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Monday, April 13, 2009

Dazed and confused

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.


bdrube said...

You might as well start to panic and get it over with. This whole franchise is in deep, deep trouble. Check out the front page, above-the-fold story in yesterday's Post about how all the mega-real estate projects around the stadium are collapsing. The Lerners themselves built a ten story office tower that is now sitting vacant, presumably costing them millions of dollars.

Combine that with the team refusing to release ticket sales figures, the miniscule televison ratings and the utter lack of true prospects in the minor league system and you have a franchise that would be in trouble even if they hadn't started 0-6.

MikeHarris said...

Hey - you're supposed to make me feel better here, not worse!
But I can't argue a single point you made.

An Briosca Mor said...

The Lerners' building sat there empty all last season too. How come no one noticed it then and instead kept saying that they certainly had the money to spend, so why aren't they spending it? They've actually spent money this offseason. Ticket sales down or not, this franchise is in a lot less trouble than many others are. I bet they do a better job of filling the house for their opener than the Marlins and Braves did for theirs.

Sec314 said...

I don't know if it will make you feel any better, but I went to James Madison HS too.

bdrube said...

Oh, I noticed the Lerner's empty building last year. I remember looking at it and all of the other construction cranes and thinking, "how are they going to fill all this space in THIS economy?"

I'd be willing to bet that the Nats' attendance this year falls below 20,000 per game (unless they have a dramatic and highly unlikely on field turnaround). And I say that even though I'm a season ticket holder who will likely attend at least 20 games this year.

And Mike, sorry to be a bummer. I really want the Nats to succeed the way the Ravens did when they moved to the East Coast (and I became a season ticket holder for them). I guess I'm just a realist.