(The 2005 Nats had the best record in the NL East on July 4, but not in the entire National League.)

This absurd development led ESPN 980’s Kevin Sheehan to ask Tim Kurkjian on Monday whether the Nats should now be considered the NL favorites.

“I just can’t in good conscience say that at this point, and yet tell me somebody who’s better than them?” Kurkjian responded. “Give me another National League team that you look at and say well they are really primed to have a great second half, take off and run away with this thing. That National League team does not exist. It certainly doesn’t exist in the National League East, that’s for sure. . . .

“Yes, the Nationals have as good a chance as any team in the National League of going to the World Series, and who would have thought five years ago or even one year ago?”

But Sheehan would not be deterred. He wanted an answer.

“Yes,” Kurkjian finally relented. “They are the favorite in the National League right now, because they have the best record, they’re gonna get healthier with Storen and Werth at some point, and if they can keep that rotation healthy? I mean, they went into Boston with Zimmermann, Gonzalez and Strasburg, and Bobby Valentine — not easily impressed — went whoa, we haven’t seen three pitchers like that in the same series all year, not even close. That’s how good they were, and that’s why you have to give them a chance to win.”

Anyhow, when you watch the All-Star Game this year, better root for the NL. Game 7 might be at Nats Park.

Maryland announced that seven athletic programs will be eliminated because of budget concerns.

Tracee Hamilton, on her optimistic Nats thoughts: “Yikes, I’m turning into Boz! Well, there are worse things.”

Chipper Jones texted Bryce Harper to say thanks for the support. Via the AJC:

“That’s a very classy thing for a 19-year-old kid to say,” Jones said. “I think he’s going to be in his fair share of All-Star games throughout the years. He’s an unbelievable talent and I just let him know that I appreciated what he said. It was classy.”

Here are the work crews rebuilding the Caps sheet of ice at their Ballston practice facility.

The NL East standings, represented by bobbleheads. Via @TravisPloeger.

The Nats host the Giants at 6:30 on MASN. The Orioles are in Seattle at 10 on MASN2. All TV/Radio listings are here.

Ian Desmond has become close with a 20-year old kid battling health problems. Cool story.

Ted Leonsis on the NFL blackout issue: “I always wondered why this has been an under-reported story. For five years in a row, attendance is down.”

Washingtonian has posted some of Fred Davis’s court filings.

This RGIII “FRANCHIIISE” shirt is pretty hot.

Alexandria’s Port City brewers are racing against time to save a 1,860-gallon tank that will become Pilsner. Wish them well.

The former Fruit Bat on H Street is going to become “an ‘80s-themed arcade bar” with a craft and value-beer-focused drink menu. So: heaven, basically.

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