The Washington Nationals have 19 games remaining in the 2010 season. If they win three of them, they will avoid losing 100 games for the third straight season. It's little solace for Nats fans that harbored illusions of a wild-card berth when the team got off to a 20-15 start.
Since then, the Nats have gone 40-68, a .370 winning percentage. All those losses make for a long season, and if you pile on Stephen Strasburg's injury, Nyjer Morgan's bouts of immaturity, and Adam Dunn's looming contract status, one could understand if this Nationals team continues to limp down the stretch, playing out the string in another miserable season record-wise.
It's human nature to underperform in unpleasant working conditions, but Nats fans don't want to hear that after they were promised at the beginning of the season that this year was "about results." Fans are tired of hearing the same platitudes heaped upon the opposing starting pitcher, and the "we played hard" mantra night after night after night.
After Sunday's loss—No. 83 on the season—a 6-5 decision to the Florida Marlins, manager Jim Riggleman held an "All Hands On Deck" meeting with his players and coaches. It's something he's done before this season, but after what the thought was a lackluster effort from his squad, he felt like he needed to get some thing out in the air.
"I just thought our energy level, our body language early in the game, was not up to the standards it's going to take for us to be a ballclub that goes to the next level. I just didn't feel like we were getting after it early," Riggleman said.
He asked for input from his coaching staff as well, and described the meeting to reporters after the game. "This is what I see, this is what the coaches see, this is what (general manager) Mike (Rizzo) sees, this is what the fans see, so if anybody in the room thought that was acceptable, then they need to be made aware that we certainly don't think it's acceptable."
While the words were appropriate given the situation, and the sloppy play against the Marlins—and five consecutive losses—one has to wonder if they were effective to their intended audience.
But has this group of players already tuned him out? Riggleman actually said in his postgame press conference, "Sometimes when the same person keeps giving the message, it starts to fall on deaf ears."
Seven-plus months, and a 162-game schedule makes for a very long season. But how many times do you need to remind players that are playing for their jobs to play hard?
"I think the losing wears on you, but it's a 162-game schedule, it's a nine-inning ballgame,"Riggleman said. "That's what you sign up for, that's what you give."
Riggleman then gave an unsolicited critique of the situation in the Nationals clubhouse.
To hear his critique, please visit Nats News Network.