As the bottom of the ninth inning of the Nats’ latest win unfolded Thursday night, the happy ending seemed inevitable. A Denard Span single, a Denard Span stolen base, an Anthony Rendon at-bat, the home dugout and the home crowd both ready to explode — maybe in May the result would have been unclear. But for a team riding a nine-game winning streak filled with all manner of walk-off heroics, this was going in one direction.
And so it was that MASN’s cameras repeatedly showed the now-battered Jayson Werth rally gnome bearing silent witness to the proceedings from atop his orange Gatorade-bucket perch. Was this the same gnome Doug Fister recently tucked into his clothing? Do baseball players spit 14 times, do the Charleston left-footed and then ingest eye of newt and toe of frog if that’s what superstition demands?
Anyhow, MASN showed the gnome before Span stole second.
“Looks like he’s scuffled at the top of his hat, maybe in the celebration,” F.P. Santangelo observed. “That’s all right.”
MASN showed the gnome once again after Span advanced to scoring position.
And after Rendon brought him home with the classic routine groundball-throwing error-walkoff maneuver, MASN showed the gnome again. He had been abandoned now, his brethren having rushed the field to hug each other and make funny faces and pour cold beverages on their chums. The rally gnome doesn’t rush anywhere. He just waits, broken and battered but still stoic, for another night of celebration.
“The Nationals have walked off again,” Bob Carpenter said after the win. “How can this keep happening?”
“Unbelievable,” Santangelo said. “I just really can’t believe what I’m seeing.”
Also, Rendon then put his batting helmet on backwards.
And Matt Williams made funny faces when asked about doing his Babe Ruth impersonation.
And Ray Knight was rendered nearly speechless by it all.