The Nationals weren’t in a position to pop any bottles celebrating a postseason berth just yet on Monday night, but that didn’t stop someone in the organization from looking ahead.
As the Nats embarked upon their final homestand of the year, reporters noticed protective plastic placed above lockers throughout the clubhouse, in preparation of a celebration most expect to come this week.
Players noticed it too, and at least one wasn’t happy with what he saw.
“Don’t bring that up. I’m not happy about it. I’m not happy at all,” outfielder Adam Eaton told reporters after the Nationals’ 7-2 victory over the Phillies. “We’ve had a discussion. It won’t happen again.”
Eaton was so unhappy seeing the plastic, he threatened to pull a similar stunt to one of his former teammates.
“If I had it my way, I would do a Chris Sale and rip every single one of them down,” Eaton continued. “Chris, I love you. But I’m not happy with that. It’s a distraction in my book, and shouldn’t have happened.”
That’s a sight most fans would love to see, and it certainly would have been one of the more bizarre stories of the Nationals’ season.
It’s not completely unreasonable that the Nats’ operations team would want to be prepared. It’s possible (likely, even) that the Nationals clinch a postseason berth at some point against the Phillies this week, and it makes sense they’d want to be prepared for whenever the moment happens.
Now that the Nats took the first game in a rare five-game set, their magic number is just three. With a doubleheader scheduled for Tuesday, a sweep combined with a Cubs loss would lock the Nationals into the Wild Card Game and ignite a celebration.
With the early start time Tuesday, setting up the plastic Monday afternoon makes a lot of sense. But still, it’s also reasonable to see Eaton’s description of them as a distraction.
Regardless of the team’s magic number, the outfielder’s focus hasn’t shifted.
“I don’t really follow that. I’m going to go in tomorrow and eat eggs and bacon and get ready for pitch one,” Eaton explained. “I don’t really worry about numbers or games or emphasis or anything like that. I just try to keep it as simple as possible. If we go out there and think this game is bigger than the rest, you’re kind of fooling yourself. And then all of a sudden you’re tightening up and doing things you’re not supposed to do. We’re ready for a doubleheader tomorrow, and we’ll see from there.”
Eggs and bacon sound like a pretty great start to the day. And if everything goes well for the Nationals, they’ll be prepared to end the day nicely too, with champagne, clean lockers and a spot in the 2019 postseason.
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