A favorite memory from 2012

Let me make sure I have this right: The Washington Nationals and Washington Redskins both made the playoffs in the same calendar year?

Two years after those two teams posted a combined winning percentage of .400, they both won the division in their respective sport? Weird, wild stuff.

Add in the Orioles and Ravens both making the postseason this year, as well, and it’s been a pretty special few months for sports fans in the mid-Atlantic region.

As 2012 comes to an end tonight, Nationals fans can look back on this year and smile. The Nats may not have a World Series title to show for their effort this season, but they managed to post the best record in baseball, make the playoffs for the first time in team history and give Nats fans plenty of moments that will live in their minds for years to come.

Bryce Harper’s debut. The Jayson Werth walk-off home run in Game 4 of the National League Division Series. Michael Morse’s fake-swing grand slam in St. Louis.

The list could go on and on.

With this being my first year covering the Nationals, I had a number of moments this season which will stay with me for a while. If I had to pick my top moment of 2012, however, I’d need to go with one which only my fellow beat writers and I will remember.

Late in the season, the Nationals were in Atlanta playing a three-game set against the Braves, a series in which they ended up getting swept. Before the second game of that series, a nationally televised game which MASN was not able to air, myself and the four other Nats beat writers in Atlanta went into Davey Johnson’s office for our pregame session with the skipper.

There wasn’t much news to discuss that day other than Roger Bernadina having a stiff neck and Michael Morse still needing to be held out of the lineup, but Johnson had no real time constraints, and so we eventually ended up just talking hitting with the four-time All-Star who once slugged 43 homers in a season.

The conversation went on for a half-hour as Johnson gave us all a view into why the Nationals’ old organizational hitting philosophy was flawed. Johnson talked about how when he started managing the Nats, too many guys had long swings which left them trying to hit the ball to the opposite field, instead of being quick to the ball and trying to hit it hard where it’s pitched.

Johnson made it all sound so simple, which he insisted it actually is.

“It’s (only) hard because people listen to all these gurus who don’t know (crap) about it,” he cracked.

The Nationals skipper went on about proper hand positioning at contact, the mental approach guys should take at the plate and how players should leave their hip cocked back towards the catcher to allow them to explode through the swing.

It essentially was a 30-minute hitting lesson with a guy who played alongside Hank Aaron and Sadaharu Oh, two of the best hitters that ever lived.

It doesn’t relate directly to any on-field moment this season, but it was a pretty cool way to spend an afternoon. Personally, that’s something from this season that I’ll remember for a while.

As we turn the page on 2012 and move on to 2013, are there any specific memories from this season which stand out in your mind? Feel free to share them in the comment section below.

Have a happy new year, everyone. Hope it’s safe, fun and brings plenty of baseball memories which you’ll still remember once the calendar has turned over yet again.

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