The Nationals’ Dusty trail ends

Baker now becomes the

Baker, the fourth ex-Nats manager since 2013 . . .

Are the Nationals starting to feel like the worst of George Steinbrenner in the 1980s? Have they started a team trend in which the manager gets fewer chances to bring them to the Promised Land? You might think so now that Dusty Baker has refused a return engagement.

Baker led the Nats to back-to-back National League division series and the Nats never got past either. But letting him walk after this year’s skirmish with the Cubs that ended in a cage match of a comedy of errors just doesn’t seem right.

The Comedy of Errors tonight . . . on Chiller Theatre

When the original Mets drafted Giants catcher Hobie Landrith to begin the expansion draft that created the team in the first place, manager Casey Stengel explained it by saying, “You have to have a catcher, or else you’ll have a lot of passed balls.”

Scherzer after the top of the fifth, probably wondering, "Was I really there when this happened to us?"

Scherzer after the top of the fifth, probably wondering, “Was I really there when this happened to us?”

I’d pay money to know what the Ol’ Perfesser was thinking while watching Game Five of the National League division series between the Nationals and the Cubs Thursday night, from wherever he was perched in the Elysian Fields of heaven. “Amazin’” might have been his most understated thought.

Strasburg breaks the mold and saves the Nats

Strasburg made no one but the Cubs feel sick in Game Four of their NLDS Wednesday . . .

Strasburg made no one but the Cubs feel sick in Game Four of their NLDS Wednesday . . .

Stephen Strasburg long-tossed in the Wrigley Field outfield before Game Four Wednesday afternoon. A couple of wisenheimers in the Cub bullpen wore medical masks over their noses and mouths.

Unavailable Tuesday even before the weather-induced postponement because changing weather caused him to breathe in mold—and feel feverish enough to be pumped full of antibiotics and IV fluids—Strasburg got the last laugh.

And the Nationals may yet get the last laugh with the division series moving back to Washington for Game Five.

Blowing in the crosswinds

Anthony Rizzo's jam shot floated into the crosswinds and hit the grass eluding three Nats to put the Cubs ahead to stay in Game Three, NLDS . . . will it help send the Nats home early again?

Anthony Rizzo’s jam shot floated into the crosswinds and hit the grass eluding Trea Turner (left), Michael Taylor (center), and Jayson Werth (right) to put the Cubs ahead to stay in Game Three, NLDS . . . will it help send the Nats home early again?

Don’t look now, but the Cubs are one game away from pushing the Nationals out of the postseason in round one. That would be territory both teams are accustomed to seeing, even if last year it was the Dodgers giving the Nats the push and the Cubs moving forward at the Giants’ expense.

The Bryce was right for the Nats in Game Two

Bryce Harper touching the plate after his mammoth two-run homer began bringing his Nats back from the dead in the eighth in Game Two

Bryce Harper touching the plate after his mammoth two-run homer began bringing his Nats back from the dead in the eighth in Game Two

Some teams see the danger of falling behind 2-0 in a three-of-five and shrivel. Some see it and see an opportunity. The same goes for individual players. Push them or theirs against the wall and they either shrivel or push back hard. Bryce Harper, right now, is in the latter category.

The Nationals aren’t anywhere near complaining, after Harper started the yanking that ended with a 6-3 Nats win in Game Two of their division series against the (say it again!) defending world champion Cubs. (Still feels good, no, Cub Country?)

Are the Nats postseason crisis junkies?

An unusual error and two RBI singles spoiled Strasburg's masterwork in the making . . .

An unusual error and two RBI singles spoiled Strasburg’s masterwork in the making . . .

The American League division series aren’t the only ones offering up surreality this time around. The National League is doing a good enough job itself. Unless you weren’t paying attention to Game One in Washington.

Never mind Clayton Kershaw surrendering four bombs and still winning Game One between the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks. The Cubs and the Nationals were a little juicier, even if the Cubs won by a measly 3-0 to open.

Tough for even the best to hit the Indians’ pitching

Get your runs now---Miller Time is coming . . .

Get your runs now—Miller Time is coming . . .

If good pitching beats good hitting, the Indians go into this postseason with a distinct advantage over the competition. Even over those yummy young Yankees. And if good hitting beats good pitching, a few postseason bullpens have key vulnerabilities. Rather than bore you with why I think everyone else can just hurry up and wait for the Indians to claim this year what they nearly did last, let’s expand upon those two thoughts.

Suddenly the Dodgers look like the Dodgers again

Third base coach Chris Woodward extends Cody Bellinger a low fist after Bellinger blasted NL rookie record-tying number 38 Saturday afternoon . . .

Third base coach Chris Woodward extends Cody Bellinger a low fist after Bellinger blasted NL rookie record-tying number 38 Saturday afternoon . . .

Everyone thought the Dodgers began looking like deer frozen in the headlights when that sorry slump turned into an eleven-game losing streak and sixteen of seventeen lost. Now, as they were en route their fourth straight win and second straight against the National League East champion Nationals, the only one who looked anything like that thus far this weekend was Nats outfielder Jayson Werth Friday night.

Hey, Porter!

Umpire Alan Porter was not amused at being asked to un-block Daniel Murphy's sight line at second base Tuesday night.

Umpire Alan Porter was not amused at being asked to un-block Daniel Murphy’s sight line at second base Tuesday night.

Bet on it: If Daniel Murphy had F-bombed umpire Alan Porter Tuesday night, Murphy would be sent to bed without his supper and with a few thousand less dollars in his bank account. What’s the penalty for the ump F-bombing the player who did nothing more heinous than ask him to move a bit further out of Murphy’s sight line playing second base?

Skip sublime, go ridiculous, almost three years later

Between the end of the 2014 National League division series and this Memorial Day, Bryce Harper hadn’t batted against Hunter Strickland. During that NLDS, Harper faced Strickland twice and took him deep twice, both mammoth blasts, one of them a splash hit in the deciding Game Four:

This is the second of the almost three-year-old bombs Harper hit for which Strickland wanted his revenge . . .

This is the second of the almost three-year-old bombs Harper hit for which Strickland wanted his revenge . . .