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Clayton Kershaw's performance was simply great theatre

Clayton Kershaw's performance was simply great theatre

The two greatest games I’ve ever witnessed came about four and a half years apart. In May 2012, Chris Davis threw two innings, the 16th and 17th, to beat the Boston Red Sox in Fenway park. 

Thursday night, I saw a fine closer, Kenley Jansen nearly throw three innings, only to be bailed out by arguably the best pitcher of our time, Clayton Kershaw, who retired the final two Washington Nationals to clinch the Division Series for the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Both games featured creative moves by managers, Buck Showalter knowing that Davis had pitched in college, and Dave Roberts knowing that he had little chance to win otherwise. 

The aggressive move by Roberts could well hurt the Dodgers since they have only a day to regroup before the National League Championship Series begins. 

The Chicago Cubs look to be a very difficult out, and Los Angeles will have to be very fortunate to beat them. 

Some fans chided Showalter during and after last night’s game, saying that if only Showalter had been as aggressive as Roberts, the Orioles’ wild-card game might have had a different result. 

I’m not going to rehash that game, but there were major differences. 

The Dodgers had a lead they wanted to protect. If the Orioles had a lead, they would have brought in Zach Britton, and he certainly could have thrown two innings, perhaps more. 

The Orioles bullpen is a lot more reliable than Los Angeles’. Brad Brach, Mychal Givens and Darren O’Day were far better alternatives than any of the others that Roberts had. 

In the National League game, there are double-switches, and there were plenty of them, forcing Jansen to hit. 

And while Jansen is a fine closer (1.83 ERA and 47 saves), he’s not in Britton’s class. 

The Dodgers-Cubs series that begins on Saturday will likely have more national interest than the American League Championship Series, which starts Friday. 

It will continue to be painful for many Orioles fans to watch the Toronto Blue Jays, and those that tune in will probably root for the Cleveland Indians. 

The Orioles won five of six against the Indians this season. 

This captivating postseason, which is only 10 days old, is really just getting started, and the story has been the use of bullpens — with the Britton decision, last night’s machinations and Cleveland manager Terry Francona’s use of Andrew Miller early and often. 

The guess here is that the Blue Jays will be just too powerful and too skilled for the Indians, and that the Cubs will roll over the Dodgers. 

Perhaps the most wonderful thing about baseball’s postseason is that it’s different from any other sports’. Every NFL game is a one-off, and Super Bowl strategy isn’t any different from in the regular season. It’s just magnified. 

In the NBA, rotations may be shorter and half-court play more prevalent, but it’s the same game — only more intense. 

Anyone attending last night’s game in Washington felt the intensity and could appreciate the seeming improvisation. Before the game, Roberts ruled out an appearance by Kershaw — even for an out. 

It wasn’t a surprise when Kershaw walked out to the bullpen in the eighth inning to warm up. It was great theatre. 

For a time, the boos that accompanied the announcement that the Metro would close — which turned out to be an hour before the game finally concluded — would be the high point of the night. 

Instead, it was the game’s finest pitcher getting two final outs. 

Four hours, 32 minutes never seemed so short. 

RELATED: Nats struggle to appreciate craziness of Game 5

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

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Nationals Game 5 meltdown yet another reminder why D.C. can't have nice things

On Thursday night, a Washington, D.C. pro sports team did something Washington, D.C. pro sports teams are very good at doing: fall short of making a league or championship game.

The Nationals' disastrous fifth inning against the Cubs in Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series was the beginning of the end, not to mention yet another in a long line of disappointing playoff results for Washington, D.C. sports teams.

You see, Washington, D.C. is the only city with at least three major pro sports teams to not have a single one make a conference or league championship game since 2000.

To make matters worse, Washington, D.C. sports teams have now lost 16 consecutive playoff games in which a win would've advanced the team to the conference or league championship. 

Think about that for a second. Four teams. Zero conference championship appearances since 1998. 

Here's the list.

Washington, D.C. sports fans are not greedy. We can't be. We've had some very good teams recently, with the type of talent, coaching and intangibles needed to win a championship. 

TRY THIS: 20 THINGS DC SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT. YES, HAPPY.

The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team won a world championship was in 1992 when the Redskins won Super Bowl XXVI.  The last time a major Washington, D.C. pro sports team even made a conference championship game was in 1998, when the Capitals advanced to the Eastern Conference Final, defeating the Sabres to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

Washington, D.C. isn't allowed to have nice sports things.

Sure, we have great players and great teams, but when the playoffs roll around, all the nice things go away. We aren't privy to plucky upstarts who run the table and we aren't privy to dominant teams that make long postseason runs.

Washington, D.C. will have its day, eventually. Sure it may only be a conference championship appearance, but for us, that's fine. We don't expect world championships. We just want something to get invested in.

Early playoff exits are rarely worth the investment.

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With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

With contractual decisions looming, Nats missed chance at stress-free World Series run

"This is the year."

That's the motto for almost every D.C. sports fan when their team is headed for the postseason.

The Nats led a weak NL East the entire season and clinched a spot to play October baseball early into September.

RELATED: COUNTLESS ERRORS DOOM NATIONALS IN SEASON-ENDING LOSS

The team overcame the obstacle of being plagued with injuries and with pitchers like Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer having a strong bullpen to back them up, the stars were aligning for the team to go all the way.

But now with players like Bryce Harper and Daniel Murphy having contracts up for grabs in 2019, Nationals reporter Chelsea Janes says 2017 was really the last chance for the team to win a stress-free title.

"I think those questions you've raised like Bryce [Harper's] contract, [Daniel} Murphy may be leaving, you know Rizzo's contract's up after next year, I think those are the things they didn't have to deal with this year that made this such a free chance," Janes said on the Sports Junkies Friday.

"It was a free chance to just feel good and do it now and not have everyone say this is your absolute last chance, and next year it's their absolute last chance for a little while, I think."

"I mean they're not going to be awful in '19, but they're going to be different and I think they've sort of wasted their free pass here and there's legitimate and kind of unrelenting pressure on them next year to make it happen."

It's hard to make sense of what a team will look like one day after a devastating series loss. One thing that is fairly certain is that time is ticking for the Nats to make it happen with arguably the most talented group of players they've ever had.