- Obama ‘cavalier’ in hiding foreign aid order, judge rules
- Prince Charles: Muslims are driving Christians from Mideast through persecution
- Gitmo’s first commander: Close the prison down
- Google’s newest photography find: Just wink and shoot
- Detroit’s Heidelberg art project hit by 8 fires in 8 months
- Pa. police pull people over for random DNA tests for feds
- NASA pushing hard to get back into space game
- Harvard student to face federal charges for bomb hoax
- Ronnie Biggs of ‘Great Train Robbery’ fame dies, 84
- Pope Francis wins another ‘Person of the Year’ — from gay rights magazine
DALY: Nationals unscathed after their trial by fire
The Washington Nationals have the best record in the majors. Say it often enough, and it begins to sound like: “We’ve put a man on the moon!” (or something similarly historic).
But a glance at the standings — a lingering glance, because there’s such a wonderful strangeness about them — confirms that the Nationals were, indeed, a vertigo-inducing 71-43 going into Sunday’s series finale against Arizona. And unlike the last time the franchise reached such heights, in 1994 (as the Montreal Expos), the players association isn’t going to go on strike and spoil the fun. The Nats will be allowed to fulfill their destiny, whatever it may be.
You think of Walter Cronkite’s words after Neil Armstrong announced the Eagle had landed: “Right now, after seeing it happen, knowing that it happened, it still feels like a dream.” The Nationals‘ recent play inspires a similar sense of disorientation because, well, Washington hasn’t exactly been the capital of the hardball universe over the decades. In fact, from 1972 through 2004, we didn’t even have a horse in the race.
But we do now, and it’s turned out to be quite the thoroughbred. Before the season, I felt a bit skittish about predicting that the Nats would win 88 games and make the playoffs as a wild card. It’s becoming increasingly clear, though, that I was underselling them — by more than a little. It’s scary to imagine where this team might be if it hadn’t been hit by long-term injuries to such core players as Mike Morse, Jayson Werth, Drew Storen and Wilson Ramos, never mind the extended absences of Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman.
But this might be the biggest surprise of all: The Nationals had the organizational depth to weather the storm. They were further along in their development, that is, than it seemed. Consider how they’ve handled the above losses:
Morse: Missed the first 50 games. Record while he was out: 29-21.
Werth: Missed 75 games. Record while he was out: 43-32.
Ramos: Has missed 81 games (and counting). Record while he’s been out: 50-31.
Storen: Missed the first 89 games. Record while he was out: 53-36.
Desmond: Has missed 21 games (and counting). Record while he’s been out: 17-4.
Zimmerman: Missed 13 games. Record while he was out: 7-6.
That’s right, the Nats have managed to stay above .500 while each of these players was on the disabled list. And from May 13 through 30, when they were most depleted — no Morse, Werth, Ramos or Storen — they still found a way to go 8-9. This is why they are where they are, looking down on the rest of baseball. Despite a string of injuries that could have been debilitating, they’ve never destabilized.
In a dugout full of gamers, two players stand out: Tyler Clippard and Danny Espinosa. I mean, how many clubs have a guy like Clippard, a set-up man who can step into the closer’s role at a moment’s notice and put up All-Star-quality numbers (24 saves in 27 chances)? And how many clubs have a guy like Espinosa, a second baseman who can slide over to shortstop and hold the fort — and then some — until the starter returns?
And Desmond, let’s not forget, was scalding the ball when he went on the shelf with a torn oblique. In his previous 20 games, he’d hit .380 with a 1.196 OPS and six homers. But it hasn’t mattered — at least, not so far. The Nationals‘ train has just kept moving on.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Dan Daly has been writing about sports for the Washington Times since 1982. He has won numerous national and local awards, appears regularly in NFL Films’ historical features and is the co-author of “The Pro Football Chronicle,” a decade-by-decade history of the game. Follow Dan on Twitter at @dandalyonsports –- or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- DALY: Rookies RG3, Alfred Morris hold their own against two Browns greats
- DALY: Players soon may equate Redskins with winning
- DALY: Quarterbacks waste no time making impact
- DALY: Just the tip of the iceberg for these Redskins
- DALY: Striking a balance integral to Redskins’ success
Latest Blog Entries
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
- U.S. Army mulls wiping out memory of Robert E. Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson
- We told you so: Conservatives foresaw polygamy ruling
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- EDITORIAL: Al Gore, soothsayer
- Top Democrats reject court ruling over NSA spying on Americans
- HURT: D.C. gets the vapors, calls sequester too much
- Obama mocks Putin, picks gay athletes for Sochi delegation
- IRS pays tax cheats hundreds of millions of dollars
- Army to cut up to 4,000 captains and majors
- Rush weighs in: Maybe Republicans dont dislike Obamacare
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
A libertarian look at breaking news and political trends by author Tom Mullen.
Southern Fried Politics from the Lens of a Persian-American Millennial
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow