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By Murray Chass

August 30, 2015

If no one has already done it, someone in Washington should file a missing persons report with the District of Columbia metropolitan police. Note I said persons – plural – because many members of the district’s major league baseball team have been missing for months. In fact, it might already be too late for a missing persons report to do any good. If it hasn’t already, time is running out.

As recently as the start of the season, the Nationals were widely considered to be a clear-cut favorite to win the National League East title. More than that, many so-called experts and fans alike expected the Nationals to go all the way to the World Series and probably win it.

Five months later, this is where the Nationals are. The Pittsburgh Pirates swept a three-games series from the Mets recently, and the Nationals couldn’t slice even a game off the Mets 4 ½-game lead over them because the Nationals lost all three games they played against the San Francisco Giants.

Since then, circumstances have become even worse for the team that was supposed to erase from the reputation of the nation’s capital “first in war, first in peace, last in the American League.”

The capital earned that ignominious sobriquet when the town’s team, the Senators, played and played poorly in the American League. Given new life in a new league with new owners, Washington was supposed to rise again.

A new corps of players was supposed to resuscitate baseball life in the district, but the Nationals are nearing the end of another President’s term and nothing has changed.

The names of the Nationals regulars have appeared in their lineups most of the season, but they have been …

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By Murray Chass

August 27, 2015

Nearly 40 years ago, the leader of the National Football League, Ed Garvey, criticized and ridiculed Marvin Miller and Richard Moss for their willingness to limit Peter Seitz’s historic arbitration award that created free agency.

Seitz ruled that baseball players, such as Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally, in whose names the union filed the grievance on which Seitz ruled, could become free agents if they played a year without signing a contract. The renewal clause in the uniform player’s contract, the arbitrator found, could not be exercised in perpetuity and therefore players could be free after a year.

However, Miller and Moss, the most effective dynamic duo in labor history, Miller the union leader, Moss the union lawyer, knew that players would benefit far less if …

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By Zachary Kram

August 23, 2015

Just before the trade deadline, I wrote that the American League playoff picture seemed to be taking shape. At the time of that column, the Yankees had built a seven-game lead in the East and the Royals a nine-game advantage in the Central, making for two strong division favorites; the Astros and Angels were still battling in the West, but the runner-up appeared poised to host the wild-card game.

Three weeks later, only the Royals have upheld their part of that bargain, and that’s largely attributable to the subpar play of their competition—through Friday’s games, no other Central team had a winning record.

But although the Royals seem guaranteed to clinch their first division title in 30 years, the Yankees’ lead came crashing down as quickly as you can say “Troy Tulowitzki.” Toronto won 14 of 15 games after acquiring the Rockies’ erstwhile shortstop and briefly upended …

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