- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2012

They sang the song in unison. It was one they’d heard 96 times before, the one they put on after every win they ticked off in this deliriously charmed season. They knew the words.

“I’m in the pursuit of happiness and I know, everything that shine ain’t always gonna be gold. I’ll be fine, once I get it.”

They jumped up and down and sprayed beer and champagne. They hugged and laughed and screamed. They soaked their new dark gray T-shirts and strapped on ski goggles and swim goggles and anything else they could find.

The Washington Nationals clinched the National League East championship Monday night and in the aftermath they doused themselves in everything they could find from Pedialyte to soda, Miller Lite and 2002 Dom Perignon. They sprayed shaving cream and powder. They circled the warning track and tossed champagne into the stands.

They gave their adoring fans the show they’d come to see.

“At this point, it’s almost like at church: Just turn to a partner and hug him,” said left-hander Gio Gonzalez. “This is unbelievable. This is just one of those breathtaking moments.”

“As much as you want to dream and see it on TV, there’s nothing like being soaked and freezing and just smelling like beer and champagne,” said closer Drew Storen. “There’s no better feeling in the world.”

It happened in an odd way, in the middle of a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, as the Atlanta Braves’ 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates went final just after 9:45 p.m Monday night. Jordan Zimmermann and Gonzalez overheard fans say the game was over, they waited pensively for the scoreboard to show it. When it flashed the good news, they knew for sure.

They came in from the top of the ninth and smacked hands. They hugged and pumped their fists. Their own outcome had become happily irrelevant. The result 250 miles to the northwest of Washington let loose a celebration eight years in the making inside the District. They danced in the dugout as their loss went final and manager Davey Johnson came to the top step to raise his fists to the crowd.

They washed themselves in the cheers of the 35,387 that came to see this moment and they reveled in a moment only a handful of them had ever experienced before.

“It was not strange at all,” said third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, the face of a franchise that had waited so long for this day. “We worked so hard for that. We deserve it. We put ourselves in that position. By playing good baseball all year we made these other teams have to play perfect baseball to catch us.”

“It totally erased that loss which doesn’t ever happen to me,” said shortstop Ian Desmond.

“This is the first time in my life that I’ve rooted for the Pirates,” said first baseman Adam LaRoche, who played for Pittsburgh for parts of three seasons.

Back in the clubhouse, Michael Morse filled a Gatorade cooler with water from the shower and doused them. They pushed Wilson Ramos in a shopping cart as they sprayed him and circled around Mark DeRosa as he break-danced. Zimmerman and Jayson Werth stood in the middle of the group, leading the way.

Story Continues →