Skip to content

The playoffs are the payoff

Sep 21, 2012, 5:28 AM EST

Associated Press photo
Davey Johnson waves to the crowd after the Nationals clinched a playoff berth.

Fireworks shot off from the roof at Nationals Park at 10:02 p.m. Thursday evening. Within seconds, players were handed commemorative T-shirts and caps. A crowd of 30,359 roared with approval as everyone in uniform retreated down the dugout steps and into the home clubhouse.

There they were greeted and congratulated by 86-year-old Ted Lerner — perhaps the only one in the building who was around the last time something like this occurred in this town — and other members of ownership, and collectively they raised flutes of champagne and toasted their success after a 4-1 victory over the Dodgers clinched Washington’s first playoff berth since 1933.

Someone asked Davey Johnson to say a few words, so the 69-year-old manager did. He conveyed, as he always does, exactly how he felt.

“What’s this?” Johnson grumbled. “We ain’t done yet.”
Read more

  1. Joe Seamhead - Sep 21, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    Well, I was not going to get excited about clinching a wild card spot, but guess what? Shoot, I've been getting excited about every run scored and every inning that wthis team shut somebody else down since the beginning of the season.Every win has been surreal this year. We clinch our first playoff spot since long before this grumpy old man was born last night? Hell, yeah, I got excited! The reality that it actually happened after Drew struck Ramirez out was very emotional for everybody that ever called the self a Senators, or a Nationals fan.Now, move on, keep the pedal to the medal and beat the Brewers tonight!

  2. Joe Seamhead - Sep 21, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Another_Sam - Sep 21, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    Finally.And finally in thr Post: front page, above the fold, and color. Historic occasion all around.

  4. Joe Seamhead - Sep 21, 2012 at 9:50 AM

    For every fan that ever called them self a Senators, or Nationals fan.(Bartender! Could we get some coffee here?)

  5. 320R2S15 - Sep 21, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    Same feeling I had at the first pitch in RFK in 05. Just completely proud and thankful. Now let's really get after it.

  6. Dryw Loves the Nats - Sep 21, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Excitement is not a finite thing. Of course we want more, but we might as well savor every drop of excitement from last night.

  7. baseballswami - Sep 21, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    I forgot to mention this last night in all the excitement. When Hanley came up to bat, Carp called his first pitch – front door breaking ball for a strike. Then he and FP stayed totally and completely silent until the end of the ab. I appreciated that so much – it was so loud there and, watching on tv, I could just feel the excitement. They were showing faces of players, coaches and fans. Then when the game ended they called it, then stayed quiet again for a bit so that the tv watcher could just absorb what was going on there. That was very cool and very classy of them. Those moments spoke for themselves and it was nice to just watch and feel like maybe, even though I wasn't there, I was a part of it.Thanks, guys.

  8. mick - Sep 21, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Somewhere, Clark Griffith, Big Train and all the DC boys of summer from 1924, 25 and 33 who have passed on are smiling!

  9. Natslifer - Sep 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    1 down, 1 to go in the regular season. Congrats to this crowd – you all deserve this fun.(and how about Jayson Werth's quote at the end – very wise and another reason he's a great piece of our puzzle)

  10. mick - Sep 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Joe Seamhead said…For every fan that ever called them self a Senators, or Nationals fan.(Bartender! Could we get some coffee here?)I'LL DRINK TO THAT, lolololo

  11. karlkolchak - Sep 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    "And when Storen blew a slider past Ramirez for his third consecutive strikeout in a perfect inning of relief, he realized what had just happened."And so it was a pitcher drafted in the first round in 2009 who threw the pitch that clinched the Nats' first playoff appearance–it just wasn't Strasburg.Congrats to everyone…no matter what happens from here it has already been a special season.

  12. md_schmidt - Sep 21, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    As Werth reminded us last night, a lot of teams won't be going to the playoffs. Mark's blog is the reason I made a trip to Viera this season to catch a few games. So glad I did. Now I get to catch a game in St Louis and maybe see the Nats wrap up the division there — who knows?Great job with this blog Mark — you do a great service to that part of the fanbase looking for more than a box score or article. You enable some interaction that speaking for myself, is enjoyable and much appreciated. Congrats to the club and time to focus on the next milestone for this remarkable season.

  13. Section 3, My Hitterish Sofa - Sep 21, 2012 at 11:35 AM

    "And finally in thr Post: front page, above the fold, and color."And in an ironic coincidence, next to a Chico Harlan byline.

  14. Melissa Rabey - Sep 21, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    I loved Storen's comment in the video about how they're at the party–now they want to become the life of it. Here's hoping the youngest team in the playoffs will be the last one left standing at the end of the party!

  15. natsfan1a - Sep 21, 2012 at 11:41 AM

    Well, I did plan to celebrate, but I didn't plan to cry. That part just kinda happened. Then, when I went upstairs to tell my husband, it happened again. But I'm a happy-crier from way back. Weddings, Hallmark commercials, clinches – I do 'em all. :-) Good call by Werth on the toast.Shoulda been the Blogfather, sec3.Now, where's that coffee?? :-)

  16. MicheleS - Sep 21, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Already on my second cup of coffee. reading all the stuff online.. still can't believe it.

  17. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 21, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    Not to be forgotten is Wilson Ramos and Stephen Strasburg.

  18. The Fox - Sep 21, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    At the game last night I was really happy they won but I expect them to win the division so I didn't plan to celebrate too much. When Storen struck-out Hanley thoughts of my grandfather and father who took me to baseball games rushed into my head and I needed to take a moment because I became a little verklempt. I really was not expecting that. Strange how much the sport of baseball is entwined into other memories. Go Nats!

  19. natsfan1a - Sep 21, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    True, Fox, about how it is entwined with other memories. As I drifted off to sleep last night, I thought of my late brother and his Giants. I thought of the way he'd always ask me how my Nats were doing when we talked. I sent a few thoughts his way last night. "My Nats are good this year, bro. They're going to the postseason."

  20. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 21, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    alright after an exciting last night, let us get back to serious matters, that is NL East division and best record in baseball. Reds are playing Dodgers, Brewers, Pirates, and Cardinals. We have Brewers, 2 x Phillies, and Cardinals. Rangers have Ms, 2 x As, and Angels. I think we have a shot at the best record. Let's keep going boys. Go Nats!!!

  21. NatsLady - Sep 21, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    I woke up this morning and it wasn't a dream. It still says x-Washington. Now we go for the y- and the z-.

  22. Faraz Shaikh - Sep 21, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    btw desmond has a cute baby.

  23. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 21, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    Fox, thank you for that. Touching.

  24. Gonat - Sep 21, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    Enjoy this graphic, my oh my how things have changed. From NO respect to 47% of the nation and that's while 30,000 die-hards were still at the game and not voting!I like the caption below it with a shoutout to Bryce Harper who pre-season was doing crazy talk: #WSinDC (Crazy no more)!/Allstars_S2/media/slideshow?

  25. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 21, 2012 at 12:38 PM

    Just have to express my heartfelt joy after being able to witness last nite in person. The Park was electric all night long and the top of the 9th was beyond description. I'm so proud to be a Nats fan and a member of Marks awesome community.

  26. original Nats Fan - Sep 21, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    I've waited all my life for a DC baseball team to make it to postseason. There IS crying in baseball!I love this team

  27. MicheleS - Sep 21, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    ALR will be on the Flagship at 11:45 with Holden and Danny

  28. MicheleS - Sep 21, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    NatsJack. will you be in 235 tonight?

  29. sjm308 - Sep 21, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    Swami – I was so excited last night I did not really focus on the play-by-play but thanks for pointing that out. For all the grief Carp gets, that was a classy way to handle a big moment.Probably not as excited today as last night but I am still getting jacked up as I read others reactions to this great accomplishment! I figured we would be fighting for that 2nd WC spot (sort of where the Phillies are now) and was excited about those prospects. Here we are with a little z or x by our name and we have lots more baseball to play!Saw in the Post that Wang is starting on Sunday. After the first two batters on Wed. I honestly thought they were having a hard time with his stuff. He was showing 93/94 on the scoreboard and just about everyone was beating the ball into the ground. I don't think this will start some huge controversy about the playoff roster but it did appear that he warmed up quickly and if he pitches well, why wouldn't you want someone with playoff experience in the bullpen? What fun it's going to be to guess the 25 man roster. I am of course hoping that is the playoff rosters for both NL series and NOT the wildcard.Go Nats!! Win the Division!! (had to alter the playoff cheer since that is done!) Score First!!

  30. sjm308 - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    By the way. Thanks Mark for allowing me to get all excited for others reactions to our lads. What a great service you have provided and except for the fact that I spend way too much time on this site, its just a real treasure.

  31. Steady Eddie - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    My sentiments, too, NatsJack. Thanks alone aren't enough to express my appreciation to Mark for not only giving us but so dedicatedly sticking with us on this blog — an amazing community (as NJ so well put it) with which to share the incredible journey.After my disappointment at the Tuesday rainout, I was lucky to have Red Carpet seats in 130 last night. I actually found the laate-arriving crowd a little subdued for much of the game, not clapping for rallies or Det's two-strike counts but then exploding that much more loudly after good things were achieved — the Cortisone two's RBI doubles, Harp's always-inspiring hustle, Det's dominating innings, great infield play. Nice to see Det and especially ALR bail out Zim's fielding error with a great DP. (As I've been writing all year, do not take — and Davey does not take — ALR's glove for granted. He's been a vital part of the pitching staff's success because he gives them more confidence that anything the great infield gloves can reach will be pulled in at first.)On the memory front, I thought a little of my Dad, who moved back to DC (after 17 years in FL) before he died at almost 95 last December and was suddenly a Nats fan last summer, but more of my father-in-law, a DC native who went to Central High (as Cardozo was then called) with Abe Pollin and Ted Lerner and would have been chuckling with his big bear-delight (he died in June 2000) at DC not only getting a team again but having it be so justifiably confident at being so successful.I've mostly (my wife would say not so much!) kept down the yo-yo of emotions over this season by keeping sports in proportion from the time that my remarkable oldest daughter was killed in a car accident at 18 years old in 1999. But I can invest that much more from having the gift of last night and this season, games ahead and games to come, to take into seeing her younger sister married (in Brookside Gardens) tomorrow. So enjoy the games for me, everyone watching from the Park and on TV!

  32. NatsLady - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Such a typical Nats win, get 4-5 runs early and hang on for dear life. Loving this team… Will be at the games tonight and Sunday. NOT the last games for me until April–how odd, how strange.

  33. Section 3, My Insufferable Sofa - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Now I'm torn between the #24 jersey and the 2005 "Get a whiff of Dese Nats" tee shirt for the park.1a, if it had been the Blogfather, there would have been a certain symmetry, it's true, but it also means it probably would have been a football article. A Harlan byline next to a "Nats Clinch!" article would have been longer odds, if only because he wouldn't have stuck it out that long.

  34. PFB Balls of Fire - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    Picking up my Dad, heading to the game tomorrow. Planning on shedding a few tears of joy. It's his 73 birthday and he has never seen a playoff bound DC baseball team.

  35. Steady Eddie - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    And want to add that for all of the relative calm of the crowd much of the time early on last night, they were incredible in the last two-three innings. Maybe early on it was because they were holding their breath at Det's perfect three innings and deflated but calmly happy with the offense and his continued dominance. But as the relievers continued that dominance in mowing down all the dangerous bats, they got properly rowdy and were standing and screaming the entire ninth.One funny thing — I happened to be sitting next to Tony Williams, whose wife was delightedly chanting "Beat LA!" in the last couple of innings (because, I learned, he's originally from LA). To give him his due, he WAS cheering for all the great Nats' performances throughout the game, though.

  36. NatsLady - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Thanks, Eddie, and everyone for sharing personal stories. I've been a baseball fan for a long time, including some sort of Yankee-years with my Yankee (and all NY-teams) fanatic late husband. But I haven't been this excited since I was nine years old and the White Sox played (and lost) to the Dodgers in the 1959 World Series. To this day I can still name at least half the players. Came to DC in 1990 and there was no baseball or hope of it. I was in graduate school and caring for my elderly mom. Sports were just not on my agenda. Then the Nats came, and I found out where RFK was, took my mom to a few games, and the rest is, y'know, history yet-to-be.The kids who are nine in the year 2012 will never forget this season. Even my mother, now with my sister in Fargo, North Dakota, follows the Nats.

  37. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    NatsJack, so happy you picked a great game to attend.

  38. JD - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    For me last night was pure joy and relief. The last time my team was in the playoffs was 1981. Because of a rain out the 5th and deciding game of the NLCS was played on a Monday afternoon. I brought a small 9 inch black and white TV to the office so I don't miss the game. By the time that game was in the late innings half the office was around my desk (my boss came by, thought about breaking it up but just shook his head and left). That game is still known in Montreal as blue Monday (Rick Monday hit a game winning home run in the 9th to beat the Expos).

  39. A DC Wonk - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    Yikes, I'm getting verklempt just from these comments. . . . And now that I'm writing, thinking of my Mom:She was a NY Giants fan (particularly Willie Mays and Sal Maglie — and she was in a college class listening on the radio when Bobby Thompson hit that home run), then gave up baseball, disgusted when they moved to SF. My own love of the Mets got her back into baseball — and we both followed the '69 Mets (we watched every pitch, on TV, of Seaver's almost-perfect game), and she took me (when I was 12) to Shea Stadium to watch them beat the Braves to complete the 3-game sweep of the NLCS. And I successfully talked her into going onto the field with me after the game. She was an awesomely cool mom.She'd be digging these Natsies!(With a hat-tip to Casey Stengel who, I think, coined the terms "Metsies" — I think it applies: the young Mets did it in the 1960's — from worst in baseball (consecutive 100+ loss seasons) to first. Now, almost half a century later, I'm privileged to watch the Nats do it, too). The right way. From the ground up, with good guys.

  40. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Caps off toLB Network for last nights coverage. Great graphics and the graphics analysis on Detwiler was great. The emphatic inside fastball called by Suzuki that Det shook off to a curveball inside to K on Hanley was was nasty.Detwiler on extra rest is the Nats best starter. Just look at his stats.

  41. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    Caps off to MLB Network

  42. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    July 17 2012 was the rebirth of Ross Detwiler. 2 men on and gets Adrian Gonzalez to roll over with game on the line.Clutch!

  43. natsfan1a - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    Good call on the, uh, call, swami. I also appreciated the broadcasters' silence at the time.(SteadyEddie, congrats on your daughter's upcoming nuptials, and I'm sorry for your loss.)

  44. Tcostant - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    It was fun at the game yesterday, playoff will be a blast there!

  45. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 21, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    MicheleS and anybody else, I'll be in section 235 front row tonite.

  46. MicheleS - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:04 PM

    Ryan will be on ESPN980 at 1230

  47. JD - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    SteadyEddie, I see what mean about perspective. I hope life gives you nothing but joy from here on out.

  48. mick - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    Steady Eddieyou brought tears to my eyes my friend. I bet your father in law knew my my father in law, old DC boy. grew up a Senators fan, we still have his membership card for the Bucky Harris Fan Club for kids from 1936. He was part of the greatest generation and a brave WWII Vet who one could talk baseball with forever. I forgot to mention him in my earlier post, as he too is smiling down on the Nats and all of you.thank you again Eddie

  49. Steady Eddie - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    Thanks, 1a. Unimaginable as it was and is, we've managed to return to joy in life with, especially, the adoption of our now 11 year old daughter (passionate Nats fan with her "Nats corner" consisting of four entire shelves in her bookcase filled with all the stuff from years of games). And most of all, learned to treasure and be happy in all the positive moments — and the intensely-lived moments — of life.Of which the Nats have provided a great many this dream season.

  50. JD - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    On to the next task and as usual it starts with a very hard series against the hottest team in baseball. Wouldn't want it any other way. Right?

  51. mick - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Steady Eddie your not only a great fan, you are an even better person

  52. Steady Eddie - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    mick — Thanks, back at ya. That's really cool about your father-in-law and the Bucky Harris club. I'm sure they did know each other — my father-in-law was a great schmoozer with everyone he knew and everyone he instantly got to know. He didn't get to follow the Nats' one contending year (1945) in his adulthood, as he too was serving with the Army in Europe in WWII (ultimately writing for Stars and Stripes).

  53. SCNatsFan - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    JD – I was at that game. Remember walking down those huge concrete corridors after that game and the crowd being so silent. Ah college days. $1 to sit in the bleachers at Olympic Stadium, cost more to take the metro there then to see the game.

  54. JD - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    SCNatsFan, Do you know what I remember from that day? I as well as my friends was positive that we will be back in the playoffs for years to come. Never happened again.

  55. BigCat - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    NatsJack……ol Jake would of loved this season huh? He would of absolutely loved Harper. If there is a baseball heaven, here's there watching.

  56. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Enjoying all the shared stories. Sports unfortunately tears too many hearts out as you could see with Terry Collins post-game interview last night in comparison to the warm hearts at Davey Johnson's post-game interview last night. For every winner, there's a loser, and winning sure is better than losing. For the attitude in Natitude that Davey Johnson brought back to DC and the Lerner's who stuck with the plan and weathered many storms, much hate and at times divisiveness from within, and the transition from JimBo to Mike Rizzo to the key 1st round signings in Stras & Harp to the FA signing of Jayson Werth to a ballsy trade for Gio, the construction of this team and winning Natitude is officially spreading all over the country.-Believe or not, Natitude-

  57. Steady Eddie - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Very generous of you, mick! It's taken me a long time to understand that our journeys in life choose us as much as we choose them, and it's what we do with where they take us that matters most.Again, a season to treasure no matter how it ultimately tends.

  58. JD - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Ghost, The highs wouldn't be so great without all the lows. This is why I am completely in the moment refusing to worry about next year and beyond. I want to soak every bit of this year's experience before moving on to the future.

  59. SCNatsFan - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    JD that team was so talented. Amazing they naver madea run… although it only took a little while until MLB ripped them apart and sent them on their way

  60. Ghost Of Steve M. - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    JD said… Ghost,The highs wouldn't be so great without all the lows. This is why I am completely in the moment refusing to worry about next year and beyond. I want to soak every bit of this year's experience before moving on to the future.Well said, well said on the highs without the lows. Last year we were plotting out 2012 in July 2011. As Ryan Z said last night, "too many years of the season ending in July or August".

  61. BigCat - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Boy, was Garcia nasty last night? This guy adds some rocket fuel to our already lethal bullpen. And now with Storen looking like old Drew….or better than old Drew, we are gonna be very tough to beat in the playoffs. And we got the Phillies and Braves coming up to toughen us up for the post season

  62. peric - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    And in an ironic coincidence, next to a Chico Harlan byline.Maybe to make sec3 happy we can tweet Chico over in the far east and instruct him, that for his penance, instead of an our father, or hail mary, he can do Nats win the series … Ganghem Style.

  63. peric - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:49 PM

    The highs wouldn't be so great without all the lows. This is why I am completely in the moment refusing to worry about next year and beyond.Got the youngest team in the playoffs. Most are inexperienced starting with a certain 19 year old. I was hoping he might beat Tony C's record. I guess there's still a shot … in any case its best not to have any expectations.As for the future … thanks to the amazing recent drafts it looks so bright you gotta wear shades … so why worry?

  64. natsfan1a - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Foodie that he is, maybe his penance should be to eat at McDonald's daily for one week. :-)

  65. peric - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Boy, was Garcia nasty last night? This guy adds some rocket fuel to our already lethal bullpen. And now with Storen looking like old Drew….or better than old Drew, we are gonna be very tough to beat in the playoffs.Still, I worry about Clippard. He's pitched a huge number of high pressure innings for a back-end reliever over the last 3 years … as has Burnett … they aren't almost first blush newbies like Storen, Mattheus, and Garcia.

  66. Tcostant - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Get your tickets folds, all three NLDS are almost sold out:

  67. Section 3, My Insufferable Sofa - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    I think gangnam style might be entirely fitting.

  68. Tcostant - Sep 21, 2012 at 2:56 PM

    Make that get your Game 3 tickets, game 1 and 2 are sold out!

  69. natsfan1a - Sep 21, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Gangnam style is pretty funny. Maybe he could eat at McDonald's, then do that. :-)

  70. Laddie Blah Blah - Sep 21, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    Thank you Rizzo and Davey, and the great team you have built, taught, and won with.

  71. natsfan1a - Sep 21, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Looks like single seats only for home game #3.

  72. Tcostant - Sep 21, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Good for the fans – no one is buying the wild card game, becaause they know this team is better than that!

  73. BigCat - Sep 21, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    Yes, Clip always makes me nervous. He likes that high fastball to go with his change, and those high FB's end up in the seats sometimes. Still, he's had a very good year.Looking at Garcia's stats at Syracuse, he was never used in back to back games. Most were 2 to 3 days in between. I think Davey used him back to back and he wasn't very effective that second day. Not sure, but I believe so

  74. NatsJack in Florida - Sep 21, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    BigCat…. Garcia has gone back to back twice since being called up and if you want to call giving up a solo home run to Giancarlo Stanton ineffective then you are right.





As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at Click here for past audio clips.

Follow us on Twitter