Washington Nationals: In The End, Love of Baseball Wins

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Apr 2, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals first base coach Davey Lopes (15) in the dugout against the Minnesota Twins during the sixth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals first base coach Davey Lopes (15) in the dugout against the Minnesota Twins during the sixth inning at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports /
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After the 2016 season ended, the Washington Nationals and fans will boldly plunge into 2017. Here is why we are all true fans.

In the early hours of Friday morning, the 2016 Washington Nationals season ended. Sometime on Monday, when tired executives return to work, the 2017 season starts.

As disappointed as we all are on how 2016 ended, by the time the Nats reassemble in West Palm Beach next spring, we will all be ready for the journey to begin.

Being a baseball fan is tough. For over half a year, we sit and watch our favorite team play. Some nights, like Max Scherzer’s second 20-strikeout game, it is wonderful. Others, as with Game 5 of the National League Divisional Series, the pain is brutal. The bond is you.

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When you are in the produce aisle at Safeway or stuck at the DMV and you see another person in a Nats hat or tee, you exchange a knowing look or a couple words. That is why we stay fans. When you are at a boring function and someone asks, “Think we re-sign the Buffalo?” That is baseball.

Over 2.4 million of you sat in the stands in Nationals Park. Thousands of you every night drove home after a long day at work listening to Charlie Slowes and Dave Jaegler on the radio. How many of you had dinner at home watching Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo on MASN?

You winced at every Bryce Harper strikeout. You second-guessed every Dusty Baker pitching change and you might have woken a child or a pet when Daniel Murphy slashed another big hit against the New York Mets.

Everyone is a Washington Redskins fan. Come spring, everyone claims to be a Washington Capitals or Wizards fan, but you are always a Nationals fan.

Yes, this weekend is tough. The Los Angeles Dodgers are the team preparing for the NL Championship Series at Wrigley Field. Those intense nights of roller-coaster emotions replaced by a tinge of sadness, perhaps a touch of emptiness. That is the lure that brings us back next year. We get to do this all again soon.

As someone who grew up in New England in the 1970s and 80s, the feeling of heartbreak is understood and shared. As a Red Sox fan, the knowledge of knowing whatever success on display would suddenly careen off the train tracks was obvious. My Dad became a Buffalo Bills fan from their inception. His heart stolen four-straight years as if Lucy stole Charlie Brown’s football away in front of a hundred million people. Four years running.

When Jayson Werth was thrown out by yards in the sixth inning at home that was the moment of no return. There are many mistakes you can recover from, but shutting down a run scoring chance that late tends to be fatal.

Whatever feelings of gloom you feel now will change by the times the cherry blossoms return to the Mall. Trust me, when the day comes when the biggest celebration of all happens in Washington, everything comes into focus and the sheer joy will bring you to tears. That Is why we love this game.

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There is no better feeling. Someday, we will share it together.

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