Major sporting events tend to be a catalyst for every cliche, cheesy or emotional quote in the English language. To name a few:
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” — Robert Frost
“Don’t give up; don’t ever give up.” — Jimmy V
“There’s no crying in baseball!!” — Tom Hanks
“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” — Kelly Clarkson?
All of these were applicable to this year’s historic play-off run by the Washington Nationals, except as many fans learned, there is definitely crying in baseball. That is why I give you perhaps the corniest quote ever:
“‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” — Alfred Lord Tennyson
This quote better describes a heart-wrenching break-up, which is the only experience in my life that I can compare with Friday night’s game 5 loss. It hurt. Much like the early stages of love, Nationals fans spent the season somewhat mystified at the team’s sudden good fortune, and weren’t really sure if it would last. I remember going to Take Back the Park against the Phillies May 5, and someone said, “way to go, you won April.” Obviously this was from a bitter Philly fan, but when your team has yet to have a winning season, you had to wonder if he would be proven right.
But April turned into May, and May to June, and quickly it became clear that the 2012 season was more than just a couple of good dates; it was something quite special.
I won’t bore you with the details; if you follow the Nationals, you know there were too many good times to list. The victims of last season, pre-season and early season injuries became heroes in the field, on the mound and at the plate. The pitcher with the most wins last season was sent to the minors, only to win big when called up. And a rookie– the likes of which had never been seen before– let a veteran pitcher know– you hit him, he’ll steal home. As for the media– you ask him a ridiculous question after a game, he’ll make you a clown.
This season seemed to have been made in baseball heaven.
What made it so great is what made Friday’s sudden loss so hard to swallow. Like a bad break-up, you’re left re-playing all of the good moments in your head, and wondering what went wrong.
I think I speak for all the real fans when I say: it was worth it.
Also like relationships that come to a devastating end, the good memories can never be erased, and the bad ones teach you for the next time around.
So I leave you, Washington Nationals fans, with another very cheesy quote about love:
“Love is everything it’s cracked up to be…It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for.” –Erica Jong
Substitute “love” with “winning.” It really is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why losing game 5 of our first play-off berth hurt considerably more than losing 100 games just a few seasons ago.
It’s also why they play the game, and we love to watch it.
It’s why we follow every moment of a 162 game season.
It’s why we’re already counting down til pitchers and catchers report next year. (125 days, btw.)
And it’s why we’ll be back at Nats Park next season. Only now, we’ll expect to win.
Thank you, Washington Nationals, for a season that gave this growing fan base the spark it’s so desperately been wanting. Or, as we like to say around here, igniting our Natitude.
((pics to come.))