ENGAS: The Silence or the Noise

Every Nats Game's A Story is our project aimed at describing what it's like to be a Nats fan, one game at a time, from the voices of those who experienced it. Today's story comes from Luigi de Guzman, the Dr. Doom of Nats Twitter. Follow him at @ouij.

What do you remember, the silence or the noise?

I remember the silence.

Forty-six thousand people dumbstruck, as if the cold October night had frozen them solid. Forty thousand mute witnesses to an alien sound: the distant roar of the visiting team celebrating.

I'd heard silence at Nats Park before, of course: The stillness of a crowd in reverent attention as the colors are paraded before a game. There were happier afternoons, too, with after rain delays, where a handful of cranks watched the home team dutifully round out the day's work against whichever no-name, no-draw West Coast visitor happened to be in town.

But as the twelfth of October turned to the thirteenth, we heard the death rattle of the dream of 2012, and it sounded like Jason Motte bellowing as he ran into the arms of Yadier Molina.

What do you remember, the silence or the noise?

I remember the noise.

Jayson Werth: Double. Bryce Harper: triple. Ryan Zimmerman: Home Run. I read the symbols in my scorecard and imagine I hear the crack of the bat, each one louder than the last. I imagine the deafening roar as Ryan Zimmerman crossed the plate.

Harper: Home Run. Zimmerman: double. Morse: Home Run. Six runs in three innings, knocking Wainwright out of the game after two and a third. I am delirious and light-headed. I have been shouting and cheering and laughing so much I have forgotten to breathe.

I hear myself mutter that giving up one run can't be that bad. I hear myself murmuring as the lead is cut in half, sighing with relief as the sixth inning passes without a Cardinal run. I tell myself it will be fine; Mattheus is standing up in the bullpen for the seventh.

I hear myself asking who was throwing next to Mattheus, and then looking with disbelief as Edwin Jackson trots in from the bullpen: "Not EJax." I moan. I look at the bullpen gate and there is Mattheus, ball in hand, hand on his hip, waiting for a call that never came.

I hear myself gasp when Descalso--Descalso, of all people-- homers off Clippard.

Then there was the bottom of the eighth. Morse strode to the plate and forty-six thousand voices serenaded him, singing as he batted. The sound of his single is drowned out as each of us strained to hit the last high note.

The last high note.

At the time, I didn't know it would be the last high note.

I remember the howl as Alfonso Marquez transformed what should have been called strike three to Yadier Molina to a walk. I remember the murmur as Freese walked.

There was noise--there must have been noise--as Descalso knocked a grounder towards Ian Desmond. I don't remember hearing any of it. In my mind, it plays in silence: the ball clanking off Desmond's glove. The lead gone.

And then Kozma. We must have howled. We must have shouted. If, by our shouting, we could have deflected the ball ever so slightly into a fielder's glove, there was still hope.

And even as Kozma stood at bat, I was muttering to myself into my scorecard, feverishly calculating what it would take for the baseball gods to grant us just one more Ryan Zimmerman walk-off.

When Jayson Werth's fly ball landed in the right fielder's glove, I was disconsolate. "That's it." I said, to no one in particular. "Zimmerman can't walk off. Zim can tie it, maybe, but Zim can't walk off."

The baseball gods, in their cruelty, gave me one last Zimmerman at-bat, with the bases empty. I recorded it dutifully in my scorebook: P4.

I shuffled out of the park, down the ramp, out the gate. I didn't look back. I didn't want to look back. I walked all the way back to my car and didn't look back at the field once. I walked away.

In silence.

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