Rivalries are almost always more meaningful for fans than they are for players, who develop friends on other teams and move from place to place without the sharp divisions associated with longstanding, fan-fueled rivalries between certain teams.
But the series between the Nationals and Indians this weekend, while no rivalry between the teams, is a little more personal. It involves a player (Austin Kearns) and a manager (Manny Acta) that the Nationals decided they could do without, and as anyone who's ever lost a job can attest, there's some satisfaction in coming out better for it.
It's a little like running into an old girlfriend; you want to walk away believing you're better off than the other person. And it's hard to argue the Nationals aren't better off than Acta's Indians. Friday's 7-2 loss to Cleveland, though, stings a little, in part because of Kearns.
The right fielder, who played out the last two seasons of a three-year deal in dreadful fashion for the Nationals, is enjoying a resurgence this year in Cleveland, and he hit two homers on Friday night. He's batting .307 at a time when the Nationals are still searching for solutions in right field, and there have even been a few fans muttering about the Nationals bringing him back in a trade.
So here's my question: How much does this one hurt? Where does it rank among the worst losses this year for the Nationals. And if it's up there, is it because it's a bad loss to a bad team, or is it because of Acta and Kearns?
Well, I guess that's more like three questions. But I'm guessing once I cut open this vein, you'll have plenty to say, anyway.