Other than the Washington Capitals no other team in Washington DC has had as good a chance to achieve the ultimate goal in their sport as consistently as the Nationals in recent years. The perpetual curse of the DC sports fan it seems is to make it most of the way up that mountain before crashing (as harshly as possible) back to reality. In the post-mortem for the most promising seasons it always seems that there was something eminently avoidable at the root of all the problems.
It’s true that sometimes losing in the postseason simply happens because sports are cruel and unpredictable. But more often — especially in sports where the postseason is built on series — it’s because the team you lose to did something small just a little bit better.
In DC we witnessed this most recently with the Capitals losing to the more well-rounded Pittsburgh Penguins two years in a row. Coach Barry Trotz was forced to send out defensive pairings that were overmatched because the team didn’t address their weak spots in time to build true chemistry. In 2016 the Nationals management didn’t put together enough offense and relief pitching to win a series where Max Scherzer suffered a fluke loss. There just always seems to be something.
2017 is the year for the Mike Rizzo and his crew to address the finer details. Not the details required to win 95 games, but rather the details required to win the 11 games that really count. It’s time to put the final pieces in the center of the puzzle.
As a DC fan living abroad (in the wilds of Pittsburgh) there is not only a perception that Washington sports are cursed, but that they’re somehow the little cousin of real sports cities. Despite the city having a storied history of great athletes and multiple championships it isn’t Boston, New York, Pittsburgh, or Chicago so there’s no reason to worry about meeting them in the playoffs. Not, at least until they get past the second round.
I’m not a general manager and can’t pretend to know how to put together a squad that will win the World Series and strike fear into the heart of all the “real” sports cities out there. I won’t harp on the bullpen issue here (though I reserve the right to do so in future articles), we all know that is a problem and presumably Mike Rizzo is working on it. But that issue as well as others will be required to get this team humming in time for October baseball.
I truly think this team has the talent to capture a championship for the city, and I would hate to see another DC team fail to achieve it’s potential because of a single missing piece.
Beware the missing pieces.Tags: Nationals, Nats, Washington Nationals