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What’s next?

Oct 2, 2012, 4:30 PM EDT

Photo by Bob Youngentob / CSNwashington.com
Nationals fans will get to experience postseason baseball next week.

The clubhouse at Nationals Park likely still smells like champagne, and players will likely be trudging in over the next hour or two still exhausted from last night's celebration, eager to take both a physical and emotional break from the grind before gearing up again for the postseason.

There isn't much time to rest, up, though. The National League Division Series awaits this weekend.

Now, if only the Nationals knew who they'll be playing and when.

Though they've wrapped up their first NL East title, there's still plenty left to be decided. The Nationals enter play today tied with the Reds for the NL's best record at 96-64. They own the tiebreaker against Cincinnati based on their 5-2 head-to-head record this season, so they merely need to hold their position over the next two days.

If the Nationals do end up as the No. 1 seed, they would face theRead more ยป

  1. JaneB - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    Nothing comes easy to this team!

  2. d0e81e8c-9f37-11e1-a165-000bcdcb471e - Oct 2, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    Its just nice to savor every drop of what's happend thus far..As for the rain today, I am sure it will be welcomed by a few bad celebratory hangovers!

  3. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    JaneB…..it's not supposed to be…….ever.

  4. MicheleS - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    From Boz's Chat. Words to live by:Qeuestion:A playoff series As a lifelong washingtonian who has suffered endlessly these past 20 years with our sports teams, I hope all nats fans will be able to embrace and appreciate this team, regardless of what transpires during the playoffs. The team has given us so many great memories this season, and now the payoff, a NL East championship, and we get to live through a play off series! Do you think all of our redskins misery has made us too cynical and negative as a fan base to be able to just enjoy the playoff experience? I want the nats to win as badly as anyone, but a first round loss would not ruin this season for me. Am I crazy? โ€“ October 02, 2012 9:49 AM PermalinkA.Thomas Boswell :Amen.It's the age that is especially cynical. Long ago, a wise writer said, "The times are permanently bad." Or they always seem bad to those who are living through them.It's probably a good idea not to let the tone of your times define YOUR view.The Nats have had an amazing, wonderful year. They are as good as any team in the playoffs. They're going to be a good, very good or even better than that team for the next several years. Don't over analyze.And a negative bias at a time like this is more than ample reason to look at yourself in the mirror and think, "What's wrong with me?"The way we react to things outside ourselves is a large clue toward revealing how we feel about things when we look inside ourselves. Try that test when seeing how friends, etc., react to this glass-96-wins-full moment.โ€“ October 02, 2012 12:50 PM

  5. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    "The way we react to things outside ourselves is a large clue toward revealing how we feel about things when we look inside ourselves." WOW What a thought!

  6. Swift Eagle - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:14 PM

    Thanks for that Michele…maybe the Legion of Doom will read it…But I doubt it! Lol

  7. LoveDaNats - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:22 PM

    I hereby resign from the fringes of the Legion of Doom.

  8. Joseph Davis-Diehl - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    Is there any chance any of the playoff games will be day games?

  9. MicheleS - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    Joseph DD.. Always a chance of a Day Game.. It's going to depend on who MLB thinks will draw the bigger audience and if we are on the west coast to start.

  10. NCNatsie - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    The Nats have clinched undoom.

  11. Swift Eagle - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    Yes! I'm picturing horrible shadow/sun fields in cold and windy San Fran, with a crazy home crowd and having to face Cain and Bumgartner….I'm really hoping for the Z

  12. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    NatsLady, thanks for the link.His choice of NL Cy is weird. Except that, I think I agree with pretty much everything else.

  13. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 2, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    NL, thanks for the Stark link, he's funny. FS, I think he makes a pretty good case for Kimbrel, why do you say it's weird?

  14. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    Sofa, not sure I would ever vote for a reliever for a Cy award. How can you possibly compare them to players who have faced four times the number of batters he has faced and tell me he is better?What Kimbrel is doing is pretty expectional but only for a reliever, for all of just 60 or 70 innings. Dickey, etc have had it tougher and done great all season long. that's why Kimbrel won't be in my top 10.Mark Z, will you be voting for any category?

  15. JD - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:08 PM

    Faraz, Not so weird. It's really hard to differentiate between: Dickey,Gio,Cueto and Kershaw who have all been excellent but not overwhelming. Kimbrel has been lights out. My vote would go to Dickey but I have no problem with Kimbrel.

  16. NatsLady - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:12 PM

    David O'Brien โ€@ajcbraves#Braves have hit .222 in the past 32 games, 20-12 with 2.67 ERA. Scored 2 or fewer runs in 16 of those 32 games.Pitching, yes. Hitting, not so much.

  17. NatsLady - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:17 PM

    What Stark is saying is that Kimbrall is head and shoulders above any pitcher who is doing that type of job, and you can't say that about any of the starters in the contest. He says as long as it's the same award (which it shouldn't be) you take the guy who is outstanding at his job. Same as how do you compare a long-distance runner to a sprinter–which one is the better athlete?

  18. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:24 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… NatsLady, thanks for the link.His choice of NL Cy is weird. Except that, I think I agree with pretty much everything else.I'm with you and I think I go with Gio over Kershaw and Dickey based on competition faced. Didn't like how Dickey avoided Atlanta as was rumored. I am in agreement with most of his picks although David Wright wouldn't be in my Top 10 in the MVP vote as he fell way off. He went from a 1st 1/2 stud. My MVP would be Posey but my Player of the Year would be Braun.

  19. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    NatsLady, how many more games does Kimbrel win for his team vs. Storen? He is shutdown. He is excellent but not more valuable in my opinion than a starter like Gio, Kershaw or Dickey.You still need that lead for the closer to do his "close".

  20. Feel Wood - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Joseph Davis-Diehl said… Is there any chance any of the playoff games will be day games?Yes. If you look at the postseason schedule you'll see that during the WC and LDS rounds there are many days with 2, 3 or even 4 games on the schedule. In the LCS round, there are some days with two games scheduled. When there's more than one game on the same day, MLB likes to have as little overlap as possible in order to maximize TV ratings. This means many games will have to be played in the early or late afternoon. The specific game times aren't on the schedule yet because the teams playing in them aren't known. If a game is played in the West Coast it's more likely to be an evening game on the East Coast because if they played later it would be in the middle of the night here. That means if there's an East Coast game that same day, it's going to be an afternoon game here. It's not until the World Series that all of the games are at night (late afternoon on thhe west coast). So unless the Nats go all the way, it's entirely possible that the late night Metro subsidy that was such a contretemps will never even be needed.

  21. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    LoveDaNats said… I hereby resign from the fringes of the Legion of Doom.Don't worry, with each playoff game there will be a tension like do-or-die on every pitch. I'm hoping for more of the Legion of BOOOOOM!

  22. MicheleS - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    For those of you that are out of town and my not have the WaPo stuff. The Bog has been collecting stuff all day from last night. It's pure gold!http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/

  23. Feel Wood - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:36 PM

    If they wanted the Cy Young Award to be given to a closer, shouldn't they have named it after whoever Cy Young's closer was?

  24. Dryw Loves the Nats - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    Boswell hits the nail on the head again!

  25. Swift Eagle - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    I'd give the CY Young to Kimbrel…I wish these awards were more about actually watching the games as opposed to the heavy influence and weight given to the stats…With Kimbrel, the stats backup what I've seen with my eyes, which is the best pitcher in the NL all seasonAlso, the stats can't measure his influence on the Braves and their opponents, who both know the Braves are basically playing an 8 inning game every night…Managers have to make moves early in the game to avoid seeing Kimbrel…I'd argue he has influence on games before he even gets to the mound…

  26. Tcostant - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:42 PM

    On day game question:Yes there is a good chance that if the Yankees are playing on the same day that they will be the 8PM game and therefore the Nationals could be a 4PM game on those days. It could happen, both on the road and at home. If they end up going to San Fran, a 10PM EST start is also in the mix.

  27. NatsLady - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:44 PM

    Gotta go to work. Very strange not to care what the result of tonight's game is. I mean, I sort of care, but not in that tense, nervous way that I've lived with for the past month.

  28. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:45 PM

    Swift, I'm concerned about you. You said a few weeks ago you would take the Barves players over the Nats and now you are saying Kimbrel is the best pitcher in the NL which is the definition of the Cy Young Award.You may be the head taskmaster on the Legion of Doom but I'm wondering if you are a closet Barves lover.Scarey.

  29. NatsLady - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:48 PM

    Eagle, I think I'm with you. As the 7th inning approaches, teams know they are running out of time. That's true for a lot of closers, but especially true with Kimbrell. A starter can make a mistake, have a bad inning, the team can recover. If Kimbrell makes a mistake, the game is lost. The effect on a team know that if they get a lead it will be held has got to be great.Did you know the O's have won all 72 or 73 of their games when they were ahead after 7 innings? (I haven't checked that, it was on Twitter a couple of days ago.)

  30. Melissa Rabey - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Something interesting from the recent news about MLB's TV rights starting in 2014 (http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20121002&content_id=39362362&vkey=news_mlb&c_id=mlb)"Games included in the FOX Saturday national exclusive windows, which were previously blacked out to MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV viewers, will be available beginning in 2014."

  31. BigCat - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    I don't think I want to see the Cards any time soon.

  32. Feel Wood - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:56 PM

    If they end up going to San Fran, a 10PM EST start is also in the mix.That won't happen. They would schedule a 2PM WST/5PM EST game if they wanted to keep that game out of prime time. If there were two east coast games that same day, they'd go off at 1PM EST and 8PM EST, more or less.

  33. bowdenball - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    BigCat said…"I don't think I want to see the Cards any time soon."Why not? We took three of four from them just a month ago. Beat them 4-3 on the season series, outscoring them 43-40 in the process. They also don't have a dominant starter, which becomes a bigger factor when the rotations shrink from 5 to 4 and one starter gets to pitch Games 1 and 5.They're no pushover, but at this stage nobody is.

  34. BigCat - Oct 2, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    i think I would rather go to San Fran. Last time we were in Atlanta we got swept and the Cards beat us up pretty good just recently.

  35. do1teach1 - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    To answer Mark's question, "What's Next?"What is absolutely NOT next is improved network coverage of the Nationals.Last night on Baseball Tonight they compared the 2012 Nats with the 1933 Nats, to show how lame the Nats were even in 1933. They scoffed at two-absolule-nothing names on the '33 team–Heinie Manusch and Joe Cronin!Heinie Manusch and Joe Cronin! Two HALL OF FAMERS.Then it was back to the Showalter Worship Hour and the Oakland A's All the Time ESPN Channel. They act as if Davey Johnson does not exist!MLB's Quick Pitch ended with a section where Harold and company could reflect on the Nats' win. And what did they do? Blow 10 minutes talking about whether Strasburg will come back this year! They are SURE it is going to happen! They are PREDICTING it is going to happen!And Sports Center centered its entire program around the stinking Dallas Cowboys, a team that lost a meaningless game early in another generic football season.Sickening.Personally, I am overjoyed at the Nats' winning the NL East. But I wanted to address Mark's question as well.

  36. JD - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    Ghost said:'Don't worry, with each playoff game there will be a tension like do-or-die on every pitch.' Not for me. Not the type of tension I lived through the past month.

  37. slidell2 - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    Feelwood 2:36- Don't think Cy Young had a closer. He usually closed his own games unless he broke his leg or something.

  38. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:07 PM

    JD, I'm not sure how I will react because I haven't experienced playoff baseball as an adult and the last time I cared about playoffs I was in Elementary School. I have kept in my mind for over 2 years that 2013 would be the Nats year but you have to take what the baseball gods give you so go for it and give it your best.

  39. Raise the Jolly Scooter - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    I think you're right, Tcostant, they could have a late game. I took a quick look at last year to refresh my memory, and the first game I checked had a 9:37 start time.

  40. Feel Wood - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    They scoffed at two-absolule-nothing names on the '33 team–Heinie Manusch and Joe Cronin!Heinie Manusch and Joe Cronin! Two HALL OF FAMERS.Hall of Famer or not, you gotta scoff at any grown man named Heinie.

  41. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    do1teach1 said… Then it was back to the Showalter Worship HourYah, its getting old. That Steve Barthume guy on ESPN is so far up his butt its become sickening. When the Angels lost Sunday night, the Yankees and O's simultaneously clinched a playoff berth but all he could talk about was Showalter.Melvin in Oakland is the miracle man in the AL, not Showalter who took over an under-performing team and made them better. Sure Buck is #2 in my opinion but Melvin created a miracle. Youngest team in baseball and loaded with Rookies including Cespedes and all the starters.Davey slayed the dragons in the NL East and also took an under-performing team and got his Rookies primed. If Davey can just get Espi hot again and EJax and Detwiler firing again on all cylinders!

  42. Feel Wood - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    slidell2 said… Feelwood 2:36- Don't think Cy Young had a closer. He usually closed his own games unless he broke his leg or something.And I don't think you get jokes. Don't feel bad, you're in the majority around here.

  43. BigCat - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    Yeah Bowden, we did pretty good early in the year. But last week I got a good look at the Cards. Their hitters are all disciplined in their approach and can rake. They have 5 guys with 20 or more homers. No dominant starter? How about Lohse at 16-3 with a 2.86 era? Or Lynn at 18-7. Their pen has got some nasty guys, led by Jason Motte with 41 saves. AND they won the series last year. That experience is crucial.

  44. BigCat - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    ….and, the Cards are firing on all cylinders right now.

  45. Feel Wood - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Raise the Jolly Scooter said… I think you're right, Tcostant, they could have a late game. I took a quick look at last year to refresh my memory, and the first game I checked had a 9:37 start time.That would have to have been between two teams in a western market. They are not going to schedule a game such that it plays that late in the market of one of the teams playing in it.

  46. baseballswami - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    I haven't been doom and gloom, but I have been kind of a nervous wreck for about a month now. When I look at going from 59 wins, to 69, to 80 to at least 96 with the NL East title? Everything from here on is just gravy. This season has already exceeded my expectations by a lot. Whatever happens from here will be ok by me. Of course I would love to see them make it deep, but no matter what happens, I am all good. I have exhaled.

  47. BigCat - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    Here's a question. If it comes down to crunch time, and Det and Lannan are both rested, who do you go with. I would think real hard about going with Lannan.

  48. Feel Wood - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:23 PM

    That Steve Barthume guy on ESPN is so far up his butt its become sickening. When the Angels lost Sunday night, the Yankees and O's simultaneously clinched a playoff berth but all he could talk about was Showalter.Let me get this straight. You're complaining when ESPN doesn't talk about the Yankees?

  49. Steady Eddie - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    Big Cat — "early in the year"?????We beat them three out of four at the end of August/beginning of September — barely a month ago. And it took a totally uncharacteristic JZimm meltdown (he has games where he's less effective, but not eight runs worth) for them to win one.They are a fearsome team, but their starters can be had with a focused approach and plan. The backend of their pen is good with Motte and Boggs, but the rest are iffier than most of ours. They do have a fearsome lineup, but pitching beats hitting in the playoffs.If we face them (assuming they get by Medlen, Venters and Kimbrel), the determining factor is likely to be how our starters do. If they pitch up to their consistent capacity this year, we would win that series.

  50. Theophilus T. S. - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    For what it's worth, this morning's Wall Street Journal ranks the Nats and Cardinals as co-likeliest to reach the World Series. None of the possible first round matchups appeals to me, mostly because of the goofy two-games-on-the-road schedule, but also because they weren't able to beat either the Braves or the Cardinals the last time around. Given my choice, I think I'd opt for the Braves because of their announced intention to start Medlen in the Wild Card game. That means ending up w/ the best record and the selection of Gorzelanny for tonight says that isn't being given the highest priority. Maybe Johnson plans on using half (or more) of the bullpen.

  51. JD - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:30 PM

    Swami, I am right there with you. First of all the playoffs are a crap shoot and normally the hot teams win not the best teams; the real achievement is to win over 162 games. I am not saying the that the playoffs are irrelevant or that I won't be into them 100% but at the end of the day this will have been a great year no matter what.

  52. Theophilus T. S. - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:32 PM

    "Everything from here on is just gravy."Hopefully the players aren't thinking that way. If so, we're sunk, because, essentially, they haven't played very well for the last two weeks.

  53. Raise the Jolly Scooter - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    Big Cat, I'm not gonna try to tell you the Cards aren't good. They are. Real good. Yes, 5 guys with 20 dingers.But guess who has 4 20-homer guys, and two more with 17? I bet you can guess. You can guess, can't you? Yeah, I knew you could.

  54. Raise the Jolly Scooter - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    I know that has nothing to do with whom we'd rather face. I guess I'm just saying … "We can take 'em!"

  55. Theophilus T. S. - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    "the playoffs are a crap shoot and normally the hot teams win not the best teams; the real achievement is to win over 162 games."You're rationalizing losing even before the playoffs start. Maybe useful as a defense mechanism but teams that think that way get washed out quickly. Recent Astros, Rays teams come to mind — "Geez ain't it nice to be here." (Some times you're the windshield, some times you're the bug.)

  56. JD - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:39 PM

    Theo, The players should view this as a great opportunity with nothing to lose. I have also observed that they haven't been playing well lately and I thing they have been playing too tight (with the surprise exception of Bryce Harper). I think Zim, LaRoche, Morse and Espinosa have been over swinging and the young starters have been over throwing. I think there is a great chance that they will relax now and play up to their capabilities.

  57. JD - Oct 2, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    You're rationalizing losing even before the playoffs start. Maybe useful as a defense mechanism but teams that think that way get washed out quickly. Recent Astros, Rays teams come to mind — "Geez ain't it nice to be here." (Some times you're the windshield, some times you're the bug.) Really? How many titles do the Yankees have in the last decade? The Phillies? Clearly the best teams in their leagues over that period of time yet time and again they fall to teams like the Giants and the Cards who squeak in at the end. Which team do you want to see come the playoffs? the loose and relaxed bunch which dominated the competition or the tight as a drum team which just made it to the finish line on top?

  58. natsfan1a - Oct 2, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    Could we maybe just be happy for one day and relish the division win before we start rending our clothing and questioning the heart, guts, or other attributes of fans or of the team? No? Eh, whatever. Me, I'm going to my happy place. Now you know where to find me should you need me. :-)

  59. Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me - Oct 2, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    "The way we react to things outside ourselves is a large clue toward revealing how we feel about things when we look inside ourselves." –Dr. Sigmund Boswell Freud, Oct. 1, 2012.Translation: "Huh, what?"–Sunshine Bobby Carpenter

  60. Section 3, My 1st Place Sofa - Oct 2, 2012 at 11:22 PM

    Translation: "What am I doing on a level where this is real?"Does that clear it up? You're welcome.

  61. natsfan1a - Oct 3, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    If not, you'll need to see him twice a month. :-)

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 88 64 --
ATLANTA 76 76 12.0
MIAMI 74 78 14.0
NEW YORK 73 80 15.5
PHILADELPHIA 70 83 18.5
x-Clinched NL East title

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON 88 64 --
LOS ANGELES 87 66 1.5
ST. LOUIS 85 68 3.5
-----------------------
SAN FRANCISCO 84 68 4.0 +2.0
PITTSBURGH 82 70 6.0 --
MILWAUKEE 79 74 9.5 3.5
x-Clinched division title

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
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.
THU: 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

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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.

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