When Davey Johnson claimed last winter that the Nationals' modus operandi this season was "World Series or bust," it didn't seem so far-fetched.
The same lineup that won a league-high 98 games remained more or less intact, while the additions of Denard Span, Dan Haren and Rafael Soriano -- not to mention a full, non-shutdown season of Stephen Strasburg -- would only bolster it.
But then the offensive well dried up, Strasburg received no run support (and allowed a grand slam at the worst possible time), Haren became the worst starter in baseball, Soriano's acquisition screwed up Drew Storen's psyche, Bryce Harper ran into walls and everything fell apart as a result.
With 55 games remaining, Washington is three games under .500, a season-high 10 games behind first-place Atlanta in the NL East and 6.5 games out of the final wild card spot.
“I don’t regret saying ‘World Series or bust,’” Johnson said. “It looks more like bust. This is my last go-around, anyway. What I want to do is what’s best for the organization. I want this ball club to continue being a first-division ball club. The Lerner family has done. [Mike] Rizzo has done that. We’re just not holding up our end on the field. They’re going to run me out of here, anyway. But I am optimistic with this team.”
Of course, the Nationals aren't completely out of it yet (though statistical and historical analysis would say otherwise), but this sounds vaguely similar to Mike Shanahan's claim after the Redskins fell to 3-6 last season that the purpose of the rest of the season was to evaluate players and "see who obviously is going to be on your football team for years to come." The 'Skins didn't lose again for the rest of the regular season.
Can the Nationals go 55-0? Be real, but maybe we'll look back at this as the turning point of the season.
Or, you know, when they threw in the towel.
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