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Zimmerman brings his season all the way back

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Zimmerman brings his season all the way back

NEW YORK -- Mark DeRosa was talking to Ryan Zimmerman after last night's game at Citi Field, one in which Zimmerman had homered (yet again) and driven in a run (yet again), and noted how far the 27-year-old third baseman had come since his stunningly poor start to the season.

"You made it back," DeRosa told his teammate.

"Well," Zimmerman responded, "I made it back to where I guess it's respectable now."

OK, so Zimmerman's overall season numbers -- a .287 average, 22 homers, 84 RBI, an .835 OPS -- aren't off-the-charts good. Especially for a guy who has in his career cracked the 30-homer barrier, the 100-RBI plateau and has hit over .300.

But considering the hole he dug himself into through the season's first half, it's bordering on remarkable how good Zimmerman's season-ending stats will look.

On the morning of June 24, Zimmerman was hitting .218 with three homers, 22 RBI and a .590 OPS that ranked among the worst utility infielders in baseball. His right shoulder was barking, he couldn't drive the ball to the gaps and that 100 million contract extension he had signed during spring training sure didn't look too smart on the Nationals' part.

Zimmerman, as steady and level-headed a player as you'll find in the big leagues, admits now he was concerned.

"I'm OK with the slow starts, but not being able to swing the bat and do the things health-wise, I was worried about that," he said. "Because I know my body pretty well. Everyone in this room plays hurt. Everyone in every locker room. Nobody's healthy. And I've played hurt a lot just like everyone else. But it was a different kind of feeling. It made me nervous."

That morning of June 24, with the Nationals preparing for their series finale in Baltimore, Zimmerman received a cortisone shot in the shoulder. Doctors couldn't promise him it would work. And they couldn't tell him how long the effects of the shot would last.

But it did work. And it has lasted. Zimmerman hasn't needed another shot since, and he barely worries about his shoulder right now.

And the numbers he's posted in 72 games since that day in Baltimore are nothing short of dominant: a .339 average, .405 on-base percentage, 19 homers, 62 RBI and a 1.021 OPS.

He currently owns an NL-best 16-game hitting streak. He's also driven in a run in nine consecutive games, an ExposNationals franchise record.

"We're riding him," manager Davey Johnson said. "Zim's swinging the bat good and playing good."

It only constitutes one-half of a season, but had he compiled those numbers over six months, Zimmerman would be the runaway favorite to win National League MVP honors.

He won't, of course, win MVP. He might receive a handful of top-10 votes.

But he doesn't care about that. What preyed on Zimmerman's mind most of all during his early season struggles was the fact the Nationals were enjoying the best year of their brief history, and he (as the senior member of the club) was doing little to contribute to it all.

"That was a trying time, I guess you could say," he said of those June days when he faced an uncertain future. "That was about as tough a six-week stretch as I've ever had in my career. To be able to look up there now and know I've been able to battle back from that -- and more importantly, can actually help the team win now -- I'm pretty proud of it."

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Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season

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Bryce Harper thanks Nationals fans for support during 2017 season

It's been a week since the air was sucked out of D.C. in the Nationals Game 5, 9-8 loss to the Chicago Cubs. 

And now that we've had a few days to decompress from another early D.C. playoff exit, Nats right fielder Bryce Harper decided to take some time to thank fans for their support this season.

Harper posted an Instagram video Wednesday afternoon, with a fresh cut, and thanked fans for continuing to pack Nats Park. In the video he says he looks forward to "chasing that championship" again next spring. 

The 2017 season could be described as a rough one for Harper after missing the last few weeks of the season with a bone bruise in his left knee. 

Harper had a .319 average during the 2017 season, along with 29 home runs, 97 RBI's, 95 runs scored and 4 stolen bases. He is entering the final year of his contract.

RELATED: 20 THINGS SAD D.C. SPORTS FANS SHOULD BE HAPPY ABOUT

National Fans. Thank you!💯 #RedLightRecording

A post shared by Bryce Harper (@bharper3407) on

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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.