13 October 2012

Washington Nationals NLDS Game 5

I want you to walk through a few scenarios with me for a minute:

  1. Imagine you are a senior in high school again, applying for colleges. You select your stretch school- the one you really want to attend but which you know there's a pretty slim chance they'll even open your application. A week after applying you are shocked to get an acceptance letter from said stretch school. Not only do they want you, but they offer you a full ride scholarship for all your hard work and potential. Completely ecstatic, you tell all your friends, your grandparents, and buy your plane ticket. Then, on the day before you fly out to school, your perfect university calls you back and with no explanation informs you that you are no longer welcome to attend. No explanation, no reason, just a lot of tears.
  2. Imagine you are dating a fine, young co-ed and things are going just swimmingly. So swimmingly, in fact, that you decide to propose. She gratefully accepts and you set a date to be wed. Everything leading up to the wedding is bliss. Invitations are sent out, grandparents are personally called, and banquet halls are rented. You are madly in love. And then, a week before the deed is to be done, she leaves town. No explanation, no reason, just a lot of tears.
  3. Imagine you have just purchased a brand new car. You've worked hard to afford it and you spare no expense at getting all the bells and whistles. For years you've taken the bus, mooched rides, and walked. Now, finally, you have wheels of your own. Two weeks after purchasing your car you are driving to Church- an innocent enough activity- and a 16 year old rams into you, shattering your pristine car into a hundred different pieces. No explanation, no reason, just a lot of tears.
If you are still reading this you have surmised that it's not really a happy post. How could it be on such a dark day in Washington baseball?
Baseball has been good to me the past few years, and baseball has been downright diabolical to me. On Thursday night I went to the first playoff win in Washington, DC baseball history since 1933. It was an ethereal experience as Jayson Werth took 13 pitches to smash a homerun off Lynn, extend the Nats' season, and walk off a hero. The utter Elysium lasted about 30 hours.
At the start of game 5 on Friday night in DC- an elimination game against the Cardinals of St. Louis- the Nationals came out swinging. Before TBS even had time to show the defensive players on their little graphic the Nats had 3 runs on the board. We tacked on three more as the game went on and led 6-0 before long. And then the Cards started pushing back. They scored one run, then two more, then a fourth and 5th. Finally in the 8th inning the Nationals got another run, making the score 7 to 5 leading into the ninth. The first two outs came easily (relatively) for Drew Storen (Nats' closer) even though there were men in scoring position. And then, in the top of the 9th, with two outs and a full count, up by two runs, Storen completely unraveled. Five times- I'll say that again- 5 TIMES- he was one strike away from finishing the game and preserving the lead. But instead he walked them. He walked the bases loaded, then, again with 2 strikes, gave up a hit that brought in two runs, effectively tying the game. (As I'm writing this I have to keep taking breaks to do other things from distracting me from how mad I am.) Once the game was tied Davey Johnson chose to keep Storen in, and he gave up two more runs before getting the final out. I'm not even sure why they played the bottom of the 9th. We had our 1-2-3 hitters up, and they all went out in unimpressive, ordered fashion. The game was over and the Cardinals rushed the field after a momentous comeback. And the Nationals- the Nationals with the best record in baseball- ended their season.
I have experienced this before. I remember vivedly the 2003 ALCS when Aaron Boon hit a homerun off Tim Wakefield (Red Sox) in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 7 after scoring 3 runs in the 8th to tie the game. I remember all to vivedly the last game of the season in 2011 as the Red Sox blew a 2 run lead in the bottom of the 9th to erase their playoff hopes and put the darkest stain on Red Sox lore in quarter century.
No explanation, no reason, just a lot of tears.
I left my viewing party with eyes down and no good-byes, as if it were a funeral viewing party. I put my music on real loud in the car, Mumford and Sons, and made a few wrong turns getting home. I was lost but I didn't care- I was just driving in a trance. Eventually I found my way home, though I really remember nothing about it except staring straight ahead and moaning. Apparently I like to torture myself because when I woke up this morning I read the sports page, went to sports websites, and relived the terrible moments again.
Baseball has an amazing ability to tug my emotions out more than just about anything, which is why I love it. I feel alive and committed and dedicated when I watch baseball. It's unpredictable, exciting, and heart wrenching. It's been a great season Nationals, and I commend you for getting this far.

1 comment:

Cat said...

I am genuinely surprised you made me care about baseball. Nice writing.