I suspect I wasn’t the only person having a private dance party in my television room at precisely 12:23 a.m. this morning. Or once again at precisely 12:41 a.m.
No, indeed! The Washington Nationals faithful—after enduring crushing defeats in the 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017 National League Division Series (NLDS)—were ready to celebrate in that crazy 2019 Nationals way: the dugout home run dance party.
Why? First, because Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto hit back-to-back solo home runs off Dodger legend (and playoff goat) Clayton Kershaw in the 8th to tie the 5th and final NLDS, win-or-go-home, game. Then Howie (THAT man can HIT) Kendrick blasts a grand slam home run in the 10th inning at 12:23 a.m. East Coast time. And finally, Michael A. Taylor made a diving catch in center field in the bottom of the inning at 12:41 a.m. to close out the game and bring the Nationals their first Division Series win in five attempts.
And we all danced!
Thank God the Nats don’t play in the NFL (also known as the No Fun League). They would be penalized for exuberant celebrations.
There is a lot to be said for disregarding goals and barriers that others set for you in order to allow yourself to simply focus on enjoying the ride. That’s one thing this group has clearly done since the darkest days of May, when they stood at 19-31 on the 23rd of the month and everyone (myself included) was ready to write off the season.
That’s about the time Gerardo Parra arrived, a former Gold Glove winner picked up cheap off the MLB scrap heap, to which he replied, “That’s baseball.” He looked around at his new surroundings and said, “Why’s everyone so tight.” Parra got them to loosen up, and since his arrival the Nats have had fun. They’ve turned Nationals Park into the capital of Baby Shark. They focused on “Go 1-0 today.” They bring a cast of characters, none more important than “Tony Two Bags.” They began wearing orange and pink-colored Gerardo Parra sunglasses. They tied with the Dodgers for the best record in baseball from May 23rd until the end of the season. And, oh yeah, they dance in the dugout after home runs.
I could write about so much here: Stephen Strasburg’s gritty effort that kept the Nats in the hunt after he settled down from a rocky start. Patrick Corbin’s gutty relief appearance after a meltdown earlier in the series. The bullpen as a whole, which kept the Dodgers at bay after they scored three runs in the first two innings. The absolutely horrible managerial decisions made by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. (Yes, he could win the Matt Williams Award for boneheaded calls under pressure.)
But I won’t.
There are great accounts in the Washington Post by columnists Thomas Boswell and Barry Svrluga. Scott Allen has a wonderful piece on the reactions at the late-night watch party at Nationals Park, from the Washington Capitols (tuning in from Nashville where they are in town to play the Predators tonight), and around the country. Go read the professionals.
And on my morning walk through Silver Spring today, my new Nats jacket—one that’s especially warm for October baseball in the District—brought approving comments and “Go Nats” calls from fellow travelers.
Go Nats, Indeed! On to St. Louis!
More to come…