It’s funny, the disjointed thoughts your brain randomly connects, things that are so different, with the thinnest thread, suddenly link together.
Last night, when Ryan Zimmerman became the first National to ever homer in a World Series game, all I could think about was Kelly Clarkson singing “A Moment Like This” when she became the first American Idol winner. Tearfully, joyfully, she was the first. I heard the song in my head as I watched Zimmerman’s homer to dead center over and over again.
Ryan Zimmerman is the first player the Washington Nationals ever drafted, back on June 7, 2005. Over his 15-year career, he’s won a Gold Glove, two Silver Sluggers the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, and played in two All-Star Games. He’s played for eight different Nationals managers, in 100-loss seasons and postseason attempts. In the world of DC baseball, Ryan Zimmerman is an institution: he has been there since the beginning of time.
But until this year, the Washington Nationals and Ryan Zimmerman had never won a postseason series. And now, they’ve won the NLDS, swept their way through their first NLCS, and won the first World Series game they’ve ever played. After only playing 52 games in the regular season due to injuries, Zimmerman is hitting .286 in 10 postseason games so far this month, with 2 home runs, 3 doubles, and 6 RBI.
It’s a fitting kind of baseball magic that Zimmerman, affectionally known as Mr. National, has been checking off a lot of the team’s October firsts: he hit their first World Series home run, scored their first World Series run, and recorded their first World Series RBI. Over 100 years after Chicago White Sox player Happy Felsch became the first player in MLB history to have played their entire career for one franchise and hit their franchise’s first World Series home run back in 1917, Ryan Zimmerman became the second. But in the Live Ball Era, the expansion era, modern era, he’s the first, the only.
It wasn’t a cheap homer, either. For one thing, it came off a fastball from Astros ace Gerrit Cole, who hadn’t lost a game or given up 5 earned runs since the end of May. The blast also had a 107-mph exit velocity, and soared to dead center at Minute Maid. Nats manager Dave Martinez admitted that the moment made him tear up: “I’ll be honest with you, my eyes got a little watery for him. He waited a long time…”
There are a lot of really negative issues taking over the baseball world right now. It’s definitely not the most pleasant World Series, to say the least. But amidst all of it, Ryan Zimmerman is making history, and he deserves to.
Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.
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Photo: CBS Sports