Thanks to everyone who contributed to the "Best (and other) Moments of 2010" poll yesterday. You all gave some fantastic answers and insight into why you chose the moments you did. Plus, a bunch of you made me laugh with your wickedly funny answers.
I've pored through all the answers, and I think I've come up with the consensus selections. So here's what the readership picked for each moment, along with my own personal choice in each category...
BEST MOMENT OF 2010
Readers pick: Stephen Strasburg's debut
My pick: Stephen Strasburg's debut
This one was no contest. The electricity in the ballpark that night was second-to-none. The press box was packed beyond capacity. The entire baseball world was watching on TV. And then the kid not only lived up to the hype but exceeded it by a factor of 10.
WORST MOMENT OF 2010
Readers pick: Opening Day
My pick: Opening Day
It was a neck-and-neck race between the Opening Day fiasco against the Phillies and Stephen Strasburg's injury, but Opening Day barely won out. It was bad enough that the Nationals laid an egg in the game. That it happened in front of a huge pro-Philly crowd that came down I-95 on chartered buses and prevented actual D.C. fans from buying tickets turned this into a moment no one around here will soon forget.
FUNNIEST MOMENT OF 2010
Readers pick: The Miss Iowa saga
My pick: The Miss Iowa saga
Guess we really do think alike in most cases. The moment Miguel Batista said, "Imagine if you go to see Miss Universe, then you end up having Miss Iowa, you might get those kind of boos," I knew he had just uttered the quote of the year. I didn't know, though, that it would get picked up by every news outlet in the country, that Katherine Connors would respond and that a couple of days later she'd be throwing out the first pitch at Nationals Park. Comedy gold, the entire saga. So this gets my vote as well, though there were a few hysterical moments from inside the clubhouse or press box that would also get my consideration but probably can't be shared in public.
SADDEST MOMENT OF 2010
Readers vote: Stephen Strasburg's injury
My vote: Stephen Strasburg's injury
This wound up as a neck-and-neck race between Strasburg, the Opening Day fiasco and Adam Dunn signing with the White Sox. In the end, the Strasburg injury wins by a nose. Or, more appropriately, a torn elbow ligament. For me, the sad moment wasn't so much when he winced in pain upon throwing his final pitch in Philadelphia (though that was tough to watch, especially since it came as he was absolutely dominating the Phillies lineup). No, the truly sad moment was when Mike Rizzo said the words we all feared and had come to expect in a conference call about a week later: "torn ulnar collateral ligament." The reality of the situation immediately sunk in, as did the long-term ramifications for the Nationals franchise.
SENTIMENTAL FAVORITE MOMENT OF 2010
Readers pick: The "Sign Adam Dunn!" chants
My pick: September 5
The love Nationals fans showed for Dunn during the season's final homestand was heartwarming, and the big guy was genuinely moved by it. My personal sentimental favorite moment, though, was actually a nondescript one. It came on September 5 as I packed up my laptop inside the press box at PNC Park in Pittsburgh following Game 137 of 162. There was nothing special about that particular game (the Nats beat the Pirates 8-1) and it meant nothing in the standings and my postgame article was nothing out of the ordinary. But as I looked down at that gorgeous ballpark on a spectacularly gorgeous late Sunday afternoon, shadows creeping over the field, the sun glistening off the skyscrapers beyond the Allegheny River behind the right-field fence, I couldn't help but pause and appreciate the moment. Am I the luckiest guy in the world to be able to do this for a living or what?
"WHAT THE #$%&?!" MOMENT OF 2010
Readers pick: Nyjer Morgan
My pick: Several
There were plenty of submissions about Morgan, some about his temper tantrum in center field that allowed Adam Jones to hit an inside-the-park-homer, some about the events that led up to the bench-clearing brawl in Florida. Whatever your precise moment of choice is, chances are Nyjer was involved. (Though there were also several votes for Cristian Guzman's misplayed line drive in right field in Houston that ended a game in most disturbing fashion, as well as Roger Bernadina getting picked off second base to end a game against the Mets.) I like all those choices, and you can't go wrong with any of them. As a sportswriter, though, my real "What the #$%&?!" moments come when some news breaks that I never saw coming. For me, there were two choices this year: 1) Elijah Dukes getting released during the middle of spring training, and 2) Jayson Werth signing a seven-year contract with the Nats. I became aware of each development via an emailed press release from the Nationals, and my reaction to each was the same: "What the #$%&?!"