The Washington Times - October 10, 2012, 07:52AM

Washington D.C. will host its first MLB playoff game in 79 years Wednesday afternoon and there are plenty of Nationals players expecting the fans to make that the party it deserves to be. 

The Nationals will distribute red towels for fans to wave and plenty of players were anticipating a “red-out” with shortstop Ian Desmond even requesting via twitter that fans not go for a “white-out” if they’re sitting behind home plate, which makes it more difficult for the shortstop to see the ball. 


Either way, they expected Nationals Park to be rocking.

“Until recently, it was almost more of a social gathering,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said of the atmosphere at Nationals Park. “Come out, nothing else to do and we’ll go hang out at the park. Now, it’s turned into some die-hard fans. People probably skipping work and skipping school to come see the Nats.

“Our last few regular season home games were as close to playoff atmosphere as you can get. When you got fans getting up and getting into it in the second, third inning, I’m sure that’s what it will be like, so it will be fun.”

To tide you over until 1 p.m., there is plenty of baseball coverage, again, in The Washington Times, so here’s a quick-link guide to all of it.

Nationals hope home cooking does the trick: The Nationals were 16-5-5 in series at home this season, and won 32 of the 52 series they played all year. In three-game series alone, they won 11 of the 16 they played at Nationals Park. “They don’t call it home-field advantage for nothing,” third baseman Ryan Zimmerman said. “We feel very comfortable playing at home. We’ve been a good home team and we’ve put ourselves in a good position to come home and just win a series. If we can do that, like we’ve done a lot of times this year, we’ll be sitting pretty.”Read the full story here.

Cardinals’ Mike Matheny a ‘born leader’: Skip Schumaker calls Matheny a “born leader” and notes the deep level of respect the manager has earned in the clubhouse. Matheny vowed, for instance, not to use profanity to vent about whatever frustrations he encountered over the course of the season. There have been plenty, and it should be said that a baseball clubhouse can be a remarkably profane environment, but Matheny has kept his word. And that word, mostly, is “dadgumit.”Read all of Marc Lancaster’s fantastic story on the Cardinals’ manager here. 

Stephen Strasburg accepts dugout role: As the days have passed, Strasburg has resigned himself to his role this season. His eyes are now turned toward the future. “I don’t think [watching the playoffs] is painful in any sense,” he said Tuesday. “It’s hard being in the dugout, but at the same time it’s exciting and the atmosphere’s great. I just can’t wait for my opportunity.” That was a sentiment the Nationals’ right-hander repeated on three different occasions over the course of a conversation lasting less than three minutes. Read the full story here. 

Edwin Jackson and his playoff experience are ready for Wednesday’s start; Cardinals remove Jaime Garcia from roster, NLDS game times & NLCS tickets announced: Much has been made of the Nationals’ lack of experience in the postseason, but when Edwin Jackson takes the hill for today’s Game 3 of the National League Divisional Series, the team will be running out its most playoff-tested veteran. Read the rest of the notes from Tuesday’s workout here. 

Bryce Harper battling illness, ready for Game 3:  Bryce Harper attended the Nationals’ optional workout on Tuesday afternoon, as did the rest of his teammates, but the 19-year-old was still battling a fever over 100 degrees and was hoping to kick his illness, believed originally to be strep throat, by the time the Nationals play at 1:07 p.m. on Wednesday. “I feel fine,” said Harper, who has been on prescribed antibiotics to help speed the process along. On then, to more pressing matters like his 1-for-10 in the first two games of the National League Division Series, his jet-black hair that made a sudden appearance on Saturday and the reappearance of the eye-black smears that look like war paint on his face Monday afternoon. Read the full story here. 

Nationals Park staff has been preparing for the big day since July: The Washington Nationals have their scouting report on how to beat the St. Louis Cardinals. Frank Gambino’s team has a three-ring binder on how to host the playoffs. Thanks to a trusty crew of nearly two dozen workers and, of course, the binder, the stadium’s vice president of facilities said the stadium is prepared to host its first-ever postseason game when the gates at Nationals Park open at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.Read Meredith Somers’ full story here. 

Work losing to Nationals as playoff fever distracts employees: Washington-area employers are bracing for a sharp drop in productivity Wednesday afternoon as Washington Nationals fans root for their team in the first baseball playoff game played in the city in 79 years. Even with a starting time smack dab in the middle of the workday in the middle of the workweek, fans from around the region say they plan to keep tabs on their team. Some are preparing to miss work to go to the game, while others admit they will be distracted at the office.Read Tim Devaney’s full story here. 

Playoff has extra meaning for D.C. mayor Vincent Gray: In late September, Mike Rizzo sent Mayor Gray a ball cap and a handwritten note to thank him after the Nats clinched a spot in the postseason with a victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers. The hat simply said “Playoffs,” a word that hadn’t been associated with a D.C. baseball club since 1933. About a week later, the Nats clinched their first National League East title, capping an amazing turnabout from the losing seasons that had marked the club’s tenure since moving from Montreal in 2005. Read Tom Howell Jr.’s full story on the mayor’s ties to baseball and the Nationals here.