day 11: mr. national

Today is 11 days, which is one week and four days of the omer: netzach she’big’vurah.

I will always have a soft spot for Ryan Zimmerman because he and the Nationals and I all arrived in D.C. at the same time, in 2005. For many years, I split Nationals season tickets with several friends, and I regularly cheered for the home team — except of course when the Astros were in town (they were an NL team then and did regularly show up in the nation’s capital during the seven years I was there).

I was at the opening day of Nationals Park in 2008, the first game the Nats played at their new stadium, when Zimmerman hit a walk-off homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, leading to a 3-2 win over the Braves. That night also included the deeply satisfying moment when then-Pres. George W. Bush threw out the opening pitch and was booed — you know, back when we thought he was as bad as it could get. (Also, it was freezing — below freezing, in fact — that night, and I had woefully underdressed for the game and had to buy a $40 sweatshirt at the ballpark.)

Zimmerman is a two-time All-Star, two-time Silver Slugger winner, Golden Glove winner — and, of course, as if I could ever forget, 2019 WS champion, hitting the club’s first WS home run off of now-Yankee (see what I did there?) Gerrit Cole. (Yes, that series still hurts, even though against any other opponent I would been happily cheering for the Nats!)

Zimmerman has spent his entire career with the Nationals — and will likely retire a National after reaching a one-year deal earlier this year for the 2020 season (whatever it ends up looking like). He is the Nationals’ career leader in games, hits, home runs, RBI, runs, and doubles. Over 15 seasons, he is a .279 hitter with 270 homers and 1,015 RBI.

During this suspended season, Zimmerman has been sharing his thoughts with AP as MLB waits with the rest of the world; most recently he opined, “Look, all of us want to play. . . . But you have to be sensitive to people dying and people having family members in intensive care. Is it really that important to figure out how to play baseball right now?”

For taking the long view during this pandemic, and for his leadership during his long career in D.C., today we count day 11, “triumph in strength,” in honor of Mr. National.

featured image: Rob Carr/Getty Images 


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