The Washington Nationals defeated the Houston Astros 6-2 in Game 7 of the World Series to bring the team its first title. After a woeful start to the season, the Nats were among the best teams in the MLB for the latter part of the regular season. In the playoffs, they faced deficits late in elimination several times, only to persevere and pull out victories. From a comeback in the 8th inning against the Milwaukee Brewers, to being down in Game 5 of the Division Series with Clayton Kershaw on the mound, to winning Games 6 and 7 on the road against the best team in baseball, the Nationals overcame a lot and earned this championship.
For a team and city whose pro teams have suffered dramatic postseason losses - leaving a passionate fan base starving for competency and fulfilled potential - the Nationals doubled down on what the Washington Mystics achieved this summer in the WNBA. "The Urrea," as those with Washingtonian accents pronounce "area," reigns supreme in summer and autumn.
So how do DC fans properly celebrate their newfound success? The Sports Fan Journal was built on the premise of helping to develop the best supporters of sports possible... or something like that. Here are some key points to keep in mind as jubilation continues to fill the nation's capital.
The Wizards do not matter. The Washington Football Franchise does not matter. At least for the near future, focus the fan energy on success and triumph. It's been so long that this city has had success pay off that coupling it with all the losing and letdown is natural. Don't let anything taint the joy. For example, the Houston Rockets were in DC to take on the Wizards. James Harden led a Rockets comeback in a high-scoring affair. Even as Houston took the lead and forced the Wizards to take a timeout, Howie Kendrick's go-ahead home run played on the Capital One Arena's Jumbotron. The crowd erupted. Celebrating wins does not require the continuous lamentations of losses.
The super-talented slugger spurned the Nationals for a division rival. After signing with the Philadelphia Phillies, Bryce Harper had an infamous gaffe where he said he wanted to bring a championship "back to DC" - something a lot of fans ran with. Well, the Phillies underachieved and the Nationals are champs. And even though not signing Harper to a mega deal allowed the Nats to fill out their roster a little better, this is not a time to be kicking on Harper. He was a part of the rise in the Nationals success. Burning jerseys is silly. Harper should, at best, be remembered for being a part of a talented group that grew into contenders and at worst just not be mentioned. Again, celebration is top priority.
Instead, give praise and this appreciation for the other two staples of the franchise since becoming the Nationals. Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg are the two longest-tenured players and draft picks. They've seen most of the down times and even had personal injuries themselves that have hindered them to a degree. Still, they've been All-Star caliber players and have carved out nice careers. To have them on the roster as the Nationals won the World Series adds a certain validation to the franchise. Strasburg and Zimmerman deserve to celebrate this Series win. Honor and appreciate them and their journeys, for they are a microcosm of how the team overcame years of obstacles.
Howie Kendrick was a utility player on the team, starting when needed and coming off the Nationals' bench for most of the season. In the playoffs this year, he had two of the biggest hits during the team's run. The biggest is the aforementioned two-run homer in Game 7 to give the Nats the lead. Like Strasburg and Zimmerman, Kendrick has had a long and productive career that finally culminated in a title.
Fans of teams occasionally name their next-born children after memorable players from that team. There are plenty of names to choose from: Stephen, Max, Ryan and Anthony. Because Howie Kendrick had the biggest hit, people may be considering to name their children after him. I'm simply suggesting to choose his last name than his first. Howie appears to be slightly outdated of a name. Kendrick, himself, is 36, and I cannot think of anyone who is younger than him with that name. Instead, name your child Kendrick. It's much more current. Of course, do what you feel and ignore me, but it is just a suggestion. Kendrick is a better name.
Finally, DC is home to a few champions in various sports. After two decades of playoff mishaps and countless bad decisions made by each team's front office, the Capitals, Mystics and Nationals have made good on bringing titles home. Two of those teams have arenas and stadiums in the culturally richest part of the nation's capital: Southeast DC.
That area of the city is changing and it's causing quite a few points of contention between old residents and new. Southeast is rich in history. It has an anthem about it. One of the most important gogo songs to exist. And it feels as if that history is being erased for a much more bland and dismissive tale of the area. Fans should celebrate the entirety of that area, especially since the Mystics and Nationals play there. Let Southeast embrace that title, too.
Cheers to you, Nationals fans. Enjoy your championship and celebrate it the best and most honorable way.
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