I was planning to write a little post about the Eagles, with their season beginning tomorrow and all, but events have inspired me to make this post about a few different topics.
But it's so extremely unlikely. The Phils have to pass not only the Cards, but the Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Pirates and Brewers. The Pirates are fading fast. (Sorry, Kurt.) They're 9-19 over the last month. But the Brewers are on fire, 15-4 in their last 19. In addition, the Phils have no games left against any of these teams, which means even if they finish strong, they'll have to rely on all of these other teams losing enough games to get the Phils in. So there's really no reason at this point to get excited.
On another baseball note, normally I'd enjoy a team that's been an underdog for so long making a strong run at a championship. But then there's the Washington Nationals. From this spring's sad attempt to keep Phils fans out of their ballpark, to Jayson Werth's various comments since he left town, to their butthead general manager whining like a baby when Cole Hamels hit their hyped rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch, to their continued mediocre attendance despite a new ballpark and a winning team, I've developed a bit of a dislike for the Nats.
And the last straw is how they've completely mishandled Stephen Strasburg.
All year they've insisted that he would be shut down after a certain number of innings pitched, even though he's pitched very well and has been healthy all year. He had a poor outing Friday, in what was said to be his next-to-last start, so the Nats decided to shut him down now because they felt he was mentally affected by the hoopla over their decision.
Again, he's been fine this year and he's healthy and he wants to pitch. So now Washington is going to go without their best pitcher for the rest of the year. If they really wanted to limit his innings, they should have held him out during April and May, or given him a mid-season break, instead of resting him now, when they need him most. It's asinine. It would be poetic justice if the Nationals collapse and miss the playoffs (a very slim chance), or are eliminated as soon as they get there (a much more real possibility, especially without Strasburg).
Long-term, I wonder if Strasburg will hold a grudge when he reaches his free-agent years. The Nats are playing with fire. Attendance (as I mentioned, mediocre) is higher in games he starts. If he leaves a few years down the road will those fans leave with him?
DeSean Jackson's behavior, and they really paid the price with their 4-8 start and missing the NFL playoffs despite winning their last 4 games. So I'm back to actively rooting for them again (not so much for Jackson; he's all happy with his new contract, so maybe he'll be on his best behavior, but I still don't like him). Their offseason moves and their draft led to a lot of optimism. I felt the same way until I saw some of the preseason games in which the starters actually played. Now I'm not so sure. They blamed a lot of their problems last year on the lack of preparation caused by the lockout. They don't have that excuse this year. Their first game, at Cleveland, probably won't tell us much because Cleveland isn't very good. Still, I feel like 10-6 and a return to the playoffs is a pretty good possibility.
One more thing: can you believe that the NHL and its players are stupid enough to shut down their sport again? They threw away an entire season once, and unless something happens this week, there's going to be another lockout. All of the progress they've made, with rule changes, more network TV coverage, the Winter Classic, etc., is just going to disappear. Unreal.