Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Adam Dunn is mobbed by teammates after winning tonight's game.
What you didn't see, though, came after the Nats' 2-1 victory was complete, after fans started filing out of the stadium, after Jim Riggleman had finished his postgame press conference.
Let's take you inside the clubhouse, where draped over a recliner near Dunn's locker was one of tonight's giveaway T-shirts. The ones that read "Mr. Walk Off" across the front with the name "Zimmerman" down one sleeve.
Someone had crossed Zimmerman's name out and written another one below it. So it now read: "Donkey!"
You already know the majority of Nationals fans want the club to re-sign Dunn. Rest assured the guys in that clubhouse want it just as much.
Ask them what it would be like to play without the big guy in 2011, and they start shuddering.
"It would be tough," Drew Storen said. "He's such a good guy to have in the clubhouse. He's just a good personality to have as a teammate. Obviously, the numbers, the power in clutch situations, speak for themselves. But I think not having him around in the clubhouse would be the thing I miss the most."
"Obviously, I don't make the decisions here," Jason Marquis said. "If I did, he'd be back here already."
There are plenty of on-field reasons for the Nationals to re-sign Dunn. Where else are they going to find a 38-homer, 103-RBI, .908-OPS masher for the heart of their lineup? And there are plenty of PR reasons to give the man an extension, too. Or haven't you read the comments from fans who insist they won't renew their season tickets if the Nats don't re-sign Dunn?
But there's a third reason for the Nationals to keep Dunn: Clubhouse morale. And if you don't think that should count as much as the rest, you haven't been paying attention.
Endorsements for Dunn's re-signing have come from all corners of the clubhouse all season, none stronger than from Ryan Zimmerman. If the face of the franchise wants something done, his opinion should carry some significant weight.
But this goes beyond the guys already in the Nationals' clubhouse. It extends around the sport, to players who may be considering coming to D.C. as free agents.
Think back to last winter, when the Nats signed Marquis, Ivan Rodriguez and Matt Capps. All pointed out they became more interested in coming to Washington after watching this franchise make high-profile moves like drafting Stephen Strasburg and signing ... Adam Dunn. Those moves brought respectability to an organization that desperately needed it and suddenly gave players around baseball reason to consider the Nationals.
What would the reaction around the sport be if the Nats let Dunn walk away, not willing to make a good-faith offer to one of the game's most-prolific sluggers? Good luck filling his roster spot with a player of equal or greater value, not to mention make even more additions that are needed to boost this club from 70 to 80 wins.
And good luck convincing younger players already employed by the Nationals to commit to this organization for the long-term, with the idea already entrenched in their minds that the front office isn't willing to pony up when the time comes.
And it's not like Dunn is some kind of bad seed who sets a bad example for those around him. Quite the contrary.
"He's not a guy that gets down and rides the emotional roller coaster of the season," Storen said. "He's the same guy every day. And young guys like me feed off that. You see a guy like that, with that kind of talent, having fun every day, that means a lot."
Dunn absolutely loves it here. He loves this group of teammates. And he loves the way this fanbase has embraced him as Their Guy.
But he's sick of talking about his future. That was painfully clear tonight when, during what should have been a boisterous postgame interview following a walk-off homer, he was repeatedly asked different variations of the same question: Will you be re-signing with the Nationals?
Dunn grew more and more testy with each question.
"If you guys don't realize how sick and tired I am of talking about it, you probably wouldn't ask me every day," he said. "Again, I wish it would have been over a long time ago. It's not, and it's not the worst thing that's ever happened to me. My job's to play, and my agent's job is to worry about the rest."
So Dunn will report to Nationals Park tomorrow, ready to play another ballgame, this time unsure whether it will be his final visit to a home clubhouse he has come to love.
"I don't know," he said. "I'm not going to go into tomorrow going: 'This is my last home game ever, cry and hand out Adam Dunn baseball cards.' I'm not going to do that. I don't know what y'all want me to say. I don't know what's going to happen. If I did, I would tell you."
One way or another, everyone will finally have their answer soon enough. And one way or another, that clubhouse will be impacted just as much as Dunn, the Nationals and their fans.