September 27, 2009
It's probably no big surprise that the Washington Nationals were swept by the Atlanta Braves in the weekend series, but that's not the worst of it. Up in Detroit, meanwhile, the Washington Redskins lost to the Detroit Lions 19-14. It was the Lions' first win since [December 23,] 2007. You think that's bad? Well, how about this: Back in Our Nation's Capital, in RFK Stadium to be more precise, D.C. United lost to the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-1, probably dropping out of post-season contention.
In Saturday's game against the Braves, the Nats gave up four runs in the first inning, the third day in a row the visiting team jumped to an early lead. Unlike before, however, the Nats bounced back, and a three-run homer by Mike Morse brought them to within two runs. Hopes were dashed in the top of the ninth inning, however, when the Braves scored five runs. Final score: 11-5. Another big loss was hard to take.
As the rain clouds lifted this afternoon, it seemed like a brighter day was at hand. Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Willingham had back-to-back homers in the first inning, and clung to a small lead for most of the game, as Livan Hernandez pitched steadily and effectively. In the seventh inning, however, Adam LaRoche doubled in a run to tie the game, 3-3. When Willie Harris led off the bottom of the eighth with a triple, it looked like the Nats would easily retake the lead. Nope. More blown opportunities put the game into extra innings, whereupon the "closer" Mike MacDougal gave up three runs, sealing the fate of this jinxed home stand. Final score: 6-3. See MLB.com.
That game really, really hurt. Just when you think the Nats can salvage a bit of dignity, they just collapse. Something major has to change before next year, and not just the pitching roster. They desperately need a manager who can kick some butt and make the players act like a team for once.
The Yankees and Cardinals clinched their respective divisions this weekend, and the Dodgers, Phillies, and Angels are on the verge of doing so as well. The Red Sox are virtually assured of the Wild Card slot, so the only remaining questions are whether the Tigers can cling to their 2-game lead over the Twins in the AL Central, and whether the Rockies can do likewise over the Braves in the NL Wild Card race. In any case, I have tentatively put teams into the postseason slots on the Postseason scores 2009 table, subject to revision, of course. See the archive of postseason scores.
Speaking of the upcoming postseason, it seems the MLB head honchos are still doing everything they can to kill fan interest in their sport. For one thing, all of the first round divisional series will be carried exclusively by TBS, just like last year. So, unless you are paying for your TV service, you will be out of luck, baseball-wise. What better way to advertize the increasingly non-competitive nature of the sport and the businesss behind the sport, than to deliberately foster a monopoly that shuts out millions of viewers? Dumb, dumb, dumb. But that's not all. Even though many people have complained that the post-season is getting dragged out too much, this year's World Series is scheduled to be played through the first week of November, possibly as late as November 5. Downright stupid! Last October I griped about "how ridiculous it is to play baseball so late into the autumn," suggesting a speeded-up schedule with zero days of rest, unless a team wins a series that doesn't go the full seven games. (I think all three rounds should be seven-game series, both for fairness and economic reasons.) It would also help matters to have more postseason games during the day, at least on the weekends.