Last year, you could’ve narrowed down MVP to a few candidates. This year, it’s open season. There were a number of players in the National League who had career years in many different ways. There were about 10 or 15 different players worthy of an MVP nod or win, and the nominees could’ve been picked out of a hat from that crop of players and it would have worked. With the number of players out there worthy of a nomination, somebody’s going to end up unhappy. Frankly, a lot of people are probably going to end up unhappy. Up until the announcement of the nominees, I had no idea who was going to make the final three; it all depended on what the voters were looking for. And once they were announced, I’m not afraid to admit that I was a little surprised with who ended up on the top of the heap.
The hell of the postseason is over, and now it’s time for the nightmare of the offseason to get into full gear. But before we submerge ourselves into that completely, let’s take a moment to look back and get a little nostalgic about the season that was. And yes, that means it’s time to indulge in award season.
After Dusty Baker‘s firing, Barry Svrluga wrote a column for the Washington Post analyzing the Nationals’ decision to not retain him —and what it means for the next manager. In his article, Mr. Svrluga states the Baker departure is both surprising and understandable. Baker was somewhat of a polarizing manager. He is lauded for his handling players and the clubhouse—a dimension this team sorely needed after Matt Williams ham-handed approach. However, his in-game decisions, particularly in the playoffs, are dubious. While the players love him, there are a few decisions that are objectively questionable:
Many a great remembrance of Dusty Baker’s time will be written across the DC region this week. Rightfully so. Two winning seasons with two division titles in two tries is more than any other manager in our short history has done, and for that he will always be fondly remembered. Well, that and because Dusty Baker is simply an awesome person.
Many people who derided his hiring instead of Bud Black just two short years ago — myself included — were very much won over by the charming skipper. His quips, his casual but confident way, his soft, smooth voice when answering questions. And, of course, all the winning.
But success cuts both ways, and Mike Rizzo probably has the right of it when he says regular season victories and division titles are not the goal anymore. Pulling yourself out of your post-Game 5 malaise, even the most ardent fan can’t pretend like they are okay going on losing in the first round ad infinitum. Where the dividing line between Rizzo (or maybe, more rightly, the Lerners) and fans is who exactly is to blame.
Note: there are many more obscenities in this article than those that usually appear on our site. If you find such things offensive, I recommend that you choose to read one of our other great articles by our amazing authors. Thanks.
I’ve spent the better part of a day trying to decide what to say, and if I wanted to say anything at all. I am still struggling with that, but I decided it was better for my mental health if I just started to type and see what came out. After all, that’s how I started getting into this in the first place when I started my first sports Nationals blog in 2010. What’s below are the ramblings of an incoherent person, one still feeling a wide range of emotions related to the Washington Nationals latest NLDS debacle, another baseball season gone by, and many years of closely following this team.
Continue Reading After Another Disappointment, Reject The Tired Narratives
Normally I write pieces where I pull only from my brain. I strive for an objective, analytical incision of a moment. A slice of the baseball world, laid out like an autopsy. Cold facts, maybe a joke or two, but the meat is from the head, not the heart.
As I sit watching the Yankees and Twins have one of the more absurd first innings of the year in the opening frame of the 2017 playoffs, I have a charge, no, a demand for Nationals fans everywhere: Soak it in.
Don’t shy away from the moment, no matter how high the tension, no matter how deep that ulcerous pain in your gut stabs. Shed any concern you feel for how rapidly you’re consuming that fifth of Four Roses and how many times you’ve awoken the eight-year-old with your shouting. These feeling, for ill or delight, are by far the best parts of the baseball universe. It’s been easy the last three playoff runs for the Nationals to chalk up the entire season as a failure because of how precipitously the fall came. I instead posit that these soul crushing Wil E. Coyote moments are building towards a yin to the yang of defeat. We most suffer so we can appreciate, we must face the trial so the reward is earned. We must taste the bitter so the sweet is fully grasped.
On the other hand, if it never happens, I’m ok with that too. No, really. All too often we get focused solely on the outcome of a moment, an experience, a….shit, I”m going to say it aren’t I?… a destination. I can think of the times it’s hurt so hard for us here in Nats town the last three trips around the playoff block. Jansen and Kershaw shutting us down after Max was so good. I know you were there for all 18 innings against a Giants team that really wasn’t that good, they were just that hot. Then of course there’s Game 5. You know which one. Watching Storen drown. Watching that ball sail towards the left field line and screaming “Go foul!” as loud as you could.
I can’t take that away. Nor would I even if I could. Instead I want to offer you a moment of mine. Game 4. That one. It’s not about the home run. It’s not about the win. It’s not about the hope. It’s about what happened in my living room right after. My wife and I were watching the game, sitting literally on the edge of our seats (ok, fine… couch), and our then three year old was doodling around the living room, doing….whatever the hell it is three year olds do. I frankly was paying no more attention to him than making sure he didn’t randomly discover a chain saw and start it up.
Then it happened, “Swing and a long drive, deep left field……” And my living room turned into a baseball asylum. Screaming, fist pumping, and jumping around in a most undignified manner. In the middle of this I looked down, mostly just to make sure I was not trampling the aforementioned toddler to his premature death, and noticed he no longer was a bystander in the moment. Instead he had gleefully joined the wild rumpus. I don’t know if he understood fully what was going on (he had certainly watched his share of baseball by that point), and I know he certainly didn’t grasp the gravity of the play, but he was scampering, cavorting, and screaming “We did it!” just as loud as his mother or I.
That doesn’t happen in May.
Do I care that we were crushed beyond belief twenty four hours later? Of course I do, but you know what? It was worth it (don’t type “Werth it” you buffoon…). If the price of Game 4 was Game 5, I’d pay it every time, and gladly. That is the power of the post season. Don’t fight it, don’t hate it, and for the love of everything you cherish, don’t ever try to escape it. Sit down, pour yourself a stiff one, and tighten your seatbelt. But whatever you do, make sure you enjoy it, because it will be a price well paid no matter what the piper demands.
The 2017 regular season is over, and we can wrap it up and tie it with a bow. The Nationals came one win short of tying their franchise-best record, and that happened even given numerous injuries and a flaky first-half bullpen. The regular season was one of Washington’s best, with a dynamite offense and loaded pitching staff, the best Nationals team possibly ever is ready to take on the postseason. But before we embark on that journey, let’s take a look back to reflect on the season that was, not by counting down the best moments for the team, but looking at the best moment for each player.
Monday was a monumental day for anyone who is invested in the life and happiness of the franchise’s wonderful closer. New National Sean Doolittle and Eireann Dolan, a comedy writer studying Theology at Fordham University, eloped Monday, becoming the first Nationals to ever get rings in October.
In part two of “September Nationals History Lessons,” we revisit all twelve games that marked the end of a season in the Nationals history. Some were entirely forgettable, a few were exciting, and one has been nearly forgotten considering the circumstances from the night before. In total, the Nats are 3-9 in their final game of the year. (They’re 3-6 in seasons ending in the regular season.) Some interesting names took center stage in these games from across the last decade. As I said last week, this is nothing more than a fun exercise and change of pace from the postseason hot takes you are getting from every media source in the nation. Enjoy!
Welcome to the first of a two-part series titled “Nationals History Lessons,” where we look at history as it relates to current events and allow readers to utilize the post hoc fallacy to jump to conclusions! First up, we look at how the three Nationals playoff teams and their playoff opponents fared in the month of September. We will then look at the 2017 Nationals and their NLDS opponent, the Cubs (no one really thinks it’s going to be anyone else, right?). This is meant to be a fun exercise, not an assumption of future events based upon three five-game series from the past nor a rehashing of painful memories from October. With that said, let’s get started!