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For some Nats, the road has been much longer

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For some Nats, the road has been much longer

When the Washington Nationals begin their five game playoff series this weekend, it will mark the first postseason game for almost every player on the teams young roster. Most have never played meaningful games in October, but for a choice few who have seen the franchise at its lowest points the dream perhaps seemed even further away.

Ryan Zimmerman was the franchises first draft pick when they moved to Washington, D.C. and through years of losing twice signed contract extensions to stay with the club. He opted to stay loyal at times he could have jumped ship and instead trusted the vision and future of the team around him.

The odds were in my favor that I was going to win here at some point. I love this town. They gave me a chance, took a chance on me at a young age, and put me right in the middle of it, he said.

For the team to take a chance on me like that, I felt obligated. I thought I should stay here and give them what they gave me, which is my career.

Zimmerman debuted in 2005 and in just eight seasons has been on five different teams that lost 89 games or more. Along the way he has seen a lot of the guys around him come and go. He is still the face of the franchise, but now that franchise boasts the best pitching staff in baseball and a lineup as young and as talented as any.

Ryan Zimmerman is the leader. He is the captain of this organization, Gio Gonzalez said. He is the face of this organization, he is a franchise guy. He has seen the down and now he is definitely seeing the upside of it.

Jordan Zimmermann joined the organization as a second round draft pick in 2007 and made the major league team in 2009. In his first year the team lost 103 games, but since has improved by at least ten wins in three consecutive seasons. In a short period of time he has seen the team bottom out as the worst team in baseball and then rise to potentially its best.

We came a long way. When I first got drafted and came up here, we were losing ballgames it seemed like every night, he said.

You gotta give a lot of credit to Rizzo for putting some guys together and then having some good drafts.

For part of the turnaround, Zimmermann had to watch from the dugout while he underwent a year-long recovery from Tommy John surgery. He has been pivotal in the teams transformation and is excited to see where it can be taken from here.

Now were here and were that much closer, he said.

John Lannan was away from the team for much of this season after once being its de facto ace and making two Opening Day starts in 2008 and 2009. He joined them late this year after spending much of the season in Triple-A Syracuse and is now just appreciative he is here to stay.

Right now, its all worth it. Being down in Syracuse and then being here right now, its all worth it, he said.

There was a time earlier on in the season where I didnt know what was going to happen, but now it all makes sense. This is why everything happened.

Lannan was on two Nats teams that lost more than 100 games - 102 in 2008 and 103 in 2009 - and has seen the fanbase grow with the teams success.

Just to be part of this team now and to be a part of the teams that really struggled, we all wanted it. But now to celebrate it and really enjoy it is really awesome, he said.

These fans deserve it, these guys deserve it, its been a long road but we knew this time was going to come. It is special.

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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.