Nationals Clinch Third Place

It’s not as dramatic as clinching first place or a playoff spot, but in the world of the Mets fan, where meaningless games in September are our entertainment, little things like the once-lowly Nationals finish ahead of our favorites from Flushing are important to us.

And it’s official: by rallying in the late innings for a come-from-behind victory over the Florida Marlins, the Washington Nationals won their 79th ballgame — which clinches their third-place position in the NL East.

The Nats still have three games to play to the Mets’ two. The Nats’ record is currently 79-80, while the Mets’ is 76-84. So if the Nats lose all three of their final games, and the Mets win both of theirs, the Mets will finish 78-84 — one game behind the 79-83 Nationals.

How does this make you feel, as a Mets fan? Do you care? Do you think this step forward by the Nats is an indication of what’s to come in the near future, or is it just a fluke?

Post your thoughts in the comments section.

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Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Joe September 27, 2011 at 7:55 am
    The Nats had a nice run before their manager quit on them and their pitching staff shows some promise. I think third place might mean something if they are going in the right direction — after a collapse, they ended strong. Let’s see how they play in ’12.
  2. Paul September 27, 2011 at 8:10 am
    Finishing behind the Nationals doesn’t thrill me, but it doesn’t bother me as much as knowing the Mets will finish with a worse record than they had in 2010.
  3. Izzy September 27, 2011 at 8:50 am
    Good call Paul about the worse record. For all the great PR spewed out by the new front office, fact is they were never in the hunt, while the horrid Manuel club was at least in the hunt for half the season. Fact is Alderson brought in nothing but mediocre to horrible players. He brags about his great trade with the Giants but an A ball pitcher has an awfully long way to go and a lot of time to stay healthy to prove he made any good moves.
    As for the Nats beating out the Mets, its not a big deal for anything but showing that the in the next sevferal years the Metrs will have a very hard time competing as the Nats young pitching staff has gone thru the growing pains of MLB while too many Met fans think that when our kids come up they will all be anstant Tom Seaver’s. There are many dark years ahead for the Mets. Maybe they will be good when the post Alderson era starts.
  4. Izzy September 27, 2011 at 8:51 am
    PS: The Nats are only playing 161 games this year. Thier rain out vs the Dodgers is not being made up.
  5. gary s. September 27, 2011 at 9:17 am
    I wonder if the nationals will make a big offer for Reyes?The owner has deep pockets (126 mill for Werth) and it is close to NYC if Jose wants to play nearby.
  6. Timo September 27, 2011 at 9:56 am
    This is VERY upsetting for me. The front office was telling us that we were in the playoffs race (when we weren’t). They didn’t want to breakup the chemistry of this team. What Chemistry, we finished in 4th place this year. Same as last year. We could have traded some players this year for something. I would have been happier getting something back for Cappy or Hairston than watching them finish with the team. I don’t want these guys on next years 40 man roster. Maybe the Mets weren’t getting anything for them. Tell me that, don’t tell me you are not trading them because of team chemistry and we had a shot at the playoffs. The Mets played like SH_ the rest of the season. We are in our rebuilding years and I can except that but don’t push crap down my throat for mediocre players at best. I was happy with our team at the beginning of the year and would have been very excited for next year if we came in 3rd place. We were not beating the Phillies or Braves this year BUT we should have beat the Nats and Marlins. 3rd place would have been a positive this year but now, this team is no better than Mets teams the past few years. AGAIN, I’m very disappointed with 3rd place this year and disgusted that this team will be our Mets next year. They don’t excite me at all.
    • Joe September 27, 2011 at 10:25 am
      This is akin to being upset with one’s bf saying you aren’t fat when you kinda need to lose a bit of weight. How can it be “very upsetting” when it was so obvious that the Mets had at best a longshot chance? Beltran and K-Rod were going; everyone knew this.

      Also, what do you think you would get for Hairston and Cappy, who is ending pretty mediocre? Why wouldn’t you want Capauno as a fifth starter/swing man? He’s perfectly average in that regard and reasonably priced.

      Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejeda, Lucas Duda, Turner and Nick Evans of late all looked pretty good to me. Gee ended badly but started well and showed signs of guts. Dickey gave another good year. Cappy was fine as a fifth starter type. I want Pelfrey gone myself. Niese has some promise. Santana is due back at some point. The pen has some credible arms and adding a few more isn’t that hard.

      The team played fun ball until Reyes and Murphy got hurt in the same game & the injuries and everything became too much. Then, they dropped off. There is life there though & I’m glad some overpriced salary dump isn’t likely to occur. I think the team will be worth watching in ’12 and though the last month was disappointing, the season as a whole — minus a couple damn injuries — was not “very upsetting” to me at all.

      Oh, we need a closer.

      • Joe Janish September 27, 2011 at 1:15 pm
        It sounds to me like Timo is as upset with the front office communicating that the team was a contender, when they really weren’t, as anything else.

        As for being upset or not upset about the 2011 season, that’s a personal thing based on expectations and perspective. Personally, I found the last four years upsetting, and looking at the next two (at least) as being even worse.

        • Joe September 27, 2011 at 1:50 pm
          The front office didn’t say the Mets had no chance but the actual moves made & never saying they would retain K-Rod or Beltran (it is not like they b.s.-ed us and tricked us in July or something) made perfectly clear that their chances were long shots at best.

          So, personal as the emotion is, I find it far from “disgusting.” Businesses and politicians spin. News at a11. Too old to be shocked about it or something. Not expecting playoffs, things were much less “upsetting” too. Less so than seasons started with some hope (including with expensive contracts obtained) otherwise.

          I retain lower expectations in ’12. Resigned, I guess. Less liable to be “upset” at that. If the Mets still are playing .475 baseball (whatever it is) in ’14, yeah, I’ll be upset. Anyway, the season went about as expected.

        • Timo September 27, 2011 at 2:08 pm
          I don’t have an issue with the K-Rod trade or the Beltran trade. We had to get rid of those guys. They are NOT our future. If we didn’t trade Beltran we got NOTHING at the end of the season. I much rather watch Duda play right the rest of the season than Beltran. Duda could be our future, Beltran is not. At least we got something for him. Even if Wheeler doesn’t do anything, it was a move that had to be done. As far as K-Rod, we had to trade him too. We needed to see if our young guys can close. OBVIOUSLY they couldn’t. So, now we know we need to look for a closer next year.
          My problem is seeing career minor leaguer Nick Evans or journey man Willie Harris sharing time our there. I’m happy that they finally put Duda in right. As a fan, I want to see what he’s got. I would much rather see what he has in a year we are going now where than in the beginning of the season.
        • Timo September 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm
          Joey Janish, you read my mind perfectly. It’s like you known me my whole life. I’m very disappointed with the front office. Stop trying to tell me something that is SO OBVIOUSLY not true. I totally understand you aren’t going to say we stink or we aren’t going to win. You should NEVER say that. I’m a Mets fan for life, but won’t be if the front office keeps feeding me the same old crap. It’s been like this since the Wilponzes took over. I’m tried of it.
          1st Joe, I agree that this team has some positive points. I am impressed with the play of our young guys, it’s the only bright point of this season. I TOTALLY agree with you about Pelf. He should be gone. I TOTALLY disagree with you about Cappy. Why would we pay him millions for another #5 starter? All we have on this team are #4 or #5 starters. Who knows what you are going to get out of Johan. I would much rather see young arms in our system pitching next year as the #5 starter. Then we could see what we got instead of paying someone millions to be OK. Starting Pitching isn’t our worst part of the team. WE need to hit. RAD pitched well enough to have many more wins than he got. I’m fine with Johan as our #1, RAD #2, Niese #3, Gee #4, & minor leaguers #5. We need people that can hit the baseball. We should get some pop back when Ike and Murphy return. Also, we should get pop back from Wright and Bay when they change the dimensions of the ballpark. The Mets did alot better than last to me, however, I feel with their play it was disappointing to see them fall to 4th place. It may also have been due to our young guys getting tired for a full season. I was very disappointed because the beginning of the year they excited me and really let me down at the end with their play.
      • Izzy September 27, 2011 at 2:12 pm
        Joe:aThe reason you don’t want Cappy as you call him as your fifth man because you are overloaded with 5th men. Pelfrey is a 5th man, Gee is a 5th man and if Niese pitches the way he pitched most of this year he is a 5th man. Plus Capouano is a free agent and can take Alderson’s cheap offer and go somewhere else where he might be the 5th man on a contender. Trading him for a marginal kid who might strike lightning for you would have been a fine risk.. its what all these people call low risk high reward. Capuano has no upside. And if Sandy moves the fences in to let Wright and Bay hit a few more dingers don’t you think our 5th men team will give up a lot more since the opposition doesn’t have a problem with today’s dimension. Keeping Capuano is telling us we are going to suck over and over again.
        • Timo September 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm
          Well said Izzy!
        • Joe September 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm
          Cappy has 11 wins w/o today’s game. Having this guy as a back-end starter is not a sign that team sucks to my mind. If he is going to ask too much, sure, don’t sign him. I didn’t say to spend lots of money on him. He’s replaceable. Don’t know what minor leaguer is ready yet. I’m sure we will need an extra pitcher at some pt.

          But, having him as a fifth/swing guy is no big deal. And, unlike Pelfrey, who personally I want gone, he will consistently look like he won’t cry on the mound or something. I’ll take such consistency. It’s an “up side” to have a dependable person who will be out there every five days.

          Timo: We have people who hit the baseball. Finding one or two more is fine. The team did tire out, after Beltran and K-Rod was gone it mattered, after Murphy (and Reyes for a time) was out it mattered etc. But, it was a disappointing six weeks and it’s hard at the end of the year where you aren’t going anywhere to keep up the spirit, especially when key players are out.

          I heard others more than I heard myself that the front office claimed the team was contending. You said you realize they won’t say the Mets “stink.” But, saying they are not contending is kinda the same thing.

  7. Mets fan in NC September 27, 2011 at 12:08 pm
    The front office is trying to put a positive spin on things, because they have too. What do we expect them to say? Omar screwed things up ROYALLY and we will be trying to unscrew them for several years! Offensively, I think we are in OK shape with the guys hurt coming back and IF we can keep Reyes, but we need pitching badly! Without some quality pitching we will be looking at another sub .500 season again.
    • Joe Janish September 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm
      Omar or Jeff?
      • Mets fan in NC September 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm
        I guess you can blame Jeff for hiring Omar and letting him ruin the team.
        • Joe Janish September 28, 2011 at 12:02 am
          You are naive to think that Omar had enough power to “ruin” the team. It’s been all Jeff since 2002.
  8. MikeT September 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm
    I’m not ashamed. I think The Nats will make another big splash this offseason and push the Braves for the wild-card in 2012. With the rumors of another Wild card as early as next year (not counting on it), I think most teams will believe that they can compete for that second spot. Even without it the Nats seem to have the pitching going forward to make a run, and with another splash (Fielder, Reyes [please no]), might even compete with only the one WC.

    I’ll keep saying it, the Mets need more pitching to compete, and it is too hard to acquire in FA or trade, so don’t expect changes in 2012.

  9. Rob September 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm
    Joe: I’m not disappointed at all. The Mets fulfilled my low expectations this year. And despite a worse record than last year, they actually did it with a bunch of newbies. So the results actually beat expectations after they lost all those players to injury this year. And they have a bunch of new players who are home grown who are clearly able to produce. So the offensive future looks promising. They just need to develop their pitching.

    As for the fourth place finish, I had actually hoped that they would finish in last place, so as to obtain higher first round picks. The fourth place finish ensures a few picks ahead of the Nats. At least they’ll begin to stock their farm system with talent.

    It’s gonna take a few years to get this ship righted…but I have no doubt that they are on the right track. Now they just need to develop their pitching.

    I had a few other points, but I’ve lost my train of thought. So I’ll end it here. Thanks for the great column, as always!


  10. Ken September 27, 2011 at 2:36 pm
    While perhaps not a big deal for the Mets, finishing 3rd of 5 is huge for the Nationals. This is the first time since 1946 that a Washington baseball team hasn’t finished in the bottom half of the division or league. Even considering that no team played in DC from 1972-2004, that’s still a futility record the present Pirates can only dream of.