Here I am, back in my easy chair for another couple of hours. Then we'll load up the wagon and head north for the home opener. I should be pretty excited. Instead, I feel like I've been clubbed in the head.
My son and I had a great time in Atlanta. Father-son bonding and all. But, daggone, 0-6 to start the season? I refuse to rationalize it anymore (like I ever did?). This team could not afford this kind of start.
I was sitting in surpringly empty Turner Field in the seventh inning yesterday when a young man and his wife plopped down in my row. They had on Nationals hats and she carried a pretty cool Nats mini-backpack. He was from Vienna, graduated from James Madison High just like I did. Moved to Atlanta in 2005. Sat through all three games over the weekend, just like I did. His father flew in and saw two of the games with him. So he had a father-son weekend, too, and enjoyed it except for, well, those pesky losses.
"What concerns me," he said, "is I don't see any fire on this team. Something's wrong."
I wish I could have offered an argument. I could not.
The team will score runs. If opponents keep putting lots of people on base for Dunn, Zimmerman, Johnson, Kearns, Willingham, eventually they'll pay for that? Won't they? Willingham won't always look at a clear strike with the bases loaded? Will he?
But you sense an air of something - defeatism maybe? - EVERY time the other team gets a chance. They make a mistake, we whiff with the bases loaded. The Nats make a mistake, Escobar hits it out. It felt like everyone in the park knew that was coming, including those on the field.
I also don't have a lot of confidence in that pitching staff right now. I can only hope Zimmermann is the real thing.
And it isn't in any way fair to single out one player for this 0-6 mess, but I do wonder if Josh Bard is really necessary? I probably just caught him on a bad day. Or not. I saw nothing that indicates he is any kind of an upgrade. Brian McCann stole a base. Yeah, yeah, he got a great jump against the pitcher but a solid throw still gets him. Flores and Nieves would have wasted him blindfolded.
If I had a dollar for everyone who has told me not to panic yet, I could afford season tickets on the presidential level. So I'm not going to panic yet. But it is not too early to be very concerned. 0-6 and the Phillies and Marlins up next?
I do not have the answer. But something has to be done, and fast.