The Nationals have been on a real tear lately, running up an 8-game winning streak as they smite all who enter the Muggy Confines, most recently the Snakes. After breaking even with the Pirates, the Nats came home to sweep the Marlins (the Marlins!), who had totally pwnz0r3d them to date, and then proceeded to whip on the Snakes in a fashion not seen since St. Brendan played exterminator for the Irish. A big part of that has been the defense, which interim manager Jim Riggleman has emphasized and new CF Nyjer Morgan is a major part of. I swear, just about every game I've listened to, Morgan nails 4-5 fly balls that would have been hits, which is a shot in the arm to the pitchers. The pitching has been better because of this, of course, and the offense has caught fire as well. I don't expect the 8-game streak to last long enough to get us past the floundering Mets, but I can dream. And if the improvements keep us from a 100-loss season, well, that'll be good too.
I forgot to mention that the local press is all in a tither about Stephen Strasburg, the Nats' #1 pick in the draft this year. Strasburg is widely viewed as the second coming of Roger Clemens and a lot of the local bloggers are using him as a litmus test for the owners: are they willing to pony up $25 million for a kid who could be an awesome ace, or are they going to cheap out and doom baseball in DC FOREVER! My first reaction to the whole hoo-ha is that some people need to sit down, have a beer and chill the fuck out. One pitcher isn't going to put this team over .500 all by himself; there are enough other problems on the team that a #1 starter (who won't be ready for a couple of years anyway, maybe never if they rush him) is not the last piece of the puzzle. Granted, this is the second #1 pick they'll have been unable to sign, but people need to remember that Washington is a small market. The team is only drawing 19,000 people during a rare winning streak, and the owners can't be making $25 million bets that have a good chance of going sour on them. I sure as hell wouldn't; I'd tell Scott Boras and his protege to stuff their $25 million up their ass and go looking for some decent free agents in the off season. I'll bet you could sign a couple of decent young infielders for 25 big ones, and maybe find a good pitcher or two with the leftover change. Not only that, but next year you'd have an extra draft pick to draft a college player with more talent, or at least less ego.