As the Nationals prepare to open the second half of the season, here’s a look back at 10 stories — and by stories, I really mean things we considered Bog-worthy – from a fun first half. If your favorite moment isn’t included, please mention it in the comments. And if you’re looking for more ways to pass another day without baseball, check out @NLBeastNats’ #FirstHalfHighlights.
10. Jayson Werth’s Grand Bat Flip
It was an April game against the Marlins, but it was one to remember. Bryce Harper hit his first home run of the season and Werth’s eighth-inning grand slam off Carlos Marmol gave the Nationals a 10-7 lead they would not relinquish. Miami led 5-0 after two innings.
9. Albert Pujols Hits No. 500
After Albert Pujols hit his 499th and 500th career home runs on April 22 at Nationals Park, I wrote about the fan who dropped Pujols’s 500th home run ball – a piece of memorabilia potentially worth a good chunk of change.
“It’s a blur, but I think it turned out to be a better night than if I had caught it,” that fan, Chris Gordon, told me the following day.
Air Force staff sergeant Tom Sherrill returned the ball to Pujols and arranged for Gordon and his sons to meet the Angels slugger after the game.
8. Chest Hair Night
“It was awesome,” Kevin Frandsen told Adam Kilgore of the Nationals’ decision to go unbuttoned against the Braves in a June game. “It’s liberating.” The Nats lost the game and haven’t unleashed their chest hair since.
7. Kevin Frandsen Plays it Off the Wall
Long before the Ryan Zimmerman Outfield Experiment began, utilityman Kevin Frandsen got a rare start in left field in an April game at Houston.
His behind-the-back snag of a ball that caromed off the wall drew respect from his teammates.
“That was unbelievable,” first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “That might be the play of the year, especially since he never saw it. That was unreal.”
6. Brian Wilson’s “Brother,” Buddy
If you stayed up for the Nationals’ 4-0, rain-delayed win over the Dodgers in early May, you may have noticed Brian Wilson’s doppleganger behind home plate. The bearded Dodgers fan was one of the few hundred people who stuck around for the late innings and he was very into the game.
5. Jayson Werth Drops ‘Mean Girls’ Reference
Werth and MASN’s Dan Kolko combined for one of the greatest post-game interviews in Nationals history after a win over the Mets on May 16.
4. Matt Williams Gets Rear-Ended During Radio Interview
The Nationals manager was driving to Nationals Park while doing his weekly segment with The Junkies on 106.7 The Fan when he was rear-ended by another driver.
“Sorry guys, I just had an accident,” he said, in the middle of the interview. “I’ve got a police officer behind me. This guy’s gonna try to escape. The guy’s running. He just ran right into the back of me. I just got rear-ended by a guy in a car. Hold on. This guy’s crashing into people.”
Car accidents aren’t wonderful, but Williams was fine and continued the interview.
3. Human Head Pops Out of Racing President
The reaction from the bullpen said it all after Abe experienced an ‘Alien’-like moment during a game against the Reds in May.
2. #LateNightNats Win 16-Inning Game in Milwaukee
The game featured a bevy of beautiful defensive plays, including a couple by left fielder Ryan Zimmerman, whose 16th-inning home run was the difference in the longest game in Nationals history.
1. Jayson Werth’s Amazing Slide
Honorable Mentions: Werth’s spring break T-shirt, Drew Storen builds seating for the bullpen, Bryce Harper looked just like his bobblehead, Aaron Barrett’s entrance music, Zach Walters’ walk-up songs, Tyler Clippard grooves, Terrance returns, Ian Desmond gets a new tattoo, Phish-inspired ‘Wil-son’ chants, Werth’s beard gets a cleaning, Chicken McNuggets Pizza, The Armpit Smelling Incident.