The Nats “Could Easily be Eight Games out.” To quote what Ryan Zimmerman told the Washington Post, the Nationals have played terrible baseball over the past few weeks—yet, they remain just 4.5 games out of first place. This is despite the fact that the New York Mets have been working their way through a late-season schedule most clubs can only dream of (complete with stints against the Rockies, Marlins, Rays, more Rockies, Phillies…). Rather than cry over the fact a playoff spot is 4.5 games out of reach, Nationals fans should thank their lucky stars that their team is only a short win streak away from catching up with the Mets.
With that said, Nats fans: do yourselves a favor and do not look at the NL Wild Card standings. Just, don’t do it.
Harper Has the Antibody for Whatever Plague has Infected the Nats. While the Nationals’ offense looks nothing like that of a playoff-hopeful team as of late, Bryce Harper is still playing like Bryce Harper. As evidenced by Friday night’s 8-5 loss to the Giants, Harper can’t single-handedly win ballgames on the Nats’ behalf, but he sometimes comes pretty close to doing just that. His monster two-run shot off Matt Cain pulled Washington back within one run of catching the Giants. Although Harper’s 0-for-4 performance Sunday lowered his batting average four points, Harper tallied one or more hits in each of the other three games of the series.
Next Stop is Colorado. As Nationals fans have already concluded, there are no guaranteed wins in baseball—especially for this Washington ball club. But, the odds of the Nats returning home with a few Curly Ws are a bit higher thanks to the fact they will next face the 48-68 Colorado Rockies. The Rockies have dropped six of their last seven contests. And, if there is but one remedy that could rejuvenate the Nats’ lackluster offense on the road, it has to be a trip to Coors Field.
When Will We Fall Down? Update: The Nats are now one game under .500. Propriety usually demands that a losing team—and that's what the Nats are right now—not speculate on their playoff chances. But in the service of our readership, we report that the Nats are still 4.5 games behind the Mets. Playoff odds, according to FanGraphs, now stand at 30.5 percent.
Something's Always Wrong. There was a lot of drama from Gio on Saturday. The complaint, best as anyone can work out, was that the Giants would get on second base and relay the pitch signals to the hitters, who would then batter the incoming pitch, usually for a double, and so on. I hate the "unwritten rules" of baseball, and few more than this. Sign-stealing has always been a part of baseball. Don't take my word for it. Here's "The Christian Gentleman" and Hall-of-Famer Christy Mathewson, explaining the matter in his 1912 classic "Pitching in a Pinch":
This brings us down to the ethics of signal stealing. Each game has its own recognized standards of fairness. For instance, no tricks are tolerated in tennis, yet the baseball manager who can devise some scheme by which he disconcerts his opponents is considered a great leader. I was about to say that all is fair in love, war, and baseball, but will modify that too comprehensive statement by saying all is fair in love, war, and baseball except stealing signals dishonestly, which listens like another paradox. Therefore, I shall divide the subject of signal stealing into half portions, the honest and the dishonest halves, and, since we are dealing in paradoxes, take up the latter first.
Dishonest signal stealing might be defined as obtaining information by artificial aids. The honest methods are those requiring cleverness of eye, mind, and hand without outside assistance.
The Giants did not obtain information by artificial aids. The base runner was relaying signals by "cleverness of eye, mind, and hand without outside assistance." If you don't like it when hitters do that, don't give up damn doubles.