On May 25th, the Washington Nationals had a 0.1% chance of winning the NL Pennant (according to Baseball Reference and MLB.com). Since that staggering statistic was released the Nats have also been the best team in the league. After a rollercoaster post season of emotions the Nats find themselves in their first ever World Series against the Houston Astros. Keep reading about their road to the World Series.
The Nats on a Cinderella Run
The team is on a mission to bring a title back to D.C., and in the process of this miraculous Cinderella run, the team has also unified a city behind them.
At the beginning of the season things didn’t look so great for the Nats. They were off to a terrible start and at one point the team fell to the second worst slot in the NL East. The fan base felt abandoned by one of the league’s biggest stars when Bryce Harper opted for a $330M contract with division rivals the Philadelphia Phillies and, at the time, it looked like a potential playoff berth was quite literally mathematically impossible.
Plenty Left to Fight for
Fast forward to October, where playoff baseball means everything to the most die-hard fans, and the Nats find themselves with plenty left to fight for. Something feels different this year and it doesn’t take a particularly keen eye to see how this baseball team has shifted the landscape in D.C. Watching this team have so much fun in the dugout is contagious. It’s the little things like synchronized dance moves and the full on adoption of “Baby Shark” as the team’s rallying cry. One can’t help but to have a rejuvenated sense of hope for the Fall Classic, and pride for what this team has already accomplished. The Nats went from never winning a post-season series to never losing an NLCS game after they swept St. Louis in four straight games to solidify their spot in the World Series.
Game 5 of the National League Division Series
On October 10th, the team’s owner, Mark D. Lerner sent out a letter to Nationals fans declaring, “Nationals history was made at Dodger Stadium and once again this team showed that it simply will not quit.” The game Lerner was referencing was the winner-take-all Game 5 in Los Angeles in the NLDS. At the top of the eighth inning we saw this team tap into something special and propel themselves to upset the home team favorites in a breathtaking series where the bats wouldn’t stop ringing.
L.A. had a commanding 3-1 lead going into the eight with their starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Anthony Rendon slugs a lead off home run to bring the deficit down to one run. Juan Soto followed in suit and knocked another solo home run past the center field fences tying the game at 3-3. The two teams would continue to fight it out stretching game play into extra innings. In the 10th inning Howie Kendrick, a former Dodger, took to the plate with the bases loaded and proceeded to cap off the biggest hit of his career to date when he hit a grand slam to give the Nats a 7-3 lead. The Dodgers couldn’t recover after that and Kendrick earned himself the NLCS MVP award.
The Dodgers were one of four teams to eliminate the Nats from the NLDS years past. Dating back to 2012, the Nats have suffered playoff losses to the Dodgers, the Giants, the Cubs and the Cardinals. It was the one impossible hurdle to clear no matter how well our regular season record was or whom we squared up against in the playoffs.
Home Town Support
In 2018 the Washington Capitals ended the title drought in the District and brought the Stanley Cup home for the first time in team history. During that time, the Nats were very involved and vocal about their support. Players like Max Scherzer and Ryan Zimmerman were seen at home game sporting Caps gear with Bryce Harper was seen supporting his hometown Las Vegas Knights in the heated Stanly Cup final matchup – perhaps the first wave of alienation between Bryce Harper and D.C. sports. Foreshadowing the inevitable split in early 2019.
The Capitals never forgot the support they received from the Nats and have since more than rallied behind the Nats in the playoffs. In that same past calendar year the D.C.’s WNBA team the Washington Mystics won a national title. The Mystics went to the finals in 2018 only to get swept in a heartbreaking defeat. This year they ran it back and brought a title back to the district. Together, these three teams have inspired a deep bond and friendship. Elena Delle Donne from the Mystics has thrown out the first pitch for the Nats and dropped the ceremonial puck for the Caps this year alone.
Something special is happening in Washington, D.C. In a city often politicized in the national news, it’s easy for people to find themselves divided by our current political climate. It’s refreshing to see people come together in unity to support the Washington Nationals. No matter what happens with Houston, we’ll always have this magical Cinderella run to remember. This team has already reminded us of such values like tenacity and perseverance. The World Series will feature some of the best pitching the MLB has to offer and anything can happen. All that separates the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals from bringing hardware back to their respective cities is four wins.
Let’s join the Washington Nationals, together, and stay in the fight!!