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On to Philly, and Into the Playoff Heat

Gotta admit, the circumstances of yesterday's rainout -- they canceled Fan Appreciation Day! -- sets up such an open net shot for us cynics that it's almost like Team Restraint has pulled its goalie. But I'm laying off. (Read Boswell, though.) In the end, the Nats still wrung from the night a moment to salute the fans. Just as the game was called after more than two hours of waiting, the Washington manager and players emerged from the clubhouse in front of their dugout. The fans (or whatever was left of them... it looked like a country auction gathering) grouped as close as they could behind the dugout. Team employees tossed some T-shirts. Manny Acta grabbed a microphone and thanked them for their support.

Then, players headed back inside, packed up their gear, and said goodbye to Nationals Park for the next six months.

Today, though, the meaning turns from sentimental to consequential. The Nats head up to Philly -- I am driving there in a few minutes; the new Reckless Kelly CD is on the playlist -- and this final series is thick with playoff implications. (Strasburg implications, too, for the Nats... though Seattle, with 101 losses, is running like Secretariat down the stretch.)

The Mets beat the Cubs last night, 7-6, and so entering this final series, the Phillies (89-70) hold a one-game lead on New York (88-71). The Mets and Brewers are tied for the wild card. Bottom line: Philadelphia, depending on this series, could win the division, sneak in as the wild card, or miss out altogether. That'll make for some good drama at Citizens Bank Park.

One more thing. Before we completely close the book of the first year of Nationals Park, I'm wondering if you guys care to share memories, reviews, and/or favorite games. When Acta was asked this yesterday, about his favorite home game of the season, he answered immediately:

"The walk-off homer by [Ronnie] Belliard against the Orioles. To me that was, like, even the Opening Night -- the Opening Night one was awesome because we were opening the ballpark and all that, but we blew the lead. We had the lead in the ninth and we blew it. The game against the Orioles that made us even in the Beltway Series, and we were, like, so down that day, it was so hot, we felt so hopeless with George Sherrill in there and two outs and then we get a single and then a walk-off. That was like -- that game, I had on my mind the whole season. And we had a few walk-offs as you guys know, like Dukes against the Cardinals, but I mean that one for some reason sticks in my mind. Also because for some reason we drew very well for that series. We had the Orioles fans and the Nats fans here, so that was a very special moment that day."

By Chico Harlan  |  September 26, 2008; 8:22 AM ET
 
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Next: Lineups from Citizens Bank

Comments

Yeah, you guys (The Post) were more depressing than the team this year. It'd be nice if you'd show us a little silver lining now and then. The stuff you write has a significant impact on the fan base too.

Not to say that there was never an upbeat story on the Nats this year, but overall the tone of the Sports section (with respect to the Nats) was a dark and ominous place to be.

Posted by: Glad it's over | September 26, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

Way to kick us when we down and soggy Boz!

But its true ownership needs to own-up and delivery a stud this off season. I will not be renewing my tickets next year. Last night was depressing effort for fan apprieciation night. Clint giving out buy one get one free pizza cards what a joke you get that coupon in junk mail every week.

Posted by: junkbucket | September 26, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

sounds more like "fan depreciation night."

Posted by: natsscribe | September 26, 2008 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Wil's walk-off home run on April 25th versus the Cubs was my favorite game.
The stadium was packed with Cubs fans, but we Nationals fans still held tough.
No career homers for Wil. Then he hits it into the bullpen. The bullpen guys were going nuts, as were Nats fans.
It's what made my wife smitten with Wil, and left a smile on my face that lasted until the next morning.
Other memorable games: Elijah Dukes' walk-off hit against the Rangers in the 14th, and his walk-off walk.

Posted by: Section 138 | September 26, 2008 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for your restraint, Chico, and second that, Glad (though I would add that it wasn't only the Post).

I'll second Manny on his fave moment. I was at that game, and it was awesome!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Although the season was a big disappointment, I do have some good memories to take into the off season. I agree with Acta that the highlight was Ronnie Belliard's home run against the Orioles. It was priceless to see the Oriole fans go from madly cheering for a third strike to dead silence.

In fact, the highlight of the season for me was being able to watch the play of Belliard and Willie Harris. These are two utility players who always gave their best effort and made contributions throughout the season.

Belliard was the team's hottest hitter after the all-star break and on at least two occasions had hits that started game-winning rallies. He played every infield position except catcher when needed and posted good defensive stats at each.

Belliard is signed for the 2009 season and i think the team can use his bat and his veteran presence (ala Barry Larkin). On the one hand, I selfishly hope they keep him. But on the other hand, I think he deserves to go to a better team. I have no doubt that, even at age 34, he can still play a Major League 2b.

Harris was also impressive in a utility role and I hope resigning him is on the priority list.

Losing is always the pits, but it helps to have players you enjoy watching.

Posted by: ladynatsfan | September 26, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Dukes' walkoff on a WP in the Brewers game was cool, too, though the blowing of a 6-run lead earlier in that game was not.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

LNF, we may be kindred souls. I'm a sucker for versatile utility players who go all out every time they enter a game (sigh, Jamey...).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

For me it was definately the Zimmerman opening day walkoff. My family had scraped and scoured and coordinated efforts on every computer available to find tickets for that game. Somehow we managed to get enough for all 6 of us to make it to the opener. It was the best day of the year, opening day, and one day before my birthday when the whole family gathered, huddled in the cold. The game took a turn for the worst but as I saw the lineup going into the 9th I knew that there would be an opportunity for Zim to bat with 2 outs.

My sisters and I have decided that Ryan Zimmerman is "clutch to the exclusion of all else." We've noticed his tendency to strike out with nobody on base in a game that is not close, to hit 2 out singles in the first only to be stranded. When there's a runner on second in the middle of a game, he'll often walk. He only comes up with that big hit when its needed... and then he delivers right on time.

As he stepped to the plate that night my sister and I caught each other's eye. Nobody said anything for fear that we'd jinx the man who always rises to the occasion. I was afraid that I had already jinxed him just by thinking it. I hadn't.

As we jumped up and down, hugging and high fiving, not wanting to go, she said to me "i knew he'd do it, i knew but i didn't want to say it!" I agreed. On that night I got an early birthday present. On that night my Washington Nationals were the best team in Major League Baseball.

Posted by: VT Nats Fan | September 26, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

I hear they were charging $18 just to hang out at the Red Loft. Can anyone confirm that? Why $18?

Posted by: 756* | September 26, 2008 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Where did the Nats radio broadcast go? Is it no longer carried on 107.7 FM?

Posted by: Help! | September 26, 2008 9:58 AM | Report abuse

$18 to hang at the Loft? Not last night, spent some time at the Loft and the Porch last night - wasn't charged a cover for either. Beers were still $7.50...

Posted by: Sec 114 Row E | September 26, 2008 10:07 AM | Report abuse

Rethinking my previous answer to charging $18 to hang at the Loft - you still need a ticket to get into the Park, and if the cheapest ticket available is $18, then it's $118 to hang at the Loft. The Nats should sell a $5 SRO ticket next year for folks that just want to hang at the Loft.

Posted by: Sec 114 Row E | September 26, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I heard it from my neighbor this morning. She said they obviously passed on the "deal" but since they didn't go, I wanted to confirm.

Posted by: 756* | September 26, 2008 10:14 AM | Report abuse

The Nats should play games on nights like last night. It was glorified drizzle! Me thinks they didn't want to lose the 100th game at home.

Posted by: 756* | September 26, 2008 10:16 AM | Report abuse

I was only able to return to DC for one series this season and it was against the Cubs, with two of my Cub fan friends. Friday was awesome watching Nieves hit a walk-off HR. Saturday was depressing as a Nats fan, but impressive watching Zambrano dominate the game. My favorite memory of the weekend, though, has to be the Sunday game.

It was cold and windy and not an overly exciting game, but on the way to the stadium my friends were giving me a hard time about this no-name pitcher the Cubs were going to pound to win the series. I told them he doesn't have over-powering stuff, but he is just a solid pitcher. Yup, watching John Lannan shut down the Cubs and shut-up my friends was the best memory of the only three games I attended at Nationals Park this season.

Oh, cannot forget to mention the half-smokes as the best non-baseball memory of the stadium.

Posted by: NeedANatsFix | September 26, 2008 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I'm sorry to say that I didn't make it up north this seasson, but plans to go next June (Toronto series) are in the works. Hopefully, management will have done something to improve the team. It'll be a part of a high school reunion trip.

Posted by: SC Nats Fan | September 26, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

To Help: 107.7 went back to an all-news format. You can catch the team only on AM radio now. Not sure where you are located, but from my location I can (barely, and with a world-band radio) pick up 1500 AM games at night.

To 756*: Was it the loft or the porch? There was a 50 percent off e-saver for the Marlins series, and I think that the porch seats (centerfield club) are normally $47 for single ticket sales (that would be $23.50 at half price, though, not $18).

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 10:23 AM | Report abuse

We were at that Sunday Cubs game as well, NANF. It did shut up the Cubs fans in our section rather nicely, I thought.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 10:24 AM | Report abuse

"The Nats should sell a $5 SRO ticket next year for folks that just want to hang at the Loft."

If they did that, then they'd need to adopt serious usher enforcement (i.e. continuous ticket inspection) for every other section in the stadium, and that's not gonna happen. The only way SRO tickets would work would be (a) if the game is sold out, in which case the persons holding tickets for all the seats in the stadium provide their own seat enforcement, or (b) if there was a separate entrance for the Red Loft, and once you went in there you couldn't enter other parts of the stadium. But given the location of the Red Loft, it would be pretty hard to build a separate entrance to it.

Posted by: guy to usher in President's club: You mean this ISN'T the Red Loft? | September 26, 2008 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Laughing out loud at that posted by line...

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, VT Nats Fan.

I was feeling sorry for myself because:
- The home season is over
- Our record is dreadful
- We blew the draft
- We're not even the "best" losers and will probably not draft #1
- I'm facing a long winter with no baseball
- My knees hurt

.... and then you reminded me why being baseball fans makes us the luckiest people in the world!

Let's play two!

Posted by: SlowPitch63 | September 26, 2008 10:38 AM | Report abuse

My favorite highlight's been watching Jesus Flores blossom into a for-real, Major League catcher. His left-field doubles were things of beauty. My only complaint is that they shoulda moved him higher up in the lineup sooner.

After the amount of money the FO spent on Lo Duca and Estrada, Flores was a breath of fresh air.

Posted by: Juan-John | September 26, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Huh?

****************************
can the fact that last game wont be played how does that effect the obtaing the first pick in the draft

Posted by: cos | September 26, 2008 9:53 AM

Posted by: The Grammar Lady | September 26, 2008 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand the "cheap suit unravels" comment. Who would have thought that Zimmerman, Milledge and Dukes would be out as much as they were. Also, take that you also loose your 1B, back-up 1B, RF, 2B etc. Injuries played a big part in this year's season. I'm not saying you aren't going to have injuries, but it was crazy this year and it isn't like they tried to protect themeselves. They kept both Dmitri and Johnson because of past history and they both went down.

Also everyone keeps talking about spending money, but what should they have spent money on that would have made any difference in wins or getting people into the seats? There wasn't anyone out there and I am not for spending money on a long term contract if they guy isn't going to be around for a couple years. There aren't too many guys that fans will come out and see just to see him. Bond is one (mostly to boo him) and Soriano was great when he was chasing 40-40. This was a bad year, we need to move on. I believe in the "plan" and I believe that will go out and get a couple pieces this off-season (Big Bat and #2 Starting Pitcher), but to go after the learners or whoever for not spending money is crazy. Maybe they are tight wads, we will have to see. However, maybe they want to spend the money and Kasten is telling them to be patient. I am in this for thel ong haul. Like I said this year was tough because we overachieved so much last year. However, it is only a blip.

Posted by: brothbart | September 26, 2008 10:59 AM | Report abuse

"can the fact that last game wont be played how does that effect the obtaing the first pick in the draft"

It eliminates the possibility of a tie with Seattle (which the Nats would have have won by virtue of having a worse record last year).

The Nats are 1 1/2 up on Seattle, which means in order to pass them (on the way down), the Nats have to lose at least two in Philly and Seattle has to win at least two vs. Oakland (each team with 3 games left).

San Diego's no longer a factor as far as the Nats getting the number 1 pick; if we "pass" Seattle, San Diego can't catch us.

Posted by: joebleux | September 26, 2008 11:12 AM | Report abuse

The Nats lost me this year. It was simply not fun to go the games that were over in the third inning.

Not only were players hurt -- but they used players who were too hurt to play major league baseball, vis: Willie Mo Pena. And sad sacks like Felipe Lopez. Hard to get behind a team like that.

And the new park -- I don't like all the entertainment racket.

The whole experience was just not much fun.

Former 1/2 season ticket holder

Posted by: DC Diehard | September 26, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

The projected #2 pick in the 2009 draft, Dustin Ackley 1b from North Carolina might turn out to be a better choice anyway. We have several promising young pitchers but a black hole at first...

Posted by: ladynatsfan | September 26, 2008 11:51 AM | Report abuse

It was a TERRIBLE year, luck-wise ... injuries, underperformance and a rainout on Fan Appreciation Night to cap it off.

I stand by my belief, however, that we will look back on this season the way than Mets fans did the early days in the 1960s.

That said, you can't deny that this season was a disaster - so I do hope the team does something a little differently this off-season.

I don't expect them to sign Texeira or Sabathia - but I hope we don't just settle for another replacement-level FA crop either. I don't mind overpaying for one guy that says "we're trying to win sooner than later".

The new park is nice but it isn't a destination - there needs to be a major-league team there for more than just us diehards to go.

I'd keep Kasten, can Bowden, go hard after Cashman (or Rizzo), fix the radio/TV crap and generally strive to look like the hardest-working team in baseball starting TODAY.

Beat Philly!

Posted by: Bonihernalez the 3-headed waterbug | September 26, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Foil the Fillies!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

NeedANatsFix, I was at those games during my brief return to DC this season, and I share your joy in reliving them.

Loved the cold, gloomy Sunday affair. Even from the cheap seats, Lannan looked wonderful.

But that Nieves walkoff was the best moment for me. Sitting in a section surrounded by Cubs fans, watching that win slip away as Cubs fans bubbled with drunken glee, I was miserable. And then CRACK! Opposite field home run by Nieves, and the Cubs fans are incredulous. Marvelous.

(And then I got headbutted by a Cubs fan for trying to break up a fight, but that hardly sullied the moment.)

Posted by: John in Mpls | September 26, 2008 12:17 PM | Report abuse

The projected #2 pick in the 2009 draft, Dustin Ackley 1b from North Carolina might turn out to be a better choice anyway. We have several promising young pitchers but a black hole at first...

Posted by: ladynatsfan | September 26, 2008 11:51 AM
___________________________

Please post the link of ranked amateurs. Anything to fast forward till next year.

Posted by: 756* | September 26, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Two moments stick out for me because they really were so special -- it's a shame that the season was so awful they won't get their due.

Moment one: On a frigid Opening Night, Rausch blows the save, but, with the crowd chanting his name, Ryan Zimmerman smacks the game-winner over the wall less than a hundred feet from where I was sitting (I'd moved up from my seats in the last row).

Moment two: June 6 -- Elijah Dukes serves notice that he has arrived. Nats trailing by a run in extra innings after another blown save, but Dukes crushes a walk-off 2-run shot of his own.

These were the kind of moments that could define a season -- the kind that fans would talk about for years. Zimmerman's home run will be remembered, but Dukes' shot will be special only to the few fans that stuck it out (yes, I was one).

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 26, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

What's up with Seattle? Felix Hernandez gives up 13 hits in 6 innings? Try and convince me they are not deliberately tanking....

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 26, 2008 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I didn't make it to last night's game (we only make it to weekend games for the most part), but I've attended previous Fan Appreciation Days. As far as I recall, there was never a guarantee that everybody would receive a gift item - whether season ticket holder or lowly self-mini-plan-creator like me. I never won anything on such days, nor did I catch any of the items that the team threw out after the game. But that's not why I went - it was to say goodbye to my guys for the year. I'll miss them, and I'll be there for them at the same time next year.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Has to be the RB walkoff against the hated "Blows". We sat in our Club Seats for that one and my son and I just couldn't take it in the ninth. We walked into the AC and figured we would watch the last out on the tube and then head for the train. My wife and daughter would have none of that and they stayed in their seats. Just as I was ready to turn around and head back to my seat "Bam" the ball is heading for the foul-pole. I nearly knocked a beer out of a guys hand as I rushed down the steps to scream as loud as I could. I turned to my son and said,"if they don't win another game all year, this was ther best

Posted by: Tippt Canoe | September 26, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

"Moment one: On a frigid Opening Night, Rausch blows the save"

I'd Like to give props to Paul Lo Duca for his passed ball. The PB allowed me to blow the save and then later pick up the win (the first win at Nationals Park). Without Paul and his inability to catch balls thrown right to him, I would have never been bestowed this great honor.

Posted by: John Rauch | September 26, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

On the SRO ticket -

#1 - Ushers should be doing their job. I;m in 114 and don't even have an usher some nights.

#2 - if you make the SRO ticket a different size and color - it'd be easy on the ushers.

#3 - I think the $5 day of game tickets cause some problems. Why? People snatch up all the $5 seats and hang at the loft and the porch. Families show up and are told the $5 seats are sold out, then those folks end up in more expensive seats and get frustrated looking at the empty $5 sections. So, sell an SRO-Porch ticket and every one wins. THe ushers have to do their job? Wah!

Posted by: Sec 114 Row E | September 26, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Because I saw it, I have to go with Lannan's Sept. 1-hit performance against the Mets -- and the encouragement about him it reinforces for next year. My tip for anybody coming from up north to Nationals Park: Go down 301 and over the Bay Bridge -- so much easier than 95. And let's hope the shuttle from RFK is there (and free) again next season.

Posted by: Jersey Nats fan | September 26, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

On the SRO ticket -

#1 - Ushers should be doing their job. I;m in 114 and don't even have an usher some nights.

#2 - if you make the SRO ticket a different size and color - it'd be easy on the ushers.

#3 - I think the $5 day of game tickets cause some problems. Why? People snatch up all the $5 seats and hang at the loft and the porch. Families show up and are told the $5 seats are sold out, then those folks end up in more expensive seats and get frustrated looking at the empty $5 sections. So, sell an SRO-Porch ticket and every one wins. THe ushers have to do their job? Wah!

Posted by: Sec 114 Row E | September 26, 2008 12:40 PM
________________________________

Another option:
Expand the $5 seat section by a couple and make them first come/first serve. If you want to buy a $5 ticket and hang at the Red Loft all game, then those families can move closer to the action.

Posted by: 756* | September 26, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Fair-weather fans will be back soon enough.

I'm looking forward to the final series this weekend - could be a repeat of last year's knocking out of the Mets!! AND they will be on national TV on Saturday - yay!

Posted by: Patty | September 26, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

If you want to go back and watch some of the best moments of the 2008 season, you can see the videos of Zim's opening night walk-off, Nieves' walk off vs. Cubs, etc. online at http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/multimedia/tp_archive.jsp?c_id=was

Beware: If are as sentimental as I am today, you might need a tissue or two.

Posted by: Miss the Nats Already | September 26, 2008 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Not likely that they will outbid the Yankees for Sabathia or Teixeira. On the other hand Teixeira has local roots. He might actually want to play here -- and take a few million less than the Yanks will offer. The Nats should put some serious skin in that game. There are others, too. Burnett's a dicey proposition, given injuries, but again, he might take less money to play here. If so, he'd be less of a risk for the Nats than for other teams. I know the Nats did not go after him seriously 3 years ago, but they have a chance to fix that.

The Nats have question marks at 1B and CF (unless they move Dukes, creating an opening elsewhere). They have way too many question marks in the rotation, and need a #1 or #2 type starter. They also need to add some solid relievers. No doubt, the Mets and Yankees have similar needs and will be competing in the market. That doesn't mean that the Nats should stay out. It just means they have to be judicious. The Plan needs a big shot in the arm.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 26, 2008 12:50 PM | Report abuse

My apologies to Jon Rauch, for misspelling his name...

Posted by: Fisch Fry | September 26, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Is Lenny Harris' job safe? How long after the season ends until the firings typically occur? I hope Lenny's out by this time next week. I hate to see anyone lose their job, but he's had two years and has produced nothing to show for it - a few good offensive games here and there are all fine and dandy, but the only thing consistent about our offense is the fact that it's been the worst in the league. And I'm sick of hearing Lenny in the background on the radio broadcasts too.

Posted by: BSG | September 26, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Boswell may be two years late, but he finally got it right.

Posted by: swanni | September 26, 2008 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Natsfan1a! I like to sit out on the patio/deck with a cold beer and listen to the game on the radio (MASN sucks). Looks like it just became a little harder to follow my team. On top of Verizon FIOS re-arranging its channels it's no wonder there are so few people following the team. Beyond frustrating!!!

Posted by: Help! | September 26, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Within the next three weeks, look for the following exits:

Lenny Harris
Jim Bowden
Bob Boone
Barry Larkin
Dmitri Young (perhaps retained as coach)
Tim Redding
Odalis Perez
Tim Tolman....

...and maybe Stan Kasten if Bowden doesn't go.

Posted by: swanni | September 26, 2008 1:26 PM | Report abuse

You're welcome, Help, and I agree. Hope that the radio situation improves next year.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

"Dmitri Young (perhaps retained as coach)"

That sounds like a Bowden move. Cut a player, pay him his full salary plus another salary for being a coach. Brilliant! Similar to giving Aaron Boone $1 mil when no one else wanted him. Oh, and the $5 mil to Lo Duca the day before no one else would have wanted him.

Posted by: 756* | September 26, 2008 1:30 PM | Report abuse

I think they'll get Dimitri go to on the retired list. He's clearly not medically able to play and may never be again. If he stays on as a coach, he could return to active status if his health ever returns.

But his salary would be a coaching salary.

Why would Dimtri accept this? Wouldn't he just take the $5 million and sit on his fat butt for a year?

Maybe, but I think he would like to be part of an organization. Few teams would give him a chance now as a player(if any), but I think the Nats would be willing to keep him on board as a coach (and possible player again down the road.)

Posted by: swanni | September 26, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to all who have posted good memories of this season, which is I think what Chico intended. I have enjoyed reading them.

I was at the nongame last night - not because I thought there would be baseball but because I wanted a last halfsmoke and the chance to chat with some other hardcore fans. I will be back next year cheering for the guys. I think there is reason for optimism and surely reason to expect to enjoy baseball.

I Googled baseball 2009 draft to see who other than Strasburg might look good. There is a lot of information but I liked this SF site the best. They have links to other sites and a video of Ackley hitting a grand slam while breaking his aluminum bat.

http://www.orangeblackandblue.com/2008/08/2009-draft-prospects-early-look.html

Speaking of fast-forwarding to next season, it would be great if the Post would have some information on the various winter ball venues so we can see how our guys are doing.

Posted by: ladynatsfan | September 26, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I went to 11 games, with the opening night win and the Friday night Nieves homer against the Cubs being my two favorites. Even though the season was wretched in many ways, the ballpark experience was still excellent in my opinion. I love the park, the ease of getting their from Va. (the satellite lots were a great addition) and the fact that we can look forward to better times ahead. I can't wait until 4/13/09 when I hope to be in the Park for the home opener.

Posted by: TJH | September 26, 2008 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who wants to, feel free to drop by and enter my Nats 2009 Opening Day 25-man-roster prediction contest. Winner gets bragging rights!

http://dcsportsplus.blogspot.com/2008/09/25-man-roster-contest.html

Posted by: Hoagie | September 26, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Best moment: Opening Night. My ex-wife won the right to purchase 2 tickets in the last-minute online lottery. I took our 9-year-old Nats/Zimm fan.
Got to the park hours early and went to our seats at the end of Sec. 236. We were the only ones there. A WTOP reporter even ran all the way up to interview us and ask us why we were all alone.
When Rauch (and PLoD) blew the save, while everyone stood and yelled, my son sank into his seat and retreated into his parka. I thought he was just cold, but he said, "No, the Nats are going to lose."
I tried to console him by reminding him who was coming up in the bottom half of the inning. I said, "It's all set up for a Zimmerman walk-off."
When Zim hit it out, I experienced one of my happiest moments as a father. My son jumped up and down and said, "Thank you, thank you, Dad. This is the best birthday present I could ever ask for. I've always wanted to see Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off home run!"
One of our section-mates graciously took a photo of the two of us. I took that photo and his ticket stub, and I had them framed together with the Post's first-pitch poster.
The kicker is that, because he was wearing a bright red parka, and because we were sitting at the end of the section by the scoreboard, if you look closely, you can pick him out the crowd.

Posted by: chime121 | September 26, 2008 2:16 PM | Report abuse

chime, I think that just made MY list for best days there.

Posted by: CE | September 26, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Bonihernalez the 3-headed waterbug:

"I stand by my belief, however, that we will look back on this season the way than Mets fans did the early days in the 1960s."

But the Mets had a huge fan base right from day one: all those disenfranchised NY Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers fans who were NEVER gonna root for the Yankees even if their mothers' lives depended on it. The National League had only been gone from the Big Apple for 4 seasons.

We've had to overcome 33 years of no baseball. The 81-81 team of 2005 proved that there's a fan base that will support a good team. We don't have the base to support a 100-loss team. Not enough folks in DC have learned to love the game THAT much.

Mike

Posted by: MikeH0714 | September 26, 2008 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Not newposted, really, but I'm feeling egocentric, I guess.


******************************
The projected #2 pick in the 2009 draft, Dustin Ackley 1b from North Carolina might turn out to be a better choice anyway. We have several promising young pitchers but a black hole at first.
Posted by: ladynatsfan | September 26, 2008 11:51 AM
------------------------
One thing I don't remember seeing mentioned: What if Seattle decides they can't afford $10MM for Strasburg?
Posted by: CE | September 25, 2008 8:34 PM

Posted by: Anonymous | September 26, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

ooops, that was me, a little too quick

Posted by: ce | September 26, 2008 2:23 PM | Report abuse

That is a great story, chime!

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Oh, HELLno. That's one step from Ten-Cent Beer Night (http://tinyurl.com/2g62j). You want to go to a bar, go to a bar.

*******************
The Nats should sell a $5 SRO ticket next year for folks that just want to hang at the Loft.
Posted by: Sec 114 Row E | September 26, 2008 10:13 AM

Posted by: sect. 3, my couch | September 26, 2008 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Good point. The last thing we need to introduce into the equation at this point is a Ten-Cent Beer Night.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Man, I KNOW you know the Nationals don't get to decide that, the umpires and MLB called the game.

That said, yeah, they should have played it. So it's a little slippery--what could go wrong?

**************
The Nats should play games on nights like last night. It was glorified drizzle! Me thinks they didn't want to lose the 100th game at home.

Posted by: 756* | September 26, 2008 10:16 AM

Posted by: Sec. 3, MC | September 26, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I thought last night was great -- I saw the weather report and decided to forego using my Nats tickets to instead check out the Caps preseason game. Caps win, Ovechkin scores a thrilling penalty shot goal, everyone is happy. Can we convince Ted Leonsis to buy the Nationals?

Posted by: Scott in Shaw | September 26, 2008 2:41 PM | Report abuse

"Why would Dimtri accept this? Wouldn't he just take the $5 million and sit on his fat butt for a year?

Maybe, but I think he would like to be part of an organization. Few teams would give him a chance now as a player(if any), but I think the Nats would be willing to keep him on board as a coach (and possible player again down the road.)"

Dmitri Young is guaranteed $5M next year, and I don't care how much he would like to coach or be part of an organization, there's no way in hell he will give up that $5M. Even if he has to roll himself into spring training in a wheelchair, he will be there and he will suit up. If he really can't play, the Nats will have to figure out what to do about it, and they'll really have only two choices because Dmitri, nice guy that he may be, is not going to just walk away from $5M. They can either release him outright like they did John Patterson - and maybe not be liable for his full salary, either, just like they weren't liable for all of Patterson's. (I'm not sure exactly how that works in the context of the CBA.) Or they can stash him on the 60-day DL for the entire season as they did Guzman in 2006 and Nick Johnson in 2007. If he's on the DL, he can be with the team as much or as little as he wants if being part of an organization is really that important to him. If he wants to be a coach, he'd have to give up his player salary, and he can wait a year to do that I'm sure.

Posted by: swanni, how can we miss you if you won't go away? | September 26, 2008 2:53 PM | Report abuse

hmmm, that would be a good song title...

"how can we miss you if you won't go away?"

Posted by: Fake Dan Hicks | September 26, 2008 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I was there last night. A few end-of-season thoughts:

1. I have been to a lot of Fan Appreciation Days over the years of various franchises in various sports, and I can't think of a single one (until last night) that they didn't give something away TO EVERYONE, not just the first however many thousand. When you have a franchise that many are calling cheap -- and I'm not saying I agree, but that's not the point -- you should be smart enough to not look cheap on the last night of the season.

2. With only a few thousand people in the ballpark and a cold wind, it would have been nice to get inside for a while. What would have been the harm in allowing anyone who wanted to into the Stars and Stripes Club on the club level. There's no free food in there, and people could still be checked by ushers before going into the seats. It would have generated HUGE goodwill.

3. Some years from now, when the team is in the postseason and all the fair-weather fans are filling the seats, the handful of us who stood around the dugout in a rainstorm at 9:15 pm will recall, with smug satisfaction, that we were there way beck when, before all the Johnny-come-latelies.

A dismal, but strangely memorable, end to a dismal season. Wait til next year!

Posted by: Meridian | September 26, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Good column from Boswell today.

Great to have an MLB Blog now.

Please sustain the Nationals blog throughout the winter. If not with daily blogs then at least with some regularity and on occasion of roster moves, winter meetings, signings (I hope there are signings) etc....

Milledge needs 4 RBI, and 2 SB to round off his year. Dukes needs a couple of HR and SB too.

Hope Zimm and Guz are feeling better.

Id rather sweep the Phillies than get first draft pick, crush the Phillies. I don't like the Mets either, but we're playing the Phillies. Somebody back Utley off the plate.

Posted by: NatBisquit | September 26, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

THE LERNERS SUCKS! AS DO AUSTIN KEARN, LEVALE SPEIGNER, WILY MO PENA AND PETE ORR!

SPEND SOME MONEY YOU CHEAP OWNERS!!!

Posted by: LERNERSUCK | September 26, 2008 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Mike:

You're absolutely right - what I meant was that we'd look back on the 2008 Nats the way that Mets fans look back at the early Mets ... not that Nats fans now are like Mets fans then.

Posted by: Bonihernalez the 3-headed waterbug | September 26, 2008 3:19 PM | Report abuse

This is what I was talking about ... thanks Meridian!

"Some years from now, when the team is in the postseason and all the fair-weather fans are filling the seats, the handful of us who stood around the dugout in a rainstorm at 9:15 pm will recall, with smug satisfaction, that we were there way beck when, before all the Johnny-come-latelies."

And LERNERSUCK - 1) you don't need to shout and 2) I'm pretty sure the owners don't read this.

Posted by: Bonihernalez the 3-headed waterbug | September 26, 2008 3:21 PM | Report abuse

If you aren't reading Boz's chat that's going on right now, he just responded to a question about why the Post didn't cover the P'Nats title win with the following:

Tom Boswell: MANY things do not get covered. Usually, the decision is made based (among ther things) on reader interest. I have covered baseball for the Post since '75. If been to minor leagues from Spokane to Salt Lake City to tiny towns you can't name. But I'm not sure, until recent weeks, that I had ever HEARD of the Potomac Nationals. Or the'P'Nats.'

If a baseball lunatic like me has such a gap in his knowledge __I'm not proud of it, by the way__ I think it is fair to say that the Post is not blundering severely by not covering the team. But maybe I'll visit the Potomac Nats next season. It'd be fun.

That's pretty scary. I hope he was kidding, but I don't think so.

Posted by: TattleTale | September 26, 2008 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Buck a beer night?

Interesting note about the Mets -- when they've been on top, they've drawn pretty well -- though the Yankees draw better. The rest of the time -- including this year -- the Mets have a bunch of empty seats. Maybe all those years of losing -- the lovable losers -- have meant lost opportunities to win fans? I was a Mets fan, but there are definitely more Yankee fans.

Posted by: FIsch Fry | September 26, 2008 3:30 PM | Report abuse

Tom Boswell in his chat just now: "I have covered baseball for the Post since '75. If [sic] been to minor leagues from Spokane to Salt Lake City to tiny towns you can't name. But I'm not sure, until recent weeks, that I had ever HEARD of the Potomac Nationals. Or the'P'Nats.' "

I'm sorry, Tom, but any credibility you may ever have had as a baseball columnist in Washington is gone forever with that statement. As a baseball columnist, you don't have to like the home team, you don't have to always (or even ever) write about the home team, but in the fourth year and second ballpark of the current era of the home team, you damn well ought to at least KNOW who the minor league affiliates of the home team are. Especially when one of them operates a mere 30 miles from Washington and advertises nightly at Nationals Park (on the big screen and with a booth in the concourse) and on the Washington Nationals TV and radio broadcasts. Indeed, if you've ever been to, watched or listened to a Nattionals game in the past four years, you'd have to have been deaf and blind to not even at least have HEARD of the Potomac Nationals. Geez. And we're supposed to pay heed to what you write?


Posted by: i bet you know all about the bowie baysox, though, don't you? | September 26, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Yes, please, I agree re. keeping Nationals Journal going in the postseason.

Re. familiarity with Minor League affiliates - there are links to each of them from the parent team's site. Also, as has been noted above, the P-Nats advertise on Nats broadcasts and have had a booth at Nats games. Where does he think that all of these youngsters that they call up come from? They didn't find them all under cabbages, you know. Geez.

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, they are also covered in the media guide. Good read. I recommend it. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a | September 26, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Good one, 1a! I bet Boz hasn't read a media guide in 20 years!

Posted by: TattleTale | September 26, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Check it out:
http://www.keepstanfirejim.com

Posted by: Bobby | September 26, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Boswell fan, but that is rather distressing. You would think Boswell could not have avoided hearing of the P-Nats. It was a dumb comment regardless. Certainly gives the impression of a poser. Real Nats fans, at least those entiitled to write columns for the Post, should without question know who the affiliates are and that they are located within 45 minutes of the Park. He's not even reading his coleagues work if he sincerely did not know anything about them.

Posted by: NatBisquit | September 26, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Boswell never heard of the P Nats until a few weeks ago! Either he is lying and making a pathetic attempt to defend his paper, or he should seek medical attention to check for brain disease.

But my favorite memory of the season is Wil Nieves walk off home run to beat the Cubs and send their smarmy fans home with their heads between their legs.

Posted by: Cabraman | September 26, 2008 4:27 PM | Report abuse

very upset at Boz' throw-away comment about the P-Nats. disturbing.

for those of you that were wondering about the top prospects in next year's draft, Nats Farm Authority had a good post about it here (http://farmauthority.dcsportsnet.com/2008/09/19/bba-top-25-collegehs/) he does excellent work regarding the Nationals minor league affiliates. apparently Boz has never heard of him either.

kids, there's LOTS of good writing about the Nats going on out there that isn't published in the Washington Post (or Times, for that matter). if you want Nats news and opinion that isn't being filtered by the team's media partners, please visit any of the many credible blogs devoted to the Nats.

google any of the following:

Nats Farm Authority
Fire Jim Bowden
We've Got Heart
DC Sports Plus
Just a Nats Fan
Nationals Enquirer
Nationals Pride
NationalsFanBoyLooser
Oleanders and Morning Glories
Half Street Blues
Federal Baseball
--or even--
Nats 320

Or any of the others. Go to one, we all (most) have links to all the others. You can get your Nats news from places other than the mainstream media!

Best,
Dave at Bottomfeeder Baseball
http://bottomfeederbaseball.blogspot.com/

p.s. We won't shut down to cover ONLY the Redskins after Sept. 29!

Posted by: Dave at Bottomfeeder Baseball | September 26, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

im with manny, the ronnie walkoff was by far the best

Posted by: face | September 26, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Andruw Jones hasn't heard of the Potomac ... Nationals, is it? ... either.

Posted by: ntr Boz | September 26, 2008 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Andruw Jones couldn't sniff our jocks.

Posted by: NR P-Nats | September 26, 2008 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Opening night was great...I'm gonna go with a game I was at though. 14 innings against the Rangers, began the night in the upper deck, worked my way to 4 rows behind the dugout as the night got late. Elijah Dukes' walk off single and seeing him shout and celebrate so close to the field...awesome.

Posted by: VT Mikey | September 27, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

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