My first inclination upon hearing the great news of the Stephen Strasburg signing was to run out on my porch and yell "HELL YEAH!" real loud a couple dozen times. I had my hand on the doorknob when reason caught up with emotion. I don't live in Arlington or Alexandria. I'm 125 miles south of the stadium. This neighborhood is not very in-tune with the Nats. I would have been shot, arrested, maybe both (still might have been worth it).
I did the next best thing. I ran upstairs to the room where the Braves fan slept and jumped hard on the bed. I jumped up and down and up and down and up and down yelling "HELL YEAH! HELL YEAH! HELL YEAH!" When a meek voice protested that this was like some sort of nightmare, I came back with this: YOUR NIGHTMARE JUST SIGNED WITH THE NATS! Then I jumped some more and finally let him try to get back to sleep.
Oh. Hell. Yeah. Happiest I have been in a long, long, long time. Heading up tonight and they better trot him out. I'll give him my free t-shirt. I'll buy him a rib. Uncle Stan and Interim Mike better watch out. If I see them, I may hug them.
Look, I know. I've heard it countless times lately. The kid hasn't thrown a single professional pitch. Maybe he isn't THAT good. Maybe he flames out.
Maybe so, and maybe not, too. Maybe he's the greatest thing ever and he does it all in Washington. What he does is give us long suffering foofs hope. This could be THE ONE.
Oh. Hell. Yeah.
So in the two hours it took to fall asleep after my Happy Dance On My Son, I sat and thought about the greatest moments I've had in my almost five years as a Nats fan. There haven't been a lot of them. I came up with a top five but I'm going to list in chronological order. I'll have to think some more to put them in actual order.
*My first game. I didn't go to the home opener. My daughter and I went to an afternoon game against the Brewers early in the year and had a blast. Sat in section 519. Nats won, I remember zero details. Livan Hernandez pitched and my daughter said, "I see why you like this guy Dad. He looks just like you." It was so cool to be back in that ratty joint for a real ballgame.
*Same season, game nine of the 10-game streak. John Patterson on the mound, Nats win 2-1. This was special because I went with my brother and sister and their spouses, my son and a young woman he was dating at the time (but no longer). The Chief closed it out. Just a real fun night. I remember standing in the aisle at some point in the game, wearing the Nats jersey I got for Father's Day. I was waving a runner home because I feel better when I take charge. I heard my son say, "We've never seen him like this. Didn't know he had it in him."
*Fast forward one season. The Saturday game of the Yankees series, the day before the Ryan Zimmerman Father's Day Walk Off Home Run (another great moment that led to a head injury when I jumped into my ceiling fan). The Nats were down 9-2 and won 11-9. Darryle Ward legged his big self home from first on a Jose Guillen triple. He also hit a ridiculous home run. I went with my son and three of his college buddies and it was probably the most fun I've had watching a game. Our section had a lot of Yankees fans in it but they were exceptionally cool. A lot of good-natured back and forth and handshakes and high fives when it was done. The way it's supposed to be. The best part? Right next to us were two college-aged women. When it was over, I got the high fives and the best hugs ever, non-family division. The guys were mystified. "We're right there and the old man gets the hugs?" my son said. Not the first time he's underestimated my considerable charm.
*The 2008 Opener and Zimmerman Blast. Pretty self-explanatory. You could not have drawn up a better night. The one time I was glad Paul LoDuca was on the team because his weak effort behind the plate allowed the tying run to score and set the scene for The Great Moment at Nats Park. Even better that it came against the Braves. My daughter and I were quickly on the phone with my son, yelling, "HOW DID IT LOOK IN HD? IT LOOKED GREAT LIVE." I simply cannot print his response.
*Strasburg signs. This team has gotten worse each season, not better. We need some hope. Stephen Strasburg gives us hope. My dream of a Strasburg-Lannan-Zimmermann top three will have to wait a year but I'm still deliriously happy. There's hope in Nats Town. They could lose 120-0 tonight and I'll smile all the way home.
What are your best moments?