I have hesitated to write this because of when the idea came to me. It was on the way to game five of the NLDS that I had a realization. For years the best baseball game I had ever been to wasn’t one played by my favorite team. It was a lat season game in 2009 between the Twins and Royals. Zack Greinke in route to the AL Cy Young and a dominant season took the mound against Nick Blackburn and the Twins. The Twins were making what had become their customary late season push as the HHH Metrodome was set to hold its last baseball games. It looked like when the tickets were purchased that this would be the last series ever held in the building and we were lucky enough to see Zack Greinke pitch.
The Twins started shooting up the standings and ended up in a position where they needed to win the next two against the Royals while the Tigers lost in order to make it to the post-season. All of these things happened and I was there to witness it. The Metrodome that day was an insane environment, and the game was a back and forth affair seeing both teams blow saves and former National John Rauch ended up with a Blown Save, Win. It was an amazing afternoon of baseball, and it wasn’t until I was sitting in a car driving to game five that I realized that I watched the 2012 Nationals play many afternoons and evenings of exciting baseball.
Then it struck me. That 2009 game between the Twins and Royals was no longer the best game I had ever seen, nor the most insane environment I had been a part of. The credit now went to game four of the NLDS between the Nationals and Cardinals. Ross Detwiler pitched six innings of one run ball to save the Nationals season and Jayson Werth ended the night with a 13 pitch at bat walk-off homer. I don’t think I will ever forget where I was at that moment. I was standing behind section 139 and as the ball sailed over the fence a crowd that was already standing appeared to grow a couple feet taller.
The happiness aftermath of the game was something I had never seen. The first and most apparent reaction was that no one left the stadium immediately. People found their friends and just kind of hung around inside Nats Park. Once they made it outside they walked down the street chanting, “Lets go Nats,” while car horns blared in rhythm. It was the happiest I have seen DC sports fans in my life, and the next evening when the Nationals jumped out to an early 6-0 lead over the Cardinals the shear joy of it all sent everyone into a state of delirium.
But like any great rise it was followed by a great fall. By now I am tired of writing about game five and I am sure you are tired of reading about it, but let’s not allow game five to ruin what game four was. It was an important realization I had on the way to game five. It was important because until that moment I hadn’t realized that I had been watching meaningful baseball in my hometown for the entire season. I still thought of that game in Minnesota as the best I had ever been to, but it no longer was. That honor now belongs to game four of the NLDS, and the time of meaningful baseball in DC looks like it has only just begun. Let’s just hope our next state of delirium last longer than the next six innings and doesn’t end in a splat.