The Washington Nationals lost in the NLDS again, but there are still reasons for DC sports fans to hold their heads up.

The 2017 Washington Nationals went down in the NLDS again in the most Nationals fashion ever. Ace Max Scherzer blew a 4-3 lead after allowing four runs in the fifth inning, including a stretch where he allowed a hitter to reach on a dropped third strike, an intentional walk, catcher’s interference and a hit by pitch.

You just can’t Nats harder than the Nats did last night. This is now the team’s fourth straight exit in the NLDS, and has to be the most painful because the win was right there for the taking and slipped through their fingers in the strangest way imaginable.

If you are a DC baseball fan, doing anything other than laying in bed with the blinds drawn and the TV running nothing but Old Yeller on a loop, be my guest. This is the type of loss that turns fans off from sports for good. Because, really, life is way easier when we convince ourselves the outcome of a game being played by grown men wearing pajamas does not impact the fate of the free world.

Nationals fans, I get that you’re struggling today, but it gets better (believe me, as an Orioles fan that watched Ubaldo Jimenez walk off the mound dejectedly in last year’s AL Wild Card Game, I know). Here are five things to keep telling yourself today as you do your best to put on a brave face and wander out of the house in a daze to drown your sorrows at the nearest watering hole.

4. The NL East is still a joke

The entire 2017 season was a victory lap for the Nationals in the NL East, and it will be that way again next year with none of their rivals appearing to have even the slightest hope of knocking them off. Let’s start at the bottom with the Philadelphia Phillies who have been trying to rebuild a farm system for half a decade. Nope. The Miami Marlins are getting ready to bring on new owners and simultaneously trade away a player who hit 59 home runs. The Atlanta Braves are looking for a new GM after the entire league came to despise their old one. And the Mets. We’ll leave it at that with the Mets.

The Nationals will have an easy time getting back to the playoffs next year in Bryce Harper’s last season before free agency. Sure, you’ll have to wait an entire winter while the front office does its best to hand out back-loaded contracts to marquee free agents, but it will definitely be worth the wait. The 2018 season will bring another rollicking rout through the NL East and a postseason where the bar will still be set at the ground floor. What could go wrong?

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