The end of the Washington Nationals 2012 season in the final game of the NLDS was sudden and cruel for the team and fans. An early 6-0 lead powered by a Jayson Werth lead-off double, a Bryce Harper triple and later a home run, along with homers from Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse had the Nats leading the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals with 18 outs to go and a visit from the San Francisco Giants for the NLCS looming.
The Nats slowly came undone — as described so expertly be Barry Svrluga in The Post. While not an all out sense of dread, the mind wandering to thoughts of a “mayor’s bet” with a friend in San Francisco fought with the the insecurity of a 6-0 lead, then a 6-3 lead and so on. It was a group loss with pitching breaking down from starter Gio Gonzalez to closer Drew Storen and just about everybody in-between. A double-play ball yielding only an out here and there as the Cardinals pecked away at the Nats lead. An insurance run in the bottom of the eighth wasn’t enough either. Storen had the Cardinals down to their last strike over and over again, but couldn’t seal the deal. The loss is his according to the record books, but he’s not on an island. Davey Johnson’s managing was curious, not terribly engaged late and his decision to put in Edwin Jackson seemed like he was trying to hard. Why put in a starter coming off of two subpar outings after a couple of days of rest? I really wonder if Davey was too tired in the dugout. At 69 years old, having dealt with serious health problems too, the late start may have taken a toll. Nobody in the bullpen retired the first batter of an inning either, just brutal.
The loss, not inevitable, but not surprising as the game went on was tough. The 12:29 a.m. finish wore me out and the next morning came quickly. I hardly had time to pout though – an energetic 4 year old bouncing off the walls, floors and parents prevents that. He cared not that the Nats loss, though he had celebrated the walk-off win the night before. Perhaps he had the right idea and whether by design or as a way of coping, I pretty much went along with it. There is another factor too – the events at my alma mater over the last year or so have forced a perspective on mere wins and loses and how much they matter. Trust me, I’d gladly be in the position of other Nats fans who are still hurting over a shocking elimination. Maybe I’m still in the “derrrrrp, we have a team mode” and need to get over it too.
In the end, the Nats had an astonishing regular season, beating my wins prediction by 12. They were in first place most of the year, but ran out of gas late. Nationals Park came alive and BeltwayLand embraced the team more than ever. Being “the Nats guy” in the office was fun and an icebreaker for the first time. It is never easy going into as Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler say, “the season of silence” (particularly with the Capitals locked out) but the good overwhelmingly outweighed the bad.
Spring training is about four months away, Opening Day, less than six…