Hey, did you hear? The Washington Nationals are the hottest team in baseball! They're riding an eight-game winning streak on the heels of a weekend sweep over the stumbling Diamondbacks; sluggers Adam Dunn and Ryan Zimmerman continue to smack tater tots and knock in runs. Heck, they even had two starting pitchers notch their first career wins over the weekend. New Nats manager Jim Riggleman must have subscribed to the Obama-mania newsletter because he has totally wiped away special interests and brought a real winning attitude to Washington.
Except, well, the Nats still have the worst record in baseball, still sit twenty-two and a half games out of first place, are still on pace to lose 105 games this year, and still won't send me any coupons for the Red Porch. But you wouldn't know any of that from reading the latest, super-optimistic AP recap:
Elijah Dukes drove in three runs, Ryan Zimmerman had three hits and the surprising Washington Nationals won their eighth straight with a 9-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.
The Nationals' eight-game run is the second longest in their five seasons in the nation's capital. They won 10 straight from June 2-12, 2005.
That's cute. The story even made the Top AP Headlines RSS feed that I check out in order to know what fat hausfraus in Missouri are reading. But if your average hausfrau read that piece, they'd have no idea that the Nats are 40-72 and about as successful this season as a neutered dog humping a hassock. Statistically, it's not that outrageous to have a terrible team win so many consecutive games especially when their opponents have a combined .450 winning percentage.
So, is this big-league bump due to the recent change at the helm of the USS Screech? Manny Acta had nearly the same lineup in his charge and couldn't even string together four straight W's, let alone eight. Does old school Jim Riggleman make a baseball player perform at a higher level than the sabermetrically-inclined Manny Acta? Mark Grace thinks so:
"All due respect to Manny [Acta], I don't know what kind of job he did here, but I know Jim and I know what he brings to the table," Grace said. "He can get players to play at a higher level than they are used to playing. He is tough, but he is fair. He is honest.
"He is not afraid to tell you [how he feels]. A lot of managers just tell you what you want to hear. Jim is not like that. Sometimes, you have to hear some things you don't want to hear and Jim is not afraid to go that way."
That's all well and good, Gracie, but, as Deadspin showed us this weekend, the Jim Riggleman Era of Good Feelings does not mean that every Nationals employee is succeeding. Check out this brain-melting video of the Nats left field ballgirl watching herself make a huge oopsie on what she thought was a foul ball:
I hope Riggleman tore her a new one after watching that nonchalant reaction to such utter oopsie-ness. And I doubt she was able to participate in any of the hot double creampie action.