Crucial Week for the NL East


Pop avoids a dirt nap, and other ruminations

A little over a week ago, I settled into a pleasant Memorial Day afternoon.  My feet were propped up on the ottoman and there was an ample supply of beer in the fridge and a kid handy to schlep it to me on an as-needed basis.  What made it really cool was that my Marlins were hosting my dad’s Nationals.  Blood would soon run through the sands of the arena. A pere et fils slugfest of text messages and phone calls was in the offing. Battle lines were drawn and the combatants took the field.  First off was a phone call, and it set a jarring tone My dad sounded disjointed, distracted.  After that, a dearth of communication as the Nationals gave up the first of three.  Was victory going to be that easy?

Not so.  It seems that other events superseded the contest at hand.  I got a call the following morning that my father had been admitted to the hospital, and would I please come home?  Home I went, and as quickly as I could get there.  It’s been a long week, but I’m happy to report that the outlook is positive.  I was able to sit with him and watch a few innings of the Braves-Nats game yesterday, so there is hope that normalcy will return soon.

So, that’s my excuse for not posting over the last few days, and I’m sticking to it.  My relationship with my father has been intertwined with baseball for more years than I can remember, and I say that without exaggeration or hyperbole. When the possibility that I would lose that connection loomed like an approaching cold front on a hot summer day, I was shaken.  I know that one day, there will be a different result, as there will be for my son. I’m glad it wasn’t this time.  Baseball has been a part of many families across generations, and it will be a part of ours.  It sucks to think about not being able to talk to my dad about the tiny details that make up a season of baseball, so I will place a higher value on the conversations that we have from now on.

Today, there is a three-way tie for the lead in the NL East.  The Mets are riding high on the strength of the beautiful no-hitter thrown by Johan Santana, and the Phillies and the Braves are continuing to struggle.  The Nationals stay at home to host the surging Mets, and the Phillies get to see what looks like the best Dodger team in a decade.

The Marlins come home today and get ready to show the Braves what the home run feature looks like when it lights off.  Dan Uggla will be in the house, as will Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel. The Braves have been sliding lately, and I think it will continue off and on for a while.  I think that this series will be similar to our last, with the Marlins taking two of the three.  I’d really like to see one of the two turn into a rout, with the tone of the game set by the third inning, and nary a look backward.

The Nats will have their way with the Mets, as will the Dodgers with the Phillies.  I think that by Friday morning, the NL East will sort itself out and might look something like this:

Washington   –

Miami             ½

New York       3

Atlanta            4 ½

Philadelphia  7

The cream is starting to rise to the top.