The team was .500 but maybe slipping a bit They lost 2 out of 3 to the Cardinals. They were still in 3rd place though and the Pirates were coming up, followed by a Mets team that was flounding. At worst they'd come out of those 6 games 3-3, still at .500 and likely a game or two out of last. At best maybe they go like 5-1 and fill Nats' fans heads with dreams of a spring full of games with reasons to watch. Right?
But no, they lost 2 of 3 to the Pirates and have lost 2 so far to the now-streaking Mets. For a different team it would be just disappointing. Maybe they'll bounce back next week. But for your bad teams, the Pirates, the Royals, and yes the Nats, it's more than that. You are used to seeing the season die early. You are used to having no hope of contention. That's the norm. That's the expected. It may just be 4 out of 5 games on the calendar but it's more than that in the mind. It's the continuation of 5 seasons of losing. The team can't just go on a hot streak - even for over a month, and get fans back. It has to prove to you it is a different type of team and do it for a while. You aren't going to get really excited until you have a reason to be.
Last year the fans had a reason. Strasburg. That was different. That was something to take notice of. There is something maybe on the horizon that's the same thing. Bryce. Those two might be able to drive interest by themselves for a while, even if the team doesn't win. But neither are in DC now. Now they need to win and now they are losing, just like always. How can you expect fans to be into the team, even though the season isn't even 15% over yet.
The Nats may bounce back and beat the Mets, and then take 3 out of 4 from the Giants. It's baseball. It's possible. But until the Nats keep doing this over and over again for a good chunk of the year fans are just going to be waiting for the other shoe to drop. It always has.