If the Washington Nationals were to take advantage of a potential collapse of the Cincinnati Reds, whom they are currently eight games back of, that would be both a miracle and incredibly exciting based on how most of this season has gone.
Washington would easily become the sexy pick again to win it all as an emotional win in a Wild Card game could catapult them to the promised land.
The chances of that happening exist, but it’s dwindling down to a pipe dream. The more likely scenario is that Washington will play strong baseball down the stretch and finish right on the outside of the playoff race, leaving fans with the dreams of what could have been, and a long, cold winter filled with clamoring for big-name free agents, releases and trades of players that are either untradeable or pivotal to the team’s success in 2014 and beyond.
Let’s just say Washington flips the script and somehow manages to make the playoffs — would it really be good for them?
Now, think about this for a minute. Throughout baseball history, teams have made the playoffs out of nowhere and after taking their exit, have not made the necessary changes to either continue the playoff tradition, thinking the team as is was good enough to win again the following season and for years to come.
An example of this is the 1973 New York Mets, who made the playoffs and won the NL Pennant with 82 wins before losing the World Series. The Mets pulled this off with a hot last week of the season, and would follow the “Ya Gotta Believe!” 1973 season with a 71-91, fifth-place finish the next year.
Now, it’s pretty obvious this Nationals team is nowhere near as flawed as that Mets team, and there is little belief this team will lose 90 games next season, but Mets management let the lights of the playoffs and World Series blind them from the fact that their team was bad for most of the season, and changes were necessary to the continuity of the team’s success.
Washington preaches continuity and stability under Mike Rizzo, but Rizzo always does have a plan, so it’s pretty safe to say that if Washington does turn things around, there will be changes regardless. But, for all intents and purposes, Washington is probably much better off missing the playoffs this season, because it will put a realistic perspective on what this season has been for the Nationals — both nightmarish and frustrating.