Washington Nationals fans will spend the fall and winter months wallowing in mixed feelings. There is no denying that 2012 was a great season, an unprecedented success for a formerly putrid baseball team. The first-ever divisional championship won by a relatively new franchise is nothing to sneeze at. The raucous playoff atmosphere was something to behold. It had never happened before in D. C., at least not within the living memory of anyone born after the Roaring 20s. That sea of red that submerged the stadium was a sea of joy. It put to rest many bitter memories─the two lost franchises, the 34 “silent springs,” the bitter fights to establish the new ballclub and new ballpark.
The best thing you can say about an agonizing, season-ending defeat is that the team got close enough to ecstasy to suffer so exquisitely. They were one strike away from advancing to the next round of the playoffs. In fact, they were one strike away twice. How cruel can the baseball gods be? Mighty cruel, we’ve discovered. But countless fans of other teams all over the country already knew that. We’re now privileged to join the exclusive what-if club.