Washington Nationals Win First World Series

The Washington Nationals won their first World Series in franchise history, and the first for Washington, D.C. since Calvin Coolidge was President.

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals on winning Game 7 of the 2019 World Series, giving them a series win of 4 games to 3 over the Houston Astros:

Suddenly, it was all over, and the blue-jerseyed visitors were spilling and screaming out of every corner of Minute Maid Park — from their dugout along the third base line, the bullpen in left field, the expanse of outfield, all four corners of the diamond — and converging upon the joyous pile of humanity forming near the center. Once the Washington Nationals had no more giant mountains to climb, they took the small dirt hill of the pitcher’s mound, and they hugged and bounced.

With one more comeback win, at the end of a comeback season for the ages, the Nationals were World Series champions. A 6-2 victory over the Houston Astros in Game 7 on Wednesday night sealed it, delivering the first baseball title for the nation’s capital since Walter Johnson’s Senators won their only one in 1924.

Having existed for the better part of five months as a decided underdog — their chances of winning the World Series on May 24, when they were 19-31, were 1.5 percent — the Nationals had come to live for the daily fight for their lives. And now, the fight was over.

Seventh-inning home runs by Anthony Rendon and Howie Kendrick, the former an MVP-caliber third baseman possibly playing his last game in a Nationals uniform, the latter a 36-year-old veteran in the deepest autumn of his career, turned a slim deficit into a slim lead for the Nationals. A tacked-on run in the eighth and two more in the ninth provided some breathing room.

The final out, delivered by reliever Daniel Hudson, settled into catcher Yan Gomes’s glove at 10:50 p.m. Central time, touching off the mad dash to the center of the diamond. A hushed crowd of 43,326 watched the visitors celebrate as the Astros slouched off the field.

And so ended the longest season in Washington baseball history — one that began on a chilly Thursday in late March, cratered in late May, caught fire in the summer months, tested hearts in September and careened through October like a wobble-wheeled wagon set free at the top of a steep hill. This Nationals season was a wild, screaming, impossibly long ride, one that carried them all the way to the doorstep of November.

Take a step back and consider what these Nationals accomplished: They notched all four of their wins in this series on the road, in the building where the Astros had the majors’ best home record in 2019, and became the first team since the 2016 Chicago Cubs to take the World Series by winning Games 6 and 7 on the road. They outhit an Astros offense that ranked among the most potent in history. They hung losses on the Astros’ twin aces — Gerrit Cole in Game 1, Justin Verlander in Games 2 and 6 — and outlasted yet another Houston ace, Zack Greinke, on Wednesday night.

“To win four games on the road in the World Series,” said first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, the longest-tenured National, “it’s almost fitting for us.”

The Washington Post’s Thomas Boswell comments:

Pay attention to the Washington Nationals’ victory parade Saturday. Make sure those who ride in those cars and sit on that stage appear young and hearty.

Because if instead Anthony Rendon, Howie Kendrick, Juan Soto, Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and 20 others appear to be elderly men, we will know they truly sold their souls to pull off this once-in-a-century triumph.

Yes, they did it again. The unbelievable, late-game-dancing, break-their-foes’-hearts Nationals did it again.

Washington has a World Series champion for the first time in 95 years after a 6-2 Game 7 win over the utterly stunned, disbelieving 107-win Houston Astros here Wednesday night, and the only explanations seem to be baseball miracles or deals with the devil.

This time, as if to show that the deeds of these Nats truly are once-per-century stuff, the game-transforming blow was a two-run home run sliced off the right field foul pole by Kendrick, the same 36-year-old gentleman whose grand slam extinguished the season of the 106-win Los Angeles Dodgers in the division series three weeks ago

Two teams whose brilliant thinkers believe players of his age are dinosaurs on the edge of extinction have been pushed into a tar pit by Howie.

For the fifth time in an elimination game in this postseason, the Nats came from behind, thundering into the lead with home runs. No team has ever done such a thing. But then no team has had Adam Eaton, Rendon, Soto and Kendrick — every one of them touched with baseball magic — batting second through fifth in its order. All four were at it again in Game 7. In all, that quartet drove in 24 of the Nats’ 32 runs.

This time, the Astros led 2-0 entering the seventh inning behind Zack Greinke, who had allowed just one single to that point. Repeat: one single. The Nats seemed doomed, almost out of breath and baseball sleight-of-hand.

But the Nationals seemed similarly moribund when they trailed the Milwaukee Brewers 3-1 and the Dodgers 3-1 in the eighth inning of elimination games. And look who’s now standing as champs.

(…)

Heroes can’t help themselves. They hear the call to battle, and they charge toward the sounds of danger. Sometimes, if that admired hero is a general, no one can tell him whether his ideas about the best plan of action are wise or simply brave. Sometimes only the field of battle gives the true answer. And you can’t know until you get there.

For more than three days, Scherzer has been 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds of adrenaline in spikes, pure kinetic energy barely contained in a Washington Nationals uniform. After feeling angry, disappointed and perhaps even mortified Sunday when he could not pitch in Game 5 because of back and neck spasms, he made it clear that, with the help of a cortisone shot in his neck that day, he planned to pitch in Game 7, if there was one. It was not a point to be discussed.

Merely middling Max completed a gallant and perfectly respectable 102-pitch, five-inning, two-run outing.

Could this strategy — just hanging within two runs of the Astros — possibly work? As it had all season as the Nationals recovered from a 19-31 start with little margin for error? As it worked in the wild-card game, when the Brewers handed the ball to all-star reliever Josh Hader? As it worked when the Dodgers handed the ball to future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw?

The 2019 World Series filled with firsts. It was the first series in baseball history where the road team won every game. It was the first time the franchise that started out as the Montreal Expos in 1968 won the World Series, and it was the first time that a team from Washington, D.C. had won the World Series since the original Washington Senators defeated the New York Giants 4 games to 3 in the 1924 World Series. It was the first since the 1914 Boston Braves that a team that, at one point, was 12 games under 0.500 game back to get a place in the playoffs and win the World Series. And, it was the first time that the Nationals, who had perennially lost the first round of the playoffs had advanced beyond that first round. It was also a surprise to observers who assumed that the team would suffer significantly after losing batting ace Bryce Harper, who signed with the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2018-2019 offseason.

It was also the continuation of a trend we’ve seen in baseball in the past several years where the seeming “underdog” team won the World Series trophy. With the exception of last year’s win by the Boston Red Sox, the years from 2015 to 2019 have seen Series wins by the Kansas City Royals (first since 1985), the Chicago Cubs (first since 1908), and the Houston Astros (first ever). There will, of course, be a victory parade in Washington on Saturday, and perhaps just for a few days the partisan battles will be put aside as the city comes together to celebrate only its second sports championship since the Redskins last won the Super Bowl in 1991.

Congratulations, Nationals!

FILED UNDER: Sports, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Slugger says:

    Old age has brought decline and infirmity to me; however, I have seen wonders in compensation that the twenty year old me dreamt of. I have seen men on the moon! I have seen the World Series won by the Red Sox, the Cubs, and now Washington. Life is good.

  2. Kathy says:

    So I throw the ball to first base and who gets it?
    That’s the first thing you said right
    I don’t even know what I’m talking about!
    But that’s all you have to do!
    To throw it to first base?
    Yes
    Then who gets it?
    Naturally
    Naturally?
    Naturally
    Ok
    Now you got it
    So I throw the ball to first base and Naturally gets it
    No! You throw the ball to first base-
    Then who gets it?
    Naturally!
    That’s what I said!
    No, you did not
    I throw the ball to first base-
    Then who gets it
    He’d better get it!

  3. Mikey says:

    There will, of course, be a victory parade in Washington on Saturday, and perhaps just for a few days the partisan battles will be put aside as the city comes together to celebrate only its second sports championship since the Redskins last won the Super Bowl in 1991.

    I know WNBA isn’t the massive juggernaut MLB is, but DC’s WNBA team, the Mystics, won the WNBA title just three weeks ago.

  4. Liberal Capitalist says:

    Great to see a team make this type of accomplishment!

    Standby for Trump’s congratulatory phone call in … three … two… never.

  5. Mikey says:

    @Mikey: That should be both MLB and NHL.

  6. al Ameda says:

    Have to admit it, Rendon and Soto are two of my favorite players in baseball right now. Soto is a wonder.

    Congratulations DC

  7. Mister Bluster says:

    Cardinal fans, I feel your pain

    (just not right now)

  8. DrDaveT says:

    @al Ameda:

    Have to admit it, Rendon and Soto are two of my favorite players in baseball right now.

    I went to buy an Anthony Rendon replica jersey the other day, ’cause he’s my favorite player.

    $230.

    I’m still recalibrating; I may pull the trigger, but that’s crazy money for a fake jersey.

    That said… WOOOOOOOOOO! Best birthday present ever.