It was sad to see Jordan Zimmermann pitch his final game in DC wearing a Nationals uniform. Zimmermann was here before the division titles, before Harper and Strasburg, and before national magazines regularly put Nats players on their covers. Zimmermann pitched for this team when there were 100 loss seasons and empty ballparks.
Players move on. It happens. Long ago I made peace with players like Jordan Zimmermann leaving via free agency. In fact, it can be a benefit. Sometimes fan favorites stick around too long. Personally, I’d rather see a player like Zimmermann leave when he’s on top. That way, we don’t have to watch the long, slow, expensive decline.
But it’s important to stop the revolving door and every now and then and appreciate what’s happening. Friday night should have been about Jordan Zimmermann making his final start in Washington as a National. It was the last chance for fans to show their appreciation.
Matt Williams denied fans that opportunity when he lifted Zimmermann for a pinch hitter in the fifth inning. Williams could have pulled Zimmermann mid inning, which would have allowed a curtain call. It would have been a perfectly logical thing to do. The Nats were losing 6-1. This season is over. Instead, Williams opted for a small tactical baseball manuveur when he could have created a larger moment of significance for the franchise. When the occasion called for the manager to think big, Williams acted small.
This shouldn’t be entirely surprising. Matt Williams showed a shocking lack of awareness during his Nationals tenure, which should be coming to a close very soon. As Williams made bizarre decision after bizarre decision this season, he never seemed to grasp the enormity of his ignorance. Williams is a linear thinker who sees baseball through a very narrow lens. In his world, the fifth inning was a pinch hit situation, so goshdarnit, he was pinch hitting. In Matty’s world, there are no larger considerations and there’s no other point of view. He’s the manager, and he’s going to manage his way.
It’s too bad because fans were robbed of something that could have been a pretty memorable moment. This isn’t a franchise with a lot of history. Jordan Zimmermann is easily best pitcher in team history. He was a big part of some very important moments to this young fanbase. Many fans went to Nats Park on Friday night for one reason: Jordan Zimmermann. Instead, thanks to our clueless and soon to be unemployed manager, it turned into another pointless September baseball game in a season where there have been far too many.