Fortunately, although I enjoy baseball, I've never lived nor died with a team. Perhaps that's something I've missed but I don't expect so. Baseball is a show that offers immense delight, mainly because every game is so different from the previous one. And there's something special still about being in the ballpark.
I've been in many of them. Nats Park is nice, especially because as well-designed as the Orioles' Camden Yards is, Nats Park is the first one that is defiantly not modelled after the Yards. It has its own character. I'm of course a traditionalist in that I despise the constant noise that the teams and leagues now think fans must be deluged under at all times. It was once pleasantly refreshing that the park would be quiet until something excited or something that could be anticipated to be exciting occurred.
Now not only is it always oppressively noisy but you are demanded to clap or toss your cap or stand up or do something. Real fans never needed any of that. I even remember with affection that the "Charge!" call that follows a horn blast was once initiated--in the L.A. Coliseum, I recall, soon after the Dodgers left Brooklyn for L.A.--with a few guys around the stands who blew their own horns, not the P.A. system.
Last night, I attended the third fifth-game of the opening playoff series that the Nats have been in during their existence. As on the earlier occasions, they blew it, helped along by a manager who made the wrong strategic decisions at critical moments. He stuck with Max Scherzer for one batter too long but even worse, brought in two successive ineffective relievers.
Probably not as awful as earlier managers--Davey Johnson and Matt Williams--relying on the clearly shaky Drew Storen to save fifth games in the ninth. Davey had a tendency to freeze and not act when he needed to, and Williams just made one bad move after another, to the point where the excuse that he was a tyro was irrelevant.
Writers have excused the third-base coach for his idiotic decision to send Jason Werth home when he would be out by 30 yards. I would fire him. Those decisions in crucial moments of decisive games are what you hire coaches to make. And to win a playoff series, you can't make mistakes. Being stranded on base is one thing but being sent to your doom by a moronic coaching call is entirely different.
For decades until 1955 the Dodgers seemed to be spooked. In The Year The Yankees Lost the Pennant, a novel that came out in 1954, the character who was the Devil, a Yankee fan naturally, gave a benighted Washington Senators fan the chance to be a young star who would best the Yankees finally. When he scores the winning run despite being turned back to old age by the Devil, who whatever other powers he may have, could not convince an umpire to change his call, the Devil pleads with him to join up again for the Series.
"Without you the Senators can't beat the Dodgers and those Dodgers have never won a World Series," the man in red, played in the musical Damn Yankees by the wonderful Ray Walston, urged. So then in 1955, Next Year finally arrived for Brooklyn, followed two years later by the desertion of America's favorite losers, now winners, to the West Coast.
The Nats can't blame the Devil this time or the previous two, just themselves, that their managers--like the other two touted strategists this year--Buck Showalter and Bruce Bochy--came up short when it counted.