- The Washington Times - Monday, April 14, 2014


Boston had its Curse of the Bambino, caused by trading Babe Ruth. It is clearly a dead curse now since the Red Sox have won three World Series championships since 2004. They went 86 years without one before that. Shouldn’t have traded the Bambino.

I’m convinced the Wizards are cursed by a draft pick made under their previous name of the Bullets. They chose Kenny Green over Karl Malone in 1985. The Curse of the Mailman.

Now I’m wondering what the Nationals did in a previous life to earn a curse, and I wonder if it is ever going to go away.

The Nats played just their 13th game of the season Monday night in Miami against the Marlins. They did so with three members of the top five in their batting order from Opening Day already on the disabled list.

Catcher Wilson Ramos didn’t even finish the opener. He’s probably out another month after hamate bone surgery.

Center fielder Denard Span collided with Atlanta’s Dan Uggla on Friday. The next day, he was on the 7-day DL while being evaluated for a possible concussion.

Third baseman Ryan Zimmerman then broke his right thumb while getting picked off at second base against the Braves on Saturday. See you in six weeks or so.

Plus, starting pitcher Doug Fister has yet to throw a pitch for the Nats. His spring was limited by a sore elbow and now he’s recovering from a lat strain.

Of the injuries, the one to Span is most troubling. He said Sunday he felt better than he did when he suffered a concussion in 2011, the effects of which lingered quite a while. Bones are more predictable in their healing. Head injuries are odd, quirky, and unpredictable. He could be totally fine and ready to return in a week. Or it could linger and cause problems for some time.

It would be a shame if that happened to anyone, but especially to a player and person like Span. He worked so hard to overcome the problems the previous concussion caused. He’s been upfront in discussing that. He felt like he let the Nats down early last season, his first with the team, and was eager to show that the way he ended last season was something he could sustain.

First-year manager Matt Williams said he had a stomach ache after the Nats needed 10 innings to beat the Mets on Opening Day. We can only imagine how he feels now as his disabled list threatens to grow longer than his active roster.

Sure, 12 games into a season is way, way, way too early to make any kind of judgments. Assuming positive rehabilitations, all of the injured players will be back and able to play a major chunk of the season. By October, maybe none of this will matter.

But anybody out there who says they aren’t getting a slight sense of deju vu is lying.

The Nats went into the game Monday with a 7-5 record. They were 7-5 last year, too, getting there the exact same way. They swept the opening series, went 1-2 in the next series, swept the next one and then got swept in very convincing fashion by the Braves. General manager Mike Rizzo can claim Washington is a better team all he wants. He did so before Sunday’s game, won by Atlanta 10-2. The results speak loudly the other way.

“Great games, and they’ve come out on the winning side of it more than we’d like,” Rizzo said, as quoted by NatsInsider.com. “But we feel confident against this team. We feel we’re better than this team. We respect them and we respect their organization. But we don’t fear them. We think we’re the better team, and at the end of the day, we’re going to come out on top.”

Admirable attitude, if a little misguided. Atlanta is the defending NL East champion and has won 18 of the past 25 games against Washington, including five of six this season. Think it, but maybe don’t actually say it until you win a series from them at the least.

Hmmmm. Maybe that’s it — the Curse of the Braves. Years back, when the Nats weren’t very good, they generally did very well against Atlanta. Now that they are quite good, the Nationals can’t seem to beat the Braves at all. They can deny the Braves are in their heads. The results say otherwise. The Nats play like Little Leaguers a lot of the time against Atlanta and I owe many Little Leaguers an apology for that analogy. Baserunning mistakes they don’t normally make, fielding mistakes they don’t normally make. It all adds up to a team being in their heads.

But, hey, it’s early.

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