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Beast of the East

Oct 2, 2012, 5:35 AM EDT

Associated Press photo
Mike Rizzo and his Nationals celebrate after clinching the NL East title.

Updated at 1:35 a.m.

They stood out there on the field during the top of the ninth inning, trying to keep their focus on whichever Phillies player had stepped into the batter’s box. Really, though, everyone with the Washington Nationals — and everyone in the crowd of 35,387 — was focused on the upper left-hand corner of the out-of-town scoreboard in right field, where their true fate was being determined.

Two hundred forty-six miles away in Pittsburgh, the Atlanta Braves were down to their final out, unexpectedly trailing the Pirates 2-1 and desperately trying to rally, a man on first and Brian McCann at the plate during an at-bat that seemed to take 79 years to be completed.

“We were out there for the top half, and it flashes up there that there’s two outs with a man on first,” right fielder Jayson Werth said. “And we played the whole inning with two outs and a man on first!”

Then Drew Storen got Domonic Brown to ground out to second just as Jared Hughes got McCann to tap a comebacker for the final out at PNC Park, and suddenly a wild celebration was underway in Washington, even though the home team was on the verge of a 2-0 loss to its hated rivals.

“We came in the dugout, and all the fans were going nuts,” Werth said. “So we started going nuts. I don’t know if we even knew.”
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202 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:54 AM

    Go nats

  2. NCNatsie - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:55 AM

    First in warFirst in peaceFirst at lastIn the National east.

  3. rogieshan - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:56 AM

    Well played, Nats Nation. Take a well-deserved breather and then go get 'er done in the post-season.

  4. lowcountry - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:56 AM

    Happy Birthday 1a!Washington Nationals Division Champs!

  5. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:57 AM

    First in warLast in peaceFirst in the National LeagueEast

  6. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    Get on the field the fans waiting.

  7. ehay2k - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    Lol – Kristina almost same height as Mark Lerner!Wolf Blitzer in the clubhouse?!?And the bubbly is spraying!

  8. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:59 AM

    The O's made a mini-comeback just to divert attention….

  9. Manassas Nats' Fan - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:00 AM

    Still not happy we lost. we need to focus on hitting.

  10. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:02 AM

    We won't win 100 games but we might have if Stephen had been able to play….

  11. Scooter - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:03 AM

    For those of you keeping score at home, I am very happy.See this? This is what i look like when I'm very happy.

  12. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    According to my calculations, teams "back" into a division title approximately 36% of the time…

  13. Secret wasian man - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    It would have been nice to win tonight. But this team did not BACK in. They won enough games and still have best record. Backing in is winning a crappy AL central division playing 10 games over 500

  14. Secret wasian man - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:10 AM

    Hey Manassas go have a beer and enjoy.

  15. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:11 AM

    If Suzuki hadn't gotten traded, just think he might have been in the play-offs anyway….

  16. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:12 AM

    It has to be said, Kristina is doing such a better job than Debi Taylor would have done. Congrats to her.

  17. Secret wasian man - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    We didn't BACK in the Braves BACKED out. A little offended by Marks headline.

  18. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    I think it is very sad that MLB has a play-off system in place where teams like Cincy and Washington aren't sure whether they want to finish with the top record over all or not… They really need to address this…

  19. Secret wasian man - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    Playoff system really stinks.

  20. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:16 AM

    Does Gio speake Spanish? I assume Suzuki does not speak Japanese, but I am always interested in MLB and the international aspect. Anyone know?

  21. ehay2k - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:17 AM

    Division champs?!? Great, but not enough. This is just the first step. Onward!!!What a great team to root for! In the "I can't believe my eyes!" category, my profile pic is from a HR marker at OPCY.

  22. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:19 AM

    I would love to see the Nats bring back some of the guys from 2005 for the play-offs. I guess this season tops 2005 but it is still a close call for me, at least. Chad Cordero and Preston Wilson anyone?

  23. ehay2k - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:22 AM

    Mark said "back door" not "back in" and I have to agree. It may be the back door, but we opened it and let ourselves in FIRST!!

  24. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:23 AM

    Curacao is a great drink….

  25. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:23 AM

    Back door nothing. 96 Wins With 2 to go

  26. SCNatsFan - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:24 AM

    We did back in. And the Phillies earned 2nd. And the Phils scratched and clawed to third. I'll take backing into the division championship over thoer accomplishments this year. No one gave us any of the first 96 wins.

  27. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:24 AM

    It is a curious turn of phrase, "back door".

  28. NatsLady - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:24 AM

    Fine with me. Fillies totally IRRELEVANT!!!! Get up there and get three outs in the 8th and POP THE FIREWORKS. BEST BEST BEST.

  29. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    Marlins leading the Mets in the 9th, 3-2.

  30. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:26 AM

    Words can't describe it, but I'll try anyway….

  31. jw - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:27 AM

    The Nats have asked Frank Robinson to throw out the first pitch before one of the NLDS games.

  32. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:28 AM

    Both the Nats and the O's should have Robbie throw one. That would be great.

  33. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:29 AM

    O's only have a play-in so far but the difference between channels 640 and 641-1 is striking….

  34. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:35 AM

    De Rosa sounds like he isn't on the team, sort of like an outsider looking in….

  35. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:36 AM

    jw, that would be great to have Frank Robby back

  36. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:39 AM

    I think that Bryce Harper is arguably MVP of this team…. Very similar situation to William Mays back in 1951.

  37. Cwj - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:39 AM

    AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!Its so fun watching the celebrations on the tv, but I wish I was there.Congrats Nats! You guys did it!The team has been a little tired lately, but now the regulars can finally rest for a couple days.I don't even care if the Nats lose this series or are swept by the Phillies.They are the CHAMPS!

  38. NatsFanSinceStart - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:39 AM

    Never been so proud of a sports team.Go Nats.The Lerners are awesome.Miracle Rizzo assembled the greatest group of guys I've ever seen on any one team.Go Nats.

  39. TimDz - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:40 AM

    Not sure when the first playoff game is…But MY birthday is October 7th…Hope to get the 1asheet treatment…this time with a win…

  40. NatsFanSinceStart - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:41 AM

    Having Frank throw out a first ball in a playoff game is the epitome of Class. And the Lerners are class — pure class. I haven't said that about any owner, manager or player but a few times in many decades of watching sports.Frank is the man.

  41. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:42 AM

    Everyone complaining about the playoff format save their breath. It's a one year only problem caused by the late decision to go with two WC teams. Starting next year, the top two seeds will play the first two NLDS games at home in a 2-2-1 format. There won't be any question that you'll want to be the top seed and play the WC winner. I still want the No. 1 seed this time even if the opponent is the Braves. Less travel, and having home field advantage in the NLCS is worth it.

  42. baseballswami - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:43 AM

    After a tough season in this division, with all the injuries, going from 80 wins to at least 96 wins, I think we can accept a one game gift. Go Nats!!!!

  43. waddu eye no - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:44 AM

    Sounds like a song i know. Just finished a big gig and im doing a recording tomorrow, but definitely by end of weekGyfng

  44. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:46 AM

    I believe the Nats have clinched No. 1 or No. 2 seed because we won our season series against the Giants. So the first game in DC will be either Tuesday, Oct. 9 or Wed. Oct. 10. Reds are losing 4-2 after 8 innings in St. Louis. If Motte can hold the lead, we'll stay even with the Reds, which means the Magic Number for No. 1 seed will be 2.

  45. peric - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:48 AM

    Hmmm perhaps it looks like there's no more "The Lerner's are cheap" in the crowd left? Young team, a lot of stress to clinch with the Braves breathing down their necks. Now, perhaps they can relax and demolish the Phillies in the next two games. They need that to generate some momentum going into the postseason. Hopefully, less stress more just playing baseball the right way in the playoffs.

  46. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:49 AM

    baseballswami said… After a tough season in this division, with all the injuries, going from 80 wins to at least 96 wins, I think we can accept a one game gift. Go Nats!!!! October 01, 2012 10:43 PM ___________________________________Exactly. After the Nats got the Magic #1, that had to crush the Braves. The last thing they wanted was a 1 game playoff back in Washington as Medlen wouldn't have been available. Now its not necesarry

  47. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:50 AM

    A 2-2-1 format improves the situation imperceptibly. The basic issue is one that MLB refuses to deal with and that Bud Selig has referenced. An extra home game in baseball in a short series, plus fifty cents, will buy you a cup of coffee. That chance might improve a team's coffers depending on the split but it does nothing to deal with the nature of baseball and the post-season.We know this to be true: In the NFL and the NBA having the best record in the regular season is highly correlated with post-season success. In MLB, there is little or no correlation whatsoever.

  48. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:53 AM

    Reds lose. We're still tied for the No. 1 seed.

  49. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:55 AM

    To follow up, this issue goes back to the 1969 re-alignment. Prior to 1969, there really was no issue. There was no inter-league play and you always had the best team from the NL playing the best team from the AL. Since then, we have had many travesties that all but make the regular season a farce.I understand this is a business, but the regular season should matter more than it does now. We will probably never get back to how things were prior to 1969, but one more home guy in a five game series means close to zero. One ironic thing to me since the Moneyball generation started is the failure by the stats guys to have the stones to admit what Billy Beane admits. The post-season is meaningless.

  50. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:56 AM

    WODL, now I have no idea what you're complaining about. You're about 25 years too late to moan about playoffs instead of two teams winning the pennant and playing in the World Series. The No. 1 seed has a big advantage because the WC team is depleted and has to use a top starter to make it to the NLDS. Certainly, that's better than the format with a single WC team. Then there really was no advantage to being the division winner.

  51. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    Sorry, 43 years too late.

  52. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    The Lerners are not easily analyzed. They are cheap–won't make a Metro deposit for $30,0000, and they are not cheap–they could have saved millions by bringing Bryce up in June, instead of April. There are several similar things like this I have noted, so let's just say, they are successful in business and now in baseball. I am a fan of theirs.

  53. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:59 AM

    I can't wait to see the Nats lineup the next 2 games. Eury Perez, Corey Brown and Bernadina in the outfield?Tracy at 3rd, Lombo at SS, DeRosa at 2nd, TyMo at 1st and Flores Catching is my guess.

  54. Section 3, My Sofa - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:00 AM

    The post-season is meaningless. It's not meaningless, it's a tournament. The one that wins their last game is champ. Nothing complicated there. And then again, it's all meaningless, in the sense that it's just a game.

  55. NCNatsie - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:00 AM

    I hear you Waddu.

  56. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:02 AM

    William O. Douglas Loeffler said… The Lerners are not easily analyzed. They are cheap–won't make a Metro deposit for $30,0000, and they are not cheap–they could have saved millions by bringing Bryce up in June, instead of April. There are several similar things like this I have noted, so let's just say, they are successful in business and now in baseball. I am a fan of theirs. October 01, 2012 10:57 PM _____________________________________Shows how much you don't know. MLB PR said teams are not allowed to pay for transportation for fans.The Nats PR machine never helps their own cause as they could have told everyone that so this didn't infuriate the fanbase.

  57. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:02 AM

    Big difference between 25 and 43 years. I said that ship has sailed. Just don't take it seriously. Just sit back and enjoy the ride. MLB post-season is a statistical joke. Based upon winning percentage in the regular season, teams routinely win the World Series, that would rarely have a chance in basketball or football.We are going to hear a huge number of critiques of Rizzo and Johnson in the next week or two or hopefully four, that will be ludicrous based upon the small sample size. Baseball is a sport that requires 162 games to distinguish teams, ten times more than the NFL plays. If you put Houston in the play-offs, they would have a credible chance of advancing in the play-in game and maybe further.

  58. Section 3, My Sofa - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:05 AM

    Seriously, I don't see why there should have to be a strong correlation between regular season records and post-season success. The race always going to the swift, and the battle to the strong, is boring. Mix it up. One more reason baseball is the best game there will ever be.

  59. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:06 AM

    So the Post was wrong when they published that the Nats paid for the Phillies Sunday night game back in May, I think? And the thing is Gonat, if I am mistaken, then just point me to the article or whatever.You don't need to breathlessly state: Shows just how much you don't know." I meant that as a compliment to the Lerners overall. You didn't bother to copy the whole quote. If the Post was wrong or mis-reported, then they have been done a disservice.

  60. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:08 AM

    No correlation between the regular season and the play-off winners? How does that give the race to the swift or the strong? Why not flip a coin? Why not let all the teams in. Just end the season in August and let all the teams in and give them a chance to be swift and strong, then baseball could be really good. The current system is unfair to the Houston's and Washington's of the world, well maybe just the Houston's now….

  61. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    Gonat, that's an exaggeration. (I'd say "shows how much you know" but that would be petty.) It was reported that MLB was discouraging the Nats from doing it. Never did I see that it was somehow prohibited. (And what would the sanction be, anyway? A fine? ) The Lerners should have said F U MLB, we're doing this for our fans. It would have been very cheap too, because they, like Living Social, would get a refund of all the fares collected after the standard closing time, up to the deposit. It was embarrassing that the issue was out there for so long after all the citizens of DC have done to put the Lerners in the position they are today (including paying for a $611 million stadium for them.)

  62. bluejeener - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:12 AM

    Best moment of the post clinch celebration was seeing Wilson Ramos on the field.Catcher controversy? (too soon?)

  63. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:12 AM

    This postgame is good. More money for Angelos. New commercials and sponsors. Can only hope one and done for the Os would be nice.Detroit just clinched.

  64. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    Playoffs in baseball have been around for two generations. The game is more popular than ever and those playoffs (and the battles to get to them) have yielded some incredibly exciting games and great stories. We're never going back to two pennant winners facing each other in the World Series. Regardless of the merits, you're doing a good impersonation of Don Quixote by fighting it.

  65. MicheleS - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    WOOOOOO HOOOOOO NL East Champions!

  66. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:14 AM

    If any of you old time Washingtonians really want to relish this, let me know and I will point you (or email if necessary) to an MP3 of the 1971 Senators' last game, which was a fiasco that almost seems impossible to believe in today's security-obsessed DC. It was both sad and poignant and fascinating as it was a game against a Yankee's team almost as embarrassing for its mediocrity, that would be sold for ten million and soon play in Shea Stadium for an entire year.

  67. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:16 AM

    bluejeener said… Best moment of the post clinch celebration was seeing Wilson Ramos on the field.Catcher controversy? (too soon?) _____________________________________Rizzo said on his radio show that Ramos is his catcher. I still think Suzuki will be the main catcher to ease Ramos back in.They probably trade Flores for prospects. Unfortunately Flores fell off the map. I think he's batting mid-.210s and as we know his defense behind the plate had shown fatigue playing mostly every day. Flores was still a key for this team until they got Suzuki.

  68. Section 3, My Sofa - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:16 AM

    I think you missed the point, there.

  69. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:18 AM

    MASN now playing a Penn State football special. Really? Ugh.

  70. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    MicheleS in her Bryce Harper jersey!

  71. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:19 AM

    I am not trying to fight the MLB play-offs. Like Billy Beane, I laugh at them. Yeah, the Cards were better than the Phillies and Rangers last year. Definitely. They were. I promise they were. Seattle won 116 games one year, but they were only the third best team that year, clearly. All those Braves teams that won 100 games every year for 15 years or so were composed of post-season chokers. They had great regular season guys but in the post-season, they all had these neuroses that converted them into Fred Merkles and Bill Buckners….

  72. baseballswami - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:20 AM

    I am so amped up after non-stop worrying for days on end. Sleep maybe over-rated. Maybe a little replay on the dvr?

  73. Cwj - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:20 AM

    Interesting points about the playoff system. Though right now all I care about is that the Nats are the NL East Champs. They can't lose that no matter what happens.I absolutely do not like a best of 5 series. I think it should always be best of 7 in my opinion. Except for the 1 game "play in" which does makes some sense this year.Go Champion Nats!!! Man I'm going to be nervous watching the playoff games, even though I definitely consider this season to be a complete success already.My Spring prediction was 87-75 with a "chance" to perhaps get a wild card spot.

  74. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:21 AM

    I think on a good hitting team, you might want Suzuki as catcher. Ramos had some defensive issues.

  75. NCNatsie - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    222, I didn't know that story, but it has the ring of truth. But let's take it one step farther, and I think I can see why the Lerners didn't do the Metro deal.It surely wasn't about the deposit. That's why I knew there had to be more to the story. But the fact that MLB "discouraged" them from doing it means that the situation was, or had the potential to become, a factor in the whole MASN discussion. So instead of a few thousand dollars, suddenly multiple millions could be at stake.It's been my observation over the years that whenever one thinks a decision by higher-ups was stupid, the most likely explanation is that you don't know everything they know.I'm not saying they never screw up, but the odds are there was a very good reason for their decision.

  76. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:23 AM

    I agree, a $30,000 refundable deposit seems a laughable amount. Still, someone paid it for the Sunday night game against the Phils and I think the Post said the Nats did….

  77. Clip&Store - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:24 AM

    Thanks bucs. We sure as h*ll can't accomplish it on our own apparently.I don't want this to be taken negative completely…but the playoffs are about how you end, not what you did in July. If we're gonna celebrate yet another loss as if we just won it all, then it won't be too long until we get to watch the other teams that are finishing strong continue on.We are a very, very young team. That cannot be forgotten. Regardless of how we perform in the playoffs, this has been a great season. But I don't know about you guys, but I don't like all this being complacent.We've been a year ahead of schedule all year, so why not win these last 2 and get momentum and do stuff in the playoffs that nobody expected from us yet?Lets go boys!

  78. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:26 AM

    And the main point was that they risked a few million due to MLB signing standards, and possibly a year of arbitration eligibility, by bringing Bryce up in late April. The Nats don't win this thing if they wait till July to bring Bryce up….They also paid market rates for Bryce and Stras when they could have waited another year for another pick. That is not cheap…

  79. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:32 AM

    I know it feels that way, but I honestly don't think how you finish, short of injury (ok, Stras being gone is a kind of injury) makes an difference, unless you have an old team, which we don't. Think about all the big games this year where we had big comebacks and then lost anyway, against Colorado and LA, are two I remember. And think about all the games that when the other way, were we blew leads like Sunday night and won anyway.In sports like basketball, football and soccer, a team can impose its will, if you will, and momentum is a factor. That element is entirely, or almost entirely, absent in baseball.Look at the Red Sox in the World Series in 1967, 75 and 86. The momentum effect seems to be essentially zero. Baseball games are fairly close to being isolated iterations when compared to other sports.

  80. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:33 AM

    We interrupt this celebration for a word of false optimism from one Mr. Fredi Gonzalez, doing his best spin to put lipstick on this Barves pig:"It's something we shoot for, the division," Gonzalez said. "We didn't get it, but we've got the wild card game and you know there's been many, many teams that go through the wild card to win the World Series."Yeah, sure, whatever.See you in spring training, Fredi…

  81. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    William O. Douglas Loeffler said… And the main point was that they risked a few million due to MLB signing standards, and possibly a year of arbitration eligibility, by bringing Bryce up in late April. The Nats don't win this thing if they wait till July to bring Bryce up….They also paid market rates for Bryce and Stras when they could have waited another year for another pick. That is not cheap… October 01, 2012 11:26 PM ____________________________________That is all true and Bryce getting called up early was Davey pushing that but yes, the owners money will be spent for the Super Two and well worth it.I just think the Nats PR machine could do a better job of communicating. I stopped taking Metro so its also cost Metro a ton for people that now drive. If Metro gets 4,000 extra riders and all the parking fees they would have more than made up for that $30K overtime. Kind of short-sided for them to make it a controversy.

  82. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:39 AM

    Yeah, Fredi, but now you've got to go through twice. Do you think your team is better than the Cardinals, the defending World Champs? Based upon the differing versions of the Pythagorean Theory, you are about equal this season, or slightly inferior, which gives you half as great a chance, statistically speaking to make it to the NLCS as the Nationals have.Nevertheless, as NCNatsie made clear, at least to me, after Saturday night, the Braves were in a position where it was too late, regardless, to significantly improve those odds.The Nats have twice as good a chance, statistically speaking, to make it to the World Series as the Braves do.

  83. peric - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:41 AM

    Rizzo said on his radio show that Ramos is his catcher. I still think Suzuki will be the main catcher to ease Ramos back in.They probably trade Flores for prospects. Unfortunately Flores fell off the map. I think he's batting mid-.210s and as we know his defense behind the plate had shown fatigue playing mostly every day. Flores was still a key for this team until they got Suzuki.Pretty serious knee injury for a guy carrying an awful lot of weight for his height. Suzuki looks to be in pretty good shape and better now after the trade. Did a great job getting all the way to third base tonight just to prove that. As a result I can't see Ramos playing in 130 games at catcher. Its going to be an 80/80 split at least next year. And they do have to decide what to do with Leon and Donovan's brother Johanatan.

  84. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:42 AM

    I agree. I was just pointing out that these things are complicated and most owners are negotiating between maximizing profits and team success and depending on factors, may veer one way more or the other. I don't think Washington could have done this any quicker than we have.Couldn't the beer be a bit cheaper, however?

  85. SonnyG10 - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:43 AM

    Although I understand why its said, I also find the back door/back in terms distasteful. That sounds like we really didn't earn the championship when we really did. Its just that the Barves had one more loss coming to them than they had been credited with until tonight. We earned all of our 96 wins and if that's what it takes to win the division, then we earned our championship.

  86. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:45 AM

    Peric, I think Suzuki goes 4 to 5 games a week until Davey sees that Ramoose starts progressing so they can take it slowly and as the season goes on, the better player gets the bulk of the games, very similar to how Davey handled Ramos & Pudge last year.

  87. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:47 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  88. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:49 AM

    EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!! That may have been my most awesome birthday ever. Yeah, we backed in but I'll take it. Our section had a pretty good "Let's go Bucs" going on. Saw some old school t-shirts, too. My fave was a Termel Sledge. Remember him? A couple of us went up to the guy to compliment him on it after the game. Well played, sir. Also liked the guy with the "first in war, first in peace, and first in the National League" sign. Coming home on the Metro, there was a young guy with a Pirates jersey. After I thanked him for tonight, he said he grew up as a Pirates fan and rooted for the Nats as well after coming here. I think he said he was wearing the jersey in honor of the 40th anniversary of Clemente's 3000 hits record (it was kind of noisy on the train). One guy asked him whether he'd ever heard so many fans cheering for the Pirates as at tonight's game. :-)

  89. Dave - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:50 AM

    Well, that was a great night at the ballpark…and yet a frustrating night at the ballpark.Of course it's insanely great that the Nats have won the NL East. And let us never forget that, while the Phillies beat the Nats tonight, the Braves were beaten by the Pirates.Still, it was strange seeing a big 0 on the line score by the word "Washington." I don't want to get all negative, but it would make me much happier if the offense would get hot soon.But I did stand in line in the team store and got my Division Champion T-shirt and Playoff cap (which I got since that's the one all the players were wearing while spraying champagne everywhere).So. That was my last regular-season game. But I've got home game #1 of the NLDS. So Let's do it again next week!

  90. peric - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:51 AM

    This is all new. For the players, who are the 2nd youngest team (after the A's I imagine), but also for the fans, the owners, the city, and the infrastructure like the Metro.As Davey likes to say, I'm not worried. They'll figure it out as this becomes a yearly ritual.

  91. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:52 AM

    William, please work on the beer prices. It costs me more than what my tickets cost!

  92. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:53 AM

    To be fair, I think Mr. Zuckerman would agree that most teams have less than idyllic clinching scenarios in MLB, especially post-1969. What was the Phillies clinching game like last year? I have no idea. I am sure it was boring though, since the Braves were miles behind them. Did Cincy back in this year? I have no idea.Because Washington has been waiting since 1933, it not surprising that the media, and many fans, want a sexy clinch story.

  93. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:53 AM

    And thanks, low country. :-)

  94. sjm308 - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:55 AM

    Home from something I have never been through. Also can't remember feeling this good after a loss.I tried to read through some of the posts and I am guessing most of the excitement was in an earlier article because we sure have a lot of people who are continuing to nitpick.Most impressive to me were Stamman, Matheus & Storen. I score each game and the zero's just kept coming. I think entering the playoffs you need strong pitching and I can only hope the starters will feed off of what the bullpen accomplished tonight.Someone talked about the lineup – I can see Davey resting the starters for one game but if he gives them both games off they might not play until next Sunday. That in my opinion is too much time away from live action. I expect to see guys resting tomorrow but not on Wednesday. I also would not be surprised to see Gio just go a couple innings and hell, he can pitch Wang on Wed. as far as I am concerned. Wait, that is a little crazy so I am not sure who would get that start.Anyway, for the first time in my 68 years, my hometown team is in the playoffs.Whooooo Hooooo!!!Go Nats!! Score First!! Win the NLDS!!

  95. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:56 AM

    King Felix getting clobbered tonight by the Angels.

  96. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    sjm, yep, Stammen looked like early season form. Nats pitching only gave up 2 runs which usually is enough to win.

  97. MicheleS - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:58 AM

    Everyone sleep on thisNATS ARE NL EAST CHAMPIONS!SAVOR THIS MOMENT AND ENJOY!ps. Where is the NI watching party this weekend?

  98. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 3:59 AM

    sjm, I put up my projected lineup for tomorrow. I wonder what Davey will do.

  99. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    The 'pen was great. Was yammering to my husband about that on the way home.Hope the health issue that kept you home isn't serious, 222.Oh, and thanks to all who offered b'day wishes in the game thread. Going to try to sleep now.

  100. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:02 AM

    Also looks like baseball will have a Triple Crown winner this year.

  101. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:03 AM

    I thought Lannan was pretty damn good again. Yes, he relies on the double play, but if Bryce makes a great catch on that double, Lannan might not have given up any runs….

  102. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    MicheleS said… Everyone sleep on thisNATS ARE NL EAST CHAMPIONS!SAVOR THIS MOMENT AND ENJOY!ps. Where is the NI watching party this weekend? October 01, 2012 11:58 PM _________________________________I thought you were buying me a beer tonight? LOL

  103. peric - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    Davey might rest Gio … and perhaps EJax. But then who do you pitch? He's already used Stammen and Wang. Plus Lannan.My guess is we might see Tom Gorzelanny tomorrow or Wednesday starting a game. As far as the position players. He'll likely rest Morse because of the wrist. LaRoche because of the back, etc. Desmond because of the back etc. Zimmerman because of the shoulder. Espinosa and Harper will refuse to be rested. Werth just got back. I expect to see T-Mo, Lombo, Bernadina, Brown, Tracy and perhaps DeRosa. I guess we'll see.

  104. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:05 AM

    So is that it for Gio? Tough decision for Cy Young. Yeah, the knuckleball guy had a great year, but has a knuckleballer ever won a Cy Young? Dickey is probably slightly better than Gio statistically this year, so then it comes down to whether a voter thinks that stress matters….

  105. peric - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:07 AM

    Also looks like baseball will have a Triple Crown winner this year.Perhaps Gio's new record will remain intact. 199 innings, over 200 strike outs and 21 wins. He won't get 200 innings this year unless Davey starts him tomorrow.We know Bryce is going to play so who knows what he might do to add to his teenage phenom resume.

  106. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:10 AM

    Can't wait to see more predictions. Medlen is going to beat the Cardinals you would think.Nats – Braves or Nats Giants seemes most likely.

  107. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:12 AM

    No reason why Bryce couldn't end up with 26 home runs. I really am in awe of the kid. All at once, we have two rookies in Washington who seem to be once in every fifty years kinds of guys.RG3 seems to be Sam Baugh, while Bryce seems to be Eddie Yost.

  108. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:13 AM

    By the way, Nats have clinched no worse than the #1 or #2 seed.Record against SFG this year was 5-1 with 45 runs scored against 24 given up.

  109. Joe Seamhead - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:14 AM

    The Philadelphia Phillies are no longer the National League Eastern Division Champions!

  110. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:15 AM

    The Braves almost lost with Medlen on Wednesday. I could point you to tons of those type of scenarios. Eckersely did not do well in the play-offs and Rivera blew the famous game four against the Red Sox, if you call, a scratch hit, stolen base, bunt and sac fly blowing an inning….I think the game between St. Louis and Atlanta will be pretty even, but if you want to question whom the baseball guys seem to favor, it seems to be St. Louis, in the post-season, in spite of 1914.

  111. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:17 AM

    Just wait until baseball starts changing its past the way that the NCAA seems to do with impunity, all of a sudden. Tickets sold improperly? Sorry, you were never at the Final Four. Officially vacated, but no refunds for the suckers who pay the NCAA's salaries….

  112. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:17 AM

    I expect Gio will pitch tomorrow, but come out after 5 innings max. Davey will hope we're the No. 1 seed, which we're in the driver's seat for. There's still the No. 1 seed to get, so we can't lie down altogether. If we end up No. 2, he can go with JZnn in Game 1 and Gio in Game 2. Wednesday will likely be E-Jax. That lines him up for Game 3 of the NLDS regardless of when the series starts, if Davey wants him for that game. At least we know that Wang won't start another game this year…

  113. nick - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:18 AM

    NL East Champs! First in history!

  114. peric - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:19 AM

    No reason why Bryce couldn't end up with 26 home runs. I really am in awe of the kid.22 with 9 triples is awesome enough. Tony C didn't do that. Not even his faster brother Billy at age 19. Ted Williams didn't have that many triples at age 20. Throw in the 25 doubles and the fact that it wasn't even a full season? Be nice to pop the 97 runs up to 100. That will say a lot about the top of the Nats batting order this season.A lot of folks are down on Espy but he is actually having a pretty decent year. 17 homers and 37 doubles down in that part of the lineup, for a switch hitter is pretty damned good. Last year he had 21 homers and 29 doubles and a .236 BA. Espinosa has improved significantly. He had five triples last year and only 2 this year. He's scored 82 runs which is also an improvement. Espinosa is also within 3 homers of a 20/20 season.However, it sure did seem as if he was hitting better when he played shortstop. Makes one stop and wonder …

  115. sjm308 - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:20 AM

    WODL – did you see his emotion when he hit the double!! He just remains the most exciting player on what is a very exciting team.You touch my heart with the Eddie Yost comment but Bryce is light years ahead of Eddie who I admired for 9 wonderful years. He started in Washington in 44 with a cup of coffee, then two years in the service. In 47 I was just two but by the time I was 5, he was my hero. Still, Bryce does things Eddie could never do and there is so much more ahead of him.Gonat – I went back & looked at your lineup and that might be fun for Tuesday & I personally would love it but I still think on Wed. everyone will get at least a few innings. Peric might just be correct about Gorzo and it might be either he or Dukes. You actually do want to rest Stamman & Matheus but I think we will see lots and lots of moves throughout both games. I expect my scorebook to be quite messy thank you!Go Nats!!! Score First!! Win the NLDS!!

  116. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:20 AM

    14,000 people to see Tampa Bay tonight and I guess they still are sort of in contention. That sort of makes 35,000 look good.

  117. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:22 AM

    OMG, MLB Network is now discussing if Strasburg will pitch in the post-season.This is unreal.

  118. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:22 AM

    Harold and Mitch are idiots. They actually still think Strasburg is going to pitch in the postseason.

  119. peric - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:23 AM

    OMG, MLB Network is now discussing if Strasburg will pitch in the post-season.He'll have been shutdown for about a month. What planet are these Bozos from anyway?

  120. peric - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:26 AM

    Can't wait to see more predictions. Medlen is going to beat the Cardinals you would think.The Cardinal offense is hot right now. I wouldn't count on it. Right now both they and the Braves are thinking that the Nats could be an easy mark. It'll add incentive.

  121. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:29 AM

    MLB Network did a quick interview with Stras:Q: Is there any covert operations going on where you may pitch in the postseason?A: We will have to wait and see. I have been playing catch and everything. But this team is very capable of taking it all the way.Back to the studio they discuss the way Stephen reacted to the question.Mitch Williams: I would love to play him in poker….if he is on the post-season roster, he will play and it won't be the pinch-hit, it will be to pitchHarold Reynolds: I thought all along he will play. Rizzo said all along 180 innings. Then they went down to 160. Plenty of innings in the tank.

  122. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:30 AM

    Eddie Yost was a guy for DC. He was an NYU guy and apparently a brainy player. He went back to his home town and coached the Mets in 1969. He only managed one game in the major leagues, for the Nats in 1963, but lost. His stats are far better today than they were when he played. He was probably an equal to Mickey Vernon statistically, but that was not the perception at the time.All that corny Field of Dreams stuff about Moonlight Graham, always makes me think about Eddie Yost, who may have embodied more than anyone else, a baseball archetype, that of the heady, steady guy who gets more out of his ability than anyone else in the major leagues. Eddie Yost did that to the extent that he and Stanky, will always be remembered as the "eddies" of Moneyball….

  123. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:35 AM

    And I just couldn't come up with a field player who could be related to Yost the way that Griffin seems to be the African-American parallel to Sam Baugh, who, in the same way, could do everything on the field.Sammy died not that long ago. To me Baugh and Johnson set the standard for DC. Both were otherworldly Hall of Famers and both actually won titles. It is still difficult to find anyone in the history of football or baseball better than either Baugh or Johnson.

  124. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:36 AM

    Peric, who do you want to play in the 1st round?

  125. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:37 AM

    Bryce Harper's stats are very, very close to those of Willie Mays, in Mays' rookie year at 20. Seems like such a waste the Mays lost 2 years in the military. It is not like he was in the infantry, and it probably would not have been enough to take his home run totals past Bonds….

  126. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:40 AM

    For those keeping track of Miley in the Rookie of the Year race, he gave up 3 runs in 7 2/3 to finish his season and ERA at 3.33Have to think its Bryce and Miley and Bryce has to win it by WAR to a championship team.Go Bryce!

  127. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:40 AM

    unless there is some sort of lefty-righty imbalance between teams, I think you will drive yourself crazy wondering about who would be easiest….

  128. Gonat - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:40 AM

    By the way, Miley had a no-decision and finsihes 16-11 for those that care about W/L

  129. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:41 AM

    Unless WAR is a completely bogus stat, I don't think there can be any argument. Harper is close to MVP of his own team, and yes, I do think you get style points. Sorry, knuckleballers and doubleplay-inducing pitchers….

  130. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:45 AM

    I already have the copyright on the story where Stras temporarily fires Boras and hires a new agent who sues the Nats and forces them to allow him to pitch in the play-offs. I will not reveal the ending, however. Boras and Stras do make up, though.

  131. RickH - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:45 AM

    Great night at the park! A win would have been nice, but … NL EAST CHAMPS!!!!!!!!!!

  132. NatsNut - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:50 AM

    Sunshine, you DID throw salt over your shoulder and spin around 3 times after you posted this, right?Sunshine said…"…many teams that go through the wild card to win the World Series."Yeah, sure, whatever.See you in spring training, Fredi…

  133. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:01 AM

    The new wild card rules are a vast improvement over the old system. Now if they can just find a way to give the better team a bit more of an advantage in the NLDS….

  134. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:08 AM

    And if Stras did pitch in relief in the post-season, why would that be anything anyone would object to medically? It sounds like a great story, a bit of a psych-out, if you will.Baseball needs more of the types of stories of Mickey Lolich and Bob Gibson pitching 3 out of 7 in the sixties, or Walter Johnson pitching relief in game 7 after getting rocked during his regular starts in the World Series. We have too much of this starter-reliever distinction and too much of this risk-aversion. This isn't football. We aren't talking head injuries. Memories matter a lot.

  135. JaneB - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:10 AM

    What a great night! Nerve wracking and I wish our bats were hotter BUT! We clinched! I knew I would be happy (that's why I bought extra seats, since we'd given out our regular seats months ago). But it was so great to see the dugout people so happy, and the fans happy, and the ushers. They tossed up a bunch of bubblegum out of the dugout, and I grabbed some. My mascara was down to my chin from crying so much. Saw Danny Ellinosa there, and thought of all of you, and how happy my Imaginary Friends must be.When Gio came bursting onto the field, it was like the crowd would levitate any moment. Loved, too, the bottom on the ninth, where we could see Morse enjoy the way to crowd sings his walk up music. And seeing the babies and kids on the field with their Dads. In their little unis with Dad's name on the back. Loved seeing FP doused. Spotted Amanda on the field, and Charlie and Dave, but never saw Mark Z.I'm curious what it was like to be Mark Z. And we just DVRed the repeat of the game so I can hear how it was called and what people said about the umpire who seemed to be living in an alternate strike zone.But happy, so happy.

  136. Cwj - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:17 AM

    Wow, Oakland just clinched a playoff spot, and are 1 game behind Texas for the division.Angels are out.I think Baltimore is the biggest surprise of all the playoff teams. I honestly thought they'd lose 100 games this season.

  137. Cwj - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:18 AM

    That's awesome JaneB!Wish I had been at the game :(

  138. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:21 AM

    Eddie Yost? I'm old enough to remember the "Walking Man." Trust me on this: Bryce Harper is already 15 times the player Eddie was. Bryce is a legitimate five-tool player. Eddie was one-tool: his eyes. He knew the strike zone. After that, he was forgettable, although he is still fondly remembered around here.

  139. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:37 AM

    So the AL playoff teams are set, but two of the division champs have not yet been decided, and there's a real incentive to win those spots. Without the new setup, the only question would be which team of NYY, TEX, BAL and OAK would miss the playoffs. All the other spots would be set and whether a team became the WC or a division champ would be meaningless. In the NL, with two games left, two teams still have a shot at the last WC spot, and the No. 1 seed is not yet determined. Under the old system, the four teams would be set. No. 1 seed would be meaningless because the Nats could not face the Braves in the NLDS.Just like Bud imagined. This is why I liked the new format right from the start, not just because the second WC spot gave the Nats an improved chance to make the playoffs.

  140. Drew - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:39 AM

    With his 26th double tonight, Bryce tied Mel Ott for second most in a season by a teen.Yount and Cavarretta hold the mark at 28.I would understand resting (and protecting) Bryce. But it would be great fun to see him get 10 more ABs and shoot for Tony C., Buddy Lewis' 100 runs, and the doubles mark.Oh, yeah: WOO HOO!

  141. Scooter - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:43 AM

    Yes, woo hoo.Woo hoo, indeed.Not only woo, but also hoo.And with that, I must rest.

  142. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:57 AM

    I double the Scooter's motion and say, "Woo-freaking-hoo."Well played, Nats, well played.

  143. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:16 AM

    I am just trying to preserve Eddie Yost's memory. To me, from afar, Eddie Yost lived almost the perfect life.I have never seen anyone play baseball the way that Bryce Harper plays. The only thing that I can even compare it to are clips of Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays that I have seen, but those are just fragments. People say that Mantle had great speed, but you don't hear stories about his running the way that Harper does. Harper seems to have an inherent, instinctual understanding of the mathematics of baserunning. There may be faster guys, but they don't perceive the probabilities of a random baseball encounter after a hit. Bryce seems to be able to calculate better than almost anyone, the speed needed to make it to the next base with the possibility of either a great throw, an average throw, or a fielding mishap.At times, his choices seem chancy. But I think we will agree that his lack of risk aversion seems to have been a huge positive this season.

  144. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:20 AM

    And Eddie had some power and he was a pretty decent 3rd baseman.But Bryce Harper will end up being the Dwight Evans of the outfield of this generation.

  145. William O. Douglas Loeffler - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:23 AM

    And I am not one to toot my own horn, but I told everyone that the AL East would come down to the final Yankees-Red Sox series.

  146. baseballswami - Oct 2, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    So happy for these guys, especially zim, desi, shark- they have been from bottom to top. 80 wins to 96 in one season. Basement to top in two. You gotta love this organization . I predict that bench players will start- and win. They can finally play loose again. You cannot tell me the pressure hasn't been affecting them.

  147. JaneB - Oct 2, 2012 at 10:07 AM

    I know, swami! I'm so happy for all of them, but especially them. Especially Zimm, Bernie and Desi. ANd I agree about the pressure, too!Woo freaking hoo, indeed! Look where our guys woke up today! CLINCHED!

  148. Laddie Blah Blah - Oct 2, 2012 at 10:50 AM

    "I thought Lannan was pretty damn good again."He still has not given up a HR in 32 innings over 6 games. For the first time this year, though, he did look nervous in those first 2 innings. Still, he pitched well enough for his team to win. It would have been the perfect capstone to the season if they had, with Lannan as the winning pitcher.I know he doesn't care, but we fans would have loved that.And Mike Rizzo, you are one helluva baseball man.

  149. mick - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    I am sooooooo HAPPY, I was stayed until the end with my child hood friend whom we attended Senators games together back in 1969, slapped hands with Bryce, Rizzo, my boy John Philbin, Gio… everyone.WASHINGTON NATIONALS 2012 NATIONAL LEAGUE EASTERN DIVISION CHAMPIONS!!!! WASHINGTON NATIONALS 2012 NATIONAL LEAGUE EASTERN DIVISION CHAMPIONS!!!!

  150. mick - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    I was looking for Mark Z and I only wish I could have shook your hand and given you a hug…. your awesome awesome sight has been therapeutic to all of us throughout this season

  151. NatsLady - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:10 AM

    Serious question about the best record. If there is a rainout tonight, would they play a doubleheader tomorrow? How much "resting of the regulars" do we do?

  152. Natslifer - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    Took my 8 year old son last night. Caught a foul ball and watched our Nats clinch – it was an experience we'll never forget – absolutely cannot put it into words.Waking up to rain this morning. Very interesting situation. Gotta play two more to figure out the seeds. Hasn't Davey said he's committed to pitching Gio tonight and then having him slotted for Sunday? But a double-header tomorrow brings up a few head scratchers for who will pitch.

  153. Laddie Blah Blah - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Zim told one reporter that the goggles were Werth's idea – been there, done that. And Harp shared some apple cider with ALR's 9-year-old son. What a great memory for that kid.That team is together.

  154. 320R2S15 - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    WODL, your 2:16 post was verry good, glad I read it, but honestly, I usually breez past your stuff cuz it is so overwelming and frequent. the 2:16 was good though, thanks for that.Lots of people thing SS will be back in the picture, I can't see it, but who knows?

  155. NatsLady - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    Zim told one reporter that the goggles were Werth's idea – been there, done that. LOL. Makes my "Fear the Goggles" jersey even more significant—if any jersey is significant.

  156. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    A great memory for both kids. I loved how comfortable Harper was with the celebration. It's not like he had to be sure that no champagne ever touched his body or something. And his comment in one interview is telling: He's used to winning. Virtually every team he's been on has celebrated and he expects to keep doing it every year. Boy am i glad we have a guy like that on our team.No. 1 seed is significant. I think they have to play all 162 this time. Four possible outcomes for the four games. If there's a positive outcome in 2,3, or 4, we get the No. 1 seed — in 0 or 1, we're No. 2. I suppose it's possible that they could cancel the second game of a doubleheader tomorrow if the Reds lose tonight and we win the first game tomorrow. But I doubt it. The teams are both here, and not playing on Oct. 4. Hee hee hee.

  157. Joe Seamhead - Oct 2, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    We went to the stadium last night and I am so glad. What a long, strange trip it's been, eh? And what a crazy last few games, from Michael's grand slam with the invisible bat, to the Phills losing their title while winning a game against the team that won the title.

  158. sjm308 - Oct 2, 2012 at 12:14 PM

    This is nuts! I stayed last night to just soak in what was going on and I loved several things. To watch the joy both on the field and in the clubhouse is just gratifying for this old fan. I really tried to find Strasburg in the mele and it was great to see him sharing in something he was a huge part of.Woke up this morning and for some reason, I started with the Post instead of NI and I was actually glad I did. I have never seen so many great stories, pictures and they captured the night really well. Mark has brought us through this season with flying colors but they obviously have the resources to do things if they chose. Bottom line is I was sitting at the computer and damn if the tears didn't start again.Off to the gym! Got to get in shape for the next month of baseball!!Natslady – double header would not be great for our boys. I think I have it right that rest today for the regulars but game action for some important bench players and then game action again for the regulars tomorrow would be the best scenario. This is not like last year where we played 161 since the game didn't mean anything. These two games will determine who #1 & #2 are so they will get played.Go Nats!! Score First!! Win the NLDS!!

  159. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    We had 'em all the way!! That's what Bob Prince, the legendary radio announcer for the Pirates used to say when the Bucs locked up a win, especially when the came from behind or had a walkoff. In this case, though, it really applies to the Nats this year. As Mark notes, this was virtually a wire to wire performance, beginning with that 14-4 start and continuing with a winning record in every single 18 game set throughout the year, except possibly for this last one. It's an extraordinary record of consistency. So impressive. Now Davey has four or five days to rest starters and the bullpen, set up the rotation, and keep the guys at their best for the playoffs. I can't think of a better person to do it. He's been there and he has their respect and trust. Pretty damn exciting!

  160. Joe Seamhead - Oct 2, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    Natslifer,your 7:31 post brought a smile for this old boy to start the day with.

  161. Joe Seamhead - Oct 2, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    sjm308, great post, too.

  162. natscan reduxit - Oct 2, 2012 at 12:25 PM

    … and so the countdown begins:3 …Go Nats!! on to #2

  163. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    That treatment sounds a little sketchy but I hope your birthday is all you could wish for, and more. :-)TimDz said… Not sure when the first playoff game is… But MY birthday is October 7th… Hope to get the 1asheet treatment…this time with a win… October 01, 2012 10:40 PM

  164. Brother Juniper - Oct 2, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Could anyone recognize the champagne label the Nats were spraying. Was it really Dom Perignon? Looked like it to me. I wouldn't have been spraying it, that's for sure.

  165. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Hope they're going to have some other options available in the women's tee shirts. All they show now on the team site is the division clinch shirt, which is not my fave design. For the men, there are also a nice division champs shirt with criss-crossed bat and another with the team roster on the back (I really like that one). Come on, Nats and MLB, give a gal some options. I would be lost in a men's tee. And don't even think about trying to sell me a pink one. grrr… :-)

  166. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 2, 2012 at 12:59 PM

    WOOOHOOO What a win!!!It would have been more epic, if Nationals had walked-off in ninth. You know RZ has not walked-off all season, which is weird by his standards.

  167. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Glad Mark changed the Title of the post. 96 and counting!

  168. LoveDaNats - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:05 PM

    Nice to know I wasn't the only one crying last night! Love these boys! They were having a blast with all the craziness! So wished I could have been there. I have tickets for tonight but it's not looking good. Onto the playoffs and where are my playoff strips that I ordered back in August? Anyone get theirs yet?

  169. Scooter - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:12 PM

    Maybe he's been saving it, Faraz. We can only hope.And Natslifer! You caught a foul ball! That is the awesomest thing ever.Seamhead, I liked what you did with the team-that-clinched thing.

  170. #4 - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    I drove to work this morning with my 17 year old daughter. I attended Opening Day in '05 with her and my dad when she was 9. Today she chose to wear her vintage 2006 Brian Schneider Nationals jersey that I bought her for Christmas that year. (She cried the day he was traded). I wore my Washington Nationals tie that she bought for me on a trip to Cooperstown in summer, 2005. It doesn't get much better than sharing your passions in life with your kids.

  171. Scooter - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Oh my gosh, #4, that is the awesomest thing ever.

  172. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    Dave Jaglear was just on 106.7 and supposedly Mark Lerner had knee surgery and Gio was calling him the Pimp with the Limp.Funny stuff.

  173. JD - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    NL East champions – Washington Nationals. What a great accomplishment. Take a bow Davie and Rizzo. Now it's time to relax and have some fun in the playoffs.

  174. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Refrained from posting last nite while basking in all the sites and sounds coming through my TV screen and it was glorious.Think back to Spring Training when the Nats seemed to be struggling through until the last 10 days when the vets stopped working on stuff and started to gear "up" to regular season mode.Well, the same can be said for their efforts for the past month or so because while the Braves were still mathematically in it, even they knew the Nats lead was insurmoubtable. It's now time to rest a bit, refocus alot and get ready for the most intense baseball we all have ever experienced. And I can't wait.

  175. #4 - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    On the question of the value of the play-offs, I agree they are a crap shoot. I'm less interested in what happens from here than I was in winning the division.I have posted this before but I wish MLB would go to Dominican style play-off system. Here's how it would work:1. Reduce the season to 154 games.2. Have three division winners and one wild card in each league.3. The four teams in each league play an 18 game round robin (6 three-game series against team)in which there is one off-day per week.4. The winners of each round robin meet in a best of 9 World Series with one off day.This would more closely approximate the regular season. Teams would have to use five starters and their bench. It wouldn't take any longer that the current format because the season would be a week shorter. The TV revenue from the round robin would more than make up for the four regular season home dates lost by each team.

  176. JD - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Peric, I think Gio starts tonight and goes 3 – 4 innings or 75 pitches; same for EJax tomorrow. I think Perez, Brown, DeRosa et. al start or get in both games.

  177. JD - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    I don't think Davie cares about the race with the Reds at all. I don't think he minds playing the Giants instead of Atlanta/St.Louis.

  178. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:32 PM

    Here's my view of the Phillies. Once the bright lights and pressure of being in the playoff hunt was on them they folded like a cheap tent.Now there's no pressure and Kendrick pitches like an, ace. Like 2 different pitchers compared to last week.

  179. #4 - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    To be clear the 18 game round robin would be two three-game series against each team, home and home. Sorry the earlier explanation wasn't very good.

  180. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    JD, I don't think Gio pitches tonight. Probably Duke. Maybe EJax tomorrow.

  181. mick - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  182. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:36 PM

    LoveDaNats, lots of folks have now received their strips. I got a notice from UPS that they tried to deliver mine yesterday. Thanks to Feel for alerting us that you can pay $5 to have a UPS package delivered to a UPS Store near your office rather than trying to figure out how to be come for the delivery (signature required). If there is no sign of your strips today, you should definitely call your Nats rep.Also, your NLDS and NLCS tickets should now be up on My Nationals Tickets if you need to transfer them electronically to others.Good luck.

  183. mick - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Its all good!!!Never mind, Morse, LaRoche and Werth looking at called third strikes…. I know they were scoreboard watching, now its time to rest… get over a few nicks an aches and focus on Braves or Cards which I think is 50/50 on who wins.I think Dodgers will be eliminated tonight. I think home field verse Reds is not much value, maybe I am wrong but it is all good.

  184. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Gonat posting last night a projected lineup for tonight is probably spot on but I think the regulars start the game tomorrow.

  185. alm - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:41 PM

    OMG, I am so tired ;>)Stayed last night at the Park until about 10:40 and then watched it on MASN until about 12:30.That was the best.Like Nelly said this worning on XM radio, its hard to say that a team that has won 96 games backed into the Division win.I don't care, we are the Division winner!!!I am going to playoff baseball to watch the Nats!!!Go Nats!

  186. Section 222 - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:46 PM

    It's all good Mick, but I like the idea of playing the Braves without Medlen until Game 3 and having HFA against the Reds if we win. Going out to SF to face Cain and Bumgardner is not my idea of a good way to start the playoffs. Cain pitched 5 innings last night and is perfectly set up to pitch Game 1. Do folks realize that since Melky Cabrera was suspended on August 15, the day of the Nats' last game against them out in SF, the Giants are 29-14 (.674)? That is a seriously hot baseball team.

  187. mick - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    just realized I won one bet and broke even on another with my son who is a die hard O's fan. I bet with him 3 years ago that the Nats would make post season before the O's… that was a wash and a shock to me. He bet me in April the O's would have a better record than Nats, this one I won!

  188. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    That 12:29AM post about Strasburg is off the wall.

  189. mick - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:48 PM

    actually…. I won, Nats qualified for playoffs before the O's this year, lol

  190. mick - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Sec 222…. excellnet point, i think you are correctGonat… I am freaked out by the 12:29 post as well

  191. mick - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    I meant Ghost

  192. mick - Oct 2, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Ghost Of Steve M. said…That 12:29AM post about Strasburg is off the wall.what is your take on it????

  193. MicheleS - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Ghost..WaPo has the interview posted. It would be CRAZY, but IF Stras is on the post season roster all Heck will break loose.

  194. Natslifer - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    I need to clarify my post for the sake of accuracy, giving credit where credit is due, and adding some meaning. (and in the spirit of full disclosure, my wife tells me my stories are always too long so that's why I took the shortcut).Neither my son nor I actually caught the ball. For those of you that have been around a long time, you've seen all the beer vendors who've been busting their butt trying to make a living for so long. There's this one guy named Danny who's been there since day 1 back in RFK. Back when the vendors walked around with pop tab beer cans, he's the guy with the glasses that had the homemade tool that would cut the top off of two cans and hold them with magnets so he could pour two beers in record time.So Danny is serving two guys right in front of us and the ball comes in, almost lands in his beer tub and stops at his feet. He grabs it, looks up, finds my son and hands him the ball.Maybe he remembers me and maybe he doesn't but I gave him a big tip, thanked him and told him how much it means to me and my family to go to the park and actually be around people we know in the fan sense. There are a number of vendors (how about the little guy with the pony tail and the big guy screaming "Stella!!!") and our usher Karen that we truly feel this way about.So longer but hopefully better story – THIS is what it's like to have a great baseball team in town and we are loving every minute of it.

  195. Steady Eddie - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    mick — Given especially that it's Mitchell and Reynolds, it seems like a couple of yammering heads who have to keep insisting they were right about Stras all along, and that it will prove they were right if he's on the postseason roster. Just the usual yammering heads' silliness.JaneB — let me get this straight, you were up to post at 1:10 AND 6:07????? Sorry we missed you last night — Lynn and I were in RC seats in 130 and saw you weren't in your regular seats but sounds like you were in the neighborhood. Amazing game to be at — never seen the crowd as intense as they were for some of the ABs with RISP.Sofa — great to meet you and Lynn, I love the terrific sense of wit and humor you bring to this community and look forward to your next addition to your handle ("Soul Ownership"??).For whatever it's worth, I hope Harp does play the next two games — maybe he can tee off on Johnny Wholestaff for a few dingers, and he deserves whatever history-making records he can set. He's 19 and on a roll, the last thing he needs is a rest (which he'll get anyway Thursday, Friday and probably Saturday).GYFNG!

  196. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  197. Joe Seamhead - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Wow. I also went to the game last night, stayed through the festivities, came home and watched the replays, but didn't have the energy to make it through the Insider's blogs before bed. I just did,and I enjoyed much of it, though some [much] of the inane babble was tough to wade through. Charlie and Dave were interviewed on my way home and one of them said the Davey inferred that he was going to seriously consider granting Tom Gorzolony's season long wish and let him start one of the last games. Sounds okay to me.GYFNG!!!

  198. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Agreed, after reading the Sports Bog item and watching the videoSteady Eddie said… mick — Given especially that it's Mitchell and Reynolds, it seems like a couple of yammering heads who have to keep insisting they were right about Stras all along, and that it will prove they were right if he's on the postseason roster. Just the usual yammering heads' silliness.

  199. Feel Wood - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    IF Stras is on the post season roster all Heck will break loose.If he is, it would be only as a reliever. Even if he's been long tossing, playing catch and throwing from a mound in secret ever since he was shut down (which is highly unlikely given the intense media scrutiny the team has been under) there is no way to stretch him out to be able to start a game in the playoffs. Stretching him out during the playoffs makes no sense. But they could get him ready to be able to pitch a strategic inning or two in a postseason series, and that would not really affect his rehab situation from Tommy John surgery. Not really likely, but also not too farfetched a scenario. It could happen.

  200. ehay2k - Oct 2, 2012 at 2:45 PM

    Simply unbelievable how much joy there was in that ballpark last night – from the clubhouse to the cheap seats.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
x-WASHINGTON 87 64 -- 0
ATLANTA 76 76 11.5
MIAMI 74 77 13.0
NEW YORK 73 80 15.0
PHILADELPHIA 69 82 18.0
Through Wednesday's early games
x-Clinched division title

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
THU: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
FRI: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SAT: Nats at Marlins, 7:10 p.m.
SUN: Nats at Marlins, 1:10 p.m.
MON: OFF
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 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: 1:30 p.m., 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 ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.

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