Washington: First in war, first in peace, last in the American League.
That was the old line about the first and second MLB franchises to call our nation's capital home. The Washington Senators v1.0 (1901-1960) and v2.0 (1961-1971) were a perrenial second division team. In 60 years, the first version managed just three pennants and a single World Championship, despite playing in an eight team league. After the original Senators skipped town to become the Minnesota Twins, the expansion Senators finished last four times and second-to-last three times as they compiled ten losing records in eleven seasons before becoming the Texas Rangers.
Other than the league, not much has changed since the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005. The Nats finished at .500 in 2005, good for their best record thus far, but also good for last place in the NL East that year. Since then, they've posted records of 71-91, 73-89, and 59-102, rising as high as fourth place in 2007.
Tonight, they enter their series with the Yankees at 16-45, playing .262 ball and nearly matching the historically bad pace set by the 1962 New York Mets (40-120, .250). At their current pace, they would have the sixth worst winning percentage since the dawn of the twentieth century.
The franchise is in total disarray. In March, Jim Bowden, General Manager and former Yankee front office employee, resigned in disgrace amid allegations of illegally skimming the signing bonuses of Latin American prospects. The most remarkable part of his four year reign of terror was that he acquired a lot of players he used to have in Cincinnati. Good for you Jim.
In the dugout, manager Manny Acta is day-to-day. Not as in injured, as in employed. Various reports are circulating that it's a matter of when, not if, he'll be fired. It may well come during this series, and Acta may well just stay in New York. I agree with Pete Abe that Acta will be the Mets' manager by the start of next year at the latest. Jerry Manuel's act, like K-Rod's, is getting tired. Acta was a coach with the Mets before taking the Nats' job, and he is still thought highly of wthin the organization.
On the field, the Nats are actually swinging the bats well. As a team, they're hitting .259/.344/.410 and all three marks are above the NL averages of .257/.333/.405. On the mound however, it's another story. The Nats are last in the NL in runs per game, ERA, WHIP, H/9, BB/9, and K/BB, and by a significant margin in most of those categories. Opponents are hitting .279/.362/.451 against them, dead last in BA and OBP against, and second to last in SLG, trailing Philly's bandbox staff by just 0.004.
The fire sale will start soon. Everyone save for Ryan Zimmerman is available. There's not much to pick at on the pitching staff: Ron Villone may be a good LOOGY for someone; John Lannan is too young and left-handed to come cheaply. They do have some bats to deal: Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, Elijah Dukes, and former Yankee farm hands Christian Guzman and Nick Johnson. Rumors say Nick the Stick could find himself back in New York with the Mets or back in the AL East with Boston. Regardless of whatever haul the Nats pull for these parts, it's going to be a years-long road back to respectability, even if Stephen Strasburg proves to be everything Scott Boras says he is.
So with ace CC Sabathia taking the mound tonight against Shairon Martis and his career 84 ERA+, this should be a slam dunk. Which is exactly why I'm worried, particularly with CMW slated to go tomorrow. They need to beat up on the pitcher with a lady's name tonight.
Brian Bruney will be activated for tonight's game. If Tomko is DFA'd I'll be overjoyed; if Veras is I'll be satisfied. But if David Robertson finds his way back to Scranton I'm going to lose it.
Enjoy the game, and the vintage video below.
Back-to-back chicken shack
Son of gun better change your act
We're all confused. What's to lose?
You can call this song the United States Blues