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Wild Card Game Is Not a Series

The Washington Nationals host the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Wild Card Game tonight. It is the first time the Nationals have to advance in the postseason since they have moved to Washington. Sure, they could point to their winning the 1981 NLDS in the strike shortened season, but if they want to disavow their Montreal Expos history by doing thinks like unretiring Gary Carter‘s number, they can’t claim this series win.

This game will be the Nationals’ first winner-take-all game since Game 5 of the 2017 NLDS. Tonight’s starter, Max Scherzer, was the loser in that game allowing four runs (two earned) in relief. As luck would have it, Scherzer was the Game 5 starter in the 2016 NLDS, which the Nationals lost to the Dodgers. Scherzer was out of that game before Marc Rzepczynski, Blake Treinen, and Sammy Solis would blow a 1-0 lead in a game the Nationals would lose 4-3.

Since 2012, the Nationals have made the postseason five times over the past eight years. In four of those years, the Nationals would lose in five games.

These Nationals are now without Bryce Harper. Harper proved to be their most clutch player in these situations. In those elimination games, he was 7-for-15 with four runs, two doubles, a triple, two homers, five RBI, and five walks. In some ways, Harper is replaced by Anthony Rendon, who is now the pending free agent, who just turned down a $200+ million extension from the Nationals to test free agency.

Time will tell if Rendon has a different send-off into free agency than Harper.

If the Nationals were to beat the Christian Yelich-ess Brewers, a team which has not played a team even bothering to play a competitive game for a few weeks now, Rendon would do what Harper never did. He would actually advance in the postseason. Winning the Wild Card Game would be winning a round in the postseason.

What it would not be is winning a postseason series. No, to win a postseason series would be to win a best-of-five or best-of-seven series. A best-of-one is not a series. It’s a game; a Wild Card Game. That’s it. So, even if the Nationals do win tonight in what is a massive talent and pitching mismatch, remember, the NLDS stands for:

Nationals
Lose
Division
Series

Now, you could say this is just the bitterness of a Mets fans missing the postseason. On that front, there is some truth to the matter, but personally, I do not harbor the same ill-will of the Nationals as many Mets fans on what I at least perceive to be a conjured up rivalry.

Ultimately, where the bitterness lies is the Nationals treatment of Carter. He was an all-time great, and due to a decision by the Baseball Hall of Fame, one which they applied to him and not Reggie Jackson, he never got the treatment as an all-time great like he truly deserved with the Nationals going so far as to issue his number to Marlon Anderson, Chris Snelling, Aaron Boone, Jorge Padilla, Danny Espinosa, Brian Goodwin, and Carter Kieboom.

As a result, the franchise deserves to never win a postseason series, and they deserve the subsequent ridicule. After all, when you don’t recognize greatness, why should you then be allowing to enjoy it?

One thought on “Wild Card Game Is Not a Series”

  1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    I can only get irritated by the Cardinals, and only because a close friend is such an arse about his favorite team.

    The Nats may have dodged a bullet with Rendon turning down what I heard was 7/210. He’s not a superstar. He just had his best year at age 29, which is less likely to indicate a new level of performance than it is to suggest hitting in good luck. He’ll be 30 next year, so already 2 years removed from his prime age seasons. He rates to be a 5 win player in 2020, and with a normal aging curve rates to put up something like 24 wins over the next 7 seasons. That’s not a guy who drives you to the postseason in any but the first 3 years, and aging curves are trending downwards ever faster. Carrying 30m a year from 2023 through 2026 for a player who rates to be a modest talent by then is not good practice. I’d much rather have greater flexibility year to year and not be hindered like that, but at least Rendon appears to still be an above average 3Bman so the Nats could have moved him to 1B at the appropriate time if he’d taken the deal.

    —I hope they post a suicide watch at Trent Grisham’s digs. Imagine being 22 and screwing up like that, being the proximate cause of your team being dumped as of the wildcard game. He’s about to have one of the worst nights of his life.

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