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Another Day, Another Video, Another Batch Of Memories...

As you've been warned earlier, I'm posting every video I see that brings back any great memories of the past season for the Washington Nationals. So here's another.

This one not only captures the video highlights of key plays, it also includes some of my favorite lines by broadcasters this season, including (but not limited to):

"That wasn't a baseball game. That was an exorcism."

"And now...we clinch."

"(That's the) first time I've seen the nationals team actually look like they have tremendous joy and one heartbeat."

"If you walked out of this ballpark, YOU BLEW IT."

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We Are The Champions, We Are The Champions...

We're now at that point in the World Series after-party where the videos are being made and being posted online. The Washington Capitals set the bar pretty high with some of their video work after winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, so it will be interesting to see what the Nationals came come up with.

This one is now making the rounds, and it has all the key elements: The song "We Are The Champions" (although I'm partial to hearing drunk hockey players in the fountains of Washington, DC sing it acapella), highlights of key moments, video showing everyone celebrating on the field, and spraying of champagne like it was coming out of a fire hose.

And of course, a tagline at the end with some version of "Finish The Fight."

I've only watched it a dozen times today. So that alone makes it worthy of being posted here.

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Remember Where You Are So You'll Remember Where You Are

Remember Where You Are Remember Where You Are....

Every significant memory of a big event in the history of the Washington Nationals usually involves a signature play call by Nationals radio play-by-play man Charlie Slowes. His call of Jason Werth's home run in Game 4 of the 2012 NLDS is still on my phone so in case I'm having a bad day and need something to make me smile, I can listen to it.

It always works too.

When the Nats made the playoffs for the first time, Charlie's signature call included "Remember where you are, so you'll remember where you were," something I've chuckled about ever since. So of course when the Nationals finally won the World Series, it was only fitting that after screaming in delight that the Nationals had won, he added almost those same words, instead saying "remember where you are so you'll remember where you are."

If you didn't hear the call, here it is:

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Sometimes, Lightning Does Strike Twice If You Wait Long Enough

It is wonderfully fitting for me this weekend that Virginia Tech travels to Notre Dame only a few days after the Washington Nationals won the World Series.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become less and less a fan of watching sporting events live. Part of it may be I was a sportswriter for a decade when I got out of college, so those hundreds and hundreds of days/nights in a press box or on a sideline may have fulfilled my lifetime quota. The other is the advancement of big screen HD televisions – of which I own far too many – that make it so much easier to see the action.

My wife would say the overriding factor is that I’m also cheap. At home, the food and beverage are far more reasonable.

She does have a point.

But back in college, I was ready to go anywhere at any time to see a live game. Promises were made to friends that if a certain event ever happened way out in the future, we’d go no matter how old we were. One involved the World Series with my friend Tim, which I mentioned yesterday.

The other was made when I was a freshman at Virginia Tech in 1974 and involved Notre Dame. The Hokies were in their first year under Jimmy Sharpe, and football at Virginia Tech was about as far away from the big time as the Nats were from the World Series when they were 19-31. Notre Dame dominated the airways of pre-cable television, and after one particularly festive and ambitious moment, my friends Rick and Doug and I proclaimed if the Hokies ever played Notre Dame, we were going to South Bend.

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After A Long And Bumpy Road, The Nats Finally Win The World Series

At 11:50 PM last night, there was an old man with tears in his eyes in Ashburn, watching the ending to a baseball game.

His wife will readily tell you that old man has always been a sap, so this isn’t surprising. But when the final pitch was thrown and the Washington Nationals had won the 2019 World Series, it was hard not to get emotional.

It wasn’t so much because of the sports accomplishment, although it has been a long bumpy road watching the professional baseball teams that have represented DC finally win a title. It was more for the people I met on the journey following baseball since I was 10 who are no longer with us that would have really enjoyed the moment.

My Dad was a baseball fan, but the notion he would ever get to attend a World Series game was as remote a thought as being an astronaut and landing on the moon. My close friend Paul, who literally kidnapped me every opening day and forced me to go to Nats games with him, fantasized about the team in a World Series. We sat together on opening day of 2012, four days before his death, and all he talked about was whether this would finally be the year the Nats made the playoffs.

You should have been here, Paul.

Then there was the group of people I met at spring training in West Palm Beach in March, when after over 60 years of waiting, I finally went. They were all in their 80s, many could barely walk, but they were the Boys Of Summer, coming back every year to see their team, hoping again that this might be the year their team finally won it all.

This year it finally was.

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It's Only Taken Seven Years, But I'm Ready To Forget THAT Game

Since the Nats are in the World Series, have two wins under their belt and everyone is all cheerful and happy, I guess we can now talk about a game played in 2012.

Yes, THAT game.

If you want to rank the games from top to bottom in terms of the ones that inflicted the most pain on fans, players and coaches, it’s at the top. Numero Uno.

Game 5 of the 2012 National League Divisional Series between the Washington Nationals and the St. Louis Cardinals. The game that shall never be spoken of. The game that turned Pete Kozma’s name into an obscenity for thousands of Nationals fans.

The most disappointed I’ve ever been as a sports fan.

Certainly if you follow sports long enough, you’re going to experience disappointing losses. But this one was no ordinary loss. The Nats came within one pitch – five different times – of winning the game. This wasn’t Lucy pulling the football away from Linus just as he tried to kick it. This was Lucy pulling the ball away, then stabbing Linus in the heart with a rusty icepick a dozen times while he lay helpless on the ground. Then kicking HIM.

That the game happened on a Friday night, only 24 hours after arguably the best moment ever in Nationals history - when Jayson Werth hit a 3-2 pitch after fouling off seven other offerings into the outfield stands for a walkoff, game-winning home run off the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn - just made it all sting that much worse.

I remember all this not only because this week’s World Series and that 2012 game represent the highs and lows of being a Nats fan, but also because it appears fate is smiling nicely on the only two players still with the Nats that played that night.

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While My Heart Is A Notorious Liar, It May Be Right This Time

It’s starting to get real, folks.

Last night’s 12-3 win in Game 2 of the World Series now puts us right on the line between “don’t get too excited because there are a lot more games to go” and “we just stomped them in their own park twice and are going to sweep the Astros at Nats Park this weekend.”

Common sense says stick with the former. My heart says don’t listen to your brain, the latter is going to happen. It's just a matter of when, not if.

My heart, of course, is a notorious liar if you look at its body of work throughout my life. So I’m a little afraid to follow its lead.

But it feels so right.

I will acknowledge I was scarred as a child about all this. I grew up a St. Louis Cardinal fan, because back then there were only 3 channels, the major league game of the week on NBC only showed one game on a Saturday, and it was the team that was playing the best. The Cardinals won the World Series in 1967 over the Boston Red Sox, so in 1968, they were on just about every week.

The Cardinals carried a 3-1 lead in the series into Game 5, and led at one point in the game 3-2. Back then, when we would also walk to school 5 miles in the snow, uphill, both ways, your teacher in junior high would turn on the game for the class to watch, as all games were played during the day.

I wasn’t particularly bothered when Al Kaline singled for what would be the winning runs in the 7th inning of game 5. But I was bothered when the Cards lost the next one 13-1. I then watched in horror when Curt Flood misplayed a routine fly ball in game 7 for the winning runs as Detroit completed the comeback.

But the 2019 Nationals, my heart points out, are not your father’s baseball team. They haven’t followed any rhyme or reason that would appear related to conventional wisdom this season. National media have pounded the 19-31 start to the point of obsession, but the simple truth is the team was not very good in spring training, they were not very good at the beginning of the season, and at times up until the middle of September, they showed flashes of not being all that good then as well.

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If You Got Up Early And Went To Work This AM, I Tip My Hat To You

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Based on that, the Washington Nationals made a lot of us like the Incredible Hulk last night in Game 1 of the World Series.

Pressure certainly makes games fun, as it is the uncertainty of how it’s all going to end that makes everything interesting. But at some point the Nationals crossed from pressure to paralyzing fear in the late innings before holding on to a 5-4 win in Game 1.

Proving it was the gift that kept giving, sleep for the first hour or two was impossible after the final pitch. I guess clenching every muscle in your body and not exhaling for an hour will do that.

If you got up early and went to work this morning, I tip my hat to you.

The early part of the game when the team fell behind 2-0 was surprisingly not bothersome for me. I have watched sports for over 50 years, and every now and then you see a team like the Nationals. They become a different group late in the season, they win a couple of games they shouldn’t, and that starts becoming the rule instead of the exception.

Observers like the Fox broadcast crew, who provoked me several times into thinking “have they even watched the Nats this season?” don’t get that. They will look at a snapshot of the team at some point during the regular season, and don’t understand that the team in May, July or even the first of September is not the same team that the Nats are now.

This team shakes off adversity. The old players know things will change. The young players are probably too young to worry about it. So when it was 2-0, I felt strongly this team was going to score at least 5 runs before the 7th inning, because they have for the last two weeks. The team that would watch a starter pitch a gem while only getting 2 hits and not scoring any runs has turned into Elvis, and left the building.

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It's Time To Let Go Of All This Bryce Harper Bashing

Am finally getting around to reading the Jayson Stark story in the Athletic on Bryce Harper and his reaction to the Nationals making the World Series without him.

First of all, it’s a good story by Stark and it is a story that someone had to write, so I understand why Jayson wrote it in the first place.

But it’s a deeply flawed premise, right up there with “when did you stop beating your spouse?”

Whatever the truth is – and I believe both Harper and the Nationals made their peace with the separation a long time ago – nobody is going to say anything negative. If Harper said if he had to do it over again he’d stay with the Nats, he alienates his current team and gets to answer that question a million times in the off-season.

If any current Nationals player or executive were to even hint that the team is better without Harper, that too would make headlines for months to come and make the Nats look petty, something that is very important they don’t look like. They’ve created an incredible clubhouse atmosphere, they’re in the World Series, and to potential free agents, they look like a very attractive place to consider. They don’t want to do anything – no matter how small – to tarnish that.

Truth is, I like Bryce Harper. I would have preferred he stayed and been a part of all this. I know there are people who don’t like him because they think he’s cocky, brash and full of himself, and I get that. He was a star early in his life, he had people telling him since he was very young that the rules didn’t necessarily apply to him because of his talent, and that has certainly led to some regrettable behavior.

For a further example of this, check out Ralph Sampson in his younger days. I got to cover him in high school and college and he was not the most collegial fellow around in those days.

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Wed

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Thu

overcast clouds

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