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Marty Niland: A lesson to be found in losing streaks

It's been one interesting week since my prediction that the Nationals would make the playoffs with the best record in baseball. It didn't seem so bold at the time, given their 6 1/2-game lead over Atlanta in the National League East and their two-game lead over Cincinnati for the major leagues' best mark. It's amazing, though, how a losing streak can rock some people's faith.

David Huzzard: There is only one September

On Sept. 1, 2011 the Boston Red Sox had the best record in the American League, a 1 1/2-game lead over the Yankees for the AL East and a nine-game lead over the Rays for the wild card. On that same date, the Atlanta Braves had a nine-game lead over the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL wild card. Both teams ended 2011 by missing

Rachel Levitin: No matter what happens from here, Nats' season a success

The past week has been as good a time as ever to reflect on the 2012 baseball season. The kids are back in school, Labor Day's next week, the dog days of summer are behind us, and we've got just over one month of baseball left. That's where everything stands. To break it down, the Nationals are four games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in

Stephen Walker: Drawing motherly comparisons to Davey Johnson

Few people in this world are as unique as my mother, now 74. Often, I marvel at her peerless insights into human nature. Other times, her devil-may-care unpredictability makes me want to scream. Davey Johnson, the Nationals' excellent skipper, is a lot like my mother. Here are seven ways they are alike: Unpredictability: My mother's behavior and schedule are impossible to pin down. She could

Ted Leavengood: Getting some perspective

The month of August - and July before it - have been the two best months in the history of the Nationals franchise. The Nationals have a winning record for every month of this season. But so far they are a combined 33-18 for these past two months, even after the weekend disaster in Philadelphia. In 2005, there was the magical month of June when

Marty Niland: Forget jinxes, Nats are going to the playoffs

Don't read this if you are superstitious. Is the word "playoffs" taboo in your household? Do you use euphemisms to talk about that sort of thing? Then maybe you can find a new argument about the Stephen Strasburg shutdown to read. Believe in jinxes? Stop here. This is for fans who dare to dream. Because the Nationals are going to the postseason. Not only that,

Viewership rise on MASN accompanies Nats' jump in standings

On the heels of the Nationals' rise to the top of the National League East standings, MASN is experiencing equally impressive increases in viewers watching its game coverage as the team continues its push to the postseason for the first time since relocating to D.C. An average of 69,000 viewers per game are watching the Nationals on MASN this season, a substantial increase over the

David Huzzard: Rizzo should be considered NL's Executive of the Year

Livan Hernandez, John Lannan, Jordan Zimmermann, Jason Marquis, and Tom Gorzelanny were the pitchers who took the mound for the first five games of the 2011 season for the Washington Nationals. One season later, and the opening day rotation lined up Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Edwin Jackson, and Ross Detwiler. Four out of five starters is a significant change and two of them

Rachel Levitin: Enough with the Strasburg shutdown hoopla

It's impossible to avoid the name Stephen Strasburg upon mention of the Washington Nationals these days. Everyone around the country from sportscasters to politicians to your average Joe wants to weigh in and share their two cents about why they feel the Nationals' ace shouldn't be shut down later this season due to a post-Tommy John surgery innings limit. I, for one, just have to

Stephen Walker: Enjoying Espinosa more and more

During the dark days of 2009, with the Nationals mired in first place in the Bryce Harper draft sweepstakes, I looked to the minor leagues for solace. I decided to attend a Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) trip to Woodbridge, Va., to watch the Single-A Potomac Nationals, at that time the defending Carolina League champions. Excitement ran high as recent draftees, including Drew Storen,

Ted Leavengood: The bullpen down the stretch

Watching Bryce Harper come alive yesterday afternoon and make the difference in a 5-2 win over the Mets, one that pushed the Nationals' lead on the Braves to five games, was heartening. Nothing could be better than to see the Nationals' best 19-year-old get hot down the stretch. But just as important may have been the performance of Craig Stammen and Tyler Clippard. Both pitchers

Former Senators broadcaster Dan Daniels passes away at age 90

Dan Daniels, the voice of the Washington Senators from 1961-68, passed away after complications from a fall at his Bethesda home on Aug. 13. He was 90 years old. Daniels worked as a television and radio sportscaster in Washington for 22 years, providing play-by-play coverage of the Redskins, Maryland and Navy in addition to calling Senators games. He is survived by three sons, five grandchildren

Marty Niland: Road-warrior Nats overcome past failures

The Nationals are returning home this weekend as conquering heroes. Not only have they completed one of the best road trips in team history at 8-2 and amassed the best road record in the majors, they have been passing key tests that they failed earlier in the season, showing how they have grown and matured as a team. Remember back in late April when the

MASN's Social Media Weekend returns to Nats Park

As a thank you to all fans taking advantage of MASN's digital and social platforms, MASN's Social Media Weekend returns to Nationals Park from Friday through Sunday. Fans will have the opportunity to win exclusive MASN prizes, such as autographed gear, seat upgrades, MASN Nationals T-shirts and gift cards to this weekend's sponsor, Hair Cuttery, including free haircuts for a year. The only way you

David Huzzard: It's a wonderful life in Natstown

This week, the focus on Stephen Strasburg's innings limit has kicked into a higher gear, and as far as the national media is concerned, Mike Rizzo is the Grinch who stole Strasmas. Most of the stories this week have painted the citizens of Natstown as ignorant little Whos too caught up with the winning to be as enraged as they should be. Let us not

Rachel Levitin: With cultural shift comes opportunity

Cultural change comes with winning in baseball. That's why this is a good time to embrace the changes. It's fair to say that the consensus is that this Nationals ballclub is a good ballclub. They've garnered respect throughout their division, league and all of baseball. In fact, they've got the best record in all the game at the moment and continue to set club milestones

Stephen Walker: Choosing to see the rainbows

Lately, in my Ellicott City neighborhood, we have experienced the strange phenomenon of pouring rain falling from half-sunny, half-cloudy skies as thunder booms in the background. Whenever this happens, a rainbow appears right above my neighbor's house. I can see it from my driveway. Strangely, a lot of folks who walk or drive by look irritated by the clouds, rain and thunder. Most fail to

Ted Leavengood: Behind the smiles, a major league staredown

Let's forget the final game in Phoenix, though the Nationals did not go easily in their only loss in nine games. Rather, it is easier to remember the loose and easy smiles all around the dugout and positive demeanor of the eight-game winning streak. What's not to like when you are 27 games over .500 with the best record in baseball? But in truth, there

Marty Niland: The last Washington pennant race in 1945

The kind of success the Nationals are seeing this year isn't even a once-in-a-generation thing. It's more like several generations. A ballclub from the nation's capital hasn't contended for a title this late in the season since 1945, when a Senators team full of rookies, castoffs and even an amputee pitcher made an improbable run that went down to the last week of the season

David Huzzard: Nats capitalize on their schedule to find success

At 68-43 with 479 runs scored and 396 runs allowed, the Nationals have played great baseball. But one of the best things the Nationals have done is take advantage of opportunities on their schedule. The Nationals started the season on the road against the Cubs, who were believed to be in rebuilding mode before the season began, and the Mets, who were projected to be

Stephen Walker: Gio Gonzalez is his own worst enemy

Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez possesses unique talent. A left-handed power pitcher in a division full of rivals who struggle against southpaws, his performance and joie de vivre plays a vital role in the Nationals' stirring success so far this season. That's important, because Washington traded four top prospects to get the two-time All Star. Gonzalez, with his wide smile, otherworldly curveball and 13 victories, has

Ted Leavengood: LaRoche a very substantial bird in the hand

For the four games against the Marlins, Adam LaRoche was 7-for-15 with three home runs and seven RBIs, an amazing offensive display. It has always been said of LaRoche that he is a strong second-half player, but no one could have understood just what others were talking about until this past month. He is hitting .457 for the last two weeks with seven home runs,

Marty Niland: Jordan Zimmermann finally gets his due

It looks like Jordan Zimmermann's teammates - along with the rest of the baseball world - are finally starting to appreciate him. Of all the moves Davey Johnson has made this season, the best may have been resetting his pitching rotation after the All-Star break with the 26-year-old right-hander at the top. Zimmermann has been the team's most consistent pitcher all season, with an major

David Huzzard: A little love for the long men

A good team, a winning team, is made up of a couple types of players. These are stars and role players. The guys that play their roles will never get as much credit as the Ryan Zimmerman, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg or Gio Gonzalez-type players, but they are equally important to any winning team, and at 62-41 that is what the Nationals are. One of

Rachel Levitin: Which Nationals player is worthy of Ring?

Forgive me while I sin momentarily and dream of baseball that has yet to played. And, no, I'm not talking about Washington baseball in October or the remaining games of the 2012 season. I'm talking about way out into the future, decades down the line. The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., inducted two new members on July 21. Then a week or

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