As we go to press shortly after the celebratory parade and White House team visit this past weekend, we are still bursting with joy from the Washington Nationals’ World Series win — a victory made sweeter by the obvious pleasure it brought the team’s owners, the philanthropic Lerner family, who are major donors to multiple Jewish and other charitable causes and organizations in the mid-Atlantic region and in Israel.
Just getting to the World Series was a dream come true. But the seesaw series battle, the improbable Game 7 victory and the multiple story lines around the Nationals’ series win are the stuff of legend. There is redemption in victory. And for all of us, the Nationals’ world championship was worth the wait. As owner Ted Lerner, who turned 94 during the series, quipped: “They say good things come to those who wait — 95 years is a pretty long wait!”
We join in full-throated tribute to a remarkable team achievement that will almost certainly go down in baseball history as among the most impressive and improbable championship wins. Long before the series was underway, nothing suggested this outcome. Indeed, as of May 24, according to the Washington Post, the chances of the Nationals winning the series stood at a hopeless 1.5 percent. But the Nationals persevered, and made an impressive run to the World Series, where the powerful and talented Houston Astros were heavily favored.
The Nationals started strong, taking two games from the Astros on their home turf, only to have that favor returned by the Astros when they won the next three games at Nationals Park. Which set up the epic battles in games 6 and 7 in Houston.
The come-from-behind underdog victory by the oldest team in baseball is a reminder of why baseball is still “America’s pastime,” no matter the flagging tickets sales that’s had pundits sounding the death knell for the sport. Baseball may not have the gladiatorial and bone crunching heroics of football, but this World Series matchup showed the best of the game: the intricate psychology of the pitching-and-hitting duels; the shocking calls and contested plays; heroic performances by team stars and by players whose heroism wasn’t at all a given; and head-spinning decisions by managers that bewildered the fans.
The Nationals’ World Series victory is a triumphant story of redemption, teamwork, pride and, of course, talent – of a scrappy bunch of new and more seasoned players who unaccountably put it all together with exquisite timing and execution. They had fun, and they made us proud.
For Washington, a city often seen by the outside world as a place of political strife and division, especially in 2019, the Nats’ victory is a true moment of unity and collective joy. There is pride in Washington, and it is a welcome distraction from the political turmoil going on down the street.