DCSB: Mr. Walk-off and the Orchid, together again

First word you think of when you hear the name Ryan Zimmerman? It’s got to be “walk-off,” right? (Okay, maybe it’s “Face of the Franchise,” although that’s not really a word. And…
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How do you like your walk-off? (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

First word you think of when you hear the name Ryan Zimmerman? It’s got to be “walk-off,” right? (Okay, maybe it’s “Face of the Franchise,” although that’s not really a word. And maybe it’s “plantar fasciitis,” although that’s not a word, either.)

First word you think of when you hear the name Stephen Strasburg? I can think of a few options. Shutdown. Injured. Injury. Orchid. (Is Tony on this newsletter list? He’s gonna love this.)

So Wednesday night was perfect. It was by the script. It was exactly what you expected. Strasburg, in his return from injury, struggled with his velocity, appeared to shake his arm in discomfort, and departed early, as we all wondered whether another shutdown might be approaching. (Read Barry Svrluga: “Where Strasburg is concerned, there has to be, by now, a throw-your-hands-to-the-sky reaction for Nats fans.”)

And Zimmerman, after yet another wacky and lengthy night, came up in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on and a one-run deficit. Everyone was thinking walk-off. Everyone was picturing it. (Everyone who wasn’t half-asleep on their couch, anyhow, sheesh pace-of-play.) And so of course he did it, a thing he’s done more than almost anyone in baseball history. (Read Chelsea Janes: “A few moments of joy are better than nothing.” And take time for this ranking of all 11 of Mr. Walk-off’s walk-offs.)

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ESPN noted that Zimmerman’s 11th career walk-off is just two short of the MLB record, and second-most among active players behind Albert Pujols. Five of them came when the Nats were trailing, tied for the most in baseball history with Babe Ruth, Frank Robinson and Fred McGriff.

You get a reputation, and whether it’s fair or not, that becomes the expectation. When you hear Strasburg, you think injury. When you hear Zimmerman, you think walk-off. And when you hear Nats, you think “not dead yet.” (At least for a couple of more days.) (Or hours.) (Depending on your level of optimism.) (Look, they have a better chance now than they did yesterday, anyhow.) (Check back with me tomorrow.)

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