"We know one thing about this year. We hired the right manager."
(Jim Bowden, via Washington Post, 7/11/2007)
36-52. It is what it is, no need to look back.
With 74 Games remaining, let's look forward. Here are the top 10 storylines for your NAAAts on the other side of the All Star Break, in no particular order:
1. Historically not-so-bad is still not good: 74 games to go -- in order to hit our prediction of a 76-86 record, they've got some work to do. While we're on the topic of predictions, see the above link for our preseason predictions...some completely laughable (*cough* *cough* Nationals team leader in pitching starts, with number of starts: Jerome Williams, 25) others still on track (Number of ejections for Manny Acta, 0). Anyway, the question here is: does this thing get really really ugly the rest of the summer, or do the NAAAts continue to play over their heads (as in, playing like a team that's 16 games under .500 but still feels more like a .500 team somehow sorta kinda.) Out in Vegas, Mr. Dan Steinberg reports not-so-good odds for the home town team (1000-1 to win the NL East, 2000-1 to win the World Series), so he placed a bunch of WNBA bets.
2. Nick Johnson: Will he take the field in '07? Probably not. Next question: will he take the field in '08?
3. Da Meat Hook: Hey, we love a good comeback story as much as you do, but there's no question about trading him. We're not having this conversation. So please don't screw this up, Jim: trade him now, for the love of Jesus Colome. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before cries of 'Save Da Meat Hook!' started to be heard, but...this is a no brainer. In the meantime, it's time to get comfortable with the idea of seeing a whole lot more of Tony Batista the rest of the summer. Yuck.
4. Alex Escobar: One of our favorite things over the last few months has been watching little bits and pieces of information trickle in across the wires about Alex Escobar. He's back! No wait, he had a setback. He's rehabbing again! No, wait, another setback. He's...no, wait, another setback. Now -- all signs are pointing to the imminent return of Alex Escobar, which means he'll be installed in center (goodbye Platoon!), go crazy for about three or four weeks, then suffer a freak injury that'll put him back on the shelf again until next Spring. Then we get to go through the whole process again next season. Rinse, wash, repeat.
5. Trade deadline approaching: So...who else is on the trading block, besides Young? Belliard? Cordero? Ayala? Rauch? Church? Everybody?
6. Rotation: We're having a hard time dreaming up what the rotation will look like on September 1, but Boz's guess is as good as ours. Who'll be the first called up from AAA or AA to replace the next starter who goes down with elbow problems -- Balester? Hanrahan? Lannan? What to do about Hill? Will Jerome Williams return from exile in AAA?
7. He Who Must Not Be Named: Last week we promised that his name would not be invoked on this site until he takes the mound in a major league game, but really, this whole situation with the injections ("It's because that treatment is not approved here in the States yet."), and leeches is just plain weird. The Big Pattsy is a headcase, aren't there plenty of shrinks right here in DC? What are they injecting him with up there in Canada?
8. New Stadium/Old Stadium: It's all going too smoothly over there on the Anacostia. Is this Washington DC? Something's gotta give. Or is this really the end of the road for baseball in old RFK? Next question: how did a blogger score an invite to the Topping Out festivities? How come we weren't invited?
9. The Natosphere or Natmosphere, you know: There are many, many, many blogs out there related to Washington's MLB entry. But many seem to be barely on life support. How many will still be standing by the end of the season? Will The Nationals Enquirer be among the living? Let's hope not. And yes, this is probably the least interesting of all items on our list.
10. [Fill in the blank]. Ok, we can't think of everything. What did we miss?
(AP Photo/Gregory Smith)