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The Washington Nationals are looking at what happened Friday night as a learning experience, but the Nats' fanbase doesn't seem to be able to wrap their collective heads around what happened yet any more than St. Louis Cardinals' skipper Mike Matheny could after the game ended.
"We know they are going to keep battling," Davey Johnson told reporters at around 12:40 am Saturday morning, after the Washington Nationals lost Game 5 of the NLDS to the St. Louis Cardinals in stunning, heartbreaking fashion, "But we were in a good position. I mean, the guys did what they had to do to get to your closer, a couple-run lead, and you know, the tying run is up, got two outs. You know... got to make'em earn it... and unfortunately they did. You learn from it."
"I think it's just the kind of people they are," Cards' skipper Mike Matheny told reporters when asked how the Cardinals' players have been able to be at their best when the game and in several cases the season has been on the line, "They believe in themselves. They believe in each other. It's been this style of the team all season long. They just don't quit and I think that says a lot about their character.
"You can't say enough about the experience they had in the past, too," Matheny continued, "where they have had their back up against the wall and they realize that no matter what is being said out there, no matter how many people count them out, they control their destiny. We were down six runs, and I think it brought out something better in them. Every inning, the guys were just constantly talking about, 'Hey, we are going to do something special here,' and it was just a bunch of guys cheerleading. They believed it.
"It's just a special group of guys, and it's [a] pretty incredible night. Really almost hard to get your head around."
125 Days, 21 hours, 38 minutes, 50 seconds until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training and the Washington Nationals get to find out if the lessons they learned this season allow them to take it to the next level...
• THE BIG STORY!!! (Fighting Words):
One person in Cards clubhouse described Nats' collapse Friday as "the worst choke I've ever seen"— Joe Strauss (@JoeStrauss) October 13, 2012
• NATS BEAT:
• "Everybody reacts differently to pennant race, playoff and, for that matter, World Series pressure. There are stress levels the young Nats haven’t even reached yet." - "The Washington Nationals and the 2012 NLCS: What an ‘almost'" - Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post
• "Let’s face it, pain has been the D.C. sports fan’s constant companion in recent years." - "DALY: Nationals inflict new kind of pain on D.C. sports fans" - Dan Daly, Washington Times
• "Would [Stephen] Strasburg's presence on the active roster have won the series for the Nationals? It sure doesn't seem that way." - "Debating the big decisions" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com
• "But the fact remains that the Nats are a young team that has most of its key players under contract for several more years." - "Nationals' roster won't change much next season" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com
• "[Kurt] Suzuki seemed unsure of where to go or what exactly to do. He turned to infielder Chad Tracy and quietly said what everyone in the Nationals' clubhouse was probably thinking." - "Nationals Pastime: Building off the heartbreak" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com
• "'If we can work something out and I have a chance to come back with these guys again, I'd definitely be happy about it,' [Edwin] Jackson said Friday night." - "Edwin Jackson is interested in returning to the Nationals" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times
• "Despite coming up short in the playoffs, the team had a great season winning 98 games and finishing with the best record in the game." - "What the Nats have to do for next season" - Craig Heist, WTOP.com
• "Nearly 136,000 fans packed Nationals Park for Washington's three home playoff games, including the two largest crowds ever at the stadium." - "Nationals' success means possible shift in D.C. sports hierarchy" - Rick Snider, WashingtonExaminer.com
• "'[Drew Storen] is a terrific young closer, and [he'll] make this a learning experience, be better for it in the future,' Rizzo said." - "Rizzo: 'Great season with a disappointing ending'" - Bill Ladson, nationals.com: News
• "The Nationals’ two most valuable players this season were infielders, and they may have also been the two Nationals who faced the biggest questions coming into the year." - "Nationals positional review, Part 1: Infield" - Adam Kilgore, Washington Post
• "Players and coaches packed up their lockers at Nationals Park on Saturday morning, beginning the long process of analyzing their postseason." - "Pieces are in place for Nationals to make another big run in 2013" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times
• "One by one, they stopped to congratulate the teenager who helped lift the Nationals to their first-ever playoff berth and won over his teammates with his non-stop fire." - "Bryce Harper homers, triples in Nationals’ loss to Cardinals" - James Wagner, The Washington Post
• "Perhaps the Nationals' team MVP, LaRoche's contributions this season were immeasurable." - "Position analysis: Infield" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com
• "The Cardinals were sweating the Nationals, a team that eight years ago deployed a pretty much decimated minor league system." - "Amazing to consider ..." - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
• "A top four of [Stephen] Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler is not only a great rotation, but it will also be a cheap one." - "Nationals have all of the pieces for a longer run in 2013" - Matthew Pouliot, HardballTalk
• "Afterward, [Drew] Storen received the support of his teammates, but he still felt he let his team down." - "St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals - October 12, 2012" - Bill Ladson, MLB.com WSH Recap
• "'You know what? The way I see it is we did a great job this season. Washington got what they wanted. They saw something new,' [Gio] Gonzalez said." - "For Nationals, this will hurt awhile" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com
• "It was a historical win and a historical loss." - "Is the Nats loss Teddy's fault?" - WTOP.com
• "[Adam] LaRoche put up career numbers in 2012, smacking 33 homers and 100 RBIs in helping the Nationals to 98 regular season wins and a the National League East title." - "With option decision looming, LaRoche's teammates want him back in 2013" - Byron Kerr, MASNSports.com
• "What a wild, magical ride. The season opener. Bryce Harper’s debut. All the injuries. First place in the NL East. Best record in baseball." - "Thanks for following along this season" - James Wagner, Nationals Journal, Washington Post
• "Essentially, the ball is in [Davey] Johnson’s court, but it would be a shock to see anyone else zipping up that short-sleeved windbreaker come February." - "Nationals' 5 offseason questions" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times
• "[Tyler] Clippard and his teammates, to a man, expressed how they will move forward as a team into the winter." - "Natitude check: Nationals look to learn from painful finish" - Mike Fiammetta, nationals.com: News
• "[Adam] LaRoche hit a career-high 33 home runs and matched his career best with 100 RBIs. No Nats regular had a better OPS (.853)." - "Nationals' LaRoche likely to decline mutual option, explore free agency" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com
• "'We've come a long, long way in a fairly short period of time,' general manager Mike Rizzo said. 'Like I said all along, we like where we're at.'" - "Can they make it back?" - Mark Zuckerman, NatsInsider.com
• "[Edwin] Jackson, 29, is eligible for free agency but is interested in staying in Washington if the terms are agreeable." - "Edwin Jackson interested in talking to Nationals about contract" - James Wagner, Washington Post
• "Have the past two days done anything to help alleviate the pit in the bottom of your stomach, or will that still be there for a little while?" - "Nationals Pastime: Reflecting on the happier moments from the 2012 campaign" - Dan Kolko, MASNSports.com
• "[Sean] Burnett pitched with pain in his elbow for most of the second half of the season, if not longer." - "Sean Burnett may need surgery to remove bone spurs" - Amanda Comak, Washington Times
• Your Daily Message From The Dalai Lama On Twitter (@DalaiLama): "Once you have a genuine sense of concern for others, there’s no room for cheating, bullying or exploitation."
• Arizona Fall League Updates:
• AFL Box Scores (10/10) - Salt River 11, Mesa 3 - Brian Goodwin 2 for 5, 1 HR, 1 BB; Matthew Skole - 3 for 5, 2B, HR, 3 RBIs - Box Score
• AFL Box Scores (10/11): Salt River 6, Scottsdale 5 - Anthony Rendon - 1 for 3, 2 BB; Brian Goodwin - 2 for 4, HR - Box Score
• AFL Box Scores (10/12) - Scottsdale 4, Salt River 0 - Matthew Skole - 1 for 3, BB; Anthony Rendon - 1 for 3, BB - Box Score
• AFL Box Scores (10/13) - Surprise 10, Salt River 2 - Aaron Barrett - 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 K - Box Score
• "The Nationals, who came to Washington, D.C., from Montreal in 2005, are looking to make upward of $100 million per year from the Baltimore-based Mid-Atlantic Sports Network, starting in 2013." - "PressBox: Nationals Seek Larger Share Of MASN's Baseball Money" - Dave Hughes, DCRTV.com/PressBoxOnline.com
• "So we go back to Shirley Povich’s column from the day after it ended in 1933, because he wrote a damn bit better than I do, plus it’s super atomospheric to quote old stuff." - "Nats season ends" - Dan Steinberg, Washington Post
• "Here are the five most crushing postseason defeats..." - "Top Five: Postseason losses by D.C. teams over the last 20 years" - Brian McNally, WashingtonExaminer.com
• "Maybe it's the angle of the photo, but Swag also appears to be depressed about the Nats, just like the rest of us." - "Here's Bryce Harper's dog Swag helping him unpack" - Nats Enquirer
• "William E 'Bill' Stearns" - Karen and Kevin Flynn, D.C. Baseball History
• "Season Review: 2012 Auburn Doubledays" - Luke Erickson, NationalsProspects.com
• "I thought I had myself fooled. For five years I’ve been sitting in press boxes in the DMV, lying to myself that I could fully separate my emotions from the duties and responsibilities that being a credentialed member of the press carries." - "OPINION: This one is going to hurt for a long time" - Dave Nichols, District Sports Page
• "For the third time since his historic first win last week, Teddy Roosevelt scored a victory in the Washington Nationals postseason presidents race." - "Video: Grounds crew pummels presidents. Teddy wins again. Nats don’t." - Let Teddy Win!
• "Do you resign LaRoche? If not do you move Morse to first and sign an OF, or keep Morse in the OF and sign a 1B?" - "Monday Quickie" - Harper, Nationals Baseball
• "As if the crushing Game 5 loss to the Cardinals wasn’t painful enough, many Nats fans were greeted with an early-morning gut punch in their inbox Saturday morning." - "Automated email to Nats fans about World Series tickets a ‘stunningly stupid error’" - Dan Steinberg, Washington Post
• "Post Apocalypse" - The Nationals Review
• "Some applauded, showing their support to the overall effort Washington had put forth this year. Some booed. Most just silently turned and began walking toward the aisle." - "Let it burn...Nats fans" - William Yoder, The Nats Blog
• NL EAST UPDATES:
• Braves: "[Chipper] Jones heads into retirement an Atlanta icon among Atlanta icons." - "Atlanta sports icons count Chipper as one of their own" - Carroll Rogers, www.ajc.com
• Mets: "The team is hoping they can reach a deal with [David] Wright that will make him a 'Met for life,' a person with knowledge of the team’s thinking told the website." - "Mets hope price is Wright at $100M: report" - NYPOST.com
• Marlins: "How much of that remaining $115 million or so on A-Rod's contract (through 2017) would the Yankees have to eat in order to interest the Marlins in bringing the fading third baseman home?" - "Should the Miami Marlins trade for Alex Rodriguez?" - Mike Bernadino, South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
• Phillies: "We assume [Roy] Halladay and [Vance] Worley will be ready to go by spring training, but there are no guarantees... " - "Filling Out the Starting Rotation" - Bill Baer, Crashburn Alley