Nationals prepare to celebrate five-year anniversary of World Series title

Nationals prepare to celebrate five-year anniversary of World Series title

Tooba Shakir 54 years ago 0 0

Four years after the coronavirus pandemic denied the Nationals and their fans a proper, season-long victory lap following the franchise’s first World Series title, the team is leaning into its celebration of its 2019 championship with the Houston Astros in town for a three-game series beginning Friday.

“The fans, they’re the ones that really got cheated,” Nationals Manager Dave Martinez said toward the end of Washington’s pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, which began with a flag-raising ceremony at an empty Nationals Park before a loss to the New York Yankees and ended with the Nationals, who wore gold-trimmed uniforms all season, eliminated from playoff contention. “Hopefully moving forward … we do something special for them, whether we bring all the guys back, the guys that are here, whatever.”

More than a dozen players and coaches from Washington’s World Series-winning roster are scheduled to return for this weekend’s festivities, which include fireworks and giveaways. The guest list, which is subject to change, includes former Nationals Brian Dozier, Adam Eaton, Javy Guerra, Bob Henley, Howie Kendrick, Aníbal Sánchez, Kurt Suzuki and Ryan Zimmerman, as well as current players and coaches Henry Blanco, Patrick Corbin, Sean Doolittle, Dave Martinez, Octavio Martinez, Gerardo Parra, Tanner Rainey and Victor Robles.

(If the returning players have half as much fun together as they did re-watching Game 7 of the 2019 World Series on a memorable public Zoom video call in the early stages of the pandemic, it should be a good time.)

Outside of the active players from Washington’s 2019 squad who now play for other MLB teams, including Yan Gomes, Daniel Hudson, Anthony Rendon, Max Scherzer, Juan Soto, Michael A. Taylor and Trea Turner, the most conspicuous name not scheduled to return is 2019 World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, who recently retired after a 13-year career cut short by injuries. Matt Adams couldn’t make the trip because he’s looking to extend his career in the Mexican League, where he homered in his first game last week. Fernando Rodney will also be missed.

Friday night’s series opener against the Astros — the sign-stealing squad Washington vanquished in the World Series — will be followed by a fireworks show featuring “2019 World Champion Music.” Expect to hear Pedro Capó’s reggaeton hit “Calma” and “Baby Shark,” both of which figured prominently in the Nationals’ World Series run, throughout the weekend.

The first 20,000 fans at Saturday’s 4:05 p.m. game will receive a 2019 World Series replica ring. The keepsake isn’t as inspired as the Class A Staten Island Yankees scheduling a mini trash can giveaway to coincide with a visit from the Astros’ affiliate in 2020, but the rings, which were on display at the Nationals’ ballpark tour for media members last month, do look nice. No word on whether Oscar the Grouch will make an appearance.

Saturday will also feature a pair of pregame question-and-answer sessions with players from the 2019 team. Nationals radio play-by-play man Charlie Slowes will moderate a panel for season plan holders featuring World Series champions on Washington’s current roster, while MASN TV voice Bob Carpenter will moderate a panel featuring visiting Nationals alumni, some of whom will join the TV and radio broadcasts on Saturday and Sunday. (In a promotional video teasing his return to D.C., Dozier has vowed to keep his shirt on. Don’t count on it.)

On Sunday, the first 8,000 fans 12 and under will receive a viewfinder toy featuring images from the 2019 World Series run. Players will sign autographs at the top of the Nationals’ dugout for fans who obtain a free voucher, which will be distributed on a first come, first served basis at Section 103. Gates open for all fans at 12:15.

The Astros and Nationals have followed very different paths since Kendrick doinked the go-ahead home run off the foul pole in Washington’s Game 7 triumph in Houston five years ago. While the Astros have been to the playoffs in each of the last four years and won the World Series in 2022, the Nationals, who embarked on a rebuild by trading away stars Scherzer, Turner and Soto at the deadline in 2021 and 2022, have averaged 98 losses over the last three seasons. The five-year anniversary of the 2019 World Series title is worth celebrating, though the names from that team who won’t be in the lineup this weekend provide a painful reminder of what might have been.

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