ESPN had a poll up today, and well, it went a little something like this:
That’s right, 46% of respondents at the time I looked thought that the Nats team is the worst in sports. Why is this? Well, I’m pretty sure it’s because ESPN REGULARLY TELLS PEOPLE THAT THE NATS ARE THE WORST TEAM IN SPORTS. Otherwise, I just don’t get it. Let’s go over the transgressions of this team:
- They suck. Their record is turrible – This is true, they do suck, much worse than other teams in baseball right now. But people understand that they can actually hit the ball, and that if their bullpen stabilized in any way they are more like a .400 team than a .200 team.
- The Natinals – Eat it. That’s a non-story. It’s happened to other teams too, and yet it’s only funny cause it’s the Nats. Blame the Nats seamstress. Oh wait, they get the jerseys delivered from Majestic Athletic…
- Jim Bowden – I only saw Keith Law and this guy screaming for his head. Most other people kept their mouths shut. And guess what: they fired him! The worst team would have kept him.
- Smiley Gonzalez – Again, this is more evidence that they WERE the worst team and things are better. They’ve gone in and completely revamped their Dominican system.
Maybe the poll should have been “Were the Nats the worst team in sports in late 2008?” And in comparison to other baseball teams, they are closer to their last .500 or better season (4 years ago, 6 for over .500) than the Pirates (17), the Reds (8), the Royals (6) and the Orioles (12). In terms of futility, there are plenty of teams that have gone longer without winning seasons.
But maybe they’re talking about the team RIGHT NOW. No history at all, only today counts. Just at this moment. Well, I don’t think they’re the worst team in sports right now by a longshot. They have the worst record in baseball. Despite having a pretty strong offense, and probably NOT being as bad as they are with any bullpen help, I’ll concede that at this particular moment, they are the worst team in baseball.
But sports? How about, I don’t know… the Detroit Lions? The only team ever to go 0-16 in football. That wrapped up 6 months ago! The Rams and the Chiefs each won two games last year, putting them at a .125 winning percentage. Which in baseball is equivalent to going about 21-141. So baseball doesn’t quite work that way, but I’d say the despair in Detroit should exceed that in Nationals Park.
Moving over to basketball… how about the LA Clippers and the Sacramento Kings this year? And the Wizards? The Wizards have some hope with Arenas coming back. But maybe hope doesn’t count, otherwise people might have noticed that the Nats are throwing Lannan, Martis, Zimmermann and Detwiler out there, guys who could form the backbone of a winning rotation if given the opportunity.
Of course, I don’t blame ESPN readers for their opinions. It’s the people reporting, 99% of the time they act as if the only thing good on the Nats has been Dunn and Zimmerman. For example, one site I love is rotoworld. Absolutely the best site, I think, for finding out the latest news on players, especially injuries and trades. And here’s what they had Wednesday:
Weak offensive team? That’s just laziness. I mean, offense is the one out of let me think ONE things that are truly going well in Washington. The young starting pitching is nice. The knowledge that the bullpen will probably regress into something bad but not the worst of all time is nice, too. Because you expect them to win a few extra here and there. And of course the draft. But really, the offense is the ONE GOOD THING. And they said it was BAD! 2nd in OPS in the NL, 3rd in OBP and SLG, 4th in HRs. 6th in runs per game, and that after their worst offensive week of the season.
If the only ones who can play are Dunn and Zimmerman, how is NJ doing so well? Anyone notice that Josh Willingham is hitting .252/.376/.550? That ranks as the best OPS of his career. Guzman is once again hitting well over .300, ranked 11th in the NL in batting average, 18th in the majors. The rookie pitchers have shown a great deal of promise, despite poor ERAs (which owes some to the poor defense). Zimmermann has more Ks than innings (54 to 52) with only 14 walks. Detwiler has looked downright nasty at times. Lannan has a 3.68 ERA, Martis looks like a slightly younger Lannan and is 5-1.
Stop being lazy. I’m not making the case that the Nats are good, they’re not at all. The Nats are bad, they can’t buy a win, can’t pitch their way out of a whatever, can’t field for whatever, this is all true. But they’ve got an offense, some very promising young pitching, new management that seems to be more than competant, and the money to go make things happen. Plus tonight they are going to have a shot at perhaps the best prospect ever. Get over the complete lazy dismissal, and understand that there’s something here.