Rooting for the Nats

I’m settled in for a fun night watching the fifth and deciding game of the National League Division Series, and I have a definite rooting interest since Jayson Werth hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the 9th last night.

Jayson thought his career was over in 2005, but Mayo Clinic Orthopedic Surgeon Richard Berger, M.D. helped make his return to baseball possible.

Dr. Berger had discovered the kind of ligament tear Jayson had suffered in spring training in 2005. it is called a UT split tear and involves lengthwise split of the ligament, like a celery stick, as opposed to a complete rupture. Before Dr. Berger’s discovery of this type of injury, patients would never recover mostly because the injury doesn’t show up well on an MRI. It looks “normal” unless you really know what to look for.

Here is that story, as told on our Sharing Mayo Clinic blog, from when he was with the Phillies in 2009.

I met Jayson in 2009 when I got to interview him in Philadelphia:

That post led to a big story in USA Today when the Phillies went to the World Series again in 2009. It resulted in our first Twitter chat in collaboration with USA Today, in which Dr. Berger answered questions from readers, which led to one of those participants coming to Mayo Clinic for surgery by Dr. Berger for the same surgery, because she had a split-tear too. And that led to another USA Today story.

Two years ago in December, Jayson signed with the Washington Nationals, perennial cellar dwellers. Here’s a story about it in the New York Times, which gets into a lot of his Mayo Clinic story.

It’s neat that in just two years, Jayson is again playing post-season baseball. If my Twins can’t make the playoffs, I’m rooting for the Nationals.

And just in the time since I started writing this post, the Nats are off to a 3-0 lead in the first inning, as Jayson led off with a double and scored the game’s first run.

Go Nats!

Update 10/13/12: The Nats built a 6-0 lead early, but collapsed in the 9th inning, giving up four runs for a 9-7 loss. Bummer.

Visiting Nationals Park

When I was in Washington, D.C. last week I had a free evening that gave me a chance to go see the Nationals play a baseball game. It’s relatively unusual for me to be overnight in a city instead of traveling (I generally fly in one night and out the next), but in this case I had the extended opportunity.

Here are some photo memories from the adventure (click any of the photos to view a larger size):

The view from the back concourse (I arrived just after the game started):

I got a really good seat through an interesting exchange. As I was standing in line to buy a ticket, a guy came up to the group and said, “Anyone here alone?” I said I was, and he said, “Here, take this. It’s a really good seat…It’s about a $70 ticket.” Before I could reach for my wallet to give him a token of my thanks, he was gone.

While it would have been nice to see rookie phenom Steven Strasburg pitch, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten a seat like this if I had been there the next night:

At Nationals Park the between-innings diversions have a governmental/historical feel, such as the Presidents Race:

George won this time.

It was REALLY hot that night, and was almost unpleasant even in shorts. But a nice rain shower cooled things down significantly (and also led to a rain delay):

And after the rain delay I was able to even get a slightly better seat in the 18th row:

All in all, as I left a little early to catch the Metro back to the hotel, it was a memorable night: