He has been the voice of the Nationals since their inception. His calls of “Bang! Zoom!” and “another curly W is in the books!” have become catch phrases every Nationals fan yearns to hear when their favorite team is on the airwaves.
But something happened this year that has never happened in the 19-plus years Charlie Slowes has called professional baseball.
Following Monday’s win over the Chicago Cubs, the Nationals were guaranteed to end the season with more curly Ws than losses. Eighty-two and counting.
It has happened to Slowes before, with the 1986 Washington Bullets, but never in baseball. He was the voice of the expansion Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 1998 and now the Nationals since their inaugural season of 2005. But never had it happened in 15 consecutive seasons of baseball broadcasts.
Slowes said he let himself think about it at the end of Monday’s 2-1 win.
“I thought about in the ninth inning, calling the game,” Slowes said. (I thought this win) mathematically makes this a winning season. I just think (it means) you have turned a corner. It is a milestone that you think about and you know good things, much better things, are ahead for this club and this city.”
Slowes said the Nationals have certainly came along way from that first season at RFK Stadium.
“I think when we came here in 2005 with the Nationals, no one knew what to expect,” Slowes recalls. “You had the Expos coming here, you had an older team, you had some veteran players. You had an organization bereft of a farm system that wasn’t going to provide you a lot of depth. Really, they had to turn it over quickly after 2005.
“Even though they competed and they were good in 2005, we knew it would take a while to draft and replenish the farm system. Unfortunately, when they moved into Nationals Park, the team wasn’t really competitive at that point in 2008. And it took awhile. It drains on a fan base when you lose for a number of years but I think that is all changing now.”
Fast forward to 2012, and Slowes said the difference is obvious from that inaugural season in D.C.
“Certainly, the talent level is way above where they were a few years ago,” Slowes said. “It is a great makeup in the clubhouse. You don’t have guys getting lost getting to the park or showing up late for stretch.
“When you lose, all kinds of things filter into the equation in the clubhouse in terms of the makeup of the club. I am sure there is probably a few guys that are bench players that think, ‘Maybe I should be playing more,’ but when you are having a year like this and a team that is winning, nobody rocks the boat. Everybody is thinking about the big picture and chance to get a ring. That is what everyone thinks about.”
Slowes agreed how the Nationals could be having a similar run for the next five or 10 years, talking about multiple winning seasons instead of just the first-time-ever conversation.
“This team is built to win for a while,” Slowes said. “You have to be lucky and good to win. They have built a lot of depth. There is more talent coming in this organization. The key pieces of this team could be here for a while. Knock wood, stay healthy. I think this is just the beginning, the tip of the iceberg.”
Slowes said if you are one of the very few that hasn’t realized what the Nationals are doing in 2012, you might want to check it out - and quickly.
“I don’t know that everybody has jumped on the bandwagon here, but I think we are going to be in for a pretty good ride here in the next few weeks in September in hopes of clinching a division championship for the first time and going to the postseason,” Slowes said.
“I think baseball is going to be seen in a whole new way here.”
A streak of consecutive curly W winning seasons works very well, thank you.