Well that was a fun weekend.
One of the things that fans of new teams do is to try to insinuate themselves into the time-tested rivalries that surround them. I remember when Rockies fans suggested that they had displaced the Giants as the Dodgers' bête noire, ignoring “Is Brooklyn still in the league?”, Marichal vs Roseboro, and over 100 years of geographical hatred. Rockies supporters felt the need to get in on the action.
Nationals fans, to the extent that they care, emphasize our tangles with the Mets and Phillies. Not without reason, either – in 2007, the Nats played tough against the Mets and then obediently rolled over for Philly, playing a vital role in the Mets' historic, hilarious choke job.
We're missing the real target, though: the damn Marlins. Back in the day (by which I mean 2005), Florida was the only thing keeping us out of not last place, and while the Nats stagnated, the Marlins thrived. Their minor successes function as a lie detector for the Nats, and in fact for every other team that claims to be shackled by a lack of money. While Washington's management whines that they can't sign the big ticket free agents, Florida leverages their remarkable talent evaluation skills to put together good teams for less than other, dumber organizations spend on their losers.
More immediately, most the 2009 season for the dozens of baseball fans in Miami and Washington has consisted of the Marlins beating the Nats every single time. At least they're mixing it up a little bit. The first series, back in Florida, adhered to Manny Acta's lovely sum-up of the Nats/Fish relationship: “Their offense was just overwhelming; they overwhelmed us with their offense.”
The recently concluded series in Washington was different, but still a bit repetitive: in all three games, the Nats took a lead into the ninth, blew, and went on to lose. Three times in a row. Yeah, maybe it's closer Joel Hanrahan's fault, but so what? It's not like we've got Goose Gossage sitting on his hands in the bullpen. The Nats are now 1-10, and they obviously should have won at least three of those ten.
So clearly, our top rivals are the Marlins: neither one of us has any money, and Florida keeps beating the crap out of us. The entire Nationals organization (such as it is) should be devising ways to deal with this teal menace. We're not going to get anywhere until we take care of these guys. I just hope, for the sake the little curly W dignity that I have left, that the Marlins are for real – if they got from a Nats-fattened 10-1 to fourth place in the fall, I'm going to have another humiliation to throw onto my ever-growing pile.
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Written by Ryan Moore