The National Football League playoffs have come down to four teams, and the scheduled start of spring training is less than a month away. Whether the ongoing pandemic will permit it to begin on schedule this year is another matter.
But for baseball fans, February is all about hopefulness, right?
Meantime, a maintenance dose of “Nationals Classics” can keep your baseball jones in check. This week’s batch includes some notable performances by a couple of guys whose names surely came last when their respective teachers called the roll. You’ll see the Nationals pull off multiple come-from-behind wins, and watch Nats hurlers tie the opposition in knots.
So throw another log on the fire and settle in for “Nationals Classics.”
Thursday, Jan. 21 - 11 a.m. - Ryan Zimmerman, still technically a rookie, played hero on July 6, 2006 as the Nationals rode a roller coaster to an 8-7 victory against the Marlins. The Nats jumped out to a 5-0 lead over Aníbal Sánchez in the first inning, but the Fish found their collective stroke against Liván Hernández in the second and scored seven times. The Nats plated two in the seventh, tying the score at 7-7 when Zimmerman walked with the bases loaded. Coming to the plate with two on and two out in the 11th, the man who would become Mr. Walk-Off smacked an RBI single for a Nats win.
Friday, Jan. 22 - noon - Whether you want to blame it on a World Series hangover or a pandemic-induced malaise, the Nationals posted a rather forgettable follow-up to their championship season of 2019. Nonetheless, the abbreviated 2020 campaign did include a few memorable moments. One of them came on Sept. 11, when the Nats overcame the Braves 8-7 in 12 innings at Nationals Park. Longtime Nats outfielder Michael A. Taylor, who would become a free agent a little more than a month later and eventually sign with the Royals, poked a single to right to bring Adam Eaton home with the winning run.
Saturday, Jan. 23 - 7 p.m. - Say the name “Zimmerman” and Nationals fans will think only of the club’s very first draft pick, the corner infielder who has been the face of the franchise pretty much since he arrived in Washington in 2005. But Ryan once had a teammate with the same last name except for an extra “n” at the end, a guy who also distinguished himself in Nats history. Facing the Marlins on Sept. 28, 2014, Jordan Zimmermann pitched the team’s very first no-hitter. Tune in to relive that 1-0 win from that season’s final day.
Sunday, Jan. 24 - 3 p.m. - Ian Desmond was The Man on May 2, 2012, hitting a two-run homer to take the Nats from a one-run deficit to a walk-off win over the Diamondbacks. Bryce Harper flashed some leather, too, in the 5-4 victory.
Sunday, Jan. 24 - 11:30 p.m. - Posting crooked numbers in the sixth and eighth innings, the Nats took a 9-4 win in Cleveland on June 13, 2010. Leadoff man Cristian Guzmán went 3-for-5, and Iván Rodríguez, Roger Bernadina and Desmond each had a pair of RBIs in Stephen Strasburg’s second start in the big leagues.
Monday, Jan. 25 - 1 p.m. - The outcome of the game in Miami on July 27, 2018 seemed assured early on, and especially after the Nats enjoyed a five-run eighth, but Nats fans had reason beyond a 9-1 shellacking of division rivals to be excited. Starter Max Scherzer fanned 11 batters over eight innings to become just the fourth pitcher in major league history to post seven seasons of 200 or more strikeouts. Juan Soto drove in three runs, hitting a triple and a homer.
Tuesday, Jan. 26 - 11 a.m. - Locked in a pitchers’ duel in Philadelphia on June 19, 2013, the Nationals had to score a run in the ninth - on a single from Jayson Werth - to stay alive. With the score tied 2-2 in the 11th, Desmond took the fight out of the Phillies with a grand slam.
Tuesday, Jan. 26 - 11:30 p.m. - It was the sort of score you might expect to see if the Washington Football Team were playing at Lambeau Field. But the 14-6 tally came on July 27, 2009 as the Nationals visited Milwaukee. Josh Willingham was feeling especially frisky, hitting a double and two grand slams in the rout.