Ryan Zimmerman has now been to the postseason five times in his 15-year career, with the 35-year-old veteran, posting a .306/.346/.542 line, five doubles, and four home runs his 23 games and 78 plate appearances. He talked before he hit his fourth October homer about knowing how difficult it is to get to the point the Washington Nationals are at, just one win away from a spot in the NLCS.
Zimmerman was asked if, as a player, you appreciate how hard it is to even get this far, or if ultimately players are frustrated, like everybody else, when a team either can’t get past the Division Series, like the Nationals, who are 0-4 in the NLDS, or can’t win it all, like recent LA teams, who’ve been to the postseason in seven straight years, and 11 times since 2004, but haven’t won the World Series since 1988.
“I think as players we definitely appreciate it,” Zimmerman said of even getting this far, “but if we say anything about it, we get killed for it.
“It’s hard to make the playoffs. It’s hard to be a winning team in a league like this.”
“What [the Dodgers] have done, getting to the World Series, getting to the Championship Series however many years it’s been, obviously it’s what everyone wants to be.
“Ultimately everyone wants to win the World Series. You always say, at the end of the year there’s one team that’s happy and the rest are at home.
“But I think you also have to appreciate what you’ve done as an organization, as a team. Each year’s different. Obviously this year’s been pretty special for us with the way that we started. Not to say that we’re satisfied, I don’t think anyone is satisfied. But making the playoffs, any year you can make the playoffs I think it’s, some people would be hesitant to say it, but I think it’s definitely a good year. The past couple, we have had years in the past where we were supposed to make the playoffs and you don’t make it and it’s disappointing.
“But obviously everyone wants to get past the first round, everyone wants to win the World Series, but, yeah, it’s hard to be successful at this level.”
“I remember 2014,” Anthony Rendon told reporters on Monday, “the first time I made the playoffs, we had guys like Scotty Hairston who had been in the league for 10, 11, 12 years, and that was his first time ever making the playoffs, when he was a part of it with us, so just the fact that we are making the playoffs and trying to make a run and fighting for it, I think that says a lot. It’s not easy to make the playoffs, and I think a lot of people overlook it, and think it’s a piece of cake, but it’s definitely not.”
Hairston, for the record, didn’t make the Nationals’ postseason roster in 2014, so he finished his 11th, and final, big league campaign without ever playing a postseason game.
Stephen Strasburg was asked, again, about the fact that he was shut down in 2012, and did not get to pitch in the Nats’ first October run since baseball returned to D.C. in 2005.
Did he ever look back on what it took to get here, with an opportunity to start in Game 5 of the NLDS tonight in Los Angeles?
“No,” the Nationals’ 31-year-old starter said. “I try not to look in the past, try not to look in the future, really just try and be in the moment.
“Once you start thinking about how things could have been or what things might happen, it takes your focus away from what your job is.”
He did, however, say that he appreciates the opportunity to do something special with this year’s group of teammates.
“I mean it’s funny because like you go into the season and obviously we lost a major part of the franchise in the off-season and, but I think it just showed the makeup that we have as an organization and to get back here and to be in similar situations in the past, to have another opportunity to move on, when you appreciate it a lot more, especially when you played a little bit longer, you start to realize how hard it is to get there.
“All you can really do is just give it everything you have.”
“We just believe that we got some mojo and that we can win,” Max Scherzer said after he’d done his part to help extend the season with a strong outing in Game 4. “We just believe in this clubhouse, what we have here, what we built here, and we have talked about it, that we just have it factor and we just know we got 25 guys that are going to lay it on the line every single time for each other and that’s hard to replicate.”
“We’re expected to win every year,” Zimmerman added, “make — if you don’t make the playoffs it’s a disappointment. And we’re going to give it our best shot again in a couple days to get past the first round.”