Sunday, April 25, 2010

Feels Like the First Time

I don't want this to sound like the rantings of one of those 50-year old manchildren who pines for the days of Eddie Brinkman, but dammit, you know what the first thing I thought of when I pulled up the ol' MLB ap while wandering around the pet food aisle at target?

I saw the 1-0 win over LA, and instantly thought of Ryan Drese. Ah, those heady days of 2005. Drese's first start after coming over from Texas was against LA -- only the Angels in this case. You'll of course remember that series as being the FRobby/Scioscia/Guillen/Donnelly/Intimidator/Piece-of-human-garbage series. All that came later. But the first game was something special.

Drese came out of nowhere, throwing his turbo sinker and getting grounder after grounder. As the innings piled up, the hits most certainly didn't. And through 8, the Nats led 1-0 thanks to Brian Schneider's solo homer off Bart Colon.

The ninth came, and Chad Cordero entered for what was probably the wildest ride in what was a crazy season. He, as he tended to do, made things interesting. He gave up a quick hit followed by a walk. During one of the pitches in that sequence, he literally fell off the mound during his delivery. One more single, and the bases were loaded with nobody out. Then he did it. Strikeout. Fly to center, but not deep enough to send the runner, followed by another strikeout. Game over, 1-0, and you just felt (as you really had for a few weeks) that this team was capable of anything.

I'm not sure we're completely to THAT point yet, but watching them (muted), it sometimes feels that way.

I remember earlier in that season... day game against the Mets... had to be this game, I guess. We were 13-11, and had actually played a pretty difficult schedule. We had played Atlanta a bunch. The Mets didn't appear to be pushovers. We fought those stupid Phillies... This wasn't a death march, but it was a long stretch of intradivision games, and was a good test of where this team was.

As I was walking out on one of those never-ending concrete ramps, my friend and I talked bout the start. 13-11 isn't a pennant-winner, but considering the difficult schedule, it was a good sign. I vividly recall saying something to him like "if we can play .500ish against these guys, we're going to be in it for a while."

Little did I know that about a month later, Ryan Church was going to hit a three-run homer in the 8th inning of a game against the Marlins that would push the Nats into first place in the midst of an improbable winning streak. Man, I can still hear the roars of that crowd. I can still see Mark Kotsay taking a looping path to the ball on Nick Johnson's bases-clearing double.

Dammit... starting to sold like an old man... where was I?

The point is there are parallels. RFK was the perfect place for that team -- an extreme run-suppressor, it held down the scores, keeping the Nats in way more games than they should've been in. This team has that sort of feel; they may get blown out occasionally. They may not do much blowing out themselves. But they've got a chance more often than not.

This team isn't as good as the Phillies or the Cardinals. But that second tier of teams -- Padres (at least based on their start), Atlanta, Milwaukee, Colorado, Los Angeles, etc... You can squint your eyes and see this team among that group, can't you? We're probably at the bottom of that group, but if you can play with those guys, you've got a team that's playing mildly interesting baseball into the parts of the year where I'm perpetually sweating.

Then you throw in Strasburg (Just bring him up, dammit!), Storen... maybe (but I doubt) Wang has a tiny little something (snicker) left in his right shoulder... then what?

Really, let's not get ahead of ourselves, but it's fun to dream sometimes. And if nothing else, these last few games have let me dream back to '05 -- back when rooting for this team was all kinds of crazy fun.

16 Comments:

  • Three things:

    *It may never again get as good as it was for those first 81 games in 2005. Of course, I saw the only losses in that 17-2 stretch over two homestands.

    *That's me you're talking about in your lead there! Take it easy on us old guys.

    *Why the mute??

    By Blogger MikeHarris, at 4/25/2010 9:15 PM  

  • I remember sitting in the "bouncing seats" (Section 124 if I recall?) for Zimmerman's walk-off against the Yankees, the other comeback win against the Yankees, and a huge comeback victory over the Braves. 2005 was a great introduction to the team -- had that season occurred like the rest, we would probably see lower attendance than what is occurring now.

    I too feel old in that I don't think 2005 could ever be matched. I'm a DC (suburban DC) native that has waited my whole life for a "home team" (growing up 25 miles south in Virginia, Baltimore was not a home team for me). Having a team, and then watching them and attending games through the first half of 2005 -- it was fantastic. Shutting up the Yankees fans. Boo'ing down the Cubs fans. Even a playoff run or World Series victory -- I wonder if it will ever feel the same as those first 81 games.

    In relation to that -- I couldn't help but feel happy to see Jamey Carroll playing this weekend -- he will always have a special place in my baseball memory.

    By Blogger lordscarlet, at 4/25/2010 9:50 PM  

  • If you start waxing nostalgic about Preston Wilson, we're upping your meds.

    By Blogger Nate, at 4/25/2010 9:57 PM  

  • Those Yankee games were in 2006, not 2005.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/25/2010 10:07 PM  

  • Oh, my mistake. They were in RFK -- that's part of the mystique for someone with a befuddled brain like mine, I suppose. It all feels like the heady days of 2005.

    By Blogger lordscarlet, at 4/25/2010 10:10 PM  

  • Did you have a stroke?

    By Blogger Kevin Reiss, at 4/25/2010 10:33 PM  

  • At the risk of sounding like that 50-year-old manchildren (I'm actually a 60-year-old manchild), I actually think this year will be MUCH BETTER than the 2005 campaign. That year was an illusion. This year is for real, and it's only going to get better. (Memo to Rizzo: Call up Jesus, goddammit!) The offense is competent, the defense is stunning, I can't recall a baserunning blunder yet, and Riggs is pushing all the right buttons. Give us Jesus, Wang and Storen, get Zimm healthy, get Dunn hitting, and let's see where we are after 80 or 90 games.

    Memo to Chris: The Phillies and Cardinals aren't that good, either.

    By Anonymous Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me, at 4/25/2010 10:49 PM  

  • I can't recall a baserunning blunder yet.

    Except for getting picked off first three times and Nyjer Morgan's brain freeze trying to go to third on Saturday.

    The Phillies and Cardinals aren't that good, either.

    Excluding offense, defense and pitching this is absolutely a true statement.

    By Blogger Nate, at 4/25/2010 11:01 PM  

  • One thing I noticed looking at the boxscore from that April 30, 2005 game against the Mets -- attendance was 40,913! Wouldn't it be something to see that kind of crowd at Nats Park (minus the Phans...)? It will probably take a serious win streak at home to make that happen this year (except for the Orioles and Cubbies series, maybe).

    Lots to love about the game today. The one bummer: that GBA rendition by the new spokesmodel counterpart for Clint was god-awful.

    By Blogger Section 222, at 4/25/2010 11:12 PM  

  • Holy fuck was that GBA terrible. That might be the worst thing I've ever heard in my life.

    My wife and I were driving around, and they played it on the radio. We alternated between laughter, eye rolls, and winces. Oy.

    I could do better. I'm 100% sure of that! ;)

    By Blogger Chris Needham, at 4/25/2010 11:13 PM  

  • She was cute, though. And much better than Clint. The Lerners are missing a revenue opportunity here: selling seats with a mute button for Clint.

    By Anonymous Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me, at 4/25/2010 11:53 PM  

  • You shoulda heard it live and amplified. Ouch. I was with an 8th grader who plays the sax. He said, "there were some really flat notes." I replied,"not to mention the unwritten key change after the first note and another after the first phrase." That's one of those things that would be impossible to recreate even if you tried.

    Then the double play in the 8th helped me forget.

    By Blogger Section 222, at 4/26/2010 12:31 AM  

  • Cute, Sunshine Bobby??? Get thee to an optometrist!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/26/2010 6:26 AM  

  • I'm trying to remember a time I had hope for the nationals and then they lost one in extras by walking in the winning run . . .

    By Blogger Sam, at 4/27/2010 7:50 AM  

  • WFED should bring back to "Take me Out" as their Nats broadcast theme song.

    By Anonymous BringBackBaerga, at 4/27/2010 5:21 PM  

  • The Cards are that good. The NATs offense is good enough for this year. Who knows if the pitching holds up with Strasburg 81-85 games might not be out of the question.

    It is a bigh difference from April 4, 2009 when you shut it down, eh Chris?

    By Anonymous Sec 204 Row H Seat 7, at 4/29/2010 2:34 PM  

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