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Chain Reactions: Washington Nationals Slip Out Of Playoff Race, And More

There's still no deal in the NFL, and perhaps no wild card race for the Nationals, who are struggling after the All-Star break. Plus, the Redskins' options get smaller for their biggest need, and Maryland Athletics needs your $upport.

Now that the Washington Nationals are sliding back to the Nats of old, we would like to ask our friends with the NFL to their stuff together already. This is getting old. Week after week, we're hearing they are so close to ending the NFL lockout, and yet no deal. Punch it in the end zone already! Get the jumbo package in there, for goodness sakes. I bet John Riggins could get you a yard still, especially with billions of dollars on the line.

Until a deal is done, we will yammer on in Chain Reactions about other things D.C. sports. This week, we discuss the on-field struggles for the Nationals, financial struggles for the Terps and our struggle to figure out why the NBA gave us a schedule to a season that has little to no hope of being full. Oh yeah, and some Redskins in between.

Nationals Slipping out of the Race

The Nationals still appear to be on the All-Star break some six games into the post All-Star schedule, losing 2 of 3 in Atlanta and somehow doing the same to the lowly Houston Astros. Even on a day when Jayson Werth homers, the team can not find a way to win. The Nats have fallen two games below .500 for the first time since June 19 and are only one game above the last-place Florida Marlins in the NL East. If the struggles continue, you have to wonder if they become sellers as we inch closer to the July 31s non-waiver MLB trade deadline.

Checking in on the Franchise's Future Stars 

As stated above, things are starting to look bleak for the here and now for the Nationals, so the news that Stephen Strasburg hit 95 MPH on the radar gun in a simulated game feels like a victory even if he is still not quite ready for prime time again. The Nationals are hoping to have him make some starts in September. Even if they are well out of the race, it will be great to see the franchise-changing stuff from the young ace again, who wowed us in his 12 starts last year before having to undergo Tommy John Surgery.

Meanwhile, the franchise's other future phenom, Bryce Harper is taking his lumps in Double A. In his first 10 games Harper has gone just 6-for-35 (.171) with zero extra-base hits through 10 games since being promoted from Single A. Surely he will snap out of it. If not, he might want to see about getting those new tattoos removed.

Maryland's Money Matters 


In an in-depth report by the Washington Post's Steve Yanda, it is revealed the University of Maryland athletic department has a debt that currently exceeds $83 million. The report also adds they lost more than $64 million on the 24 other sports outside of football and men's and women's basketball between 2005 and 2010.

The federal government is laughing at such small figures. However, at the University, it is no laughing matter as President Wallace D. Loh announced a formation of a commission to look into the financial issues. Could some sports programs be on the chopping block? Probably, considering keeping all 27 afloat may be what got them here in the first place.

"You can have quality in two different ways," said Debbie Yow, who served as Maryland's athletic director for 16 years before leaving in June 2010 to take the same position at North Carolina State. "You can cut 10 sports and have quality and just relax, pretty much. Or you can keep all the sports in place and push hard on the staff to continue to generate new revenue. And I will admit to you, that is a burden, that second thing. That's tough. It wears on you. But that was the model I chose."

Now, it is up to Kevin Anderson and others to figure out what new plan of attack will be going forward and if that will mean fewer sports programs.


One Less Nose For Redskins To Consider


The Redskins need a nose tackle. If you play a 3-4 defense and you don't have a nose tackle, then you don't really have a chance, as was the case last season. These large space eaters are not walking the streets of Ashburn, so it might be disappointing for the Redskins to find out the oft-injured Kris Jenkins is calling it a career. There is only a handful of potential nose tackles that will be free agents.

The top nose tackle on the market is San Francisco's Aubrayo Franklin, followed by Kansas City's Ron Edwards, Minnesota's Pat Williams (who is 38 years old) and Arizona's Gabe Watson.

However, some good news for the Skins: the $100 million man Albert Haynesworth is reportedly set to report to camp. What a great teammate! I wonder if he would be interested in playing nose...

NBA Releases Schedule Just to Make Us Feel Bad


Did you check out the Washington Wizards' schedule this week? Great stuff. II was hoping to get a look at all the games that will be canceled. If you are a nutty optimist, you will be excited to see the team open with a pair of home games v. New Jersey on November 2nd and Orlando on November 5th.

Where things stand today it seems highly at unlikely we will get there at the rate things are going with the league's current CBA talks (crickets chirping).

"It's just business as usual," ESPN NBA analyst Chris Broussard said about the release of the schedule. "It could make some fans hopeful and optimistic, but in reality, there's no reason for optimism at this point."

Thanks Chris. Now, go back to debating Skip Bayless and do us all a favor. Punch him in the face.