Nats Cast Of Characters Just As Important As Wins

11:49 AM, Sep 22, 2012   |    comments
Nats fans celebrate on Thursday night (US Presswire)
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WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- I've been blogging a little less than usual this fall, as I learn the ropes of the television production side of the business here at WUSA-9.

But I still have some praise to offer to the Washington Nationals for their National League playoff berth.

You know what's crazy? I just realized this the other day: my first ever beer was at a Nats game in 2005. I was 16-years-old, it was in the thick of summer and I thought I was cooler than Ferris Bueller. There used to be no rules at Nationals games. I would buy $5 tickets and sit where ever I wanted to. I would graze the crowd looking for babes, barely watching any of the baseball.

My have the times changed.

There's been more memories during the 2012 Washington baseball season than the previous seven combined.

It started with Davey guaranteeing a playoff berth in spring training, a true igniting of Natitude. There was the Strasburg shutdown debate, Strasburg's first home run, his semi-dominance at the plate, 'Hot Stuff', and the Strasburger.

There was 'Take Back The Park' night against the Phillies in May, a smashing success. There was 'Chicken Sh*t Hamels.' There was Gio Gonzalez and his smile, Adam LaRoche's unexplainable power surge and Ian Desmond finally proving his many doubters wrong.

There was the team's coming out party at Fenway Park. There was the Rally Napkin in Colorado. There was Davey Johnson and Tampa's Joe Maddon's spat in June. There was Bryce Harper and Ozzie Guillen's tussle in July.

Of course, as in any season, there were some bad moments. Relief pitcher Henry Rodriguez's early season meltdowns, Danny Espinosa's struggles, the Davey and Mike Rizzo's war of words in August and the whole debate on whether the team would pay for the metro.

What were thought to be catastrophic injuries to Drew Storen's elbow, Michael Morse's lat, Wilson Ramos' knee and Jayson Werth's wrist were subdued because of unsung performances from Craig Stammen, Sean Burnett, Roger Bernadina, Steve Lombardozzi, Kurt Suzuki -- even Rick Ankiel and Tyler Moore. 

But how could we forget Bryce Harper? When he stole home -- quite possibly the smartest sporting moment I've ever witnessed in person, 'Clown Question Bro,' playing softball with fans, getting stitches in his eye after smashing his bat, his galvanizing triples, his first ejection in Miami, and the time he and the other rookies dressed up as Olympic gymnasts.

It's the characters on this team -- from the bullpen, to the goon squad, to the superstar draft picks -- that's made baseball fun again in Washington D.C. Sure winning helps. But the moments I noted above are just as important as leading in the standings. These Nationals players have won over the hearts of people in town, and are planting seeds to stay there for decades. People have fallen in love with this team.

Thursday's playoff berth for the Nats was a "very nice moment," as Davey Johnson put it. But there's still a bucket list full of memories to be made in October.  

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