I have an extreme Jekyll and Hyde personality when it comes to baseball. Last night listening to that annoying Bob Marley song (I don't care what the song is if they play it after the Nats loss it would annoy me) playing over the loudspeakers of Nats Park I walked out with my head down and fists clinched. I had a look in my eyes that dared a Cubs fan to say something to me. I wanted them to tell me how much the Nats sucked, how stupid I was for liking them, anything really. I just wanted to be given a reason. The anger boiled in my veins and I wanted it to boil over. I wanted to release it in a giant wave of frustration. I wanted to feel my knuckles crashing into the orbital bone of some hapless human being.
I may have wanted all these things but I still had enough sense to not act on them. My true anger was not for the Cubs fans or anyone else really. It was for the Nationals organization. After every lose I hate them. I hate them for making me angry, for making me want to smash faces and electronic equipment. The walk back to my car after a loss is one of the longest and worst walks I ever do, and I have done it far too much in the past few years, but the anger doesn’t stay. I find my calm center and it eases my pain. It is all washed away with thoughts of the future. “It just has to get better,” the Dr. Jekyll part of my brain whispers to console the seething rage of the Mr. Hyde within. I of course don’t know if it has to get better. It could get worse.
Strasburg could be headed to see Dr. James Andrews this weekend, Adam Dunn could walk away and be replaced by Michael Morse, Espinosa and Ramos could be complete flops, and come Opening Day 2011 John Lannan could be on the mound again. This is what my anger feels in those moments. Right after yet another loss my Dark Passenger whispers to me, lures me to believe it will never be better. That this too will never end. I am Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill. The thoughts entice me to unleash all the rage built up within. Let the Nats have it, but I can’t. There is another part of my mind that speaks to me in a soothing song when the sunshine breaks the night.
It tells me that Desmond is improving, Zimmerman is second in baseball in WAR, even if Dunn leaves Konerko, Cantu, or Pena could fill his spot with only a slight offensive drop-off, that if Ramos doesn’t work out Norris is close behind, too many experts believe in Espinosa for him to be a complete failure, and that Strasburg could just be adjusting. It is all coldly logical. It isn’t like the illogical rage that fills me begging to spill over. Maybe the intense anger is healthy. Everything rises and settles in due course. It does not carry over to spill out in the lashing some believe the team deserves, but this is the plan I asked for, it is what I wanted. I believe in Rizzo. I trust him to deliver me from the darkness of Bowden and to reward my loyalty.
Somewhere inside I know better days are coming, but after losses I can feel the urge to unleash, to let out all the rage within myself, the anger at seeing Willie Harris as a pinch hitter or Wil Nieves even on the team. Then I see Zimmerman make a great play on defense and realize that watching him play every day is porn for a baseball fan. Roger Bernadina as the future centerfielder gives me hope. Hope through the darkness of the rage takes over when the pain of losing has worn off. Too many people that know more than me think this organization is moving in the right direction.
Sitting here typing this, the suffering from last night’s loss is all but gone. A mild optimism has taken its place, and I once again look forward to the future. The idea that individual wins and losses don’t matter is hard to stomach for a fan that watches nearly every game. The improvements with this team and organization are obvious. It just requires a slight step back. Contention is not as far away as it seems. To a front office 2012 or even 2013 isn’t that far away, but to a fan it is. Taking the long view can be hard. I know if the Nationals keep the game close tonight, but loss in the late innings the rage and anger will be waiting to greet me…waiting to put the dark thoughts of eternal suffering back in my head.
If I one day develop an ulcer from watching this team I will happily name it Willie Harris, but I know if I could detach and just enjoy baseball then things would be better. I care about the Nats though. They represent my home, the place I am from, and I have pride in that. I want my pride to be rewarded, and I don’t really want to wait for it to happen, but wait I must. I can’t will wins into the team, and rash decisions by the front office can make the wait longer. All I can do is sit back and hope that the experts that see this team headed in the right direction are right, and the voices in my head are wrong.