Monday, October 15, 2012

Home Runs and Heartbreak


Owen and I have been going to baseball games together since shortly after he was born.  Since he missed out on the dizzying excitement of rocketing up to first place by the All Star Break in their inaugural season (only to collapse back to .500 by the end of the year), we always focused on enjoying each individual game, without worrying about the standings on our way to six straight losing seasons.

That all changed with the 2012 Nationals.  You could feel from Spring training that this team was different.  Young, talented, and full of heart, the Nats started out hot and never cooled off on their way to the best record in baseball. Owen and I went to 25 games during the regular season, saw a lot of great baseball, and experienced the highs and lows of a pennant chase.

Of course we went to all three home playoff games. We soaked in the pre-game pomp at game 3, and the buzz surrounding the first playoff game in DC since the 1933 World Series, and waited for something to cheer for, only to sulk home after 8-0 drubbing that put the Nats on the verge of elimination.

Game 4 turned out to be the most exciting and joyous sporting event of our lives.  Detwiler and the bullpen were masterful, but the Cardinals matched them inning after inning sending a tense 1-1 game to the ninth inning.  Jayson Werth led off and started off 0 and 2, but battled for 12 pitches before tearing a hole in the sky with a shot over the left field wall.  Pandemonium, the game was ours, the series was tied, and momentum was on our side going to the deciding game five.

The last game couldn't have started any better.  A double, triple and homer for Werth, Harper and Zimmerman put the Nats up 3 to 0 before the first out, and it looked like we were on our way.  But the Cardinals kept chipping away, until Drew Storen had to come on the save a 7 to 5 game in the ninth.  With two outs, we rose to our feet and cheered on our Nats for 23 pitches (five with two strikes!) that could have given the Nats the win.  But it wasn't to be...

It really was a magical season, hopefully the heartbreak of game 5 will blossom into victory next year.

Things were looking mighty good for our beloved Nats;
Harper found his batting eye, Zimmerman his bat.
Can this be right, is it true, are we having too much fun?
We were leading three to zip, and it was only inning one.

The innings really rolled along, we could not believe our eyes;
For Morse the Beast and Harper, homers big boy size.
Oh God is great and so are we, we sing hip hip hoorah;
At the end of three the Nats are six, the Cardinal lads nada.

It was very close to freezing, but no one there was cold;
World Series fever kept them warm, if the truth be told.
With victory in the offing, tomorrow will be a glorious day;
Then the Cardinals being birds, began to peck away.

There first score in inning four, put no damper on our glee;
Shortly then they got two more, but we still led it six to three.
By inning nine it's seven five, we're comfortably ahead;
But suddenly these Cards, seem risen from the dead.

Our closer guy is throwing heat, but Cardinal bats got hot;
We don't know how or why, but leading now we're not.
We had ourselves believing, we were on our way to Heaven;
But dreams became reality, we lost it nine to seven.

In Casey's famous epitaph, the sun did still shine bright;
Bands still played children sang, somewhere hearts were light;
Skies were bluest blue, and somewhere bells were ringing;
But there was no joy in Mudville, when Casey went down swinging.

And so it was in Washington, on a cold and windy eve;
Yes baseball is our greatest game, that I still believe;
But know like love it brings a risk, and that's the other part;
If you take it seriously, it just may break your heart.

- Bob Shieffer  

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