Like Ovechkin’s Caps these Nationals had the stench of being perennial post season underachievers. In most cases, the choking took place against either the Giants, the Cardinals, or the Dodgers.
But like Ovechkin’s championship hockey team of two seasons ago—this baseball team went on a magical almost surreal run to garner the first ever championship for these Nationals of D.C.
How fitting this Game Seven 6-2 road win occurred the night before the U.S. House voted to move forward with impeaching the most overtly corrupt POTUS in the history of our Republic.
I’m almost certain one of the two Dem votes against impeachment came from my own 5th Congressional District where I’m equally certain Kenrda Horn received conditional quid pro quo threats from the Trump faux Christians if she were to vote yes.
But enough of that…this is about the Washington Nationals and their improbable run to the apex of the baseball universe which no one really saw coming except possibly Mike Rizzo and Dave Martinez.
These Nationals were in Al Pacino–On Any Given Sunday Hell at 19-31 in late May. There was chatter of Dave Martinez being fired. But Mike Rizzo held steady with his field manager. Dave Martinez likewise displayed biblical patience with his team which was known for having a penchant for choking when it mattered most. Rizzo stuck with Martinez. Martinez stuck with his players. The fans were skeptical.
Slowly it happened…these Nationals week by week… month by month transformed from a cocoon into a beautiful butterfly of a baseball team which had baseball’s best starting rotation and some clutch hitters who made every fan wonder why it took so long for the Nats to get rid of Bryce Harper.
In the post game series celebration to a man the Nats talked of all 25 rostered players pulling their link on the chain. Next man up. Do your job and the guy next to you will do his. The kind of cliché talk out of vogue at times in contemporary sports.
Dave Martinez talked of ‘Finishing the Fight’ in his old school manner somewhat in the same manner as Craig Berube urged his Blues to beat the Boston Bruins in Game 7 on the road in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Perhaps–I shouldn’t be weaving the Nationals, the Caps, and the St. Louis Blues into the same tapestry of champions, but I can’t help it . All three of these recent teams which won unlikely championships all had a history of choking—yet found a way to utter total redemption to climb atop the peak of their sport’s world in a magical way which inspired our hearts and reminds all of the inherit beauty of what it is to win a championship with a group of guys you love.
This Nationals team won five elimination games in this post season run. They won seven games on the road. They beat higher seeded teams in the Dodgers, the Cardinals, and the Astros. They shouldn’t have gotten past the Milwaukee Brewers in the wild card game, but they found a way. They fought, they grinded, and when it came down to a Game 7 date with Houston on the road they Finished the Fight and put themselves in elite rarified air as far as World Series champions go in the history of baseball.
Along with the ’69 New York Mets this Nationals championship team will rank atop my list of favorite World Series champions.
If Rendon leaves in free agency this summer–he leaves. This is the world of professional sport in the collective bargaining era. But it won’t matter–these Nationals are chokers no more.
Instead they now possess an epic pristine loft atop the mountain of baseball history.