“They are stunned here in D.C.,” play-by-play man Ernie Johnson said, telling no lies.
“This sad Nationals fan is the saddest man who’s ever lived,” declared a headline on MLB.com, perhaps stretching the truth a bit, for hyperbolic effect.
“That’s a fair assessment,” Rory Maloney, 37, said with a laugh in a phone interview on Wednesday.
Maloney, a die-hard Nationals fan who grew up in Woodbridge but has lived in Los Angeles for the last 12 years, happened to be in town on business, and went to Tuesday’s game with his three brothers.
What, exactly, was going through his mind after Grandal put the Nationals in a 2-0 hole before the home team came to bat?
“Nothing and everything all at the same time,” Maloney said. “It’s here we go again, in the first inning, with our ace on the mound, and we gotta play from behind. Honestly, I don’t even remember those 10 seconds. That’s my brother, Braeden, standing next to me and I think we just went to another planet there for a minute.”
Maloney’s phone buzzed with messages from friends who said they saw him looking quite disappointed on the TBS broadcast. One sent a video.
“I was like, this is great, but I’ll deal with it later,” Maloney said. “We’ve got a game to win."
For more than seven innings, Maloney seemed destined to become part of the Fall 2019 “SadNatsFan.jpg” collection, his face recirculated on Twitter and Instagram for years to come when the Nationals did something disappointing. He had plenty of company, including fans who covered their eyes with the Nationals’ giveaway rally towels at different points during Tuesday’s game, and at least one surrender cobra.
Maloney, who attended every Nationals game at Dodger Stadium and made road trips for Washington’s visits to San Diego and Arizona this year, said he never lost hope, even when the Brewers took a 3-1 lead into the eighth.
“I thought history’s gotta reverse its pattern at some point,” he said. “My brothers and I were changing hats, freaking out, and we just knew a rally was going to happen. I’ve watched this team enough this season. I know we have a lot of fight."
With seats by the right field foul pole, Maloney and his brothers had an excellent view of Juan Soto’s go-ahead hit in the eighth inning. Had TBS’s cameras shown him again in that moment, MLB.com might’ve declared him the happiest man who’s ever lived.
“It would’ve been a million times worse if we had lost,” said Maloney, who had a little fun with his viral fame after the game by tagging MLB in an Instagram post that declared he was a #MemeNoMo.
Maloney plans to be at Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the NLDS, wearing the same hat and T-shirt that he wore to Tuesday’s game. Perhaps he’ll end up on TV again, and maybe this time he won’t be looking so glum.
“Maybe my stupid face meme was the catalyst for a comeback,” he said. “I’m happy to live with the [saddest fan] slogan, because we won.”
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