Friday, September 09, 2005

Operation .500

Auf wiedersehen to our playoff chances. It's time to enjoy the ride, and where we've been.

The season's not over so I'm not ready for the retrospective. Besides, there's still a little bit of work to be done.

One of the themes of the season has been the shifting expectations; it's time to shift them again.

Being four games out might not seem like a lot, but it is when there are three teams above you in the standings.

Look at it this way: the Nationals have 21 games left. Of the 21, only 6 come against teams with worse records (3 against SD and 3 against Barry Bonds).

Even if the team goes crazy and wins 15 of those, they'd still have just 87 wins.

To get to 87 wins, both Houston AND Florida would have to play essentially .500 ball. Houston could go 12-11; Florida could go 12-10.

If they do any better than that, and given Houston's schedule (flippin' Pirates), it's almost automatic that they will, the Nationals will have to do all the better.

I'm trying to be optimistic, but the realist in me is making that hard.

With the playoffs essentially out of the picture, let's focus on another target -- a target we would've been happy with at the start of the season: .500.

In those final 21 games, we'd just need to go 9-12 to reach .500. Sounds easy? Not really. With the way this team is playing, and the difficulty of our opponents -- especially those who will still be fighting for playoff positioning, it's going to be difficult.

But it can be done.

Distinguished Senators has talked about his one goal for the season -- finishing with a better record than the Mets. We have a 1.5 game head start there. I'd be quite content with that, too!

At any rate, it's been a good season; it's been a bad season. But we're at the end game now. Let's see if they can slow the slide and finish .500.

I'll sure as hell take mediocrity over what we had last year.


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