranded. Willingham and Duckes taking called third strikes. And the what happened in the top of the 10th. Everything is suppose to even out over time. I just don't know anymore. The Phillie announcers have this team pegged. "Lots of talent, but just wait long enough till they make mistakes, and they will make mistakes" Or Jim Tracy of the Rockies:"The way to beat the Nationals is keep the pressure on them. They will crack under pressure." I don't know how six months of the off season will cure this.

phil dunn said...

Plain and simple, the Nats don't stand a chance against good teams with good pitching. It's been that way for at least two seasons.

Finishing the season like this (deep in the toilet) is the best thing for the fans because if the Nats were closing strong (like the Padres), the Lerners would stand pat during the off season. This will force them to spend some money to make improvements.

Anonymous said...

If the owners put the same inferior product on the field next year, the franchise is toast. There is no more patience.

DMan said...

Depends on your outlook. They've already played spoiler to the Giants by rolling over for the Rockies. Now they can play spoiler to the Rockies by rolling over for the Braves. Rox finish with 3 at LA while the Braves can feast with 4 at home against our Nats.