So long, old friend

I went to my last Nats game at RFK Stadium last night. I’ve grown to love the old dump in the last few years and am going to miss it, although the new stadium looks like it might be a few degrees to this side of wonderful.

Teddy finished dead last in the Presidents’ Race and the Nats’ starting pitcher, a tomato can named Joel Hanrahan, was unspeakably awful. He walked the leadoff batter in the first inning, launching an adventure that led to four earned Mets runs before the Nats even came to bat. Between the walks, the solid hits and even a bad fielding play on Hanrahan’s part — he was too slow to cover first on a grounder and got beat to the bag by the hitter — it looked like the sort of bad, comical, amateurish night that many forecast would be the norm for the Nats this year.

And then they did what they have done repeatedly this year, coming back in dramatic fashion, eventually winning the game 9-8 and pushing the Mets — who once seemed sure to win the National League East — further into choking-dog territory.

For those of you playing along, the Nats actually have a winning record at home — 39-37 — and have played above-.500 ball since the beginning of May. And it was worth the price of admission just to watch the Mets fans, who were in maximum New York obnoxiousness early in the game, suffer later for their sins.

So that was my final baseball experience with RFK, with its peeling paint, worn-out seats, casual-to-the-point-of-catatonic atmosphere, bad food and easy parking. And I’ve grown to admire and respect these Nats, who constitute baseball’s most overachieving team. Next year’s edition will have a lot of new players, and I suspect Hanrahan will be selling insurance somewhere by then, but a more-talented squad very well might not win as many games as this motley crew of rejects, rookies and roamers. I’ll miss them, and I’ll miss RFK Stadium.

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