From time to time, when I see a player or team repeatedly prove they have the Nationals' number, I'll ask myself who the biggest villains in the game are from the Nationals' perspective. After their sweep at Nationals Park, the Marlins proved they still occupy a prominent place in that discussion.
They are 34-13 against the Nationals since the start of the 2008 season, and have now won five straight against them, three by shutout. They've beaten the Nationals in all sorts of fashions since 2008, with inside-the-park homers by players they acquired from Washington, far too many hits from the bottom of the lineup and dominant performances by pitchers who rarely muster those kinds of outings.
And there have been the more standard boogeymen, too: Hanley Ramirez, Jorge Cantu (when he was still there), Dan Uggla, Cody Ross, Josh Willingham (before he came to the Nationals), Gaby Sanchez and now Mike Stanton.
So here's my question: Is there another team or set of players that beats up on the Nationals worse than the Marlins?
You could actually make a case for the San Diego Padres, who are 26-10 against Washington since 2005. But the Nationals don't see them enough, and short of the September 2005 flameout in San Diego, there aren't enough back-breaking moments to put them in the conversation.
The Philadelphia Phillies would certainly have to be in the mix, as well; they were 39-15 against the Nationals the last three years, and have shown an ability to irritate the Nationals like few other teams - whether it's Chase Utley colliding with Jesus Flores at home plate in 2008 or their fans taking over Nationals Park on Opening Day. But Washington won two of its last three against the Phillies. Plus, they're the two-time defending NL champions, so you expect them to be good.
The Braves, with Chipper and Andruw Jones tormenting Chad Cordero, used to be a candidate, but the Nationals have actually played them pretty well; they're 5-4 against Atlanta this year.
Any other teams that should be on this list? What about players? I've got Jones, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Braun, Placido Polanco (this year), Tim Hudson and various aforementioned Marlins. Any others come to mind?
Let me know the team or player that gets under your skin the most. Consider this your virtual davenport for this gloomy Friday morning, on which you can unburden your soul.