- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2008


The Washington Nationals’ season is three weeks past the halfway mark in a - how shall we put it? - challenging year. Stars Ryan Zimmerman, Nick Johnson and others missed large portions, or in Johnson’s case the entire year. Only three of this year’s players have even had 300 at-bats. This is the old “First in war, first and peace and last in the American -” scratch that, “National League.” This club is compiling “lasts” and “worsts” the way the Yankees acquire all-stars. They’re so bad, it’s fun.Here’s a sampler. The Nats have the worst record in all of baseball. They have the worst team batting average. They have the fewest runs batted in, the worst on-base percentage, the fewest runs scored, the fewest hits and the lowest slugging percentage. Cleanup hitter Austin Kearns clocks in at a .212 batting average (as of Aug. 1). At least the pitching is merely subpar: The team earned run average is 21st out of 30 Major League clubs. “Can’t anybody here play this game?” asked Casey Stengel, manager of the 1962 New York Mets, who compiled the worst single-season record in the modern era.

We don’t mean to pick on the Nats. Things weren’t expected to be rosy, and the Lerners made sure that we all know the team is “building from the ground up.” The Nats rightly turned heads in February when Baseball America declared the farm system to be the ninth best in baseball. The previous year, it was 30th - the worst in baseball - making the change the second biggest of any team this decade. A rising farm team should mean good things a few years from now.”

But we surely would urge the Lerners to stop bullying the District over stadium disputes and questions of revenue at a time when the club seems so far from delivering a product on the field that is commensurate with the city’s investment. The club owes $3.5 million in rent that it claims it is withholding because the stadium construction is “not complete.” Hogwash. The stadium is complete enough to play ball in. The Nationals Park boondoggle cost the city well over half-a-billion dollars in revenues which could have been fruitfully used to fund schools or infrastructure or to fight crime - to name a few city priorities. Have some humility, gents.



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