Washington Nationals future bright and bleak

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Willson Contreras
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 13: Willson Contreras /

Another Washington Nationals season fell short. How they solve their expectation game looms large as the 2018 campaign dawns.

In the wee small hours of Friday morning, the 2017 Washington Nationals season ended. Not with a tremendous bang, but another whimper.

There is no shame dropping a tight five-game National League Divisional Series to the Chicago Cubs. No team won over one game in a row. They were equals.

Yet, this day after feels terrible. For as well as the Nats are they cannot break through and win. Whatever lessons are learned from the past, Washington continues repeating them. In that regard, 2018 promises to be more of the same.

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The NL East is a steaming pile of road kill. Down in Miami, another rebuild is about to start. Derek Jeter starts his ownership career the same way Jeffery Loria ended his. Cost-cutting and gutting the franchise. It promises to be a long winter in Dade County.

The Atlanta Braves front office messed up so badly, their deposed general manager is essentially blackballed for life. Although the Philadelphia Phillies are improving, the New York Mets are an organization skidding sideways.

Unless there is a monumental collapse by the Nats, they are overwhelming favorites to with a third-straight title. The fans, however, are not ready for a third consecutive early playoff exit.

Regardless what happens with Bryce Harper in free agency, the championship window remains open for a couple more years. The team can compete and win through 2020 with no problem. But, the mindset is not there to go all the way.

Blame Dusty Baker if you want. He is not the problem. Washington never advanced with Davey Johnson and Matt Williams. Jayson Werth is not your scapegoat either.

The Nats join a growing list of teams in the expanded playoff era who have tremendous talent with nothing to show. They are the 1990s Seattle Mariners, those Braves teams who underwhelmed in October and those moneyball Oakland Athletics. Regular season masters with empty mantel pieces.

There is time to change that reputation. Harper is back. Adam Eaton is healthy. Baker’s abilities are the reason Washington won 97 this year. But, something must change.

As good as this team is, there is no swagger. All these playoff losses weigh not only in your minds, but theirs. Doubt crept in throughout the series, not only from you but in their ability to decide and execute.

Social media delivers a constant drumbeat of DC failure. From politics to sports, the negativity eats at a vibrant city and metro area offering so much. But John Wall’s inability to coax the Wizards to victory has nothing to do with Max Scherzer’s implosion.

Although there is no such thing as a sports curse, the constant reaffirmation of losing and choking hurts the Nats.

Next: 2017 a success or failure?

How do you change that? We have a long winter to figure it out.