Growing up as the son of a Marine, Matt Hendricks heard about the value of living in a free country from his father, Doug. The Washington Capitals forward listened and believed it.
Closing in on a deal that will help solidify their top-tier starting rotation, the Washington Nationals began Day 2 at the Winter Meetings by winnowing their already brief to-do list.
On a spring training afternoon in March, Davey Johnson proclaimed that if his team didn't make the playoffs, the Washington Nationals could fire him. And he meant it. But in a season filled with organizational bests — 98 wins, the National League East crown and the arrival of a fan base — there never was any worry they'd have to.
The ball took flight like a missile, zipping into the crisp fall air that settled over the nation's capital on this October Thursday night. It sailed into the visitors' bullpen in left field. It clanked with a thud off the back wall. It carried with it the hopes of a team, of a fan base, of an entire city hoping the team's season would live at least one more day.
The crowd lets out a roar as the national anthem ends at Nationals Park, and the hope is that it will not be the last significant one of the day heard by Washington's embattled baseball team.
By the time Ross Detwiler returned to the Nationals' clubhouse Thursday night, 83 text messages were waiting.
The beauty of these games we obsess about is that anything can happen. Raul Ibanez can pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the ninth inning and hit a game-tying home run for the New York Yankees. (And follow that with a game-winning one in the 12th.)
The biggest game in Washington Nationals history was nowhere close to that magnitude for starter Edwin Jackson, who entered Wednesday having pitched in a pair of World Series in prior years. Game 3 of the National League Division Series, by definition, isn't comparable to what's at stake in the postseason's latter stages.
Game 1 of the National League Division Series represented meatloaf for Washington. There would be no gravy Monday in Game 2.