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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rank 'em!

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?


Ryan said...

Seeing as how I'm a short-timer as far as being a Nats fan, I'd say today ranks at the top of my list.

Hard to pick the best moments for me, but I remember seeing Dunn go yard twice against the O's on a rainy Sunday in May. That was pretty cool. Seeing Z-nn vs. Smoltz was pretty sweet, too. And maybe Martis' complete-game against the Cards.

WFY said...

All the talk about defining moments on twitter got me thinking the same thing and I may blog about it the next time it gets slow. However, this one isn't one of them -- they did exactly what they were supposed to do -- sign the #1 pick.

MikeHarris said...

But was never a sure thing - and having it done is HUGE.

George Templeton said...

1. Sitting next to my father watching the announcement by Mayor Tony Williams saying that baseball was returning to D.C. That was moment I dreamed of many years and I will always treasure it.
2. The home opener in 2005 (specifically Vinny Castilla's home run and then booing the hell out of #@$#$#@ Lance Cormier for hitting him when he went for the cycle)
3. The first Nats game I attended with my Dad in 2005. Unfortunately it was the only game the Nats lost on that famous homestand
4. Zimmerman-Ching Ming Wang, homerun, ninth inning, Nats win! Yankees lose! Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees lose!
5. Ryan Church's catch to beat the Pirates and win the series in Pittsburgh in 2005. Went to all 3 games, had a blast and sat next to a guy from Frederick, Md. who was a Senators fan.

MikeHarris said...

Good list, George. If memory serves, Church got hurt on that play and we didn't see him for like a month.

bdrube said...

Mine would be the day AFTER that 2-1 win you in 2005 you mentioned. The next day, they closed out that legendary homestand on a Sunday afternoon with a win against Seattle. After the final out, the30,000+ fans at RFK rose as one and gave the team a long standing ovation as they high-fived at mid-field. I got chills down my spine as I clapped. On that day, the playoffs seemed very possible in a way they absolutely haven't since.

Maybe after a couple of years with Strasburg we'll have a moment like that again.

WFY said...

bdrube: That's my fifth favorite moment -- I just compiled them for a post to go up at 2 p.m. That was also my bachelor party.

MikeHarris said...

That 10th game in the streak was one of those I had no clue about until much later. We couldn't get them on TV here that year, I was away from a radio. I was dying to know if the streak had continued.

DMan said...

I can't think of five off the top of my head, but my top 3 come to mind immediately.

1. Opening day at RFK in 2005, a day I waited 33 years for. Sometimes, dreams do come true.
2. The Ryan Church catch. I remember raw emotion and tension of that game as I watched on TV.
3. The Zimmerman walk-off against the Yankees.

The Church play was bittersweet. Few remeber that up until that point the Nationals had an impressive defensinve outfield. Losing Church left them shorthanded and ultimately led to the trade for Preston Wilson. The outfield never jelled after that. Balls started routinely falling in the outfield that were usually run down in the first half of the season. That was the beginning of the end for the Nationals that year. All those magical one run victories in the first half became gut wrenching one run losses in the second half. To me, that
Ryan Church play is the high water mark of the Nationals. Its been all down hill ever since. Today could be the beginning of a new direction. Lets all hope Strasburg is the real deal.

George Templeton said...

Yes Mike, Church was hurt on that play and out for awhile.
That win Pittsburgh was the game that really had me thinking something magical was happening to the Nationals that year. John Patterson started but clearly didn't have his best stuff, but he battled and battled and kept the Nats in the game. The Nats tied the game when Jose Guillen got in rundown long enough to score the tying run and then someone (might've been Church I don't remember) hit a little blooper to score the winning run.
Then Church's catch to win it. As soon as that ball left the bat, I thought it was out and so did everyone else in the park. When Church caught we roared, then we quieted down because he was on the ground for awhile. I think every Nats fan in the park was down by the visiting dugout by the time he got there and we were cheering him and clapping like mad. What a happy drive back to Northern Virginia that was.