For years, members of the Washington Baseball Gang brooded over not having a team. Now the brooding has taken on a new life: the collapse of the Washington Nationals since July 4, when they were comfortably in first place in the NL East, 19 games over .500. But as Yogi Berra (I think it was Yogi) said, "You gotta play all 162 games." So far, the second half of the season has been a disaster and TalkBackers need to vent:

The Nats' main problem, in my opinion, is their failure to execute. I mean, how many times in this just-ended homestand did they have the leadoff batter on first or second, yet never once did I see them sacrifice. Given that most of their recent losses have been by one run, one can only speculate about the number of games that could have been salvaged with some sound strategy. All you have to do is look at the way San Diego won those three games this past weekend. Basics, basics and more basics. And that's the kind of manager I thought Frank Robinson was. Am I missing something?

Ralph Blessing, Washington

Ralph, who could have done better managing the Nats than Frank Robinson? You sound like Steinbrenner.

Who would have thought that I, being of sound mind and body, would get in a car on a hot, muggy afternoon and drive north on I-95 to go to a ballgame in D.C.? This after watching a great soccer match the previous evening between D.C. United and Richmond Kickers. This I did and was greatly rewarded as I saw a gem of a game with great pitching from John Patterson and a grand slam from Brad Wilkerson.

To those of you to whom I expressed my doubts of baseball ever reaching D.C. -- much less to be an enjoyable experience -- I must eat most humble pie. RFK is not Camden Yards but it is clean; they have done a good job with the stands and playing field; and it is a pleasure to watch a game.

John Mobley, Richmond

John: Now you've got to calm down Ralph Blessing.

There's something about the Orioles that reminds me of one of those old ballparks on demolition day. Sir Sidney Ponson keeps getting bigger, Sammy is shrinking, Raffy in trouble and Mazzilli taking the fall for all of it. Peter Angelos saying nothing. Is there a new curse? Has the man who tried to keep baseball from Washington brought upon himself and his team the ultimate punishment?

Glenn Goldstein, Gainesville

Ah, the baseball gods.