Battered, bruised, bloodied Nationals cling to first
Well, let's look at the bright side: young ace John Patterson showed why many baseball insiders regard him so highly, striking out ten batters in eight innings yesterday, as many as Roger Clemens did in six. Also, the Diamondbacks thwarted Atlanta's bid to take sole possession of first place, allowing the Nats to share the honors for a bit longer. Nevertheless, we can't ignore the Nats' awful 5 - 13 record since July 4, or such forboding signs as Jose Guillen's wrist injury resulting from an errant pitch. As the waiver-clearing trade deadline approaches with no sign of major moves, one wonders if this team's lack of owners -- which is largely the result of the ongoing litigation over television rights* -- condemns their heroic efforts to futility. Might the grim realization that the business-end deck is stacked against them explain their seeming loss of competitive spirit? In an interview after last night's game, Frank Robinson wisely set very low expectations for his team as they rest and prepare to take on the Braves at Turner Field on Tuesday. The Nationals would do well just to avoid being swept, but you never know when they'll pull another surprise on us all. Baseball is full of amazing streaks, inexplicable slumps, and baffling turnarounds. To my surprise, only about 38,000 people saw Roger Clemens pitch at RFK on Friday evening; attendance on Saturday was much higher, but 3,000+ empty seats remained.
* Speaking of television rights, TBS will broadcast Thursday's Braves-Nationals game in Atlanta, but if earlier precedent holds, the game will be blacked out across a vast region where no one can see the game at all! Thanks a lot, Mr. Angelos. Any Washington-area fan who attends an Orioles game while this stupid, unjustified blackout of Nationals games continues has no self-respect.