Dave’s Take: Washington Nationals World Series Championship win makes sense

It makes perfect sense that a World Series that didn’t seem to make sense belongs to the Washington Nationals.

For the first time ever, the road team won all seven games in the World Series. Who knew that would work to the Nationals’ advantage?

To claim’s D.C.’s first World Series title in 95 years, the Nationals had to win four games away from home against the Astros — the team with the best home record in all of baseball.

The Nats made history: In the previous 114 World Series, never had a team won a title without winning at least one home game.

With 107 wins, the Astros were baseball’s best team in the regular season. The Nationals squeaked into the postseason with a wild card spot and back in May with a record of 19-31, odds makers had their chances of winning the World Series at 1.5%.

The 2019 Nationals defied the odds and defied explanation. They were a freewheeling, free-spirited, Baby Shark-dancing bunch that seemed to be most comfortable when they were uncomfortable.

In Game 7 of the World Series, the Nationals trailed the Astros 2-0 until the seventh inning. They were down 3-1 in the eighth innings of both the wild-card game and final game of the division series. The Nationals are the first team to win three winner-take-all games in the postseason.

“This team was special to me,” said General Manager Mike Rizzo. “They were a team that was counted out. Nobody believed in them except for the 25 guys in the clubhouse. It galvanized us. It made us edgier and tougher and was the main reason we won the championship.”

Just three days before Game 7, Max Sherzer could barely move his arm because of neck and back spasms. On Wednesday — somehow — Scherzer pitched five innings and kept the Nats in the game before their bats came alive to secure the 6-2 win.

With wins in Game 2 and Game 6, Stephen Strasburg earned World Series MVP. It was a triumphant achievement for a pitcher who started his career saddled with arm trouble and an innings limit that prevented him from pitching at all in the 2012 post season.

There were as many story lines around the Nationals as there were dance celebrations for home runs.

Juan Soto, who just turned 21 last week, was an important part of the Nationals success. But so was a veteran like 36-year old Howie Kendrick who was the home run hero of Game 5 of the NLDS and World Series Game 7.

Because D.C. went so long without Major League Baseball — from 1972 until the Nationals arrived in 2005 — it makes it hard to believe what just happened.

But if we learned anything at all from the 2019 Nationals, it’s important to always believe.


Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson is Senior Sports Director and morning sports anchor. He first arrived at WTOP in 1989, left in 1992 and returned in 1995. He is a three-time winner of the A.I.R. award as best radio sportscaster in D.C. In 2008 he won the Edward R. Murrow award for best writing for sports commentaries.

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