Six reasons to panic after six games

Posted on April 07, 2014 by Andrew Bailey

Photo Credit: Let Teddy Win Blog

We are now six games into the 2014 season and despite being 4-2, we have seen enough to succumb to panic. Between Wilson Ramos' hand, Ryan Zimmerman's inability to throw a ball that doesn't fly into the second row of the upper deck, and Tyler Clippard having given up two earned runs already, the entire fan base is effectively running around in circles with our arms flailing and hair ablaze. The dream of an undefeated season is gone and all hope appears lost.

Not convinced that you should be living under a cloud of forboding doom? Here are six reasons to panic six games into the season...

01. #NATITUDE and "Take On Me" are still actively involved in the Nationals experience.

The outcome of baseball games, as we all know, hinge almost exclusively on a team's current marketing slogan and what song they choose to play during the seventh inning stretch of home games. Even stat nerds wouldn't argue these facts. 

This is a problem for the Nationals, mainly because they're still clinging to #NATITUDE and blaring "Take On Me" like it's 2012, a year in which the team won a Major League best 98 games. Want proof that this one-two punch is dooming the franchise? Look no further than last season, when the team only finished 10 games above .500. What a disaster of a season that was! It's a good thing they fired Davey.

The simplest route to a world championship is this: get every Nats fan to agree on a cool slogan and an even cooler song to play during the stretch, perhaps something from the 1990's that has a special dance to accompany it (just a thought). It's a bit baffling why the team hasn't already done this. Even though you probably couldn't find 10 random human beings to agree on the color of the sky, it just doesn't seem all that difficult to imagine a scenario where every fan of the team would be united in their love of a particular slogan/song combo. 

At any rate, until the team concedes that it's time to let go of the past and start anew with two novelties that have literally nothing to do with actual baseball, it'll be damn near impossible for Jordan Zimmermann to consistently hit the strike zone, Ian Desmond to focus long enough to both field a ground ball and accurately toss it to first base, or Denard Span to feel energized enough to run full speed towards a ball in the gap. The front office is basically asking the players to play with anvils strapped to their backs.

And all of this doesn't even take into account that Teddy has already won a President's Race. Is this team even trying to win?!

In hindsight, we probably should have been flipping out about this stuff sooner. It's not like we haven't known for months that #NATITUDE would be back.

02. Bryce Harper can't hit anymore.

Through the team's first six games, Bryce Harper is batting just .143 and on pace to never hit another home run again. Of course, at this rate, he'll be out of the Major Leagues before his 22nd birthday, so maybe that's not saying much.

All off-season long, the collective fan base seemed sure that this team could only go as far as its young outfielder. As much as he's struggled early, we're lucky we aren't somehow 0-12 through the first week of the season. 

Oh, and he's also 0-for-1 on stolen base attempts, so apparently he can't run anymore either. We are screwed.

03. Matt Williams doesn't know how to make a line-up.

We now have two series' worth of evidence to back up the claim that Matt Williams is hopeless when it comes to putting together a suitable line-up. Desmond seventh?! Harper sixth?! Adam LaRoche penciled in day after day in the Michael Morse Memorial Clean-Up Spot™? It's as if our new manager is dizzying himself up before the game and tossing darts at the roster to put his line-ups together.

If he keeps up this erratic behavior, we'll be lucky to crawl our way to 5-157.

04. We can't beat the Braves.

Anything short of absolute perfection is failure, which is why dropping two of three at home to the Braves is cause for forfeiting the rest of the season's games instead of wasting everyone's time. Never mind that the run differential in the first Braves series was just -4, that the first game of the series could be conservatively described as "controversial," or that we somehow lucked into stealing a game in which Crazy Uncle Matt decided to start both Kevin Frandsen and Sandy Leon. 

The bottom line is, beating the Braves is the only path to the postseason, and the Nats have failed to stay on that path already. The Nationals could literally lose every single other game on the schedule, but would claim a division title by sweeping the Braves. Well, guess what? That dream is already down the drain. 

05. Stephen Strasburg has a losing record again.

Two starts and an 0-1 record suggest that our supposed "ace" may be nothing more than trade deadline fodder. It's the same old crap as last year with Stephen Strasburg, who posted a 3.00 ERA, 1.049 WHIP, and 3.21 FIP a season ago and still finished 8-9. 

It's fair to say we all expected a 30-0 season from Strasburg this season, but again, dreams have been dashed just one week in. The question now is whether or not he'll ever finish a season with a record above .500 again. That he isn't 2-0 with two perfect games under his belt at this point in the season does not bode well.

06. There are still 19 games left against the Marlins.

While everyone was all up in arms about beating the Braves, we forgot about the upstart Miami Marlins, who currently lead the NL East with a commanding 5-2 record and have a +21 run differential. If you extrapolate their early season performance across the balance of their games, you get... well, you get a lot of really impressive statistics, that's what.

This is damning for the Nationals, of course, because we've yet to match-up with the Marlins, though a three game set does go down this week. That series will more or less determine the fate of the franchise, but consider me concerned with how many games are left on the docket against this budding juggernaut. After all, if we can't get a win on a day the Braves start David Hale, how will we ever deal with the Marlins' menacing front end of Jose Fernandez, Nathan Eovaldi, and Henderson Alvarez? The short answer is likely "we won't."

We could all sleep so much sounder at night if we were Marlins fans. That fan base is so lucky.

next up:

Anthony Rendon vs. Danny Espinosa

April 04, 2014

Rendon won the starting second base job heading into the season. After the series against the Mets, is his job safe?

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