Seriously, how do you do this? I don’t know how you can handle this if you were a Nationals fan. I’m enraged, and I honestly don’t have any strong feelings either way for Washington. But these are the playoffs. You won your division. You finished with the best record in baseball. As the Nationals/Expos should know as a franchise, these types of seasons don’t happen very often. And once they do, it is damned hard to capitalize* the opportunity. Billy Beane flat out said it in the end of Moneyball.** This may not be an exact quote, because I don’t have the book in front of me, but it was something like “My shit doesn’t work in the playoffs. It’s too random. Too small a sample size.” The A’s have figured out how to squeeze out every win over 162 games. But there’s just not enough games to do that in October. And you certainly can’t do that if you decide you can go without your stud pitcher.
*No pun intended, but it was appreciated.
**The book, anyway. If I remember right, the whole “does nothing in the playoffs, certainly no sliding” thing was pretty well glossed over or ignored in the movie.
And, boy, if the Nationals could have trotted out a Strasburg-Gonzalez duo for the playoffs, that would have been a scary team. You can almost bank on two wins every series. Three if you can rush one out on short rest. Probably Gio in this case, because clearly Strasburg’s elbow is made of spit and rubber bands. After pulling this move, I can sincerely say, at this moment, anyway, I hope the Nationals miss the playoffs the next few years, and a very frustrated Strasburg demands a trade or walks in free agency to get a shot in the playoffs. This is clearly a franchise who just doesn’t deserve players of this caliber if this is how they are going to treat them. Seriously, I know teams have to make a lot of tough choices about who is on the playoff roster or not. But this is a guy who clearly deserved a spot, deserved a shot. Wanted this shot in the worst sort of way. But was kept away by, in my view, irrational fears of management. Whatever Strasburg was originally entitled to as a playoff bonus or playoff share, the team really ought to double it. Because this was mangled terribly, and fans of baseball everywhere should be outraged.
In other news, if I were going to play hooky, this would have been the day to do it. I thought that yesterday, but that was before I saw today’s schedule. One o’clock start in Cincinnati for game five. Possible deciding game in Washington at four. Another possible deciding game in New York at 7:30.* And then wrap up the day with a game five in Oakland at 9:30 to see if the A’s can finally break through against Justin Verlander.
*Though I do believe in my heart of hearts that the Orioles will force a game five.
If you can’t get excited about a day like this, then you can’t call yourself a baseball fan. I might even go so far as to say a sports fan.
Anyway, I’ll keep it short today. I’m going to say the Reds gut it out today behind another strong Mat Latos outing. The Cardinals will most likely close out the Nationals. The Orioles will beat the Yankees in another tight one. And I think the A’s are going to pull this off. I don’t really have any evidence or any real argument behind why I think the A’s are going to do this, I just feel it in my gut.
We’ll wrap it up tomorrow, as well as an abbreviated football forecast.