Sunday, September 30, 2007

As Tears Subside, I Find It All Amusing

There's plenty of time for the analysis later. For now, it's just the realization that the season is over, the third such for our Nats. Each season has taken on a distinct feeling, and although the ultimate result was similar in the last two, there are certainly many more reasons to be an optimistic Nats fan today than there were just a year ago.

It's strange, too. In my heart, I feel like there's a lot to like. Yet, my brain says that this year didn't really demonstrate much. We didn't really learn anything new about the bulk of our players. We just sorta treaded water, with a few developments along the fringes. Yet, it feels good. 89 losses never felt so good. Svrluga framed it best: "Rarely has mediocrity been deemed so glorious" (well, at least if you ignore the passivity of the sentence!)

Over the last few weeks, there's been far too much strutting and preening as the team has bolted past the 'historically bad' category. No reasonable look at the team could put them much below 100 wins simply because 2006's pitching was already incredibly terrible. It's not hard finding a pitcher that's more effective than Ramon Ortiz was. The Nats dug up 6 with a lower ERA than he had in 2005. And Mike Bacsik was only .07 runs behind.

But even as they bolted past expectations that really could've and should've been ignored, they started bolting past predictions that were reasonable. I didn't think they had a shot of reaching last year's record, and yet they passed it. While the division was a bit weaker this year, that's still an amazing accomplishment.

It's that accomplishment that fills us with hope, a belief that a piece here or there is going to be enough to propel us to .500. Or beyond. I believe that in my heart.

But then my head thinks about it a little. Where's that improvement going to come from? The Nats have a lot of near-average players and the kinds of players available on the FA market aren't going to mean that many wins over our guys.

But, like I said at the top, there's plenty of time for analysis later.

For now, I'm happy at what the team did. But sad that it's over.

There's something wonderful about having the game on in the background, listening to the cadence and patterns [ed: insert Bob Carpenter screwing up a flyball call here]. It'll be back soon enough. And this offseason should give us plenty to think about and plenty to over analyze.

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