Nationals Officially Eliminated From Postseason Contention

It has really been over for a while, but now you can find a fat lady and tell her to sing: one season after finishing the regular season as the best team in baseball and NL East champions, the Washington Nationals have officially been eliminated from postseason contention.

The Nationals' 4-3 loss to the Cardinals -- the same team that dashed their playoff aspirations in excruciatingly painful fashion last fall -- coupled with the Reds and Pirates' respective victories made it mathematically impossible for the Nationals to earn a second October appearance. 

It is sort of hard to believe that it was just six months ago that the Nationals were being trumpeted as World Series favorites; winning the division and making the playoffs were simply formalities.

The excitement of Opening Day, with Stephen Strasburg returning from his shutdown with a vengeance and Bryce Harper hitting two home runs in his first two at-bats, set the tone of what was expected to be a "World Series or bust" season, but things were never really the same after that. Untimely injuries and regressions from almost every key member of the roster were the Nationals' demise. By early August, Washington was six games under .500 and 15.5 games behind in the NL East, a hole too big to climb out of even after winning 24 of 32 entering Tuesday's game. 

The Nationals will now play out the final five games of the season with nothing to play for but pride. A season of great expectations ends with immeasurable heartbreak, and one can only hope that that World Series proclamation was simply delayed.

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