Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, January 18, 2019

No Nattitude: Washington Nationals surrender to the Phillies 8-2 to a disappointed crowd

Jordan Zimmermann has been a Nationals fan favorite since his first Major League start in 2009.  His toughness, grit and pitching ability are undeniable, and each of these characteristics have certainly resonated with Nationals fans.  Zimmermann established himself in the Nationals record books when he became the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter for the club last September. 

On Friday night, Zimmermann was celebrated with a bobblehead on what would likely be his final start in a Washington uniform at Nationals Park, as he is set to hit free agency this offseason.  Before taking the mound against the division foe Philadelphia Phillies, the crowd honored Zimmerman with a standing ovation.  

Zimmerman’s recognition was the highlight of an otherwise dreadful evening for the D.C. baseball team and its fans.

Zimmermann pitched brilliantly in the first inning, and the crowd reacted with enthusiasm game.  They were loud, cheering Zimmermann on and loving every minute of his dominant inning.  From there, the Nationals plummeted.  Zimmermann surrendered the first inside-the-park grand slam in baseball since 1999, allowing Phillies’ young slugger Aaron Altherr to send the ball flying over the fence and rack up four points for his team.  From there, Zimmermann allowed another Altherr homer and a Cody Asche homer to surrender six runs on six hits.

The Nationals ultimately lost the game 8-2.

Friday night’s game highlighted every flaw of the Nationals. everything that is wrong with this team.  A team that was poised for greatness.  A team that was all but guaranteed to win the World Series, if you listened to any baseball analyst worth their salt.  A team that was so loaded with talent, star outfielder Bryce Harper proclaimed, “where’s my ring?" in February.  No, the Washington Nationals didn’t lose to the Phillies; in actuality, they defeated themselves.  There were errors aplenty, and the Nationals simply couldn’t seem to get into a rhythm.  The inside-the-park grand slam seemed to affect their psyches, and they never put it back together again.

The atmosphere was soulless at Nationals Park.  After the first inning, everyone seemed to go to sleep.  The silence was deafening. Nationals fans were not engaged and didn’t seem present throughout the night.  There was a crowd of roughly 31,000 according to official attendance figures; that number could be cut in half by the seventh inning.  By the ninth inning, empty seats were in the majority.  

The theme of the night was disinterested.  The Nationals played this way, the fans reacted this way, and by the end of the evening (if it wasn’t before), it was painfully obvious that October baseball was not in this team’s immediate future.  The Nationals had built a ton of momentum on college campuses in DC, including AU’s.  The question now becomes will the team’s crushing letdown destroy any of it moving forward?  Time will tell.

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