“Haven’t really thought about it,” he said, pursing his lips. “Haven’t really thought about any of it.”
It was just after 12:45 a.m. on the last night of the Washington Nationals’ season, on the night of the most sudden, gut-punch ending imaginable, and the procession was just beginning.
First, they hugged him — meaningful, pull-in embraces to show how much their pain was his pain. Steve McCatty, the pitching coach, put both his hands on Storen’s shoulders and looked into his eyes, told him how much he thinks of him.
Then came more keep-your-head-up encouragement — waves of people and words, passing by Storen’s corner cubicle on their way to the showers. He sat there in black Spandex tights, bath slippers and a gray undershirt, greeting everyone who cared to say anything before returning to a numb daze.
“I’ve been in the situation,” Tyler Clippard told him. Storen’s roommate and closest friend on the team, the guy he played leapfrog with as the Nats’ closer all season as Storen battled back from injury, sat inches from him, pulling his chair around to face him.
“I told him I do it all the time. You tend to put it all on your shoulders and think, ‘I lost the game for us.’ And he’s got to realize it’s not all on him. It’s a team game. There was five runs on the board when he took the mound. It’s going to take him a while, but you just got to know in your heart it’s not all on you. That’s what I told him.”
At 12:48, in the middle of the clubhouse, propped against the back of a leather couch, he faced a phalanx of cameras and recorders. One was a WUSA Channel 9 microphone, still wrapped in plastic to protect it from a champagne celebration that never came. Clear-plastic sheets that covered every inch of the room less than a half-hour ago were rolled up like blinds near the ceiling.
“Damn, they actually put down another rug with tape,” Mark DeRosa said, shaking his head. “Look at this.”
Adam LaRoche had said how crushed the Nationals were that it had happened to Storen — the most genuine, likable kid in the entire organization.
“Most disappointing thing is I let these guys down,” Storen said when he was relayed LaRoche’s words.
It’s often said, Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. No, really, in this case, losing a chance to go to the National League Championship Series that Storen had on his fingertips on five different two-strike, two-out counts in the ninth could not have happened to a nicer guy.
Which made it all the more devastating.
Someone tried to trumpet how this experience would only help down the road.
“Yeah, eventually, I’m sure it’ll be a learning process,” he said. “But gotta let that wound heal first.
“It’s the best job when you’re good at it,” he added. “It’s the worst job when you fail.”