- Unbeliebable: White House turns Bieber petition response into immigration screed
- Obama signs law denying Iran ambassador’s visa, but says law is ‘advisory’
- Mich. judge to laughing convicted killer: ‘I hope you die in prison’
- Man charged in Kansas City-area highway shootings
- Keystone XL pipeline still on hold after State Dept. decision
- Fla. man charged with killing 16-month-old son to play Xbox undisturbed
- Drones from the deep: Pentagon develops ocean-floor attack robots
- Michigan mayor slaps back atheists’ try to erect ‘reason station’ at city hall
- PHILLIPS: Where is the conservative establishment?
- 7.5-magnitude earthquake shakes southern Mexico
Ian Desmond’s breakout season draws praise
Shortstop’s attributes were on display in Game 1 of NLDS
ST. LOUIS — In the corner of the press box stood a familiar face. It was the face of a man brought to the brink of tears in June 2011 as he said his farewell to the Washington Nationals. The face of a man who'd helped steward the Washington Nationals through a turbulent time — from Jim Riggleman to Davey Johnson — in one wild weekend in Chicago.
And he couldn't have been more excited to talk about the performance of shortstop Ian Desmond.
Onetime interim manager John McLaren, scouting the Nationals for the Oakland Athletics this series in advance of a possible World Series matchup, watched the Nationals from afar this season. When Desmond was named to the All-Star team, McLaren was overcome with emotion for his former pupil.
"I was probably happier than he was," McLaren said.
It was no surprise to him, then, that Desmond was perhaps the player who seemed most unflappable in his first playoff game.
"He's kind of proven that all year," first baseman Adam LaRoche said. "I don't know that he lets the game or the circumstances dictate the way he plays. ... He's been fun to watch from last year, and how much he's evolved into a really good all-around ballplayer. And I don't know that he's scratched the surface yet."
Desmond was 3 for 4 for the Nationals on Sunday. He scored the game-winning run on Tyler Moore's soft single to right field and helped make Ryan Mattheus' two-pitch, three-out inning a reality with a strong, controlled throw to force out Jon Jay at home plate for the inning's first out.
The play was reminiscent of one Desmond had been unable to make in September, in a game against the Atlanta Braves, with Andrelton Simmons running from third base.
Desmond's throw then was wide of home plate and Simmons scored, giving the Braves a walk-off win. But his throw Sunday was controlled and on-target — and it was far more important.
"Ian Desmond is one heck of a player," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. "For me, I mean, I would have to vote for Adam LaRoche to be the MVP, but it's a toss-up with Ian Desmond. The things he's done, got a lot of big hits, gifted defensively. He's been outstanding. I can't say enough about Ian."
As Johnson spoke, Desmond entered the news conference room early, awaiting his turn at the podium. Desmond, who batted .292 with 25 home runs this season, looked up at his manager, the 69-year-old who helped instill confidence in him.
Johnson found the gaze of Desmond, the pride evident for a man who says often how much he enjoys seeing players reach their potential.
"I think that there's no secret on what I'm trying to do up there," Desmond said. "I'm not trying to surprise anybody. I'm not trying to do any tricks or anything like that. I'm going up there trying to get a good pitch to hit and hitting it.
"If I can control my heartbeat, I don't feel that these games are any different than the rest of them."
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with MLB.com and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.
- What will Nationals do this offseason to contend again in 2014?
- As Nationals' manager search begins, Randy Knorr the players' choice
- Davey Johnson's big-league journey ends with Nationals loss
- Team spirit and Holy Spirit — for Nationals religion looms large on and off the field
- Jordan Zimmermann falls short of 20th win as Cardinals prevail again
Latest Blog Entries
- A fond farewell, and a bit of thanks
- Nationals coaches wait in limbo as team searches for next manager
- Davey Johnson won't be in uniform for Nationals in spring training
- Tanner Roark starts season finale with youthful lineup behind him (UPDATED)
- Dan Haren, Nationals top Diamondbacks in season's penultimate game
Women losing coverage under Obamacare, too
- Scalia to students on high taxes: At a certain point, 'perhaps you should revolt'
- Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him
- Special Forces' suicide rates hit record levels casualties of 'hard combat'
- Feds approve powdered alcohol; 'Palcohol' available later this year
- Justice at last: 'Evil woman' outed for grabbing girl's game ball
- EDITORIAL: Mark Warner running scared?
- Hillary swoons at admitted illegal immigrant: 'Wow,' you're 'incredibly brave'
- U.S. Navy to turn seawater into jet fuel
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
- CHARLES: Holder's undermining of the law deserving of contempt
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.