Sunday, October 03, 2010

Our Most Memorable Moments Of 2010

Every season has its ups and downs, highs and lows. Memories that will never be forgotten and those that you wish you could, but can't get out of your mind. The just completed 2010 year for Our Washington Nationals was no different.

Today, on the final day of the 2010 regular season, D.C.'s Team went long distance again to complete the schedule for the second year in a row. After going 15 innings at Atlanta to defeat The Braves to conclude 2009, Washington went 14 marathon innings--with both teams emptying their benches early--to garner Curly "W" Number 69 of 2010. Jim Riggleman's team claiming 10 more victories than last season--scoring their final run of 2010 on a bases loaded walk allowed to Justin Maxwell by Oliver Perez plating Adam Kennedy.

Final score from Citi Field in Queens, Our Washington Nationals 2 and The New York Mets 1.

While Our Washington Nationals were playing this seemingly never ending game against The Mets, Sohna and I spent the entire afternoon watching the game on MASN and listening to Charlie Slowes & Dave Jageler on WFED 1500AM broadcasting the game (as we always do) while reminiscing about the past six months of Major League Baseball in the Nation's Capital. There was plenty for us to talk about.

We came up with this list of our most memorable moments of the year--both good and bad--for the 2010 Version of Our Washington Nationals. We are sure there are a few others, but these stood out the most.

Without a doubt, the best highlight of the year was Stephen Strasburg's Major League Debut against The Pittsburgh Pirates on June 8th. The Frenzy speaks for itself. Nationals Park had never been so loud. Never had virtually the entire in-stadium crowd been all Nats Fans. That night was special--no question about it.

Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off home run on July 31st wasn't bad either. The passion showed through on The Z-Man's 12th walk off hit of his still young career. Dependable in the clutch like no one else in Nationals history, Zimmy also hit a walk off home run against The San Diego Padres on June 6th at Nationals Park. One day before Adam Dunn socked out three home runs in one game against The Friars for the first time in his career.

Opening Day, 2010, at Nationals Park was one of the low-points. All our energy was zapped after Philly Fans took over the ballpark, booed Ryan Zimmerman receiving his Gold Glove & Silver Slugger Awards and then trounced Washington 11-1 in a total wipeout. Not as bad, but just as hard to watch, was then witnessing the entire home schedule go full circle when The Phillies clinched the National League East Title on South Capitol Street last week.

Nyjer Morgan made the defensive blunder of the year when he threw his glove down to the ground in disgust over missing a baseball off the bat of Baltimore's Adam Jones in May on South Capitol Street. A baseball he thought went out of the park, but hadn't. The result: an inside the park home run for Jones that left Nationals Park booing with disgust. Compare that mental error to what happened one month later at Camden Yards, when Nyjer made, without a doubt, the finest defensive play this season for Washington. Climbing the right centerfield wall--and nearly going over--Morgan hauled in a certain home run off the bat of The Orioles' Corey Patterson. Patterson so impressed with the effort, he doffed his batting helmet in complements.

Nyjer Morgan was also directly involved in The Melee in Miami.

"The Mets Must Hate" Willie Harris saved Matt Capps and his Washington teammates from certain defeat at Citi Field in April when he dove to his right, rushing in, to catch what was certain to be the game winning hit by Rod Barajas. There was also Ryan Zimmerman's Immaculate Reception, Ian Desmond's acrobatic pick and throw out of Dexter Fowler of The Colorado Rockies, and numerous defensive gems in just one month's time in the Big Leagues by Rookie Danny Espinosa.

Roger Bernadina wasn't bad himself defensively. And finally showed some power.

Speaking of Matt Capps, he performed like an All-Star, was named Washington's only participant in this year's Mid-Summer Classic and then was sent packing to The Minnesota Twins for the very impressive and young catcher--Wilson Ramos.

Livan Hernandez brought the magic back to D.C. Baseball with a complete game shutout of The Milwaukee Brewers in April. One day later, Jason Marquis couldn't make it out of the 1st inning against The Brew Crew at Nationals Park. A frame in which Our Washington Nationals were down 10-0 before they had even batted once.

Being swept by The Orioles, at Camden Yards, when Baltimore was the worst team in baseball at the time (record wise)--was hard to swallow. In each game, Washington had the lead, but lost each of the three games played. Compare that to D.C.'s Team winning The Battle Of The Beltways Series on South Capitol Street when Josh Willingham crushed out a walk-off home run on a pitch thrown by Cla Meredith.

Stephen Strasburg couldn't get loose on July 27th against The Atlanta Braves. Miguel Batista made the emergency start, pitched well enough to get the win, then became an instant Nationwide Celebrity when after the game he stated he understood why fans booed him when announced as the starter: "Imagine if you go to see Miss Universe, then you end up having Miss Iowa, you might get those kind of boos," Batista said. Miss Iowa, Katherine Connors, never received so much publicity representing her state. So much so, Batista sent her flowers before Ms. Connors was flown to Washington to meet Batista in person and even throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park before a media-packed game.

Unfortunately, Our Number 37 not making the start that day may well have been the sign of things to come. A few weeks later, the entire baseball world watched in horror as Stephen Strasburg would go down for the season with Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow after throwing a pitch at Citizens Bank Park against Domonic Brown of The Philies. The balloon went out of Washington's season that night. The momentum killed. And the games were never quite the same for the remainder of 2010.

Interestingly, the announcement of Strasburg's season ending surgery was made one day after Our Washington Nationals officially welcomed the number one overall pick in the 2010 draft, Bryce Harper, to town in a much anticipated press conference and impressive batting practice session before Nats Staffers at Nationals Park.

And Jordan Zimmermann returned 51 weeks after Tommy John surgery and by the end of September showed signs of a near complete recovery.

There were many other moments and players to remember:

Danny Espinosa's home debut at Nationals Park against The Mets--two home runs, six rbi's.

Despite his 30 plus errors, Ian Desmond came to play every single day and finished the 2010 season with some good numbers at the plate. Combining with Espinosa in the middle infield, "Despinosa" as Charlie & Dave call Washington's new 2nd base/shortstop duo--may well be the defensive wizards in Washington's uniforms fans have yearned for.

The Chicago Cubs' Marlon Byrd made his visionless journey at Wrigley Field on April 28th on a Luis Atilano fly ball that was lost in the sun.

"Mikey Mo" showed he belongs in a big league uniform. Michael Morse pounded out 15 home runs in limited starting roles for Washington, adjusted with the league and was rarely overmatched.

The St.Louis Cardinals and Our Washington Nationals played one of those special games in late August. A 13-inning affair where every position player was used by both managers and pitchers had to pinch hit for other pitchers. As a baseball fan, you had to love that one.

Willie Harris slapped a drive off Atlanta's Kyle Farnsworth to right center at Nationals Park in late September. A drive which The Braves' Nate McLouth could not catch off the wall. Seeing the baseball bounding back toward left field, Harris never stopped running, ran out of gas, but didn't give up and slid face first home to record the first (second home run--Austin Kearns do so in 2007) Inside-The-Park Home Run in Nationals history.

And there was "Superman"--The Florida Marlins' Rookie Sensation Mike Stanton--launching his majestic home run off Joel Peralta at Nationals Park on August 12th that NEARLY reached the Center Field Plaza walkway. What a shot!! That ball had lift-off and if it had not bounced off the handicapped section protective railing at the rear of Section 106--would have found concrete first.

Cristian Guzman was traded to The Texas Rangers in late July. The only Nationals Player to be on the Major League Roster for every single season since baseball returned to The Nation's Capital. Yeah, he missed an entire season due to injury, but he was still on the Big League roster disabled list.

The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation's D.C. Baseball Academy land transfer finally took place--moving the Ft. Dupont Park baseball outreach program closer to reality.

Ryan Zimmerman's ziMS Foundation premiered an event in D.C. with a lavish gig at Nationals Park on August 9th. Dedicated to finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis, the ziMS Foundation hopes this Washington event will get bigger and better in each successive year.

And finally, there was this huge news story when Team President Stan Kasten resigned after five years on the job. The public point person for all baseball decisions surrounding Our Washington Nationals since The Lerner Family took control of the team in mid-2006. Mr. Kasten says he is not retiring. But his loss will be missed throughout the entire organization--no doubt about it.

Those are our most memorable moments of 2010 which Sohna and I came up with this afternoon while watching Our Washington Nationals finish the season with 69 Curly "W's" and 93 losses by going deep into extra innings for the 2nd year in a row--this time to defeat The Mets 2-1.

P.S. And for the third season in a row at Nationals Park, Sohna was in attendance for every inning of every game played at the South Capitol Street Ballpark.

All Ballpark Photos Copyrighted--Nats320--All Rights Reserved


Edward J. Cunningham said...

Sitting behind you and Sohna during the Phillies game (the one where the Nats "welcomed" Roy Oswalt to Nationals Park) was one of the biggest highlights of the year for me, right behind Stephen Strasburg's debut.

Can't wait to see you again in 2011!

An Briosca Mor said...

"Seeing the baseball bounding back toward left field, Harris never stopped running, ran out of gas, but didn't give up and slid face first home to record the first Inside-The-Park Home Run in Nationals history."

Not quite. Austin Kearns hit an inside the park HR on May 12, 2007 against the Marlins in RFK Stadium. You even wrote about it.

Edward J. Cunningham said...

SBF isn't forgetful, ABM---he just forgot to add the word "Park"!

Sam R said...

SBF, No mention about the Dibble Situation?

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!


Laurie said...

Thanks for the memories!

paul said...

Very nice summation. At this time of year I am always wistful about whether our team will ever be as good as the teams left standing.