Courtesy of Alex Holmes
Trembling knees, a weak stomach, a mild headache, stress, cold sweats, and tension as taut as a rope. These were the symptoms of watching the Washington Nationals compete in the postseason. We Nats fans hadn’t recovered from 2012’s heartbreaking loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the ninth inning of the division series, 2014’s defeat by the San Francisco Giants, and the five-game NLDS in 2016 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Evidently, Washington’s postseason history is rife with missed opportunity and disappointment.
Nationals fans are used to doing well in the regular season, having high expectations heaped on the team, and then losing in the division series. We’ve had numerous star players go through or join the organization, from Bryce Harper to Jayson Werth to Daniel Murphy to Michael Morse, but none of them have carried the team all the way.
Finally, in 2019, 14 years after the Montreal Expos moved to DC, 38 years since the team has made it past the division series, and for the first time since 1924, a Washington team has won the World Series.
This year, along with the blood, sweat, and tears, a new feeling emerged. The feeling of victory, and it is satisfying.
Having watched this team since 2012, growing up alongside some of the most exciting players in baseball (and occasionally watching them go), I can’t begin to describe how euphoric it is to watch the Nationals win something. Especially with this team.
The 2019 Washington Nationals are one of the most fun teams in baseball. By age, they’re the oldest team in the MLB, with vets like Howie Kendrick, Adam Eaton, and, of course, franchise stalwart Ryan Zimmerman anchoring the team. But they also have young up-and-comers like Trea Turner and Juan Soto. No matter their age, position, salary, or status, every single player on the team is down to party. Every home run, single, strikeout, or mere at-bat is cause for infectious celebration. They love to play the game, and it shows.
Of course, I can’t talk about the spirit of this team without mentioning Gerardo Parra. The outfielder, acquired in May, initially fell into a slump where he didn’t deliver whenever he was called on to pinch-hit. To make his kids happy, and for a change of pace, Parra changed his walk-up song to “Baby Shark”, the popular children’s song. It quickly caught on, and now fans delineate singles from doubles and doubles from triples via the motions associated with the song. A shark puppet hangs in the dugout as well, offering moral support.
Despite their personality, to say that this team is all play and no work wouldn’t be accurate. The Nationals’ adopted motto, “Stay in the Fight,” perfectly sums up their work ethic. Washington is determined, hard-working, and never quits. This postseason, the Nats won five elimination games where they were trailing. The Nationals stayed in the fight, and now the fight is won.
Watching this team evolve from a struggling underdog to an underdog that never gives up has been a pleasure (even when it hasn’t). I remember watching the Nats give up four runs on October 12, 2012, and now I can also remember the Nats scoring six runs to come from behind and win the Fall Classic on October 30, 2019.