It’s hard to come to terms with a loss like last night’s epic 18-inning marathon that ended in tears for most Nats fans. A 2-1 loss is never easy to take, especially in the playoffs. I can’t blame you for leaving in the cold last night, I can’t blame you for waking up with a sense of existential dread about Game 3 on Monday afternoon, and I most certainly can’t blame you for wanting to give up now and wanting to go home and forget about baseball until March.
But you shouldn’t do that. Not yet. Not until the last out of the last game is recorded and the season is truly over. There are all kinds of reasons not to give up. Here are a few.
- Since July, when their season began to come together, the Nationals have only lost three in a row just once. In that same span, the Nationals have put together three or more wins five times. In that same span, the Giants have lost three in a row six times, and won three or more in a row four times.
- The hurlers for the Nationals have been nothing short of outstanding. They’ve given up just 5 runs in 27 innings pitched, for an ERA of 1.33. They have a WHIP of 0.926. These numbers are nothing short of amazing for the baseball that we’ve seen. The pitching hasn’t been an issue, and anyone who’s upset at them can calm right down. In a playoffs where we’ve seen the aces from the Cardinals, Dodgers, Royals, A’s and Angels fall apart around them, the Nationals’ rotation and bullpen have been exquisite.
- When the Nats break out of a funk, they do it with authority. After a rough stretch in late July and early August, they piled on the Phillies for 15 runs in two games. Granted, both were in the Nats’ confines at home, but one need only look at that intense Dodgers series in September to see how they can do well in a hostile environment.
- When the Nats get hot, they are a juggernaut of their own. Look at that magnificent 14 inning victory over the NL West champion Dodgers, which came in the midst of a long road trip.
I’ve seen a lot of head-in-hands moments on the replays from last night’s games, and I get it. Baseball is, if nothing else, constant and unrelenting failure crowned with moments of sheer panic and joy, and choosing to despair in the face of overwhelming odds is pretty well normal. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay despairing in the intervening time. Kick yourself free of the emotional hangover today,
There are plenty of good reasons not to feel the existential dread ahead of Game Three. It’s better to go in feeling hopeful than it is to dread every pitch. In the 2001 ALDS, the Oakland A’s went up 2-0 and were swept at the Coliseum and lost the deciding game at Yankee Stadium. It hurts me to remember that one, as I grew up an A’s fan, and I was on the wrong side of that one, but it happened, and the Yankees rallied back from the brink to bring it home to their fans.
This team is easily as good as those 2001 Yankees, and the crowds at AT&T Park will be no less imposing than those A’s fans were then.
Take heart, Nats fans.