The Washington Nationals have clinched a playoff spot in 2017. That’s fact. They have fulfilled their prophecy of winning the NL East, and are poised to take on the Chicago Cubs in the first round of the playoffs. We knew this was the eventuality in July, but it’s cemented. The Nats are King of Hill in the East and the Mets are struggling to get to the finish line.
When the 2017 schedule came out last year, I have had this series circled on the free magnet schedule that was handed out. It’s hard to circle something so small, but with the right colored sharpie and the correct marker tip, it’s possible. I chose Silver. In my mind this was going to be the series that determined who came in second, who got the silver medal, who is the runner-up. How funny to think about the Mets playing for second place when this year has been so disastrous!
Yet, here I am on the day of this series still filled with excitement. I’m ready. It might not be a series for the division, but it’s a series about pride. No, it’s a series for pride. It’s a series to remind the Nationals that this success is just temporary and that the crown will soon rest upon a different head in the East. This should be a reminder of what they’ll be coming back to in 2018.
This is an opportunity to spoil the Nats fun before seeing them next season. So why not take advantage of that? Why not? Let’s play spoiler and sweep the Nats.
Of course this all depends on whether or not two of our pitchers can get back on the horse and finish out the season on a high note. And these first two games are going to be tough. With Gsellman and Syndergaard going in Games 1 and 2, the Mets will need to hit Jackson and Strasburg early and often. With the Nationals likely facing the Chicago Cubs I highly doubt that Strasburg goes far into this game.
These games are going to be about keeping the Nationals pitchers in rhythm, while still getting them some time to rest and get fresh. The Nationals have nothing to play for, with the exception of maintaining their number 2 spot. So why not knock them down a few games? Why not?
The deGrom/Scherzer matchup on Sunday is sure to be a barn burner. I mean, these are two of the best pitchers in the game going toe to toe late in the season. Whether or not the Mets can stave off a late season Scherzer No-No, remains to be seen, but wouldn’t it be nice to punch the Nats in the mouth on Sunday? Let’s give Mad Max something to be mad about.
Something I have talked about on this blog is an about how in May, in between weeks at Kinky Boots, I went down to D.C. with my girlfriend. It was her uncle’s birthday and since he is a huge Nats fan, his wife got him a box and surprised him! A great birthday present! This was Sunday, April 30th. Noah Syndergaard vs. Joe Ross…. where the Mets lost 23-5. It was the worst feeling I’ve ever had at a baseball game. I wanted to throw up everywhere. My body went numb. I mean, here we are in a box, right behind home plate, Mets/Nats rivalry, the Mets winning the first 2 games coming off their abysmal losing streak and looking for a sweep.
The first home run off of Kevin Plawecki didn’t sting. It was bound to happen. A position player against Bryce Harper? I’ll take Harper every time. The Adam Lind home run?Completely different story. Nationals Park erupted. It was as if he had hit a go-ahead homer in the 9th. It was loud and boisterous. It was mayhem. It was also 22-5. Then Anthony Rendon goes yard. 23-5. The place goes nuts. I walk into the box and someone makes a “tough day” joke. I laughed and said, “at least we’ve made it out of the first round.” Absolute silence. I had touched a nerve.
Why do I bring this up? Because there’s something about that moment that tipped me off to the psyche of a Nationals fan. This is a team and a fanbase that is nervous, that needs so desperately to win and to prove that they can get out of the first round of the playoffs, that they’ll do anything. No one was used to winning like this, but everyone was living like it would stop tomorrow.
That feeing can be amplified.
There’s no time for fear when you’re a Mets fan. We’ve all been there. We saw Beltran watch a 3-2 curveball. We saw Jeurys Familia give up every lead in the World Series. We saw Conor Gillaspie’s 3-run homer disappear into the bullpen. There are a thousand moments we’ve been through with this team. We’ve been to the darkness and we’re still here. When this team has their backs against the wall, they can fight. This team is made of guts and grit, there’s no room for fear or worry. This team is as hard as nails and they’ll fight. I think we’ll see that fight all weekend. The time to begin winning was yesterday, but next season can start today.
And how nice would it be in Syndergaard came back to finish that game from April? If he went lights out against this playoff bound Nationals team? Imagine that feeling. The feeling of looking squarely in Washington’s face and saying, “Consider yourself lucky this year. 2018? I don’t think that one goes your way.”
So #LGM and all that good stuff, but more importantly #BeatTheNats.