They call it the Fall Classic, and this year’s World Series surely lived up to that moniker.
The 115th version of the World Series ended on Wednesday night as the Washington Nationals beat the Houston Astros 6-2 in Game 7. This World Series was unlike any other, with the road teams winning every game. I can honestly say you may never see another World Series, or any of the major sport championships that play a seven-game series, have the road team win every game. The Nationals, who were the former Montreal Expos until 2005, earned the franchise’s first-ever World Series championship and the first championship for a big-league team in Washington since 1924.
A World Series has been a long time coming for the nation’s capital. The last time the Fall Classic was last played in Washington, D.C. was 1933. The Washington Senators, representing the AL, lost to the New York Giants in five games. The last Washington team to win a championship was that 1924 team which I am sure you remember featured Walter Johnson, Goose Goslin, and Bucky Harris who led the Senators over those same New York Giants in seven games in 1924. This year’s Nationals team started the season at 19-31, but they recovered and won 74 of their final 112 games to win the wild card.
The Nationals, beat Milwaukee in the wild card, stunned 106-game winner Dodgers in the NLDS, swept St. Louis in the NLCS and beat the favored Astros in the World Series. People said a six-day lay-off was going to hurt the Nationals, who were the oldest team in Major League Baseball this season, but that didn’t matter. Veterans like Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, Howie Kendrick, and Fernando Rodney, formed a strong veteran presence. Younger players like World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, 21-year old phenom Juan Soto, and National League MVP candidate Anthony Rendon helped form the nucleus that took down the Astros. Throw in manager Dave Martinez, who was nearly fired eight weeks into the season after the slow start, and this Nationals team with a $200 million payroll was built to win a championship. And win a championship they did.
Consider what these Nationals accomplished: They notched all four of their wins in this series on the road, where the Astros had the majors’ best home record in 2019. 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 2 and 6 — and outlasted yet another Houston ace, Zack Greinke, on Wednesday night. So, my hats off to the Washington Nationals.
And goodbye to my old friend baseball, see you in February.