So my Stephen Strasburg take is looking pretty good….
And here we are. This is the biggest sporting event that the nation’s capital has been a part of since Super Bowl XXVI, played twenty-seven years ago. This is the biggest baseball game the nation’s capital has been a part of since Game 7 of the World Series some ninety-four years ago. Yet, the Nationals wouldn’t have it any other way.
There are so many moments that this season has provided. The first win was a walk-off, for crying out loud. The literal walk-off vs. Philly. The baby shark’s slam. The back-to-back-to-back-to-back slams. The black eye game. The Tyler Skaggs game. The Strasburg dancing game. The Rendon slam game. The wildest comeback I’ve ever witnessed in baseball. The Aaron Barrett game. The clinching game. The Juan Soto playoff game. The Ryan Zimmerman playoff game. The Howie Kendrick playoff game. All the Stephen Strasburg playoff games.
But what exactly does this season mean for the city? For years, Washington has been derided as a fake sports town, where transplants go to work and nobody’s really a fan of the local teams. Baseball in the nation’s capital has taken a particularly bad rep, especially with the Nationals struggling with attendance issues. There seems to be a perception that this town doesn’t love baseball.
In reality, the opposite is true: baseball doesn’t love us.
This city has a tortured baseball history. Since our last World Series championship in 1924, we’ve fielded godawful Senators teams that spawned the saying “First in war, first in peace, last in the American League.” We’ve had two – two – iterations of the Senators pack up and leave for the greener pastures of Minnesota and Texas. We’ve had thirty-four years without a team before we got the Nationals. We’ve had back-to-back 100-loss seasons. We’ve had so many playoff heartbreaks, from Pete Kozma to Aaron Barrett to Clayton Kershaw to Matt Wieters.
And now, we have an opportunity to change the narrative.
To be clear, we had crushed our playoff demons by beating St. Louis in the NLCS. But we have a chance to do something even greater tonight. For the nation, it won’t feel as poetic as it did when the Cubs won a few years ago. But for me, and for every other Nationals fan, it’ll release the pain of our tortured baseball history.
And who better to do it than these Nationals?
Who better to crush 95 years of heartbreak, agony, and emptiness than the team that’s literally been doing it all year? These Nationals have never made it easy on themselves. They began the year 19-31, second to last in the National League. Since then, they’ve been the top team in baseball with a record of 85-43. Four times they’ve faced elimination these playoffs. Four times they’ve prevailed. Eight times they’ve played away from the nation’s capital these playoffs. Seven times they’ve prevailed. On May 24, they had a 0.1% chance to win the World Series. Today, they have a 39.7% chance according to Fangraphs and a 48% chance according to FiveThirtyEight. All year long, they’ve bucked the trend. Why stop now?
Happy Scherzday, everyone. Let’s go 1-0 one last time.