NLDS Game 5: A Nationals Tragedy

The gateway would have better represented what was in store for me inside had it read “Arbeit Macht Frei.”

Baseball is over, and I have come a long way in my emotional healing process since attending Game 5 of the NLDS. At long last, I feel that I can write about that game without breaking down, hiding under my bed, and trembling for a few hours until the flashbacks go away. Okay. Deep breath. Here goes.

The tears wept by thousands of Nationals fans after the bottom of the 9th of Game 5 have long since turned into a fine mist that hovered over Nationals Park and descended to earth to water the outfield grass so it will grow still greener next seas-NO NO NO OH GOD IT’S ALL COMING BACK NO I CAN’T RELIVE IT ALL AGAIN NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

It was a perfect night for October baseball. The air was crisp, the sky was clear, the crowd was abuzz, and the Cardinals fan sitting to my right was shrieking like a rabid banshee biting off her own fingers.

Oh wait, that last thing does not belong in the “perfect” category. It seemed that a woman had traveled hundreds of miles from St. Louis to Washington, DC for the sole purpose of shortening the number of years before I need a hearing aid.

People haven’t been so excited about waving red towels since brides after their wedding nights in the middle ages.

Things started well. Too well, really. Lots of Cardinals outs and Nationals runs. The Cardinals seemed like a reasonably skilled team. How were the Nationals beating them so badly? 3-0, 4-0, 6-0. Gio Gonzalez was going strong, and Adam Wainright seemed to be both waning and wrong.

I was happy, but I couldn’t escape a nagging doubt. What if the Nationals, me, and 45,000 other fans at Nationals park were being led…into a trap?

Following Michael Morse’s home run, the jumbotron was this close to creating a recursive picture-within-a-picture. Missed opportunity.

Adding to my suspicions was the fact that the Cardinal fan/Nazgul’s shrill cries were only getting louder as the Nats pulled ahead. Every time the Cardinals succeeded in any tiny thing–even while the Nationals continued to increase their lead–her vocal chords curdled my blood again and again.

Then, with the Nationals ahead by 6 in the bottom of the fourth, she abruptly departed. I shivered, and not just from the cold (but mostly from the cold, it was really cold by this point). Was witchcraft afoot? Were the jaws of the Cardinal trap about to start clamping down on us?

I was distracted from my worries with what seemed like it would be just one of at least several more 2012 Presidents Races.

The Bush-era policy of “leave no Teddy behind” has often been proven to be a failure.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are tackled to the ground by an army of men in red coats. Clearly I was witnessing an alternate-history reenactment of the American Revolution.

But following the Teddy victory, the diabolical Cardinal trap began to spring. Before I knew it, Gio was out of the game, Badwin Jackson was in it, and the lead had been halved. Before I knew another thing, Badwin had done what he does worst and Tyler Clippard had lain down in submission for Daniel Descalso just like he presumably did all season long for his bullpen-mates.

6-5. But they were three outs away. Three miserable little outs. Maybe the Cardinals had miscalculated. Maybe the trap wasn’t going to close in time.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Nationals offense finally woke from its early-October hibernation. Adam LaRoche singled. Michael Morse walked to the plate. Cue an army of falsettos thousands-strong.

Take on me

I’ll take on you, Michael Morse.

Take me on

…I’ll take you on also. Does switching those words change the meaning at all? Whatever. Just get a hit.

I’ll be gone

Wait, what? What do you mean by that? Like a home run?

In a day or two

No!  Don’t go, Michael! I’m not ready! Please! Just a couple more weeks! That’s all I ask–CRACK

Oh, okay. A hit. I’ll forget that ominous foreshadowing for now.

After a fielder’s choice and a travesty of a Danny Espinosa at-bat, Kurt Suzuki singled in the Nationals’ 7th run and singled his way into my heart.

Kurt Suzuki stands on first base like he fucking owns it.

When Kurt Suzuki got that hit, I shouted “I LOVE YOU KURT SUZUKI,” and  I meant it as I never had before. In the Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle described three basic types of love, which can be described most simply as love for a romantic partner, love for a friend, and love for a family member. But he neglected to mention the most powerful love of all: the love for a backup catcher.  My love for Kurt Suzuki is as great as the likelihood that he will be a below-average player next year–that is, truly enormous.

But then came the top of the 9th.

Forcing anyone to watch Drew Storen pitch this inning was actually banned under the original Geneva Conventions.

I can’t imagine you have any desire to read about this inning in detail, so I won’t give a blow-by-crushing-blow account of the carnage. Suffice it to say that Drew “Bad Company” Storen might want to change his warm-up music for next year. The current one might reflect a bit too accurately how Nationals fans feel about hanging out with him.

You know things went badly when you walk out of the park thinking “Man, if only we’d had Henry Rodriguez out there pitching, I might be happier right now.”

I kept pointing the camera at the sky so I would be sure to catch the fireworks when they happened…

Making matters worse was the fact that the Nats got beat by a guy who’s not even that good at baseball. It’d be one thing if Matt Holliday or Yadier Molina or a re-Cardinaled Albert Pujols had struck the death blow, but no. The winning hit was delivered by none other than Pete “Infield Fly Dropper” Kozma. I mean really, where do you see Pete Kozma being in ten years: still playing professional baseball, or wasting his fortune on a failed magazine called “Kozmapolitan” that only has one article, the same every issue, called “Top Ten Things that Pete Kozma Likes Done to him During Sex.”

If you didn’t answer the latter, you know nothing about evaluating prospects.

If I were gay, this would be the least erotic pile of men I’ve ever seen. As it is, it’s just a normally unerotic pile of men, except much more depressing than most.

And that was the season.

All was silent. All, that is, except for the Cardinal fan’s shrieking. She had reappeared, several rows in front of me, to drive a final dagger of sound into my mortally wounded heart.

Whenever I close my eyes, the shrieks still echo in my head. FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESE MOOOOOOOOLIIIIIIIIIIIINAAAAAAAAAAA HOLLIDAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

NOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo oh god. Okay. Breathe. Breathe. I’m back. It’s November 12, a month to the day after It Happened. I guess I still haven’t fully recovered. There must be some way to get rid of those terrible images.

Hm. What if I just replace them…with something even more horrible?

Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Gorzelanny.

Ah yes. That…that did it.

That’s more than enough horror to last me till Spring Training.

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2 thoughts on “NLDS Game 5: A Nationals Tragedy

  1. […] site of such much joy and pain on a cold October night just under half a year ago. The dull ache of Game 5 was acutely resurrected as I passed through the center field gates, but this time it was […]

  2. […] This game was the cherry on top of the shit-cream sundae of this series. If you pulled it off by itself and washed away the shit underneath from your memory and ate it, this game was actually pretty good. Heroic performances from Gio Gonzalez and Bryce Harper abounded, marred only by another of Drew Storen’s incessant attempts to remind us of the worst day of our lives. […]

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