Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Collapse of the Nationals

The dream season of the Washington Nationals came to a nightmarish end last night. The youngest team in baseball…looked it. After exploding out of the gate with 6 runs in the first 3 innings, it was going to take a monumental collapse and an epic comeback to end the Nationals’ season. Unfortunately, the long suffering Washington fans got both.

There are a multitude of ways to lose a game, and no one player or one play is ever solely to blame. But it is possible, in hindsight, to find the reason. Here it is. One stat tells the tale. The St. Louis Cardinal pitching staff issued one walk the entire game. The Washington Nationals pitchers issued a maddening 8 free passes. While bases on balls are never a good thing, they are especially toxic when you have a 6 run lead. If you’re going to be the victim of a heroic comeback, at least make them put the ball in play. Gio Gonzales wasn’t up for the challenge of October baseball. The 21 game winner pitched 10 innings in this series and issued 11 walks. The poor guy couldn’t throw a strike when it mattered to save his life. Do the Nationals make the playoffs without him? No way. Did he perform like their ace when they needed him? No way. But the bull pen wasn’t much better under the pressure of an elimination game. Both Edwin Jackson and Drew Storen walked two of the batters they faced and each of them scored.

None of this is meant to diminish the incredibly clutch performance of the Cardinals. They deserve everything they got. Any rational baseball fan has to admire the amazing fortitude and grit with which they compete. I just wish they had been forced to hit their way to glory. But, that’s baseball, and sometimes baseball can be a little bit like hell.

So, thanks Nationals, for entertaining me for the past 6 months. You have been fun to watch, and even though last night was agony, there’s always…next year.

PS...My wife stayed up to watch this game with me. Pam hates sports, and especially hates watching sports on television. That she would stay with me until after 12:30 in the morning tells you all you need to know about her awesomeness. On the other hand, maybe she was just worried that I might have a heart attack and didn't want to leave me alone!! Either way, thanks sweetie!