The past three September in D.C. have felt completely different. September 2011 was a quiet time. The Nationals went 80-81 that year, which was an improvement on all the seasons prior. The 2012 season was the most successful season played by this incarnation of D.C. baseball since the Nats' inaugural year in 2005. Despite a short-lived playoff run, the Nats entered the offseason as National League East champions for the first time. And in 2013, well, high expectations were met with somewhat disappointing results.
After being mathematically eliminated from the wild card chase Monday, the Nats will end the season (most likely) in second place in their division and no spot in the 2013 playoffs. While the season mantra of "World Series or bust" didn't work out, the 2013 season is one that could not have been predicted.
There were a number of positives throughout the year - Jordan Zimmermann's 19-win season, Jayson Werth's offensive numbers, Anthony Rendon being called up to play second base, Bryce Harper being Bryce Harper (despite some time on the disabled list), the return of Wilson Ramos, Denard Span being acquired as a leadoff man and everyday centerfielder (how about that 29-game hitting streak??), Ian Desmond doing just about everything right at shortstop and with his bat, and all of Manager Davey Johnson's time spent telling stories no matter the circumstance.
The thrill of the 2012 season is one that won't soon be forgotten which means the sting of losing out on a playoff berth in 2013 will hurt for a bit. But that's the thing about baseball, you could watch a couple young phenoms dominate on opening day, but the grind of the season wears on a roster so the results come the end of the season are subject to change.
All in all, this was a fun season of Nationals baseball. It tugged at the fans' heartstrings a bit, but overall I view that as a good thing. The Nats' fan base has always been a passionate and creative one. The team hasn't made it easy, but they've stuck with their guys and that right there is loyalty personified.
So as the books close on 2013, the good news is there's always 2014. See you at the ballpark next season!
Rachel Levitin blogs about the Nationals for We Love DC, and will be sharing her observations about baseball in the nation's capital as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our little corner of cyberspace. 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.