It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Not only because it’s finally cool enough out that I can wear tights with my dresses, but it’s time for baseball playoffs. And for the third time in five seasons, my beloved Nationals will be there. So let’s go back in time and remember what happened.
The first time the Nats played October baseball, it was 2012. Davey Johnson was managing his first full season with the Nationals. The team did unbelievably well, going 98-64 in the regular season – unheard of because their previous best outing was in 2005 (their first in DC) when they went 81-81. This was a huge leap. And the series was amazing. Because this was the first year where there was a second wild card slot and they were trying to fit in the one-game wild-card playoff, games 3, 4 and 5 were all at Nationals park. And they were exciting games. For more than 3 years I kept the radio call for Jayson Werth’s walk-off home run from game 2 on my phone. Only when I updated phones did it too disappear. But as high as that high was, there was the inexplicable low that came with watching the Nats leading, and being only a strike away from winning it all when Drew Storen fizzeled out in the top of the ninth and took the momentum of that game from the Nats. I carried my larger camera at that game, and for months I refused to use it because the last photo I had taken was of Drew Storen throwing that fateful pitch. Ouch. The Cardinals would go on to lose to the Giants who would win the World Series.
The second time the Nats were in the playoffs was two years later in 2014. This was a more mature team that had actually been to the playoffs as a franchise before. So everyone was feeling good. Unfortunately for us, we were playing the Giants that year, and the Giants were just better (they would go on to win the World Series). The game I attended that year was the one that went for 18 innings (longest in MLB postseason history), and I will admit to leaving in the middle of the 16th because it was late on a Saturday night and I had to teach Sunday School the next morning, but also because it was bitterly cold and windy in our upper deck seats and we had been at the ballpark for nearly 7 hours at that point. As we drove back to my apartment, I listened in my parking space as the Nationals lost. I cried, and the boy comforted me as best he could.
And now it is 2016. The Nationals finished the season 95-67, first in the National League East, but not first overall. They’re playing the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series, and Game 1 starts with a mammoth pitching showdown between Nationals ace Max Scherzer and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. It’s going to be very exciting. And the best part is that I’ll get to bring my baseball bestie, A, with whom I wrote a blog about the Nationals up until 2012 when she moved away temporarily. But now she’s back and we’re going to attend our first playoff game together on Friday evening. I’m taking off work that afternoon to properly prepare for the game, and will be wearing all of my red postseason gear. This is the reason why I have that red Nats hoodie and kept my giveaway Nats scarf and hat.
It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be thrilling. I’m going to be a bundle of nerves for the next week, and cautiously optimistic about it all, but it’s good to be playing October baseball once again!