SNIDER: Maybe Nats find way home on the road


This was supposed to be the best of times for the Nationals. Packed home crowds providing the World Series champions an emotional boost en route to another good season.

Instead, Nationals Park is empty and the team looks equally lifeless after a 4-7 start with another likely loss pending completion of a rain-suspended game versus Baltimore. Why, the grounds crew couldn't even spread out a tarp on Sunday without a lengthy drama.

Baby Shark – where are you?

The Nats played 12 games at home with two wins ironically as the visiting team versus Toronto. They're in last place in the NL East that really only figures Atlanta as a serious rival for the flag before finally heading on the road. The Nats begin a 10-game road trip in New York on Monday. If they don't reverse this energy-drained start before returning home on Aug. 21, their hopes of doing anything in the 60-game season are worse than last year's 19-31 opening.

Don't start over how they reversed things in August last year to win the championship. A traditional 162-game season gave them time to sort out problems. They don't have the luxury of time this year.

But even if they did, this offense often looks miserable. They miss Anthony Rendon despite his .103 average while now playing for the Los Angeles Angels. "Tony Two Bags" was a back breaker. Without him, the clutch hits too often seem missing. Trea Turner is batting .196 instead of starting rallies. Adam Eaton's batting .222. That one-two punch is just one out short of a quick return to the field.

Washington is missing chemistry. The cheesy "Baby Shark" song greeting Gerardo Parra's stride to the plate as the crowd clapped was magical. The Nats are missing Ryan Zimmerman, who opted out this season. Washington's lacking even the dugout dancing that is restrained during the COVID-19 scare.

Even worse, baseball's best 1-2 World Series punch since "Spahn and Sain" is invisible. Stephen Strasburg was rocked for five runs in his injury-delayed debut on Sunday following Max Scherzer lasting one inning with a hamstring tweak. The Nats thrive on pitching leading the way and that rhythm with the offense and defense seems off.

Maybe the empty park is hurting the Nats more than many teams. Perhaps they need a change of scenery in heading to New York to get some of the old feel back. Yet, any motive of trying to shut up an opposing crowd won't be there, either.

This season will be a blur, especially if ending early. The Nats may need to drink a few Red Bulls and go out there ready to roll, because right now it looks like they just rolled out of bed in a World Series hangover.

Put down the trombones, pull up your boot straps and go win some games.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks