The Nationals continue to give D.C. plenty to cheer about. They are on the doorstep of becoming the first team not named the Capitals to make the postseason since the Wizards made it in 2008.
Wednesday, the Nats moved a game closer to clinching a post season berth for the first time in 79 years for a D.C. baseball franchise as they split a twin bill with the Dodgers. The Nats could have wrapped it up if it was not for a horrific call in the 4th inning that gave L.A. an extra run.
However, in a disappointing 7-6 loss, the Nats did not disappoint with their fight as they rallied from a 6-0 deficit to tie the game at 6 with a 6-run 8th inning. Making the rally more impressive was the fact that Davey Johnson had pulled Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, and Jayson Werth early to get them some rest.
It does not seem to matter much to these Nats who is in or who is out -- they are going to fight, which makes October even more exciting.
Speaking of exciting, in this week's "Chain Reactions," a certain Redskins rookie continues to excite even in losses, it's next man up time on defense,and the NHL lockout's biggest losers.
RGIII Show Rams What they Missed
The Rams beat the Redskins 31-28 Sunday, but for the second straight week Robert Griffin III showed the NFL why he's proving to be well worth the hefty price the franchise paid for him.
His leadership skills again are on display this week as the Skins work towards bouncing back after a disappointing loss at St. Louis.
"I know some guys say, ‘You’ve got 14 more to get over that one.’ But I always take it one game at a time because you never know if you’re going to get that next one," Griffin said. "I just try to go back, pay attention to detail. I’m usually not in a great mood after losses. We had a day off, so I was able to get that out of my system."
On the field, RGIII once again showed off his pinpoint accuracy, big arm, amazing athleticism, and big time toughness. The latter was on full display during a game that replacement/scab referees lost control of very early.
Griffin took some serious shots, including one to the back of his head after sliding, and to his credit was not about to back down.
"Teams are going to try to hit me because they don’t think I can take a hit. I think I’ve proved that over my career that I can. It’s football," Griffin said. "I remember one time after the play, the guy said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to hit you every play.’ And I said, ‘Isn’t this football?’ "
This is the part of RGIII we did not know about coming out of Baylor. It is one thing to be tough at the Collegiate level, but the NFL is a different level of physical.
So as frustrating as that game may have been to 'Skins fans, it was nice to see that the franchise quarterback is not going to be intimated.
There is plenty of concern about the shots RGIII has taken through two weeks. He is currently on pace for 160 rushes this season, which is ahead of both Michael Vick's career high (123 in 2006) and Cam Newton's 126 in his record breaking rookie season.
On Wednesday ,the rookie said he expects those numbers to drop as the season moves along. Hopefully, the protection will hold up as well. Sunday's game in St. Louis exposed a lot of the 'Skins' protection issues. At times, both tackles looked like they were on roller skates.
You don't want to RGIII not to run, because he makes plays most guys only can make while playing Madden. However, you also want him to be your guy for many years to come. It is a delicate balance that many dual threat quarterbacks have had to deal with over the years.
I'm betting RGIII handles it as well as he has handled every other situation in his early D.C. tenure.
Next Man up on Defense
The Redskins defense was bad in St. Louis, struggling to stop both the run and Danny Amendola, who could go to Canton if he played the Redskins 16 times per year. For some reason, the Redskins played too much zone and allowed way too many free releases to the Rams' version of Wes Welker.
There was plenty of fallout from the loss, including death threats to Wide Receiver Josh Morgan via twitter (these people should be prosecuted), a report that Jim Haslett lost his play-calling duties for a quarter, news that Haslett and embattled special teams coach Danny Smith were given extensions this offseason, and two season-ending injuries.
The other stuff may be sexier to talk about, but the season-enders to Adam Carriker and pro bowler Brian Orakpo are the bigger issues. Jarvis Jenkins, the second-year player coming off knee surgery, will try to fill Carriker's shoes and the combo of Rob Jackson and Chris Wilson will do so for Rak.
The front seven's depth was lauded heading into the season. Now, it is time to live up to the hype. Pro sports can be a cruel business and there is no time to mourn injuries. You just have to move on. The Redskins cannot afford too many more hits on a unit that will face some high powered offenses in the NFC East.
In the NFL, the teams that lose the previous week usually come out ready to play. I would expect a big day from the 'Skins D Sunday against the Bengals after last week's performance and all the off-field drama this week. If not, be ready for some more juicy reports to be out there.
NHL Lockout's Biggest Losers: Not Players or Fans
We know the history. The NHL cancelled the entire 2004-05 season over a labor dispute, and they seemed to have finally gotten past that stench. Yet here we go again.
Certainly in D.C., we will miss out on a lot of great nights at Verizon Center, where the Caps are usually at their best in the regular season. I am not worried about Alex Ovechkin. He's got a nice plan B, as do many of the other players. Owner Ted Leonsis will be OK too.
The fans will find other ways to be entertained, and may even save some money as well.
The real victims are the local bar and restaurant owners and their employees. Those establishments do some of their best business during hockey season.
Team office employees are already being laid off around the league. Sales people who count on commissions have nothing to sell.
Then, there are the arena employees and vendors who bank on those 41 nights of work. These are all the voiceless victims that deserve better.
These people work real hard for their money and did not sign players to contracts that they regret now, nor did they negotiate the tv deals that are apparently not lucrative enough, and now they are the ones paying the biggest price.