People always talk about “where were you when…?” moments. Some are political, some are breaking news alerts, and some are sporting events. I have memories of many newsworthy events in my lifetime, and now you can add the Washington Nationals clinching their first playoff berth to the list. I was at Nationals Park, with 30,358 of my closest friends.
It hasn’t always been easy being a Nats fan, as most of you that read this blog are aware. The 2005 season was special because there was finally baseball to cheer for where I lived, but things got ugly for quite a few years after that. From consecutive 100 plus loss seasons to the “Natinals” debacle and everything in between, it wasn’t always fun to be a DC baseball fan, but at least there was a team to watch.
Watching and being among an excited crowd at the Park on Thursday was a surreal experience, and one that hasn’t been rivaled by any game I’ve been to so far. Stephen Strasburg’s debut in 2010 was great, and the park was loud, but this was different. There was unbridled emotion in the stands. Strangers were hugging and high-fiving, people were jovial, screaming “Dreeeew” as Drew Storen closed the game, which is a familiar place for the Nats former, and likely future, ninth inning guy.
The Nats executed the festivities following the win just the right way at the stadium, too. They put up “Nats Clinch” on the big scoreboard, and they had fireworks for the first time after a win this season, which allowed Charlie Slowes to proclaim “Bang, zoom go the fireworks” once again. The players treated it mostly as another win, with handshakes and high-fives after the game. They have a bigger goal that’s just eight wins and/or Braves losses away.
Winning the division is especially important with MLB’s new postseason structure. The Nats would avoid a one-game Wild Card playoff and move right to the five-game NLDS if they clinch the division, and Davey Johnson and his squad have their eyes set on that goal. At the beginning of the year, I never expected the Nats to be here this year, but Davey did. During spring training, he said, if they didn’t make the playoffs this year, “they can fire me.” Well, Davey won’t be fired anytime soon, and I have a feeling he will be able to stay as long as he wants.
I leave you with this: The Washington Nationals are going to the postseason. Embrace this feeling. It’s the first Washington, DC baseball team to make the playoffs since 1933. Be happy, be nostalgic with your fellow fans, and be excited for what’s to come. It’s going to be a fun ride.