Hey fellow Nats fans! It's been a while. For whatever reason, I always seemed to have more to say when the club was still in perpetual building/rebuilding mode. Those of you who have been around Federal Baseball for several years might remember me. Those of you who are still newer to the community won't. At any rate, like a handful of others who I remember around here, my love for the Nats is because I grew up an Expos fan. I have no ties to the D.C. area, and have lived in St. Louis for the past 23 years. While the hometown Cardinals have been in the playoffs (a little too frequently), I went to my first playoff game today (no interest in going to a Cardinals playoff game), donning my Tim Raines jersey and Nats cap.
The results on the field have been documented in various other threads around the site, so I won't bother to rehash them. The atmosphere, as it typically is at Busch, was terrific. The thrill of actually seeing our boys playing meaningful October baseball was memorable, even if the performance was poor. The goal was to take one of the first two in St. Louis, and they did that. If you would have told me in March that all the Nats would have to do would be win two out of three at home to make it to the NLCS, I'd have been thrilled.
And that's where the plea comes in............
A good friend of mine who grew up in Maine always threw his support behind the Boston Bruins when he was growing up. He would constantly tell me how every year the Bruins would be going along great until they met (ironically) the Montreal Canadiens, at which point it seemed as if there were ghosts in the old Montreal Forum that would help them "French" the puck into the net every other time down the ice. Throughout years of attending games (predominantly Expos and Nats games) at Busch Stadium, I can confirm that these ghosts exist.... and they're on the @#$@#$@ Cardinals' side*. 25% of this is a fantastic tradition and a belief based on their experience. 25% of it is probably luck. The other 50% is that they feed off of a rabid fanbase.
*How else can you explain insanity like David Eckstein winning a World Series MVP? Daniel Descalso (5 HR, .337 Slugging in 734 career AB) hit a home run today. He had a home run stolen by Jayson Werth yesterday. He hit another one to the track this afternoon. Their crazy Game 6 comeback last year that was fueled by the repeated mismanagement of Ron Washington? The "Outfield Fly" rule? Jeff Weaver and Jeff Suppan suddenly turning into Curt Schilling and Roger Clemens in the 2006 postseason?
Most of the examples I've brought up are recent, but it goes beyond that. When Ozzie Smith hit the famous "Go Crazy Folks" homer in 1985, he hit a career high six home runs that season. He wouldn't hit another until 1988. The Hall of Famer would go on to hit 29 HR in his career including that lone postseason dinger.
Cardinal fans believe that it is their birthright to win at least one World Series every five years or so, and while that hasn't quite held true, they're the most decorated team in the National League. The vast majority of them are good people/fans who will stick to their team through thick and thin. The rest of them are rather obnoxious. As they have a wide fanbase, there will certainly be more than a handful of them at Nats Park on Wednesday. Treat them kindly and with respect (most midwesterners would do the same to you), but let them know that their ghosts aren't going to work in Nats Park!
At any rate, the Cardinals have ghosts. Short of calling an exorcist to get them out of Nats Park when they visit on Wednesday, here's what we've got to do! Own the park this week! Make yourselves heard! I've seen few franchises in any sport that feed off of their crowd's emotion as much as the Cardinals do. As a fanbase, whether we're Expos/Nats fans, Nats fans, or just D.C. sports nuts, let's do our best to match that atmosphere and intensity for the boys. Hang on every pitch!
As I left the park today, I had a half dozen Cardinal fans mocking me because the Cardinals won the game at every stoplight on my way to the car. All I could do was turn to them and laugh, saying I've seen plenty of losing over the years and that they should enjoy having won their final home game of the year. After having spent more than thirty years cheering this franchise on, this season has been a dream. I'm not ready to wake up yet, are you?
Show the boys your support this week. Own the park! Exorcise those Cardinal Ghosts! It's time to create some of our own!
LET'S GO NATS!