The Washington Times - June 18, 2009, 12:35PM

We’re about a half-hour from the (scheduled) start of the series finale between the Nats and Yankees, but the actual start time will be at some later hour — or perhaps a later date. It’s supposed to rain most of the day, but there’s talk of the crucial “window” to play a few innings between systems. We’ll keep you updated.

In the meantime, I just wanted to look back at last night’s 3-2 win—a game that Manny Acta again called an “emotional” victory this morning. It’s not going to save the Nationals’ season or give it any relevance. But I think it shows us a few things about the state of this team and how players are responding to Acta.


For one, I think it does lay waste to the idea that this team has given up or tuned Acta out. There was plenty of life in the dugout in the ninth inning, and Adam Dunn said, “I forgot how happy I could be after a baseball game.”

This wasn’t a team that’s stopped playing hard. We saw it again  last night—the thing that’s stopped them is when they’re not playing smart. Take away the errors and the bullpen meltdowns—all the things that make bad teams bad—and you see a different result.

Consistency, though, is a different thing, and it will be interesting to see how the Nats come out today (if they come out at all). I’ve heard a few things that lead me to believe the Nationals are looking for a reason not to fire Acta, and he could give them one if they can build on last night’s win with another one today or a decent homestand against a couple of tough AL East opponents in the Blue Jays and Red Sox.

I still believe the only reason Acta’s name has surfaced in rumors is because the Nationals feel like they need somebody to offer up as a scapegoat for the losing, not because the front office has stopped believing in him. His fate could ultimately be decided by how much one outweighs the other.