The Streak: A daily look back
Greetings, Nationals Journal readers. This is Barry Svrluga, and I'll be breaking into Kilgore's territory once a day over the next week or so. Those who have no interest in nostalgia, please look away. Others, read on.
Wednesday morning, as we pointed out in the $.75 edition today, is the five-year anniversary of the Nationals' 10-game winning streak, the one that put them in first place for much of the 2005 season. The full-on look back at that team -- and look at what they're doing now -- is here. And here's a chart looking at where key members of the 2005 Nationals are now, and where the 2010 Nationals were then.
But we figured there might be a group of you -- perhaps a small group, but a group nonetheless -- that might like a more thorough look back. With that, each day, we'll look at the game the Nats won, and feature one of the figures who starred in that game.
With that, here we go:
Game 1, June 2
Nationals 8, Braves 6
W: Carrasco (2-1)
L: Kolb (1-5)
S: Cordero (14)
Backup catcher Gary Bennett had the big statistical night, matching a career high with five RBI and hitting his first Washington home run. But it turned out the first win in the streak kind of characterized them all: The Nats, by virtue of two errors in the Braves' four-run eighth, coughed up a lead -- but then grabbed it right back. "Let's [expletive] go!" right fielder Jose Guillen bellowed when they came back to the dugout. "Let's show these people how we can come back." Guillen contributed a one-out single, but the big blow in a five-run eighth: Bennett's bases-clearing, three-run double. Cordero's save included deep fly balls from Ryan Langerhans and Chipper Jones, but concluded with a strikeout of Adam LaRoche -- and the start of an amazing string. "It was a tremendous psychological win -- if there is such a thing," Frank Robinson said.
At end of the day: 28-26, third place in NL East, 1-1/2 games behind
By the time Gary Bennett signed with the Nationals prior to the 2005 season, he had already played for five other major league teams, and, as he said last week, "I had a pretty good idea I wasn't going to hit .320 or 40 home runs every year." So Bennett started thinking thoughts other athletes tend to avoid: He started preparing for retirement.
"Right about then, maybe 2005 or 2006, I started thinking about, 'What's going to happen after?'" Bennett said by phone. "Those last four or five years of my career, I would network, ask questions. I had a few good friends who were five or six years older, and I would pick their brain. How was their transition? A couple of guys who played football, it was a nightmare. The day they were released, it hit them: They didn't know what they were going to do."
Among those people who Bennett talked to was Brooks Kieschneck, a former teammate with the Brewers. Craig Holman, a minor league teammate from Bennett's days in the Phillies chain, had retired and turned to selling medical supplies. Bennett began dabbling in real estate, going in with friends and partners in an indoor batting facility, then some rental properties near his home in Libertyville, Ill., as well as in southern Wisconsin.
And after the 2008 season, much of which Bennett spent injured with the Dodgers, he called his agent and said, "That's it."
"It had been four, five years in my mind that I'd been preparing for it," Bennett said. "And there were times, quite frankly, where it's not like I was lighting it up week to week every season, all season. There were times where if you had a bad month, you could be gone. So it wasn't going to be that much of a shock for me.
"The down side, obviously, is it was something I wanted to do since I was 8 years old. It's dominated my mindset. It was the only thing on my mind since I was 17 years old till the 2008 season. From that standpoint, it was weird switching gears and mixing it into the real world. That's one hell of a nice job to have. You're in your own bubble, your own cocoon."
Bennett used the 2009 season to be home every night with his three kids -- now 9, 7 and 5 -- and to pursue the real estate investments. Then, three months ago, he took on the job selling supplies to orthopedic surgeons and the like. The hospitals in his territory are all within a short drive of his house. He still gets to see the kids every night. And at 38, he has a new life.
He does so, too, with memories of that 2005 season. He won a World Series with the Cardinals the following year, but '05 in Washington, "it absolutely stands out."
June 2, 2010; 12:05 PM ET
| Tags: The Streak remembered
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