The Closing Window Of Opportunity
Greetings From The Booth!
The Booth is a bit steamy this week as August is being dragged out screaming and kicking. As we turn our attention to September, there is a lot to look forward to on the sports front. In golf, The US Open this year will be held September 17-20 at the famed Winged Foot Golf Club in New York. The coronavirus-shortened MLB season will enter it’s second half, the Kentucky Derby happens on the 5th (without all those crazy hats and mint juleps), and at least for now, college football and the NFL will give it a go next month.
In this edition of VFB, I wanted to talk Nats and Caps, and we’ll start with the Nationals. With a shortened 60-game schedule this year, it was important, if not imperative, that the Nats got off to a strong start, unlike the infamous 19-31 start of 2019. Well, that’s exactly what has happened. As of this writing, the Nationals are 11-16 with just 33 games left. The good news is that no one is really sprinting away with the NL East. The bad news is that doing the eye test on the Nats, several things are visible.
The starting pitching is nothing like the 2019 “Big Four” of Scherzer, Strasburg, Corbin, and Sanchez. Although Max has been ringing up the K’s, he has also given up the long ball. Strasburg is lost for the season, and Sanchez has yet to recapture his 2019 form. Corbin has been the most consistent, but that’s like Dean Wormer congratulating Hoover for having the best grades in the Delta House. Austin Voth is ok until he faces a lineup the second time, and Eric Fedde is struggling again this season. The bullpen, meanwhile, is without Sean Doolittle, and lacks consistency.
Offensively, Juan Soto may be the best player in baseball right now.
Trea Turner has caught fire, as has Adam Eaton. Newcomee Eric Thames has yet to produce on a regular basis, and Luis Garcia has stepped in and done a good job. Carter Kieboom is a project at third for the Nats, who certainly miss Anthony Rendon.
It will be interesting to see if the Nationals just chalk up this crazy 2020 season to the coronavirus, or will GM Mike Rizzo make some moves before the August 31st trade deadline and make a run for a second consecutive World Series title.
Finally, just a few words about the Washington Capitals, who are making tee times this week. To no one’s surprise, head coach Todd Reirden was fired shortly after the Caps bowed out for the second straight year in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. For a team that captured the Cup in 2018 and had most of it’s core group from that championship, that’s not acceptable.
It wasn’t so much that the Capitals lost to the Islanders (and former coach Barry Trotz), it was the way they lost, in five lifeless games.
If not for Alex Ovechkin, who scored 2 late goals in Game 4, the Caps would have been swept out of the postseason without winning a game.
The Capitals looked uninspired and unprepared, and that is on the head coach.
Note to owner Ted Leonsis: get out your checkbook and pay Ovechkin, the greatest player in DC sports history. Keep him here. Get him some defensive help with the $11 million you’ll have with the almost certain departure of Braden Holtby. And find a head coach who can motivate a veteran core of players past the first round of the playoffs.
The window of opportunity is closing.
Until the next visit, GO NATS, GO CAPS, GO HORNETS!