ST. LOUIS - The Nationals watched last night’s National League wild card game, knowing they’d be facing the winner Sunday. Like the rest of us, they saw the controversial infield fly call, Atlanta fans covering the turf with beer cans, the do-over strike three that resulted in David Ross’ home run and the Braves’ 23-game winning streak in games started by Kris Medlen come to an end.
“Obviously, it was just a boring game where nothing crazy happened,” Ryan Zimmerman deadpanned.
The Nats insisted yet again they didn’t care who won that game. It truly didn’t matter to them. All they’re focused on now is stepping onto the field tomorrow for their first game after three full days off, a down stretch which baseball players only see once a season - in July for the All-Star Game.
Was that time off beneficial?
“I think it’s a great thing,” said Zimmerman, citing the need to rest and let bumps and bruises heal up.
“No, I don’t like it,” said Zimmerman’s lockermate, Adam LaRoche, just minutes later, citing the lack of live pitching that hitters saw during this three-day span.
Glad we got that cleared up.
The Nats claim that they’re not feeling the nerves for tomorrow’s postseason opener any more than they would for an average regular season game. Among the players who described that mindset was 19-year-old Bryce Harper, who will be making his first playoff appearance.
“I think you guys are more nervous than we are,” said Harper, drawing chuckles from reporters. “It’s just another game, another series. I don’t know. I’m excited, but I’m just going to look at it like it’s another game 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 can’t look at it that way.”
One other thing is a bit different - Harper’s hair. Not only does he have the faux hawk going, but it’s now a shade Harper calls “deep black,” after he dyed it recently.
“It’s just something I’ve been doing forever,” he said. “Just another thing.”
Today was another first for the Nats, as they went through a workout and then fielded dozens of questions about their postseason berth afterwards. Many of these guys have never been through this process before, and they hope to have plenty more firsts the deeper they play into October.
“This whole year has been something that’s supposed to be new to us,” Zimmerman said. “We were in first place, then we shouldn’t have been in first place. Then we were in first place and everyone said, ‘Oh, they’ll lose it.’ Then we were in first place and they said, ‘Oh, OK, maybe they’re for real.’ Then we were in first place ... everyone always says all that stuff.
“But for us, we go out and play literally one game at a time and I feel like that’s why we’ve done so well this year.”