After losing Game 4 and having it all come down to a do-or-die Game 5, the Nationals still feel confident they can advance to the NL Championship Series to face the Chicago Cubs. Some of their fans, however, have their doubts.
It is perhaps understandable given how long it has been since Washington, D.C. won a world championship, since 1992 when the Redskins captured the Super Bowl. Only Minneapolis-St. Paul has waited longer among U.S. cities with at least three teams in the four major sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL). No such city has waited longer than D.C. has - 18 years - to simply reach the semifinals of their respective league.
It's a topic well-documented by media, including by a certain Nationals reporter at CSN who has unfortunately been writing about it since 2009. But do the players know about how long it's been for D.C. to have a deep playoff run?
According to manager Dusty Baker, the answer is yes. However, he doesn't want that to create any doubt or negativity. Just because teams before the 2016 Nationals have fallen short in the playoffs, doesn't mean they will.
Baker issued a long message to Washington fans ahead of Game 5 at Nationals Park:
"Yeah, you notice it. This is why we're here. We come here for the organization and ourselves, but the town. This is something that lasts. If you go a long ways, it lasts forever when you finally win. One thing I urge the town is to be in a positive mood. I was speaking to some hockey fans, I was watching the game, and they were expecting bad things to happen.
"I haven't been here long enough to know what the history is. All I know is that positive thoughts go a long ways. Places where I've been where the people are positive, no matter what the score was or no matter what, there was usually a positive outcome. Other places I've been where they expect negative, then they get negative outcomes. I just urge everybody. They say the mind can move mountains. They certainly can move the ball. I just want everybody to just think good and happy thoughts."
It's an admirable attempt. But D.C. fans probably won't rest easy until the game is over.
First baseman Ryan Zimmerman also weighed in. He knows the history as an 11-year member of the Nats, Virginia-native and longtime resident of D.C.
Zimmerman says the Nats won't be satisfied to just advance one more round.
"I think winning the World Series is the ultimate thing. Say we win this game and don't make it out of the next round; I don't think anyone is going to be like, 'oh, you remember that year when we went to the Championship Series? I'm not trying to downplay it all. It would be a huge step to go to the next round. But I think the ultimate goal is to win the World Series."
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