Here we are at the last homestand of the season. For me, it's bittersweet.
On the one hand, today's game begins a sort-of-sad countdown: three games left, two games left and before you know it, the last home game will be over. It's an end of sorts because every baseball season is a little different. The players change, the coaches change and the fan experience changes. Sure, these things are changing all the time, but transitions are bigger during the offseason.
The end of the season will mean goodbye for some players, although I'm not sure who will be gone next year. Will one or more of our young pitchers be traded for a bat or as part of a deal for a veteran arm? Who will play middle infield going forward? And what about the catchers? I have a soft spot in my heart for catchers, in particular, and will miss whomever we don't see next year.
The last homestand also means that starting Monday, I won't be seeing as much of my ballpark friends, at least for a while. From spring training through September, Nationals fans are like a second family. We've celebrated walk-off wins and suffered together through too many innings without offense. During the offseason, I'll miss seeing these friends all the time.
On the other hand, the season's end is also a beginning that frees up time for other activities. I plan to see some movies, log more hours at the gym and take a few classes to become a better photographer. I'll also be able to keep my home in better order, which might not seem like fun to everyone, but sounds pretty nice to me.
A shift in priorities can be refreshing, in part because the Washington Nationals aren't all fun, all the time. Sometimes the baseball stinks, organizational drama is negative and customer service is frustrating. Even for fans, the long season can be a grind, especially on workdays when there aren't enough hours to fit it all in and get enough sleep.
Of course, the most important beginning involves thinking about next year. The Arizona Fall League starts in less than two weeks, the Winter Meetings are scheduled for early December, the hot stove luncheon and winter caravan will be sometime in January (she hopes), and pitchers and catchers report in February.
After sweeping a four-game series at Nationals Park North in Philadelphia, I'm thinking: Next year we'll win the NL East! I can't wait, but before that happens, let's enjoy the last homestand of 2011. I hope everyone has a great weekend.
Jenn Jenson blogs about the Nationals at Nationals Fangirl and has joined MASNsports.com's initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.