The 35,587 fans who showed up at Nationals Park on Monday night may not have received the traditional clinching celebration they were hoping for. You know, the high fly ball, the outfielder setting up underneath it, the final out, the dogpile near the mound?
Nevertheless, while the final box score will reflect a 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, those who were present (and the thousands who will later claim to be) still got a memorable clinching moment for the price of admission. It occurred when Atlanta's 2-1 loss to Pittsburgh became official as the Nats and Phillies went to the bottom of the ninth inning. The cheers in the crowd grew as the news from PNC Park quickly filtered down and the Nationals players and coaches celebrated in the dugout. The result of their game had suddenly been rendered irrelevant when it came to whether or not they'd be able to stage a huge party before heading home.
And party they did. With the first division title in Nationals history secured, players popped champagne in the clubhouse and then returned to the field to celebrate with fans. There is still plenty of work to do as the Nats — who held first place from May 22 onward — will enter the postseason as one of the favorites. But they also deserved a few hours of celebration and release, and Davey Johnson's squad definitely took it.
As Phillies manager Charlie Manuel put it "that was the first time we won and got beat."
Here are a few photos from the party: