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Calm, cool and collected

Oct 7, 2012, 1:44 AM EST

Associated Press photo
Bryce Harper doesn’t sound fazed one bit by his first postseason appearance.

ST. LOUIS — With a pack of reporters firing off questions and trying to get him to admit he’s at least mildly caught up in the moment on the eve of the Nationals’ first-ever postseason appearance, Bryce Harper refused to concede the point.

“I think you guys are more nervous than we are,” the 19-year-old outfielder said. “It’s just another game, just another series. I’m excited, but I’m just going to look at it like another game and another place we play and another team we play. I guess when you step in the box it’s going to be a lot different with the crowd and everything, but you can’t look at it that way.”

Across the Nationals clubhouse Saturday evening, that sentiment prevailed. So what if only four of the 25 players on their roster for the National League Division Series have any postseason experience, totaling 67 games? And so what if 21 of the Cardinals’ 25 players have been through this before, combining to appear in a staggering 290 postseason games?

The Nationals insist that won’t make much of any difference when the two clubs take the field Sunday afternoon for Game 1 of a highly anticipated series.

“I think this team has done it all year, handle our emotions,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “This whole year has been
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  1. MicheleS - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    Wow Cueto out already

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

    We just tuned back in. What happened? The sound on the broadcast is also a mess..can't hear much.

  3. Swift Eagle - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    Cueto hurt the Reds had to go to the bullpen in the 1st…Strike Zone for Cain appears to be the size of an SUV…This would be the definition of "stealing one" if the Reds win this one…

  4. baseballswami - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    Some kind of injury?

  5. Eugene in Oregon - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:08 AM

    JaneB,Not entirely clear what happened (beyond Mr. Cueto pulling or tweaking something). He was on his eighth or ninth pitch when he pulled up, walked around the mound, then gave up the ball and left the game. There was a bit of odd moment a few pitches beforehand when the batter asked for a timeout, the umpire didn't grant it, but Mr. Cueto stopped himself abruptly and didn't throw the pitch. Not clear — to me, at least — that that led to the problem (whatever it may be), but I guess it could have.

  6. Swift Eagle - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:12 AM

    I never thought the MLB playoffs would be sponsored by Avocados….But it appears they are…

  7. baseballswami - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:24 AM

    Everything about this season seems to be unique and unpredictable .Even the sponsors. When I was a kid it would have been liquor and cigarettes.

  8. Faraz Shaikh - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:32 AM

    WOW Noticed Phillips' stance for first time. Gotta be unique. Never seen someone's feet this far apart. Anyways 2-0 Reds on his 2 run home run.

  9. Steady Eddie - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:40 AM

    Thoughts on a couple of posts from. Prior thread:NatsJack @7:01: reminds of these lines from Field of Dreams — Chick Gandil: Musclebound jerk. Eddie Cicotte: Oh, yeah? At least I got muscles. Chick Gandil: No, at most you got muscles!JaneB — correction, we were not swept by the Cards. Remember the Beast's pantomimed grand slam? I don't think the team as a whole feels outclassed as a team by the Cards in that series. (Not saying you in any way suggested we did, just saying that I don't they harbor any particular fears — apart from a healthy respect– for the Cards.) We lost because EJax and Det melted down of their own accord immediately, walking people left and right, WPs, etc.Danny did muff a big DP ball but it's not like the whole team took a nosedive. And after crushing Garcia and Wainwright in the first two games at home, hanging in the third game despite by far the worst start of the year by JZimm, and taking the season series in the last month, I suspect they have a good frame of mind, that we can stand with the Cards and give better than they get.For those media types who are making a big deal of the Cards' "hot finish" (12-4), 7-2 of that stellar record was vs the Astros and Cubs. 4-2 was taking two HOME series from the Nats and low-motivation Reds, and the other win was the tail end of a series they lost to the Dodgers 2-1. We played better than the Cards did in Sept.-Oct. (we were 12-11 vs intending teams compared with their 8-9; we beat non-contending teams 8-2 and they were only 9-6.)Nice to see Cain mortal. It took a while for us to get to him but we did get 3R (incl 2 solo shots back to back by Desi and Danny and 6 hits in 6.2 innings — enough for us to stay in the game and take it to their BP.

  10. NatsNut - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:50 AM

    Cool, calm and collected? Hell, the games haven't even started and I'm feeling the need for a little dram of maalox and bourbon. I think Boz is probably right when he said, "The playoffs are more like the Myocardial Infarction Games."

  11. baseballswami - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:55 AM

    All the teams are good now. And we are among them. As I watch and think how hard it will be to face them, I realize how much they don't want to face us!!! The Reds lose their starter after 8 pitches, recover, move on, and have a new plan for the series. That's tough and flexible – they didn't miss a beat. After 8 months of playing, now an even harder battle. Amazing. This requires extreme fitness and mental toughness to the max. This should be quite a ride.

  12. Steady Eddie - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:57 AM

    NatsNut — I hope that by doing what Werth has told them to do in these games — keeping true to the approach and form that got them here — they will calm US down. (That is, we have a little fear in our guts that they'll be a bundle of tight nerves; I think and hope they'll be guys who are too young and self-confident to seize up from the occasion, and by continuing to look like the team we fell in love with, will make us believe and see that they still are.)

  13. Steady Eddie - Oct 7, 2012 at 3:06 AM

    Swami they don't want to face us.You said it! A lot of good to great hitters in these two lineups tonight, but nothing as relentless as ours from top to bottom. Remember the Cards walking Danny to get to KSuz — who proceeds to get the GW double? Bet they won't do that again.And for all our concern about sending a lefty up against the Cards RH lineup, Ken Rosenthal on just raised that point AA and cited Gio's BAA is actually lower vs righties — an unearthly .197 — than the .233 that lefties are hitting him. Yeah, you can have it in the regular season but you gotta bring it in the postseason to win. I think they will, and it'll be Werth and Harp up top — the canny vet and Wonderboy (who ain't no boy) — who will lead by example.

  14. baseballswami - Oct 7, 2012 at 3:10 AM

    Speaking of wonderboy – he is some kind of kid, isn't he? He sure spouts a lot of cliches in interviews,but considering how often he is interviewed he handles himself so well. I remember Stras's first year – they protected him so much and he was just so awkward. Bryce is really a gem. On and off the field.

  15. Swift Eagle - Oct 7, 2012 at 3:21 AM

    Pagan just kept the ball from his first playoff hit!..Does that mean they'll do that for all 21 of the Nats? Hope they stocked up! Lol

  16. Doc - Oct 7, 2012 at 3:23 AM

    Good someone on the Nats said it.Thanks RZim and Harps!So called playoff experience is greatly exaggerated–mostly by sports writers who need something to write about. Has anybody quantified it? No, and nobody ever will.I put it in the same category as the cowardly 'un-named' scouts for USA-To-Day that opined that the Nats don't have any quick bats on inside pitches. Yeah right, they led the NL in Runs Scored (and 2nd in HR's) since the ASG by hitting soft outside pitches!And speaking about experience, how about the experience of winning 98 games sportsfans!

  17. Section 222 - Oct 7, 2012 at 3:43 AM

    That Nats are where they are because all season long they did one simple thing — win series. So they are perfectly prepared to keep doing that. Don't let one loss get you down, just win the next two. Keep playing hard, then move on to the next team having won more games than you lost. Three more series left. Yes, they are all against tough teams, but we've won series against Reds (twice), the Cards, the Giants (twice), and the Braves (three times). We also have a winning record every single month. If I'm not mistaken, no other team did that this year. Just have to keep doing that — win more games in October than you lose and you win the World Series.

  18. 5c3cd06e-cef8-11e1-abe6-000bcdcb2996 - Oct 7, 2012 at 4:25 AM

    Chipper told the press that he knew it was time to retire once he was no longer nervous before big games. Just sayin'.

  19. baseballswami - Oct 7, 2012 at 4:38 AM

    The Nats have been very steady and I think that will serve them well. No long win streaks but no long losing streaks either. Even playing our worst in September we were winning every other day. This te seems to be very level. I hope they can sleep tonight. I am still up.

  20. Steady Eddie - Oct 7, 2012 at 4:52 AM

    Numbers and letters guy — Are you "just sayin'" that what goes for Chipper goes for all good players? That good players aren't distinct Individuals in their reactions?

  21. A DC Wonk - Oct 7, 2012 at 4:55 AM

    Frankly, I think it's also easier to be calm cool and collected, because — simply — they were just _in_ St.L. playing these same Cards.

  22. Steady Eddie - Oct 7, 2012 at 4:56 AM

    And down 5-1 with a runner on first, Xavier Nady steps to the plate. Meanwhil, so far Chapman is looking a lot like Bad Henry.

  23. Steady Eddie - Oct 7, 2012 at 4:58 AM

    Or maybe not — pops up Pagan on an 0-2 pitch., after a little trouble with the wind.

  24. Steady Eddie - Oct 7, 2012 at 5:02 AM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  25. Exposremains - Oct 7, 2012 at 5:04 AM

    this reminds me of Hrod

  26. Steady Eddie - Oct 7, 2012 at 5:05 AM

    Alternating Good Aroldis and Bad Aroldis in each AB. Single, walk, pop out, walk, pop out, WP?….With Posey up.

  27. Steady Eddie - Oct 7, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    Then Ks Posey swinging. Boy I'd be guzzling Maalox if this was the Nats. Tho Chapman never gave the feeling of losing it completely. Just every other pitch, seemingly.

  28. Cwj - Oct 7, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    I can guarantee that I'm more nervous than the Nats are! :)Yeah, I agree with everyone who said playoff experience is overrated.If this is all a dream, last chance to wake up…wait, I think I'll hit the snooze and continue to dream a little longer.Playoff time for our local nine.Go Nats!

  29. ChicagoNatsGirl - Oct 7, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    The advantage of being "ChicagoNatsGirl" is that Chicago is "only" about 5 hours from St. Louis. We're leaving momentarily for the game today. So excited for our Nats. Look for two 40-somethings and a cute 12-year old boy in left field clad in Nats gear. And lots of it. It will be cold.

  30. NatsLady - Oct 7, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Safe trip. Go NATS!

  31. NatsNut - Oct 7, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    That's awesome ChicagoNatsGirl! Represent us well!

  32. natsfan1a - Oct 7, 2012 at 11:00 AM

    Bryce sure does good interviews. He plays baseball okay, too. What Zimm said, I trust in Davey and our guys. Go, NATS!!Speaking of salad ingredients, avocados have been a sponsor in prior seasons, as I recall.Thanks for representing us in STL, Chicago Nats Girl!On another note, and speaking of Arroyo, loved his duet with Chapman on the Adam Sandler number. Hilarious!

  33. NatsLady - Oct 7, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    Vegas has the odds at -105/-105 (basically even). But have they seen Gio's curve???? And the Sun Monster doesn't discriminate!! Let's go, men!

  34. NatsLady - Oct 7, 2012 at 11:18 AM

    There has been something in every playoff game so far:(1) Barfs barfing on Larry's last day + umps and the infield fly rule…(2) Texas as a wildcard? Who knew. The O's takin' care of business.(3) The hero of Verlander's game is an A's middle reliever.(4) Cueto out after 8 pitches and the Reds still win. I give you Joey—oops, I give you Brandon Phillips.Just hoping for some Gio dominance, clean fielding and the Kid being the Kid. Can't wait.

  35. original Nats Fan - Oct 7, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    I'm nervous as heck for my first post season, but I believe in this team.GYFNG

  36. BigCat - Oct 7, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    Yes, I'm nervous too.Just checked weather. Gonna be sunshine. Low to mid 50's. Wind around 9 mph

  37. LoveDaNats - Oct 7, 2012 at 11:55 AM

    Just remember. These boys play well against good teams. It's the "easy" wins they always had trouble with.

  38. BigCat - Oct 7, 2012 at 11:56 AM

    Nobody walks. You hear Gio? You walk these guys and you are gonna get pummeled. They can hit, so you gotta make them earn everything they get. No free passes! And we gotta get the bats going. And Werth….we need you ON…..lets go boys…..PHEW!

  39. BigCat - Oct 7, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    Wish we were facing the Cubbies and that BP pitching staff of theirs

  40. BigCat - Oct 7, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Manassas….did you get your cortisone shot for the series? We are gonna need all the help we can get. Ok….no more coffee….gotta while to go yet….take a deep breath.

  41. BigCat - Oct 7, 2012 at 12:05 PM

    One last thing….Espi….don't expand the zone! For once….don't chase that crap up around your eyes!!….or the curve in the dirt!!

  42. Laddie Blah Blah - Oct 7, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    Harper will shine in this series.

  43. MicheleS - Oct 7, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Desi will be the leader. Along with everyone else. 6.5 hours to game time.

  44. sjm308 - Oct 7, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Just got back from a 20 mile bike ride in Corolla. We have our day scheduled so I will be back in the beach house by 3pm. I had to sacrifice tomorrow's game but one out of two isn't bad.Have to laugh a bit that some of you are actually nervous about this? Its a game, we are fans, we lose nothing if they fail and we win a little pride if they succeed. I guarantee you the players, no matter what they say are nervous. It's part of the makeup that makes them successful. When my teams got to the ACC's or NCAA's it was my job to keep those nerves from getting too hyped and Davey will do the same thing. He is one huge plus at this time of year and I can't wait!! I will be excited but not nervous. Go Nats!! Score First!! Win the NLDS!!

  45. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 7, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    Relax everybody. The Nats had the best record in baseball. They are playing a team that finished 9 games behind the team with the second best record and both teans garnered their records by playing 36 ganes against 100+ loss teams.We got this.

  46. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    If you missed the opening to Intentional Talk this morning, you missed something.Funny.

  47. Ghost Of Steve M. - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    NatsJack, watching. Millar is just ripped Smith as he described Smith's ceremonial 1st pitch.

  48. JayB - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    Yea….Rizzo was right about Maya vs. Chapman…..Rizzo may well be the best GM and Davey the best Manager in baseball but…..they both still make big mistakes at times….Rizzo has not learned to admit them and learn from them yet……He would still tell you that not signing Chapman was the right thing to do and the Maya was a better bet.

  49. JayB - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Davey would say…..yea that sure was wrong…must have not taken my meds that day….Rizzo….not so much

  50. Joe Seamhead - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:23 PM

    Jack, I agree. We got this.Great front page article in today's WaPo by Barry Svrluga regarding Davey Johnson's demeanor and overall influence on this team,and how he is always thinking way ahead, Good stuff.Tom Bozwell also has a good column, in a Boz sort of way.I like Davey's and Rizzo's roster choices, and their whole attitude about going with what got us here. I can't tell you how many times I've seen baseball managers, at every level from Babe Ruth League to the pros, get fancy and make radical changes when they get to the playoffs, only to have it blow up in their faces.Mrs. Seamhead is reading the sports pages and just told me that she is already getting tense. I just tell her to remember what Phil Wood's dad used to tell him: "The joy is going to the game. Winning is a bonus". This year has had not just a lot of joy, but a massive amount of bonus. The playoffs will be not just a new round, but a continuation of a great season. With a huge serving of bonus.Again, we got this. I'm with Boz. Take your meds. Nats in five.GYFNG!!!

  51. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    No JayB…..Rizzo will tell you the silly money spent on Chapman was the right thing to do.He posted silly money to sign Chapman and under sealed bids, the Reds posted sillier money. Please be factual.And let he who makes no mistakes step forward.

  52. MicheleS - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    JayB.. Remember that the Nats offered $20+ Million for Chapman. They wanted him and offered $$$ bucks for him. The Reds offered more. And let's not forget when Chapman signed, the Reds were a contender and the Nats were not. And we have no idea if Rizzo admits his mistakes. Do you really want the guy who is running the FO to come out and do a mea culpa? Really, how does that inspire the team? How does that get other Free Agents to come here?

  53. MicheleS - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Also love how the Cardinals are claiming underdog status as defending World Champs. Do love that the Nats are coming in under the radar with all the national reporters and the media. For some reason the Nats just are not a sexy team to them. I am sure we will see the shutdown crap again and probably more about Bryce. But when all is said and done this is a Team and a team that is built to win.

  54. Joe Seamhead - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Good to hear from you JayB. I was asking about you the other day. Welcome back. I'll give you the Maya/Chapman thing, but personally I am sure glad we didn't make a lot of other moves regarding CF, the bench, and Prince Fielder. The dynamics of this team revolve successfully around the no team MVP, or riding the back of one superstar.This is one of the most well balanced teams that I have ever seen.The only thing that would be better is if Strasburg was able to be pitching, too. But you know what they say about wishing.

  55. Joe Seamhead - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Rizzo paid a lot for Maya, too, folks. It hasn't worked out so well.As it tuned out, Chapman worked out great for another team. Turn the page. GYFNG!!!

  56. NatsJack in Florida - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    MicheleS….the national media is waiting to see which way the Stras thing goes.If the Nats falter they'll be gloating like crazy. Nats win and the silence will probably remain.

  57. Another_Sam - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    I'm not calm, cool, or collected. I'm ready to play — from the couch.Regarding the roster: starters are no surprise; it's the regular crew that won all season, just without SS. I guess I'm surprised that there's the extra newby reliever, and not DeRosa. BTW I'm fine with the roster.Do all you insiders plan to be at the park on Wednesday? As we've all said many times — it's going to be historic.

  58. Another_Sam - Oct 7, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    I guess you've all remarked that the heavy reliver corps portends a quick hook?

  59. Eugene in Oregon - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:03 PM

    Did folks see this graphic from the Post (I'm seeing it on-line)? know if it's available in hard copy (either in the paper itself or in some sort of poster format)?Thanks.

  60. Joe Seamhead - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    Eugene, It was in yesterday's WaPo.

  61. sjm308 - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Mr. Oregon:It was in a supplement to the WaPost a few days ago. I have it in my "baseball card" room and will try and figure out how to preserve the entire supplement so that my grandkids can read about our historic season.Go Nats!! Score First!! Just win baby!!

  62. sjm308 - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Off to the Duck Jazz Festival – you guys, don't let our Nationals do anything stupid while I am away! Be back around 3pm to read updates and lineups!Go Nats!!

  63. Eugene in Oregon - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    Joe S. and sjm308: Thanks.

  64. Joe Seamhead - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    Oops, Eugene, it was Friday's post.Sorry.

  65. A DC Wonk - Oct 7, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    Wow, JayB, you really have to reach for the criticisms now, eh?

  66. natsfan1a - Oct 7, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    I do.Do all you insiders plan to be at the park on Wednesday?

  67. A DC Wonk - Oct 7, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    Do all you insiders plan to be at the park on Wednesday?I'll be there — along with my 17-year-old daughter Nats fanatic!Do we yet have any idea when the game will be?

  68. BigCat - Oct 7, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Ok, ok…..I feel a little better.

  69. natsfan1a - Oct 7, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Not yet, Wonk.





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