World Series Champions!!
What an incredible run through the entire playoffs, ending with four road wins in Houston against the mighty Astros.
I’m so happy for the only original National, Ryan Zimmerman. Stephen Strasburg as the World Series MVP is so deserving. Love all the “Los Viejos” (the Old Men)! And love all the kids as well!
What a season.
If you had asked me on Memorial Day…
I could not have imagined that the Washington Nationals would make the playoffs, much less the World Series.
I could not have imagined a kids song, some goofy sunglasses, and a home-run dance party serving as tools to loosen up a perpetually high-strung, under-achieving team and its Type-A personality fan base.
I could not have imagined that the Washington Nationals would be described by one columnist as the only “likeable” team of the four left in the hunt during the League Championship Series. Does he know he’s talking about Washington, D.C., the city the country loves to hate?
I could not have imagined manager Dave Martinez holding on to his job through September, much less out-managing such well-respected skippers as Dave Roberts of the Dodgers, Mike Shildt of the St. Louis Cardinals, or A.J. Hinch of the Houston Astros in October. Speaking of Martinez, I could not have imagined that his “Let’s go 1-0 today” and “Bumpy roads often lead to beautiful places” quotes would be so damn inspirational.
I could not have imagined the Nationals fan base being so, well, spectacular during three home losses in the World Series. In years past, the fans who turned up for the playoffs were often there to party and seemed to think the Nats—who often did have the better team—could just show up and win. This year, the team’s playing for the joy of the game rubbed off on the fan base. I know that I’ve seldom had such a good time at the ballpark when my team lost as I did at Game 3. It was a knowledgeable baseball crowd. And it is a crowd that knows how to catch a home run ball without spilling the beer!
And because it is Washington, D.C., it was also a crowd that was knowledgeable about politics and the current dangers to our democracy. It was a crowd that cheered celebrity chef and humanitarian José Andrés, who further endeared himself to the town when he noted that he was proud to be an immigrant throwing out the first pitch for a team full of immigrants. But I digress…
I could not have imagined the Nationals going into Houston and winning the first two games of the World Series on the road against the mighty Astros, and then bouncing back in a wacky and ultimately marvelous Game 6 after being held to one run in each of the three games at Nationals Park.
I could not have imagined being behind in five elimination games during the playoffs, and coming back to win each one.
I could not have imagined such a satisfying Game 7.
Frankly, I could not have imagined having this much fun watching a baseball team.
In my five decades of being enthralled by baseball—beginning as a nine-year-old with a 1964 family vacation to Wrigley Field where I saw the Chicago Cubs play Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals—nothing compares to the joy of watching this year’s Nationals. This is one time when I haven’t let my expectations drive my happiness, and it has paid off in spades.
In years past, after the end of the season I’ve been fond of quoting A. Bartlett Giamatti. The Ph.D. professor of English Renaissance literature, former president of Yale, and the great commissioner of baseball who banned Pete Rose for life and then died of a heart attack 8 days later, said of baseball:
“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”
But this year, I don’t feel heartbroken!
This may have been the last game in a Nationals uniform for Anthony (Tony Two-Bags) Rendon and Stephen Strasburg. I hope that’s not the case, but whatever happens, I want to thank them, and thank all the Nats, for a magical year.
Go World Series Champion Nats!
More to come…