After two weeks of vacation, with a small window of work mixed in between, I’m tanned, rested and ready to chronicle the Washington Nationals race to next year’s number one pick in the draft in the final month of the season, along with the new Redskins Jim Zorn era and whatever else comes up on the menu.
I was in Spokane, Wash., for a week visiting family, and found that an old friend is there. Former Orioles infielder Tim Hulett is the manager of the Spokane Indians, the Class A farm club for the Texas Rangers. It is a franchise with a tragic past. In June 1946, a bus carrying the team went off the Snoqualimie Pass Highway to avoid hitting an oncoming car and down an embankment. Eight players and manager Mel Cole died in the crash, and six others were injured. Other teams in the Western International League loaned the Indians players to finish out the season.
The second week was a family vacation in Wildwood Crest, N.J. The beach in Wildwood gets wider every year. Most other beaches up and down the coast struggle with beach reclamation, but Wildwood only gets bigger. The lengthy Crest fishing pier stops now at least 200 feet from the water. Someday you’re going to need a passport to get on the beach.
While in Wildwood, I got to watch the Michael Phelps show and some other Olympic events, and the Phillies beat up on the Nationals. During their losing streak, I was wondering if manager Manny Acta would pass up Frank Robinson’s mark of 15 straight losses. When people remember the Orioles 1988 0-21 start, they often assume Robinson lost all of them since he was the manager mostly associated with that team. But it was Cal Ripken Sr., who lost the first six games of the streak and then was fired by Edward Bennett Williams, so Robinson only lost 15 of them.
Acta got close at 12 losses before his team pulled out a win. But the Nationals have 31 games left in the season, so there is still time. Will we be watching growing pains or the destruction of the Jim Bowden regime?