- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
- Dick’s Sporting Goods lays off 478 PGA golf pros
- Senators: Cease-fire must allow Israel to defend against rockets, tunnels
- Sierra Leone doctor fighting Ebola catches disease
- Iraq welcomes Russian fighter jets, helicopter gunships into ISIL fight
- John McCain laments: Obama’s ‘self-pity … is really kind of sad’
- GOP offer to fix VA gives $10 billion in emergency funds
- Paul Ryan offers to repair U.S. economic safety net with a single grant stream
- Kim Jong-un builds bond with Putin: $250M Russia-backed addition to key port opens
- Pope Francis meets Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese woman sentenced to death
HELLER: Enjoy Nats’ start, but proceed with caution
Question of the Day
It might be hard, but let's not make World Series reservations just yet for the 12-4 Washington Nationals.
So far, 2012 has been positively supercalifragilisticexpialidocious for the Nats and their hardy band of overachievers. Is that really Davey Johnson standing calmly in the dugout? For a moment, I thought it was Mary Poppins.
As the radio and TV announcers annoyingly keep reminding us, though, this is still a "young" season. The Nats have played about one-tenth of their schedule, which means a continuation of this magic would mean a record final record of around 121-41. And we all know that ain't gonna happen.
So let's not break up the Nats, as folks used to say about all those old Yankees powerhouses. In fact, injuries already have partially done that, even if nobody wearing a curly "W" seems to realize it.
Every season produces one or two clubs that tear up the pea patch in April and early May only to disappear. We had an example of that hereabouts in 2005, when the first-year Nats somehow went 50-31 during the season's first half as thousands rocked the stands at RFK. The second-half numbers were the same in reverse, meaning a final 81-81. Where have all the flowers gone, and why so quickly?
(Here's another way you can tell it's early: Albert Pujols has nada dingers and is batting .246 for the unappreciative Angels.)
Don't get me wrong — my fan side loves what the Nats are doing. But baseball, above all other sports, exists on logic. And it behooves us to wonder, logically, how long their marvelous rotation can thrive and survive with about as much support as Mitt Romney gives Barack Obama.
Against nutty Ozzie Guillen's Marlins over the weekend, the Nats scored five runs in two games and won both. Their .243 team batting average ranks ninth in the National League, and their 10 home runs are merely one more than Matt Kemp has bashed for the Dodgers.
Now, it's possible to win big with superb pitching and sickly hitting (see Los Angeles Dodgers, 1965-1966), but it's not likely. Right now, Nats starters Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson and Ross Detwiler are having more problems with their own hitters than with the opposition. The team ERA of 2.34 leads the majors, and that's with Tom Gorzelanny (6.48) included.
If giddy fans need another reason to put hysteria on hold, how about this: The Nats are sort of a walking rehab unit. Their closer, Drew Storen, and best power hitter, Michael Morse, are out until possibly midseason. Another potentially powerful starter, Chien-Ming Wang, has yet to throw a pitch that counts. And Ryan Zimmerman, the "face-of-the-franchise" third baseman, missed Saturday's game with shoulder inflammation. He says it's "nothing," but any health problem for No. 11 makes loyalists shudder.
Then, too, consider the schedule. Nine of those 12 wins have come against the Cubs, Astros and Mets, likely bottom-feeders in their respective divisions. The toughest team the Nats have faced is the Reds, who will go only as far as Joey Votto and his bat take them.
So I'd wait a while before going totally bonkers. The preseason prediction here was for an 88-74 season, which would represent solid improvement but probably not get the Nats into the playoffs. It has seemed all along that 2013 would be the Big Year for Washington baseball, and I see no reason to change that evaluation.
Tell you what — let's check back in a month or so. From May 20 to 27, the Nats will play three games each against the Phillies and Braves, the presumptive bad boys of the power-packed NL East. If Washington is in or around first place after that, you have my permission to get excited.
• For more of the author's columns, go to dickheller.wordpress.com
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- HELLER: Peering into a cracked crystal ball
- HELLER: Jack Pardee a class act during his days in D.C.
- HELLER: Stability is why ACC basketball became a power
- HELLER: Instead of swinging, Eddie Yost just walked away
- HELLER: Not to worry, Nationals' rise is just starting
Latest Blog Entries
By Michael Widlanski
Leveling the battlefield to aid terrorists enables evil to fight on
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Norway expects imminent 'concrete threat' from ISIL terrorists 'within days'
- State Department indicates Nouri al-Maliki's days numbered as Iraq prime minister
- Evidence shows Russia firing artillery into Ukraine: Pentagon
- Hamas orders civilians to die in Israeli airstrikes
- Calif. dolls were meant to spread cheer, not chill
- Obama family set to buy $4.25M desert home in California: report
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq