The Washington Nationals' 2019 postseason run that culminated with them winning the World Series is undoubtedly the best moment in the franchise's history. But after those magical memories, what comes next?
One man who knows a great deal about the history of the Nationals is play-by-play announcer Charlie Slowes. So, who better to ask about what memory ranks toward the top than the person who has called them all. On the latest Nationals Talk Podcast, Slowes reflected on what he believed was the second-best moment in Nationals' history, though it wasn't an easy decision.
Much like NBC Sports Washington's Nick Ashooh said in a recent debate, Slowes can't help but think of Jayson Werth's walk-off homer in the Game 4 of the 2012 NLCS. Before 2019, it was the last real postseason success Washington had.
"That was their greatest achievement with that win in Game 4, and the moment of it was spontaneous," Slowes said. “13-pitch at-bat culminating with a walk-off home run. And all the drama of it because for the Nats down two games to one in that series, that was a do-or-die game. So essentially that saved the season in that moment and forced a Game 5.”
While Slowes believes that may be the next best moment following the World Series, he couldn't stop the trip down memory lane right there. Max Scherzer's first no-hitter against the Pirates in 2015 came to mind, as did Jordan Zimmermann's no-hitter in 2014.
What stood out about the latter was the timing of it. Slowes explained that since it was the last series of the regular season and Washington was primed for the postseason, Zimmermann was not supposed to go deep into the game.
“That was a throw-away game. He was supposed to be out of there after maybe four of five innings," Slowes said. "Players were coming out in the second or third inning. I mean that’s a script you’ll never see.”
Additionally, the achievement became even more miraculous when Steven Souza Jr. came into the game late as a replacement and ended up making an incredible diving catch to end the ballgame.
“That was unbelievable," Slowes said.
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The Nationals comeback against the Mets in 2019 also makes his list of top five moments. Rallying from down six in the ninth, Slowes has dubbed it the "you blew it" game. Of course, the list would not be complete without the first game back in D.C. in 2005.
Though it was not a moment of in-game success like others, the Nats 2005 season opener marked an important moment for the fans of the area. With baseball having been gone for over 30 years, Slowes remembers seeing strong emotions from many who attended the game.
“How can you ever cross that one off the list?" Slowes said. “I could see people walking in, stopping cold and seeing people, men, women, young and old, basically tears streaming down their cheeks seeing that there was going to be a major league baseball game in their city either for the first time in their lifetime of the first time since 1971.”
As he continued reflecting on the Nationals' history in D.C., Slowes realized that trimming down the best moments to only five was nearly impossible. He had not even gotten to Stephen Strasburg's debut yet. That moment in 2010 signified a new era for Washington baseball, and it was a scene that may never be replicated.
“The buzz in the ballpark when the park filled up so early. People in the stands packed to see him go out to the bullpen and warm up. Getting a standing ovation walking in from the bullpen like World Series hero before he ever threw a Major League pitch," Slowes said. "I don’t think we’ll ever see a debut in the Major Leagues like that again. So that’s an iconic memory both for Strasburg and for the franchise.”
Slowes showed that pinning down the second-best moment in Nationals' history is not easy. Even finding just five is a rather challenging task. What he did show is that despite baseball having only been back in D.C. for 15 years, there have been plenty of magical moments.
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