Nationals_celebrate_2012_NL_East_Division

Nationals deserve congratulations in dethroning Phillies

The Phillies did their part in attempting to create some chaos at the end of the regular season, but with the Atlanta Braves falling in Pittsburgh Monday night the Washington Nationals clinched the 2012 NL East crown. The Phillies may have won Monday night’s series opener in Washington, but the celebration in the Washington dugout started in the middle of the ninth inning once word was received the Braves had lost, making for an interesting scene in the bottom of the ninth inning in D.C.

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals. Many in Philadelphia scoffed at the notion your team could be considered a real threat to the Phillies but that clearly was proven to be a truth this season with your gritty play, young and rising stars and solid free agent signings over the last couple of years. This franchise has done everything seemingly the right way by taking advantage of high draft pick selections and bringing in key free agents to provide veteran guidance and they have done a number of things to attempt to energize the fan base, with various levels of success.

I surely cannot speak for an entire Phillies fan base, but Macho Row will wish you the best of luck in the postseason in the quest for Washington D.C.’s first World Series championship since 1924.

Hey, it’s been a while. Enjoy the run, howevere long it may go.

Jayson Werth has a laugh as the Nationals had clinched the NL East against the Phillies.

There was a bit of irony in watching the Nationals clinch the NL East Monday night against the Phillies. The fact the Phillies have celebrated three NL East Division championships against the Nationals (2007, again in 2008 and once more in 2010) was not something that was lost on players like Ryan Zimmerman, who has been the franchise player from the start. Adding Jayson Werth, who played a key role in the Phillies’ postseason runs before signing with Washington and was quick to suggest Washington could win, is just another intruging piece to the whole story.

“[I've] never done it like that, on a loss,” Werth said. “Usually, it’s gone the other way. But we’ll take it however we can get it. It’s been a long season, we’ve played a lot of good baseball. We had a tough schedule at the end of the year. Here we are. I’m very excited.

Congratulations also are in store to our Bloguin friends over at The Nats Blog, who have been covering the team for far longer than most others seemed to care about the franchise. Be sure to check them out throughout the postseason for Nationals insight and commentary.

As for the Phillies, seeing a division rival (and we can officially buy in to that term now, like it or not) celebrate a division championship while a game is going on against your team should fuel the fire for the 2013 season. After the game Charlie Manuel said watching another team celebrate ticked him off.

“Yeah, it made me mad,” Manuel said in a report by Todd Zolecki for MLB.com. “Very much so. I’m a bad loser. Nobody should be a good loser. I’m a bad loser, and I always will be.”

“That was the first time we won and got beat,” Manuel said. The Phillies won the game, 2-0, but in one of the oddities in the sport the Nationals were all smiles as the Phillies walked through the typical post-game hand shakes and high fives following a win. The Nationals were forced to keep their celebration in the dugout until the Phillies walked off the field, which I think should be recognized as a classy move by the Nationals.

“Not letting them celebrate on the field was kind of nice,” Kyle Kendrick said following his solid start, the final of the season. Kendrick ends his season with a 3.90 ERA with 116 strikeouts and the second best WHIP of his career, 1.27. Kendrick may be a favorite for one of the spots at the back of the starting rotation in 2013, behind Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.

“Personally, it’s been a pretty good year for me,” Kendrick said. “Team-wise, we don’t want to be here. We want to be in a better position. Hopefully, we come out next spring and get ready to go and do something better next year.”

In time Phillies fans will take some time to reflect on the five-year strong of division crowns and recognize it ias an astounding achievement. Right now, it is little to take too much pride in at the end of a season that seems to have been a lost year plagued by injuries to key players and some ugly baseball along the way. But the Phillies did start to play better baseball when Chase Utley and Ryan Howard returned to the lineup and Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence were traded away. It will be interesting to see how this team comes back next season, when they hope to start healthier and perhaps get some better years out of Halladay and Lee on the mound.

there are plenty of questions for the Phillies off-season, but there are still two games to play. How much they mean now remains to be seen and will largely depend on how much the Nationals approach them. Manager Davey Johnson had said he wanted to give his starters a rest after clinching the division but now the Nationals are one game up in the battle with the Cincinnati Reds for home-field advantage with two games to play.

Quotes provided by MLB.com. Photos: The Washington Post, The Washington Times

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