Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The 5 best days in Nats history

Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
A full house was on hand for Stephen Strasburg's debut earlier this summer.
Thanks to all of you who shared your thoughts about the five worst days in Nationals history. The response was both incredible and insightful.

I've read through all the responses, and based on what you all said, here's how the final "worst five days" list shakes out...

1. APRIL 5, 2010: On Opening Day at Nationals Park, with President Obama in attendance after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch (in a Nats jacket and White Sox cap), the Nats get creamed by the Phillies, 11-1, in front of a sellout crowd that includes at least 20,000 Philly fans who boo the home team.

2. SEPT. 26, 2006: Nick Johnson breaks his leg after colliding with Austin Kearns chasing a pop-up behind first base at Shea Stadium.

3. APRIL 19, 2009: For the third straight day, the Nats blow a ninth-inning lead to the Marlins. Joel Hanrahan blew the first two games of the weekend, serving up home runs. In the Sunday finale, Saul Rivera allowed four runs in the ninth on two hits and three walks, producing a 7-4 loss. After the game, the Nats overhaul the bullpen, optioning Rivera to Class AAA Syracuse and designating Steven Shell and Wil Ledezma for assignment.

4. DEC. 14, 2004: After a day-long session that grew heated as it progressed, the D.C. Council voted down the previously approved ballpark financing deal, saying now that 50 percent of the financing would have to come from private sources. MLB shuts down all non-baseball operations for the Nationals, including the new team offices and merchandise store outside RFK Stadium. At that moment, there's no guarantee the team will ever play a game in the District.

5. AUG. 16, 2008: The Nationals fail to sign first-round draft pick Aaron Crow when serious negotiations don't begin until 11:44 p.m. When the deadline arrives at midnight, the two sides are $900,000 apart.

Honorable mention: June 27, 2010: The Nats blow their third straight lead of at least four runs to the Orioles; Sept. 17, 2005: The Nats blow a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth in San Diego, killing their playoff hopes; Feb. 18, 2009: The Esmailyn Gonzalez scandal breaks; April 18, 2010: Jason Marquis fails to retire any of the seven batters he faces and the Nats give up 10 first-inning runs to the Brewers.

But enough negativity for now. Several of you have suggested we do a list of the five best days in Nationals history, and I couldn't be happier to start this discussion. I'll throw out some candidates for the list, then open it up to all of you to debate, vote and add your own choices.

As was the case with the "five worst days" list, the only criteria is that it had to feel like one of the best days in club history at that moment, not in hindsight.

Here are my candidates, listed in chronological order...

SEPT. 29, 2004: Major League Baseball announces the Montreal Expos will relocate to Washington for the 2005 season, bringing baseball back to the District for the first time in 33 years.

APRIL 14, 2005: In the first major-league game played in D.C. since the Senators' forfeited 1971 finale, George W. Bush throws out the ceremonial first pitch, using the same ball Joe Grzenda used in the ninth inning of that 1971 game. A full lineup of former Senators takes the field with the new Nationals. Livan Hernandez throws the first pitch and carries a one-hitter into the ninth inning. Vinny Castilla comes a single short of hitting for the cycle. Chad Cordero closes out the Nationals' 5-3 win over the Diamondbacks.

JUNE 12, 2005: The Nats win their 10th consecutive game, beating the Mariners 3-2 before a crowd of 37,130. It's their fifth one-run victory during the streak and it puts them 1 1/2 games up in the NL East.

JUNE 14, 2005: One night after the winning streak ends, Frank Robinson gets Angels reliever Brendan Donnelly ejected for having pine tar on his glove, setting off a bench-clearing incident that features Robinson and Mike Scioscia going toe-to-toe. After the dust settles, former Angel Jose Guillen crushes a game-tying, two-run homer that propels the Nats to a 6-3 victory.

JULY 3, 2005: The Nats beat the Cubs in 12 innings to reach the halfway point of the season at 50-31. They're on pace to win 100 games and hold a commanding 5 1/2-game lead in the NL East.

JUNE 18, 2006: One day after rallying from seven runs down to beat the Yankees, Ryan Zimmerman belts his first career walk-off homer, a two-run shot off Chien-Ming Wang to give the Nats a 3-2 victory before a sellout crowd of 45,157 on Father's Day.

MARCH 30, 2008: In the nationally televised inaugural game at Nationals Park, Ryan Zimmerman crushes another walk-off homer to beat the Braves, 3-2.

AUG. 17, 2009: The Nationals sign No. 1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg to a record-setting, $15.1 million contract just 77 seconds before the midnight deadline.

JUNE 8, 2010: In perhaps the most-hyped debut in baseball history, Stephen Strasburg sets a Nationals record by striking out 14 batters over seven dominating innings. A sellout crowd of 40,315 and a national TV audience see the Nats beat the Pirates 5-2.

There you have it. Now it's your turn. Are there any other days you'd consider to be the best in Nationals history? And how would you rank your top five? I'll compile all the answers and post the definitive list later.


cass said...

In order:

1. June 8, 2010 - Strasburg debut. Wow.
2. April 14, 2005 - Baseball returns.
3. August 17, 2009 - Midnight Celebration.
4. June 14, 2005 - The Barbarian at his best.
5. July 3, 2005 - Naive? Sure. But I honestly thought the World Series was coming to Washington.

Dave Nichols said...

1. Baseball returns
2. Opening Night at Nats Park
3. Strasburg debut
4. Father's Day Walk-Off
5. Frank v. Scioscia

Stew Magnuson said...

Hands down for me is Strasburg's debut June 8. It was the most exciting game I have ever attended (and I've been to a few games in my life incl. 2 World Series).

The Opening Day of the park and Zimmerman's home walk-off homerun gets honorable mention.

P. Cole said...

How about March 30, 2008? First MLB game at Nationals Park and Ryan Zimmerman's walk-off HR on Opening Day.

Steve M. said...

Now we are talking, 5 best days in Nationals history.

1) Has to be the Father's Day Walk Off winner against the Yankees. Its the Yankees! To see Jeter walking off in disgust was great. All the Yankees fans stayed until the end and walked away for the 2nd day in a row in shock. It wasn't like it was a tie game. The Nats are down to their last batter and the Rookie steps up to the plate and went leftfield. When Zim said after the game that he had never hit a Walk Off ever, you knew there was something magical about this. In a strange twist, the losing pitcher was Wang who won 19 games in 2006 and that would have been his 20th if not for Zim. It was Father's Day so I was there with all my kids too. It is a day we can always share what we witnessed way back in 2006!

2) Strasburg's 2010 debut. There has never been a crowd that energized for a Nationals game. Every 2 strike count that Strasburg had, the crowd rose to their feet. Amazing. The game exceeded all expectations. This kid was amazing and better than advertised.

3) Opening Night at Nationals Park 2008. Yes, the table was set for Ryan Zimmerman heroics and he came through again. It was a cold miserable night and so many people left early. Glad I stayed! You couldn't have written an ending better than the way that game ended.

4) June 2005 when the Nats moved into 1st place. You had to pinch yourself to believe, is this really happening? A shame it couldn't last but it was great to dream.

5) The day Jim Bowden finally left town. What the heck took so long?

Anonymous said...

These don't make the cut for the list above, but honorable mention for this year:

1) Comeback Fox Saturday Baseball win against the Mets;
2) Zim's walk-off home run against the Phillies.

P. Cole said...

I've also gotta throw out July 3, 2010 against the Mets. Adam Dunn's pseudo-HR and Pudge's walk-off hit against K-Rod.

N. Cognito said...

1. April 14, 2005 - I had a tough time holding back tears.

The next 4 are still to come.

alm100 said...

You have 4 of my 5.
Attended all of these great games:
#1 - 9/24/04 - WE HAVE A TEAM!!!!!
#2 - Strasburg debut - man I want that feeling back
#3 - opening day 05 - Ditto
#4 - 10th win in a row - attended all 10 games and WOW, first place and we just floated to the metro stop.

I'll throw in a new one for my #5. Don't have the date but it was the game where Frank got the umps to take away a Braves home run, that the replay showed was a homer and it gave us a win instead of a loss. Bobby Cox went balistic and got thrown out. Very cool.

Ernie said...

I only went to about 3 games in 2005, but one of those was Patterson's 13-strikeout performance against the Dodgers in late July or early August where I think Wilkerson hit the first grand slam for the team (maybe it was the first at RFK). It doesn't compare with most of your nominations, but I remember feeling like this team was for real and that we were seeing the emergence of a star. It felt the way I wanted baseball to always feel--like anything could happen on a given night, and that most of the time those things would be positive for the Nats. I miss that feeling.

Mark L said...

Who could ever forget Frank Robinson going after Mike Scioscia with genuine rage and Mel Procter's classic "The fire still burns bright with Frank Robinson" or something like that Priceless.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

The Strasburg debut goes No. 1 for me. With that classic line from Charlie on the radio: "As advertised! Maybe better!"

Just for what this guy means going forward, and the potential he has.

One really overlooked great moment for me was the last game of that dismal '09 season when Justin Maxwell -- yes, Justin Maxwell -- fighting off pitch after pitch from K-Rod until he deposits one in the first row of the left-field seats to end the season on a seven-game winning streak. I started hugging my 80-year-old mother-in-law and high-fiving people I had never met before or since. It just helped erase another 100-loss season and helped fuel me through that god-awful winter we just had.

But the Guillen-Scioscia "piece of garbage" night in Anaheim is really close too.

Thanks for dredging up all these great memories, compared with that exorcism of the Five Worst the other day.

You know, there are shrinks all over town charging $125 an hour for this stuff...

Unknown said...

A couple of other great games (but no match for #1 SS debut or #2 Zimmy walk off to open Nats park):
- Labor day 2006 when Ortiz took a no-no into the 9th against the cardinals. I think he also homered.
- Last home game last year when Maxwell hit the walk off grand slam. I was there but I also DVRed the game and I still re-watch dibble's call "two for two!!"
- September 2009 when Ian Desmond gets called up and goes yard

greg said...

it's hard to buy anything but the home opener in 2005 as the number 1 best day. still my favorite game ever.

2 and 3 are a tie between opening game at the new stadium (despite the ungodly bitter cold) and strasburg's debut (closest in electricity to home opener 2005). but while it was close, it still couldn't beat the feeling of seeing that first pitch. or watching the old senators hand the gloves to the new nationals. or hearing the fans collectively boo the diamondbacks pitcher for plunking vinnie when he was a single away from the cycle.

#4 is a personal for me, won't mean anything to anyone else. but sitting 6th row on the aisle directly behind home plate at RFK against houston. watching oswalt pitching from that seat... but then preston wilson hits a home run off of lidge, and on the pitch i decided to video with my camera. great moment.

too many other "ties" to list them all for #5. i'll throw in soriano's 3 HR game against the braves after a long rain delay as well.

oh, and the moment i bought my first nats hat. ;)

A DC Wonk said...

honorable mentions:

Sunday, Jun 5, 2005, Nats with their fourth straight (which would later be a 10 game streak), Ayala with the win, Cordero with the save, a 6-3 home win over the Marlins with 40+ thousand to put them into first place. (Patterson started, went 6, allowed one run to drop his ERA to 2.70)

Tuesday, July 5, 2005 -- after having their six game winning streak broken the night before at the hands of the Mets, the Nats come back to beat Pedro Martinez, and maintain a 4.5 game lead in first. Cordero comes on in the 9th to hold a 3-0 lead, and escapes with a 3-2 finish. (Esteban Loaiza !!, with the win, going 8 innings (plus one batter), allowing only 1 run)

Collapse at the end of 2008 -- the only time in my life I rooted against the Nats. Nats are tied with the Padres for worst record in the baseball -- Pads come into town for a the last weekend home series (Sept 19-21) and sweep the Nats. By the end of the weekend, the Nats are "three games ahead" in the "Strasburg Sweepstakes". By the end of the week, Nats clinch it, thereby assuring themselves of the Stras-mania.

Todd Boss said...

Return of baseball
Opening night of new park
Father's day victory over Yankees
Ortiz' near no hitter at RFK
Strasburg's debut.

Mark Zuckerman said...

Can't believe I forgot the Ramon Ortiz near no-hitter. When he rounded the bases after homering in the bottom of the eighth and Jim Bowden started tossing confetti out of his box at RFK ... one of the craziest scenes I've ever seen.

Anonymous said...

The day they hired Rob Dibble

Anonymous said...

I'm taking it as best *days*. In that case, you have to include the announcement of baseball returning to Washington (I still remember where I was standing and what I was doing as I was watching the news). You should also include the day of the first game in DC. I remember getting off the very crowded Metro at Stadium-Armory and working my way to the escalators. As we were going up from the platform, a man in front of me told his son to turn around, which I did as well. The platform was completely packed, a sea of baseball fans here to see OUR team.

For best games, I have (in no particular order):

1. First game in DC
2. Last game at RFK (a farewell)
3. Father's Day Walk-off (for oh so many reasons)
4. Aug 4, 2005-Patterson throws a complete game shut out and Wilkerson hits first Grand Slam for Nats.
5. June 17, 2006-the comeback against the Yankees (frankly, all the wins over the Yankees have been good games).
6. Sept 30, 2009-the way that game had been going, there was no other way that it could have ended
7. March 30, 2008
8. June 8, 2010

There are also a few "Best of 2010" but they don't make the all-time list.

Richard said...

My first Nats game sometime early in '05.
Willingham's walkoff homer in 10th vs. Orioles this year.
Dunn's two-homer, one double game shortly after his three-homer game this year.
(I happened to be there for the Hammer's and Adam's work.)
And many more ...

JayB said...

1. Opening day 2005
2. SS debut
3. Frank v. Mike S.
4. Zim beat Yanks
5. Nats Park Opener 2008

Cool thing is I was at the park for all but the Frank R one and I was watching that in NONE HD at home.....barely as I recall we could not get all games that year either.

Mrs. Dibble said...

The day they hired Rob Dibble

Faraz Shaikh said...

1. Zimm's walk off against Wang - I saw it live on TV. Actually my cousin called it before Ryan went to the plate. It was pretty awesome.
2. SS's debut - magical is the only word I can come up with. Except that one bad pitch to Delwyn, he was on fire all night.
3. Maxwell's walk off grand slam - To be able to end the season at home that way is pretty special.
4. Nats lose 1-0 to Peavy and ChiSox - I have never seen a complete game shutout before.
5. Zimm's welcome blast in the new stadium

Rob said...

This one is really personal to me, certainly not nearly as relevant to anybody else, but it was my absolute favorite day as a Nats fan.

July 31st, 2010 - Phillies at Nationals. Three of my college buddies who are huge baseball fans come down to visit from New York, and it's the first time in Nats park for any of them.

They're all blown away by how nice the park is, and comment that it feels like a 'real' franchise now. That was neat to hear.

We're surrounded by Phillies fans out in the LF seats, and they're acting like... Phillies fans. No other way to say it. One of my buddies was wearing a Mets hat (there's no accounting for taste, I guess) and was verbally harassed by five or six Phillies fans, and no Nats fans.

In the sixth inning, Carlos Ruiz's home run deflects off my cousin's hand, and hits my Mets fan friend square in the eye.

To top it all off, the same friend gets accosted by a deaf Phillies fan, who typed insults which cannot be quoted here into her blackberry, and then shoved it into his face - which had just been struck by a home run ball.

In the bottom of the ninth, Zimm hits a walk off blast to deep center field, quieting down the legion of Phillies fans in an awful hurry. I'll never forget the few proud Nats fans beginning to chant '95 North! 95 North!'

It was a nice contrast to this year's opening day.

George said...

April 25, 2008.

Bottom of the ninth. Nats and Cubs are tied. Who comes up?

Wil Nieves.


Wil Nieves.

You know the rest...

Anonymous said...

Not close to a top game and I can't remember the date in 2008 against the Cubs. Wil Nieves comes up to bat and had zero career HRs. I wanted to get a jump on traffic so I walk around to Section 107 near the centerfield gates to watch the game end and standing where it is all Cubs blue there. Nieves hits it opposite field into the Nats bullpen for a come from behind walk-off winner.

Who would have expected that? The Cubs fans start pushing and shoving in drunk rage as they are just totally pissed off. I was hoping for that same replay last night when Zim went opposite field.

Anonymous said...

I've always loved baseball, but I've only been a serious Nats fan for the last two years. The game that stands out for me was the last home game of the 2009 season. Justin Maxwell works the count to full with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, down by one run to the Mets, bases loaded. Then he hits a walkoff grand slam off of K Rod to beat the Mets and sweep the series. Best end to a season was a great feeling in the park that night! - Jess

Sam said...

Hmm...since we are on a different timeline here...the worst 5 days was only the last 5 1/2 years but the best 5 date back to 2004?

The day the Expos moved was one of the worst days of my life, obviously. But I suppose everyone in Washington doesn't really care about the Expos' well-being. But since we are dating back to beyond 2005 (which would be the 5 1/2 year threshold), I want to throw in some that I can remember.

1. June 3, 1995: Pedro Martinez is perfect through 9 innings but gives up a hit in the 10th. The Expos go on to win 1-0 against the Padres.
2. September 29, 2002: Vladimir Guerrero bats leadoff against the Cincinnati Reds in his quest for a 40/40 season. Vlad goes 1/5 with a double off the top of the wall but falls just short of 40 home runs. I always liked this day, even if he didn't succeed.

And I want to through some in for worst day:
1.) Blue Monday 1981...
2.) Not sure of the date, but the day they announced the rest of 1994 would not be played. The Expos would probably still be around today if not for that.

A DC Wonk said...

Can I add one more -- that I've not seen mentioned hardly at all. Anywhere. As if it didn't happen.

And that would be the first time the Nats played in DC -- the day _before_ opening season. Sunday, April 4, 2005. Over 25,000 showed up, despite very cold and windy weather. Baseball was back in DC!

Bote Man said...

I'll ditto Mark Z's list, except to flip his #1 and #2. In my collection of baseball pr0n I taped the hoopla and news conference/party at which Mayor Williams announced that baseball was returning to D.C. and I watch it from time to time to bring a smile to my face.

But nothing tops the Large Tub of Goo actually returning baseball to the District with a sterling pitching performance April 14, 2005. Who'd a thunk it?

Oh, and a corollary to Mark's #4 (make it #4a) was Jose Guillen's defiant flip of the bat as he watched his home run sail out of the Big A in Anaheim.

The rest are all good.

Anonymous said...

Best day -- best moment -- without question was when Joe Grzenda handed over the ball and the team took the field at the first game. I was a 10 year old Senators fan when the team left, and I remember that day in 1971, so it all being 'made right' 33 years later cannot be topped.

Other four days --

1. Zim hitting that walkoff against the Phillies on July 31, 2010. For some reason that was sweeter than any other victory. I wonder if Charlie Manuel would have preferred Omar Infante hitting in that situation...

2. Zim's walk off against the Yanks. It was cool, and shut up yet another obnoxious fan base, if only for one day.

3. Stras' debut. Washington at the center of the baseball universe. Who'd a'thunk it?

4. The last home game at RFK. Very emotional day, and the realization that all the 'temporary' stuff was over.

Two days no one has mentioned was the first spring training game in 2005 which was televised by ESPN -- that made the concept of the team 'real'. Also the day at Union Station when the name of the team was announced was pretty cool, buying real Nats merchandise for the first time.

And I really have a soft spot for Lannan's debut when he plunked Utley and Howard. Still makes me chuckle thinking about it.

John O'Connor said...

2008(?) Belliard 12th inning walk-off against George Sherrill and the Orioles. We were down 2, I believe, two outs, two strikes. Orioles fans in the stadium standing and clapping, and then . . . wham. Instant loss to instant win.

Anonymous said...

Opening Day 2005
Strasburg's debut
Frank's last day -- have gave a moving speech that had me crying like a baby
Rick Short's first hit -- a little thing, I know, but I was with my buds, and we were all cheering for him
A 2008 (?) rain-delayed game against the Braves when Zimmerman laid out like a wide receiver to catch a fair ball. Best play I've ever seen by a third baseman.
--Tom M.

markfd said...

So many good moments but here are my faive favorites:

- Final game as Expos
- Opening Day 2005
- Zim's Father Day walkoff
- Opening Day 2008
- Soriano joins the 40-40 club

Sunderland said...

I loved Opening Day '05. Loved Opening of Nat's Park. All those listed above by Mark and other, great moments.

But here's the moment when I was most proud of the Nats. June 18 2009. After dropping the opener, we come back to take the next two from the Yankees in the Bronx.

June 17, Lannan gives up 4 hits in 8.1 fairly brilliant innings, McDougal closes his first game as a Nat, we win 4 - 2
June 18, Stammen and the bullpen scatter 7 hits, McDougal closes again, we beat Joba Chamberlain 3 - 0.

It won't make the top 5, but I went to to bed very contented and happy that night.

JayB said...


At least you made some progress with your "at least"....but you missed the key point....Invited by Stan Kasten and give special ticket prices and higher priority than individual buys who were Nats Fans who I know for a fact were turned away....and don't forget the booing went from Zim and his Gold Glove/SS award to our training staff. It was the worst self inflicted wound because it came 4 years after the all most damaging decision to keep Jim Bowden in June of 2006!

carolync said...

Thanks to John O'Connor for bringing in my own personal favorite by far - Ronnie Belliard's walk-off homer against the Orioles on June 28, 2008. We were all sunk into our seats while thousands of obnoxious O's fans were wildly cheering for George Sherill to throw the third strike. I'll never forget the sheer joy of watching Ronnie B pop one into the left field stands. There's a video on YouTube if you want to see some really happy Nats fans.

Anonymous said...

Having made several of the bottom #5 games, I'm happy that I've also been to a few in the running for top 5. For me the Strasburg debut was #1; I've been to sellouts in pennant races and to two ALCS games, and that was as electric a moment as I've ever experienced at a ballpark. I was also at the Father's Day RZ walkoff game, although since the Yankees are my AL team (for 35 years, tyvm - no bandwagoner here!) it was a bit bittersweet. But I loved the moment nonetheless. My gf and I were at the 2008 Nieves walkoff game, and the Hammer's walkoff HR earlier this year against the O's after the Nats blew a late lead.

And another "wow" moment, though I don't even remember who won the game: when Frank Robinson declared that the Nats were going to pitch to Bonds, and Livan challenged Bonds with a "fastball." Bonds crushed it into the middle of the upper deck in RFK. I was looking straight down the 1st base line, and that ball got smaller faster than any baseball I've ever seen.

JCCfrom DC

JaneB said...

Maybe we need a top ten! Being in the park for Strasmas is a lifetime high memory. SO much more fun than I even suspected. The near no-hitter was something to see -- and if I recall right, Soriano had a fun steal that same game. That day I cried when Frank took him out so he wouldn't get a complete game out of it at least. The Father's Day walk-off -- my oh my. Wil's first homer -- so glad that you mentioned that, Anon at 12:12. And I was sobbing when Maxwell hit that homer at the end of last season -- so happy for him, for us, for world peace. But maybe my best ever memory, the one that moves me to tears even now, was the day Frank retired, and the Mets were in town, Our seats were right above the dugout at first base. There's Frank, and the two teams are on a line by their dug outs. ANd Julio Franco breaks from the Mets and walks, then walks fast, then jogs over to Frank to HUG him -- and by then Willie Randolph was on his heels. Then the Nats came over. Crying like a baby then, and it's hard to type now. That was a moment that made me see how connected every team is to teams and players of the past, and of the future. I love love LOVE baseball. Thank you Mark for making this dialogue possible. And we want to hear from Mrs, Z too.

natsfan1a said...

Thanks for this post, Mark. At first, when I navigated to the site, I thought it was the old "worst" days post. I then wondered what had happened to the posts that had come after that one. Oh. Never mind...

Will have to cogitate on this one a bit.

Also, I submit the obligatory grrr...Lance Cormier. :-)


Vinny Castilla comes a single short of hitting for the cycle.

Bote Man said...

Sam: Many of us are keenly aware of what it feels like to lose a baseball team.

D.C. lost its baseball team...TWICE. Perhaps that's what made it extra special when baseball returned to the Nation's Crapital, this time to stay we hope.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

@JaneB: You captured Frank's final game just perfectly. That's my favorite memory of that day, too, the Julio Franco gesture followed by Willie. Pure class. I can't imagine Charlie Manuel doing that and, even if he did, it wouldn't have meant anything considering Charlie never was a peer of Frank. The Frank/StanK clash was noteworthy, considering the source. But I shall remember Frank's last day in uniform forever. Very moving.

Nervous Nats Fan said...

How about August 16, 2010 and the signing of Bryce Harper + several way above slot signings in the later rounds?

I'm not fully onboard the Harper bandwagon yet, but I think this was my first indication that the Nats are really ready to spend in the draft to develop an arsenal of upcoming young players.

Mark said...

If I know the movie before I see it, it won't rank as a great one so I already knew what Opening Day 2005 and the closing of RFK 2007 were going to be.

So my Top 5 are:

1). Strasburg debut game
2) Zim Fathers Day v Yankees
3) Soriano joins the 40/40 Club and hoists the base above his head after his 40th SB
4) Belliard blasts d Birds-;! Bam!
5) Zim walkoff against the Phillies this year!

Honorable mention to Josh Willingham for 2 Grand Slams v Brewers

Anonymous said...

Don't know the date off-hand but last summer John Lannan threw a complete game shut out vs the Mets that was very exciting. The Mets fans were very sore losers. Also voting for the near no-hitter!

Stranded_in_Philly said...

1. Zim's walkoff 3/30/08-- Just a pure baseball moment... a franchise player, on the national stage, on baseball's (arguably) biggest day of the year, christens a beautiful new ball park in style.
2. Strasburg's debut-- It seemed like the entire country watched, and Strasburg delivered a dazzling glimpse of what might be a career worthy of the hype
3. Opening game 4/14/05 -- Finally, play ball.
4. Baseball returns to D.C. 9/29/04-- The most important moment in National's history. If it didn't happen, nothing else would have
5. (Tie) Strasburg/Harper signings-- The future is in place.

Kevin Rusch, Section406 said...

1) 4/15/05 - Baseball's back, the old Senators thing, not just Vinny almost hitting for the cycle, but the LUSTY booing the D-backs got for plunking him. I was so proud of our fans for knowing what was at stake.

2) Marlon Byrd's first game at RFK. My friends and I in 406 started a "let's go new guy!" chant that, last I checked, still has about a .500 OBP.

3) that 10-game winning streak in 2005. I don't know how many go-ahead doubles landed right in front of us on the right-field foul line.

4) Zimmerman's walkoff against the Yankees. "OK, leadoff man's on board. Zimmerman's got a good chance to bring him in now." I'll say.

5) Strasburg's first game.

nattaboy said...

August 4th, 2005: Took my dad to this game on his birthday, and we both just loved it despite the sweltering heat. Patterson's 13k shutout and seeing the 1st ever Nats grand slam. A cool moment from this one that my dad pointed out at the time - Frank had a pinch hitter in the on deck circle in the bottom of the 8th, but Guzman gets an RBI to widen the lead and allow Patterson to stay in and finish it off.

Anon 12:02: It wasn't ALL cubby blue in section 107 that night! I was there but almost wish I was home listening to Charlie. Best call ever.

The Belliard walkoff was incredible. We were up all game until the O's tied it in the 9th, at which point the Baltimore fans start talking smack. And then they take the lead like a punch to my gut. Dmitri Young has a "great AB" as Acta calls it to work a walk, and Belly comes up. 2 outs, 2 strikes, Os fans going nuts. And then, all of a sudden, there's this baseball heading STRAIT AT ME. I thought for sure I was gonna catch it but it ended up just going over my fingertips. When we get done celebrating and look around those Os fans are nowhere to be found. It was a day game but I was giddy all night

Smaller but fun moments:
-Dunn hits one out of Miller Park last year
-Zim hits the stairs in RFK's upper deck
-Last game at RFK - a win
-Whalloping the Rockies 14-6 on May 13th this year to reach 20-15 and sole possession of the wild card lead. Can't believe that was only 3 months ago

LoveDaNats said...

When baseball returned to DC, I was mildly interested. I had gone to several games as a child with my dad at the old "DC" stadium (later RFK). When out-of-town guests arrived I suggested we attend a baseball game.
Don't remember the date, but RFK had those dark hallways and it was like going through a tunnel to get to the field. I remember walking through that dark tunnel to see guys throwing a ball on green, green grass with brilliant sunshine streaming all around. Suddenly, I was 10 years old again. I could almost feel my dad holding my hand. That day I fell in love.....hard.
I have been a passionate fan ever since, much to my family's surprise.
Thanks for letting me reminisce.

The top 5
1. Stras's debut
2. Nats Park opening day
3. Father's day walk-off
4. 10 game winning streak
5. The first World Series win! (OK, maybe I'm ahead of myself)

Anonymous said...

Sam: Many of us are keenly aware of what it feels like to lose a baseball team.

D.C. lost its baseball team...TWICE. Perhaps that's what made it extra special when baseball returned to the Nation's Crapital, this time to stay we hope.

And at least Montreal got to see guys like Guerrero and Martinez play? Plus so many others that they ended breaking ties with because of their salaries. The first time the Senators left was right before, finally, a huge plethora of talent was about to arrive in DC. Led by international players.
The lowly Nats were about to become good.

Montreal actually **WAS** good because of its farm system. ... the last time the Senators were "good" was in 1933. And before that 1924-1925. As you can see the Nats original owner was extremely cheap. The second guy who bought the expansion team was an idiot and was quickly and mercifully ushered out once they got to Texas.

Montreal losing their team is very hard ... and its the one reason I wasn't happy with the decision to bring them to DC. But hey they were talking San Juan and Mexico? And other US cities as well ... New Orleans? Vegas?
So, given that, it was a bit easier to stomach ... still, the Nation's capital deserved their own team free and clear ... IMHO.

Anonymous said...

Why is Straburg's debut in ANYONE's TOP 5, wow pat yourself on the back you saw a guy who has won 5 career games, if that is the case I would say seeing other team's stars in action more of a TOP 5 Experience, like seeing Barry Bonds hit moonshots out into the upperdeck in RF at RFK. I would put Zimmerman's first game as a Nat in the top 5 over any game Strasburg has played in. Nice to know that 90% of the people on this blog are Strasburg bandwongeers andnot true baseball or Nats fans!!!

joemktg said...

Whatever day it was when the Nationals decided NOT to rehire Ron Darling. That was a halle-friggin-lujah moment.

Feel Wood said...

"Why is Straburg's debut in ANYONE's TOP 5, wow pat yourself on the back you saw a guy who has won 5 career games"

It's in the Top 5 because the expectation and hype before the game was over the moon, and when the game arrived he actually delivered above and beyond the hype. Die hard Nats fans, Strasburg bandwagoners, and baseball fans in general would all know the rarity of such an event.

What did Zimmerman do in his first game anyway? I forget - if I ever knew in the first place.

Steve M. said...

Anon @ 3:11 The criteria was listing your "best days in club history at that moment".

If you paid the price for admission, you would have felt the energy of the Strasburg debut. It absolutely fits Mark's criteria.

It is only a bandwagon if you ever jumped on. Most people that post here were there with it before he was drafted watching the kid throw at San Diego in college.

Yes, there were about 15,000 that jumped on the bandwagon and they will jump off at the first sign of trouble. That seems to be the way many are in life.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 3:11pm "Why is Straburg's debut in ANYONE's TOP 5, wow pat yourself on the back you saw a guy who has won 5 career games,...."

Anyone who was there saw the BEST baseball game in Washington. I was at many of those other top five games: Opening Day 2005 at RFK, Opening Day 2008 at Nats Park - I even went to see the first Nats regular season game in Philly in 2005. Strasburg's debut was hands-down the best game. Electric throughout and the crowd was attending to every single pitch thrown on both sides. Amazing.

natsfan1a said...

Okay, after some reflection (and after reading through the comments), here are my musings.

My top games are all in-person games. Some of the faves involved spur-of-the-moment decisions to head out to the ballpark and thus some serendipity. One of the many things I love about baseball is that, as Charlie Slowes has been known to say, "you never know" what might happen in any given game. For example, Batista's good start on the day SS was scratched; or that walkoff by Wil (who?) Nieves vs. the Cubs. Also, I'm not into crowds and thus don't tend to attend many opening days or other hoopla-type events (I was not there in 2005 but was watching on tv).

Anyway, my faves (in chronological order - I think):

- Patterson's complete game shutout of the Dodgers (that one's a bit bittersweet, given the way things ended for him)*
- Zimmerman's walkoff vs. the Yanks (and the comeback the night before - those two are forever linked for me)
- Frank's farewell at RFK
- Belliard's walkoff vs. the Orioles
- Maxwell's walkoff vs. the Mets*
- Livo's complete-game shutout*

*Serendipity games

natsfan1a said...

Ah, nuts! I was supposed to do 5. Oh well. You got a bonus game. Or two. Lucky you. ;-)

Anonymous said...

5. AUG. 16, 2008: The Nationals fail to sign first-round draft pick Aaron Crow when serious negotiations don't begin until 11:44 p.m. When the deadline arrives at midnight, the two sides are $900,000 apart.
This might have been a "bad" move at the time, but as it turns out a blessing disguise. Look where Crow is... look where Storen is. Worth the wait if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

1.Opening Day 2005
2.Stras debut
3.Opening Night 2008
4.Zimm Fathers Day walk-off
5.Baseball leaving Montreal, returning to DC

NatinBeantown said...

I was scanning the list of comments and finally found my favorite game (thanks Nattaboy)

August 4, 2005, Nats 7, Dodgers 0: Hot but pleasent night at RFK with 35k+ in the stands. John Patterson with a complete game, 4-hit, 13k gem where no Dodger got further than second base. JP finally realizing all that delayed promise and now inarguably the ace of the future for the Nats (he was riding some crazy hot streak that peaked that night). Brad Wilkerson busting the game open in the 8th with the team's first grand slam. A 3-hit game from Nick the Stick. Our first series win in a month. RFK as she would almost never be seen again: full, bouncing, electric. Still in 2nd place and only a game off the Wild Card.

Sure, JP's arm betrayed him again for the last time, and Wilkerson never really lived up to being the original FotF. The season pretty much flatlined shortly after this. But given Mark's criteria for the feeling you had that day after the game ended, it was hard to beat that one.

Ah, this is the most fun I've had all day...

Knoxville Nat said...

April 14, 2005, baseball returns to Washington.

A life long Senators fan my wife and I had moved to TN the year before and the knowledge that I would not get to DC as often as I might like to see the Nats was somewhat depressing.

More depressing however was when I turned the television on that night thinking surely ESPN would televise this historic return of baseball to DC only to see a broadcast of the Yankees vs. Red Sox for about the five millionth time in ESPN history. Switching the channel to ESPN 2 I got the White Sox and Cleveland. I was furious! This is a historic return of baseball to the nation's capital, The POTUS is throwing out the first pitch, etc and the best ESPN can do is White Sox/Indians match up?

Well to my rescue comes my wife who grabs her lap top finds the web site for DIRECTTV and orders the MLB package for me so I can watch the game that night and enjoy a sense of nostalgia as well as a feeling of optimism for the future. This was two days before our anniversay, and after completing the order she grabs the remote from me switches the channel and says "Happy Anniversary".

Well I'm still getting that MLB package and in spite of their record I still enjoy watching Nationals baseball in Washington, D.C.

Anonymous said...

You really found a Nats game more exciting than a World Series. I don't care whose playing I'd rather go to a World Series game over a Nats regular season game even if its the savior's deut.

cass said...

Just because yourmy favorite day was June 8th doesn't mean you're a bandwagoner.

I have been a Nationals fan since they first announced the name of the team at Union Station. I bought a red curly-W cap that same day when they first went on sale. I've been a Nats fan ever since.

When the Nats won the Strasburg sweepstakes in 2008, I was decided to learn more about Strasburg and watched a webcast of one of his college games. I've been a Strasburg fan ever since and was overjoyed when the Nats signed him just before the deadline.

So yeah, he's my favorite Nats players and I try to go to games he pitches. That makes me no less of a Nats fan.

And June 8th was my favorite Nats game. Maybe it wasn't yours. Maybe you think strikeouts are fascist and you were disappointed that he broke the single-game Nationals strikeout record in his very first game.

But to me and others like me, he is the greatest pitcher ever to take the mound for the Nationals and represents the greatest source of hope for the future. The debut was a down payment on that hope. It was also a reward for all of us who stayed with the team through two 100-loss seasons. It was breathtaking.

I understand people who rank the first game in 2005 higher, especially longtime DC residents. But Strasburg's debut is awfully high on the list for a lot of us.

natsfan1a said...

Knoxville, your wife sounds like what my father-in-law would call a keeper. :-)

Anonymous said...

"Phillies at Nationals. Three of my college buddies who are huge baseball fans come down to visit from New York, and it's the first time in Nats park for any of them.

They're all blown away by how nice the park is, and comment that it feels like a 'real' franchise now. That was neat to hear."

Rob, have your friends ever been 40 miles up north? That is a much nicer park. But ok ill name some better ones as well, AT&T, Fenway, Coors, Safeco are MUCH nicer. Nats Park is OK but its far from an elite ballpark.

Anonymous said...

Hi all - pay no attention to the anonymous troll from 3:11pm. He either doesn't understand the question asked (unlikely) or is just trying to impress us with his more-baseball-than-thou attitude. You'll note that he didn't even offer up one "best day," much less five!

I say: many thanks to all sharing their stories in this thread. How anyone could actually read these stories and think the people posting are not true baseball fans or Nats fans is really beyond me.


Mississippi Snopes said...

1. Opening Day 2005 - I came to the park a Mets fan (1969 and 1986 were great years for me) and left a dyed-in-the-wool Nats fan. Surprised the heck of me, but this is my favorite baseball game of all time (even better than that ball rolling through Billy Buckner's legs in game 6 in 1986).

2. Strasburg debut. A stadium transfixed, the first time I've ever seen that at a Nats game.

3. October 1, 2006, the final game of the season. This was Frank Robinson's last game, which was emotional in itself, but hearing Stan Kasten speak to the crowd about Nats' fans being the "most intellectual in baseball" made me realize that we really were moving on from the past. An odd and oddly moving day.

4. Last home game at RFK. I guess it would be cheating to list my first visit to Nats Park -- my wife and I tried to dress up like construction company guys, sports coat and jeans for me, one Sunday in November 2007, we walked into the place like we were supposed to be there and just soaked it all in. We made it about three or four magical minutes before a guard came up, "Uh, sir, which construction company are you with?"

5. Final game of 2009 - That home run and the seven game winning streak made it seem as though 2010 would be the beginning of a bright future (much brighter than it's actually turned out so far).

Anonymous said...

"It's in the Top 5 because the expectation and hype before the game was over the moon, and when the game arrived he actually delivered above and beyond the hype. Die hard Nats fans, Strasburg bandwagoners, and baseball fans in general would all know the rarity of such an event."

Wow 92 Ks and 5 WINS...NOT in my TOP 5 games, my top 5 since you asked are as follows:

Opening Day 2005
Belliard Homers vs O's
Ramon Ortiz almost no-no
Frank's final game as manager
Ryan's first game as a National

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous from 4:18pm: Rob didn't say that his friends said that Nats Park was "an elite park" - they said they were blown away by how nice the park was, and that the Nationals felt like a real franchise. Rob also said it was a personal highlight for him and his favorite day as a Nationals fan.

Your response? To put words in the mouths of his friends that they didn't say, and then basically to try to rain on that day and that memory for him. Nice going, Ace. You're a peach. Why don't you post your take on the Best Day in Nats History, instead of trying to pull someone else down?


Anonymous said...

Off topic alert. Knoxville Nat, I never realized that you were in Knoxville, TN (probably should have). At first I thought maybe you were the young Knoxville police officer that adopted the Nats and drives a few times a year to see the Nats play here in DC but saw you were a Senators fan so don't think you are the same person.

I heard the police officer's story and how a season ticket holder struck up a friendship so he would have great seats when he came in town.

Its amazing how many Nats fans there are throughout the world and with the focus of Strasburg and Bryce Harper, that will continue to grow for years to come as so many young fans root for players instead of teams.

natsfan1a said...

JCC, if the anon poster was trying to bait someone into a pointless game of attack and defend, well...ding! ding! ding! Just ignore the naysayers and enjoy the happy memories. That's what I'm doing, anyway.

Jim H said...

1 - April 4, 2005 - The opener in Philadelphia. I felt like a 10-year-old at his first game.

2 - March, 2009 - the day Jim Bowden was allowed to resign. From that moment on, the Nationals stopped being a carnival side-show and became a real major league franchise.

3 - March 30, 2008 - Opening Night at Nationals Park - Zim's walk-off against the Braves. It might have been rated higher, but it was too cold to feel much of anything that night, including my hands, my legs and my feet.

4 - June 12, 2005 - Nats beat Mariners for 10th win in a row! The ovation at the end of the game was unbelievable.

5 - June 2, 2005 - Nats score 5 runs in the bottom of the 8th, capped by Gary Bennett's bases-loaded double and beat the Braves, 8-6.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

@Mississippi Snopes: You actually lived out my fantasy, at least for three or four minutes before you were spotted. I work nights, get off around 2 a.m. or so. I remember when the park was being built, just riding down there to see the pillars rising from the ground. I never forget seeing the back of the scoreboard for the first time. The streets were totally messed up, there was always a cop or two around, but they never bothered me. I used to drive over some really rutty roads near where what now I can see is the First Base entrance. I often thought about parking the car, hopping out and seeing where I could have gone inside. But being 2:30 in the morning, pitch dark (except for construction lights), and very hazardous footing, I demurred. But you did it. Congratulations. BTW, next time tell them you're with Clark Construction. They build everything around here.

Traveler8* said...

My blast from the past with this was Kevin in 406 talking about "let's go new guy!" I do remember that - you got us going - still brings a smile to my face. We were in 408.

Mrs. Z. said...

My favorites so far, in chronological (not preferential) order.

1. February 25, 2006--spring training. Mark writes in The Washington Times: To understand why the Nationals want Alfonso Soriano to move to left field is to understand how valuable they still believe Vidro is. I begin to fall for this guy (Mark, not Vidro or Soriano).

2. (a tie)Saturday/Sunday, Father's Day Weekend, 2006--I am secretly rooting for the Nats (because I like Mark) while sitting with my Yankees-fan family. My family meets Mark for the first time. Dad is sorely disappointed to see his Yanks lose, twice, on Father's Day weekend, but concedes "it was a good game."

3. April 30, 2007--John Patterson gets his first win since April of the prior year against Jake Peavy and the Padres. I had given JP a couple of CDs of my friend's techno music and JP told Mark that he had been listening to the music on his iPod.

4. Wil Nieves' walkoff--I was at the game, in the Red Porch, with a Cubbies fan friend--need I say more?

5. Opening Day, 2009--My shout out from Johnny Holliday on Nats Xtra.

6. June 8, 2010, Strasburg Debut--sitting in the club section with a life-long friend, charged with taking pictures for The Insider. The excitement, the energy, the sheer joy of the crowd was intoxicating.

Dryw Loves the Nats said...

The Willingham double-grand-slam game deserves mention for being fun and being a pretty historic accomplishment, but not sure if it would make my top five. (Stras game, home opener at Nats park, several others mentioned above take precedence).

But how come no one yet has mentioned....

August 24, 2010: Colin Balestar pitches a full inning WITHOUT HITTING ANYONE IN THE HEAD!!


Anonymous8 said...

Here are my 5 top games:

1. Ryan Zimmerman's Father's Day walkoff against the Yankees in 2006. It was the most spontaneous eruption of positive emotion in the Nats short history.

2. Stephen Strasburg signing on the dotted line before midnight in August 2009 because we are all nervous on the deal getting done, and this puts the Nats on the national map.

3. Opening Day 2005 as it was a long time coming for a city that has had to rely on Peter Angelos for baseball. Just a shame that Angelos has his hands in MASN and got a MLB guarantee on the value of his franchise.

4. Strasburg's Debut Game 6/8/2010 Haven't experienced something that fun at a baseball game from start to finish....ever!

5. Zim's walkoff against the Phillies on 7/31/2010 which was a great message back to Charlie Manuel for dissing Zim on the All Star team.

Steven said...

Srsly. For any of the truly Nationals committed fans out there, Bowden's "resignation" is absolutely in the top 5.

Steven said...

Oh, and 10 in a row is an absolute lock. When it comes to the action on the field, nothing comes close, not even Zim's walkoffs on Opening Night and Father's Day vs. the Yanks.

SJ_Writer said...

My top 5:

1. Opening Night, 2005 - Saw the game from Sect 533 with my oldest son, now in college. He understood how much it meant to me. Nothing will top it.
2. Opening Night, 2008 - Zim christens the new park, I was there to see it! Also, was Nats first baserunner since the first inning (Tim Hudson again!)
3. Strasburg's debut. The most electric I've ever seen and felt Nationals Park! Incredible!
4. Late June 2005 vs. Pirates - Chad Cordero gets his 20th!! save that month as Nats squeak by Bucs, 7-5. I was delirious!
5. Personal - June 25, 2009 - Jordan Zimmerman mows down the Red Sox, in front of all those BoSox fans. My youngest son and I spent the entire game chanting "Let's Go Nationals!" as everyone around us, including some Red Sox fans' girlfriends egged us on! Best birthday ever!

Addition to worst moment - When DC council disapproved the new stadium lease 9-4 in 2006. I thought baseball was dead again. Then, a few minutes later, MARION BARRY brokers a deal as Mayor Williams' staff keeps the council from leaving the chamber! Vote turns around - baseball in DC alive again!! (Who would ever think Marion Barry is the unsung hero of the national pastime in the Nation's Capital.

Mark, thanks for this, the team's current play is below pathetic, so this is a nice tonic from the putridness!!

Anonymous said...

Right now, Stras debut deserves to be "considered" for the top 5, its in my personal one but I can see why some wouldn't. If he turns into the next "Mark Prior" we will all be laughing. How many Astro fans list JR Richards debut in their top 5?

Anonymous said...

I stand by my previous statement of not understanding how your friends can think Nats Park is so "nice." If you want to call me a "baseball park snob" I'm fine with that. But let's compare first-year attendance figures at Jacobs Field, AT&T, Camden Yards, Coors Field, and the latest addition, Target Field to Nats Park?

Scott said...

I'll second the anonymous commenter who mentioned Rick Short's RBI single in his first big league at bat. I was at that game and remember what a thrill it was at the time. Most of the fans didn't know who he was, but the blog-obsessed among us were very excited for him. Classy guy who had one hell of a minor league career.

Avar said...

Hope I'm not too late.

9/29/04 was maybe the best day in my life as a sports fan. I had been waiting my whole life for a baseball team in DC. I was 2 when the Senators left. I definitely teared up on that day.

Opening day '05 and '08 are 2nd and 3rd.

4th is Strasburg signing and for #5 I have to go with Rick Short's RBI. Guy almost hit .400 in AAA, hit over .300 in his short stint but we couldn't find room on our roster for him. Oh wait, sorry only happy memories this time.

Nice to talk about happier things. It will be even better when our happiest memories are games that mattered, not stadiums and signings. Gotta start somewhere.

Anonymous said...

September 30, 2009 - newbie Justin Maxwell hits a walk-off GRAND SLAM it into the stands in the bottom of the 9th, two outs, full count, tied at with 4 with 3 men on base to win the game, giving the Nats the win (7-4 over the Mets.) It was also the Nats last home game of the season. I've never seen so many tears. simply amazing.

I have to also add Ryan's Zimmerman's walk-off Home Run against the Phillies on 7/31/10. Sticking it to the Phillies that way was AMAZING - and we'd beat them the night before. Sweet revenge!!!

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