Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Well, What Else Did You Expect

It's amazing how much emotions are swirling this time of year. With just a few handfuls of games left, each takes on extra importance, and so the natural ups and downs of the season are intensified -- the wins feel even better, putting the team on the right track; the losses feel like they're game seven losses.

Our minds should know that the truth is somewhere in between. But our hearts tell a completely different story.

Read the always excellent Barry Svlruga's game story for a good example of that. He seems morose, and although he'd say that he's just trying to paint the picture of the atmosphere at the stadium, you've gotta think that some of that is heartfelt. Even though it's a job to him, you gotta believe that sputtering games like last night's affect him too. (Despite what Jermoe Holtzman thinks, I'm pretty sure there is cheering in the pressbox.)

All of which is a long way of saying, it's amazing how far the emotions can come in a day. Yesterday, with a three-game winning streak, this team was a contender. A day later, they're deader than Ted Williams.

But, what did we expect? The Nationals started Darrell Rasner tonight, a player who's never pitched above double-A. (Nationals Farm Authority had a look at him earlier.) The Nats would be thrilled to get four innings out of him; instead they got 2+. He didn't dig a huge hole, but with the giant gaps in this team's offense, most any deficit is titanic.

The Nationals bats did little against Ismael Valdez and Scuffy Moehler. They both tossed up their slop, inducing popups and weak grounders, while keeping the Nationals off balance just by changing speeds.

It's a hard game to pick a Lame Duck for. No one was truly wretched, and the Nationals didn't really have many runners in scoring position, so no one failed to come through in the 'clutch'. It's another 'pull a name out of a hat' kind of game, this one going to Vinny Castilla.

Vinny had the hope-creating hit in the ninth inning, but had an ofer up to the point. He misplayed a ball earlier in the game, prolonging an inning. He's been hitting slightly better over the last two weeks or so, but it's almost a given that he would, because he truly was wretched over those previous eight weeks. (Between 6/1 and 9/1, he hit .226/ .293/ .360. That's practically Guzmanesque.)

So, it's not surprising that the Nationals lost this game. Despite the close score, it really felt like they were never in it -- which I suppose started this morning when people opened their papers and saw that Mr. Rasner was making the start.

But it's on to tomorrow. We're facing Dontrelle Willis and Josh Beckett, both of whom have dominated us. As of now, I know what my heard and mind are telling me -- they're strangely in synch.

But if they can pull off the upset tomorrow, who knows? Maybe that heart will start playing the 'what if' game again, brain be damned.

And that's the beauty of this time of year. The tug of war between the rational and irrational as they assess and debate all the possibile permutations between now and October. It's special. And we're really kind of lucky that we're still able to play these games with our minds. And with our hearts.


  • barry's gamer on washingtonpost.com linked to your blog! you're famous!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/07/2005 8:57 AM  

  • Whoa. How'd you do that??!!!

    By Blogger Basil, at 9/07/2005 9:02 AM  

  • The trick is to suck up to Barry -- the same thing works on his chats.

    If you start your question with "Barry, you're the greatest writer since Engels," he's guaranteed to answer it.

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 9/07/2005 9:32 AM  

  • Speaking of Barry chats - today at 2pm!

    By Anonymous Scott M. Collins, at 9/07/2005 11:26 AM  

  • Frank Robinson lost Tuesday's game. In the third with one out and a runner on third and no score, he brings the infield in. Castillo breaks his bat on a roller up the middle that Guzman gets easily for the second out if at normal depth while the run scores. Rasner gets the next out that would have been the third out of the inning. Then there would have been no run-scoring doubles by Hermida and Encarnacion, and the Nat would have trailed 1-0, not 3-0.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9/07/2005 4:49 PM  

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