As the Nationals sprayed champagne, beer, Gatorade, orange juice, water, baby powder, shaving cream and any other substance they could find last night, there was plenty of great stuff going on.
On the MASN broadcast, Gio Gonzalez called principal owner Mark Lerner, whose foot is in a boot after recent surgery, “the pimp with the limp.”
While on the field, Ryan Mattheus sprinted over to Teddy, the giant racing president, and dumped a beer all over him.
Wilson Ramos - surgically repaired knee and all - bounced up and down with his teammates as they sprayed champagne in the clubhouse. Nearby, Kurt Suzuki shouted, “No jumping for you, Ramos!” Later, Ramos somehow found himself inside a shopping cart, getting pushed around the clubhouse with a beverage in his hand.
Michael Gonzalez picked up Adam LaRoche’s nine-year-old son Drake and helped him dump Gatorade all over anyone in arm’s length. Mark DeRosa started breakdancing. Sean Burnett fell to the ground in laughter, then got a beer dumped all over his face. Jordan Zimmermann ended up with a cut on his face after something drilled him in the forehead, which he was able to laugh about minutes afterwards.
It was pandemonium, and it was pretty fun to watch, even though I did leave the park a little concerned that if I got pulled over by a cop on the way home, I’d have to explain why I reeked of alcohol.
Making the lengthy celebration even crazier was that the Nationals hadn’t actually won a ballgame. They didn’t clinch the NL East title with a victory, but instead locked up the division thanks to the Braves’ 2-1 loss to the Pirates.
Trailing 2-0, they spent the final couple innings of their game with the Phillies watching the out-of-town scoreboard, nervously awaiting the latest updates from Pittsburgh.
“I’m surprised we still have nails right now,” Gio Gonzalez said.
In the middle of the ninth, still trailing 2-0 and three outs away from being shut out, they learned the Braves game had gone final when some fans behind the dugout shouted out the latest update. That immediately brought on the celebration in the dugout. A couple minutes later, after a few feeble swings closed out the bottom of the ninth, the Nats really got to party, something most of them had never done before after a loss.
“Never like this,” Zimmermann laughed.
“This is a first,” Adam LaRoche said. “Oh well.”
If you think the Nats care that they lost last night and didn’t lock up the division by piling on the mound after a victory, you’re insane. They couldn’t care less.
“We put ourselves in that position,” Ryan Zimmerman said. “By playing good baseball all year, we made these other teams have to play perfect baseball to catch us. And we had a tough stretch at the end of the season there, but we played some good teams. We played some tough games and we came out on top of some of them, but the way that we played all year is really what got us in the position.”
The celebration lasted well into the night, hugs being shared, beer being sprayed and laughter cackling through the clubhouse as music blared over top of it all. The Nats were NL East champs, regardless of how it happened or how pretty the last couple weeks have been. They got their chance to party, and they enjoyed every second of it.
“(It’s) the first time I’ve ever experienced this,” Gio Gonzalez said. “All I can do is just smile and enjoy this moment. Words can’t even describe the words that were going through my mind. It’s one of those things you have to experience first-hand. I was just grateful enough to get that opportunity.”