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Marty Niland: Cy Young for Gonzalez? Not a clear-cut choice

Several interesting discussions about the National League Cy Young Award broke out Thursday among some Facebook friends, as Mets fans congratulated RA Dickey on winning his 20th game of the season. Posters and commenters began comparing Dickey and Gio Gonzalez, the only other 20-game winner in the majors this season, and speculating on which pitcher would win. So who does deserve to win the award

David Huzzard: Power up the middle

There is an old saying in baseball about building teams with defense up the middle and power at the corners. Anyone watching the Washington Nationals can see that they have built a team full of capable defenders. The Nationals' infield is the best in the game, getting not just defense up the middle and power at the corners, but receiving power up the middle and

Grab your tickets for the "Teddy in 2012" series

Forget the Mayans. When Teddy Roosevelt finally wins the Presidents Race, we'll know the world is ending. Everyone's favorite lovable loser has yet to win the Nationals' mid-game ritual and, frankly, it's overdue. But while Teddy still sports a goose egg in the win column, the Nationals are presenting him with some time in the spotlight. The Nationals will dedicate the last homestand of the

Rachel Levitin: Playoff baseball is a bonding experience unlike any other

The first thing I wanted to do when I heard the Nationals had clinched their first playoff berth was call my dad. I was standing at a bus stop in Arlington with Twitter feeding me a constant live stream of updates from friends, media members and baseball fans. I'll even admit to getting a little misty-eyed. That's why I wanted to call my dad. He's

Ted Leavengood: The teapot tempest over turnout

On Saturday, Nationals Park was awash in an unbroken sea of red jerseys and caps as 40,000 loyal fans came to enjoy baseball played in remarkably clear, crisp autumn weather. Much has been written about the disappointing attendance at Nationals games. Too much has been said about the preponderance of Philadelphia fans who overrun the loyal Washington rooters when their team is in town. Too

Marty Niland: Memories of 1981 Expos, franchise's last playoff team

Nationals fans no longer have to dream of the day their team makes the playoffs. It's a reality. Thursday's night's win over the Dodgers put the city of Washington, D.C., in the baseball postseason for the first time since 1933 and this franchise in the playoffs for the first time in 31 years. The team that moved to Washington to become the Nationals, the Montreal

David Huzzard: How replay could have helped the Nats

June 16: Tyler Moore crosses home plate ahead of the tag but is called out by home plate umpire Tim Timmons. September 15: Adam LaRoche is ruled to have come off the bag by Marvin Hudson. The runner is called safe and the following batter, Jason Heyward, hits a two-run, game-tying homer. September 19: Home plate umpire Alan Porter forgets to watch Matt Kemp running

A primer on the new postseason set-up in Major League Baseball

As the Nationals continue to whittle away their magic number for clinching the National League East, it seems like an appropriate time to take a closer look at how the postseason will work in 2012. Major League Baseball has done some tinkering with the format, changes necessitated by the addition this season of an extra wild card team in each league. Here's the basics you'll

Rachel Levitin: If you still can't find a reason to watch the Nats, here's some

The novelty of postseason fever seems to be all the rage these days. As great and historic as this whole postseason thing is and sounds, it's not the sole reason for watching the Nationals in 2012. It's a great selling point, but it's not the only one. Perhaps this can be deemed a wake-up call of sorts, not unlike the time I went on to

Stephen Walker: For Nationals, storm clouds obscure rainbows

Earlier, in this space, I encouraged Nationals fans to enjoy the first season of rainbows in Washington since 1969. Well, after this past weekend's gruesome three-game sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Braves, storm clouds have appeared on the horizon. The Nationals still hold baseball's best record, and their lead in the National League East over the Braves is at five games after Atlanta's

Ted Leavengood: Hope, dreams and fairness in the postseason

Atlanta swept three games from the Nationals over the weekend in a disheartening affair that Bruce Springsteen, who appeared at Nationals Park on Friday night, might well have called a "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out." Averaging almost 40,000 for the first two games, the Braves gave the Nationals a look at playoff atmosphere and pressure. The Braves were playing with their backs to the wall, 8

Some prime time exposure for lovable loser Teddy

The Nationals are going to get some high-profile national media attention this week, and it doesn't involve a prime time game, a controversy about a pitcher not pitching or an inside look at a star player (though MLB Network's Saturday afternoon look at Ryan Zimmerman and his affinity for Washington, D.C., and effort to raise money for multiple sclerosis research was pretty sweet). Come 7

Marty Niland: G. Gonzalez primed to join elite company

Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez will be looking to join an exclusive club this weekend in Atlanta. He's set to take the mound Sunday bidding for his 20th win of the season. If he gets it, he'll not only be the first 20-game winner in the major leagues this year, he'll be the first player in a Washington uniform to do it in 59 years. With

David Huzzard: Nats need statement wins as they look toward postseason

At 8 1/2 games up in the division, it would take a momentous collapse for the Washington Nationals to lose it. Think about it this way. If the Nationals go 9-10 in their remaining games to finish with a record of 98-64, the Braves would have to win every game to win the East outright or go 17-1 to tie. As commanding as the Nationals'

Rachel Levitin: Nats, MLB need to work something out with Metro before the playoffs

There's one big problem with the Nationals being as good as they are this season. What's ironic about that problem is that it has nothing to do with baseball and has everything to do with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority closing at midnight. This is a topic of conversation that will continue to come up until the end of the season and will persist

Slowes advances to second round in Ford Frick voting

The Nationals continue to shine on the field as one of the top teams in baseball. The postseason accolades will come in due time, but as the season pushes forward into fall, it's the voice of the Nationals - Charlie Slowes - who finds himself in his own awards race. Slowes is among 41 veteran broadcasters chosen as candidates for the 2013 Ford C. Frick

Stephen Walker: Nothing is certain, but Nats are built to last

In all the hullabaloo surrounding the Nationals' decision to end Stephen Strasburg's season, one common comment from the media outside the Washington area has been, "How can Washington shut down its best pitcher when they are so close to the playoffs? This is the team's dream season. They may never be in this position again." The implication? The Nationals' 2012 season, despite the fact that

Some final thoughts Strasburg, the shutdown and scrutiny

So Stephen Strasburg has thrown his final pitch of the 2012 season, with the Nationals pulling the plug on their ace right-hander. We all knew it was coming - and have since general manager Mike Rizzo announced a strict though nebulous innings limit before spring training. It shouldn't have come as a surprise, even though manager Davey Johnson's Saturday morning announcement caught most people off

Ted Leavengood: John Lannan, the perfect National

The conventional wisdom early in 2004 was that Washington, D.C., might not be ready for baseball quite yet. In upstate New York, much the same was said of John Lannan as a college pitcher who was not really ready for the big leagues. And yet here they both are, together, at this critical juncture in 2012. Every game for the next two weeks will take

A weird finish to a long day at Nationals Park

When the word finally came down from the umpires that Saturday's game would resume after what wound up being a rain delay of 2 hours, 33 minutes, Nationals manager Davey Johnson noticed a spring in the steps of everyone in the clubhouse. Never mind that the Nationals were three outs away from absorbing a loss to the Miami Marlins on a day when it was

Strasburg on shutdown: "I don't know if I'm ever going to accept it"

Stephen Strasburg left little doubt that he still disagrees with the Nationals' decision to shut him down for the season. Regardless of whether the plan was accelerated - the Nats pulled the plug on his 2012 season Saturday, even though they had previously announced he would make his final start Wednesday at Citi Field against the Mets - or not, the idea of sitting while

Werth ties game in ninth, Brown single wins it in 10th

Oh, by the way, there's a game today, though it's been rendered somewhat secondary by this morning's news that the Nationals are shutting down Stephen Strasburg, effective immediately instead of after what was supposed to be his final start Wednesday at Citi Field against the Mets. Lefty Ross Detwiler is struggling early. He's getting squeezed by home plate umpire Todd Tichenor, has yielded home runs

Resolute Rizzo on Strasburg edict: "I believe in my heart it's the right thing to do"

If you expected any sense of relief from Mike Rizzo that Stephen Strasburg's shutdown day had finally arrived - albeit five starts earlier than anticipated - think again. The Nationals general manager painted Saturday's announcement that his prized right-hander had thrown his last pitch with resolution rather than resignation. "Business as usual," Rizzo said at the end of a conversation with reporters following the news

More from Johnson on the Strasburg shutdown

Nationals manager Davey Johnson's announcement that Stephen Strasburg has thrown his final pitch in 2012 caught many off guard. Just last night, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope that his shortened outing against the Marlins might prod the Nationals to scrap plans for the right-hander's final start to be Sept. 12 at Citi Field versus the Mets. Instead, the Nats moved to distance

Nationals lineup against Marlins

Fresh off of a 10-inning loss, the Nationals will get set to bounce back as they enjoy an afternoon game against the Marlins. Jesus Flores will be behind the plate and bat in the eighth slot, as he'll work with the left-hander Ross Detwiler as the Nats look for win No. 86. Flores replaces Kurt Suzuki in the lineup. For the Nationals: Werth RF Harper

Strasburg shut down, effective immediately

Citing media speculation more intense that they could have imagined and a lack of effectiveness in recent starts, the Nationals have decided to shut down right-hander Stephen Strasburg effective immediately, manager Davey Johnson said this morning. "I just told Stephen his year is over," Johnson said in his morning session with reporters before today's 1:05 p.m. game against the Miami Marlins. "He's had a great

Marty Niland: The spirit of 1969 and Washington's last winning season

Of all the milestones the Nationals have passed in this special season, none means more so far to their long-suffering fans than Monday's 2-1 win over the Chicago Cubs. The Nats' 82nd win of 2012 guaranteed their first winning season since moving to Washington. That's a treasure for the fans who stuck with the team through its lean years since 2005 and those who remember

David Huzzard: Remembering the bad old days

Hindsight is never wrong and there is more than one path to winning. But for the Nationals, the willful awfulness of 2008 and 2009 are paying off. Without the 2008 and 2009 seasons, the Nationals wouldn't be as good as they are, and it isn't just Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. Having the first pick overall means a team has the first pick in every

Rachel Levitin: Nationals Park subhorn among the items defining Natitude

Tuesday night's "laugher" of a game as MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko so aptly dubbed it was also the first time in team history that six home runs were hit. Or rather, I choose to see it as the first time we ever heard the subhorn go off six times (plus one for good luck since they sound it after each win) during a Nationals game. Washington

Stephen Walker: Why baseball in Washington is beautiful

Last week, against all common sense, I tuned my radio to a sports talk station. The host, supposedly a native of Rockville who claimed he knew the area, added his voice to the ad nauseum discussion of the pending end of Stephen Strasburg's brilliant 2012 season. His point: Nationals fans have been supportive of general manager Mike Rizzo's decision on Strasburg because "D.C. just isn't

Ted Leavengood: Shooting for the moon

The St. Louis Cardinals are not only the reigning world champions, but they are in a tight race with the Braves and Dodgers for the National League wild card. They probably still hold out hope that they can catch the Reds, which is why taking three of four from a team like St. Louis at this point in the season is as impressive as it

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