Wow, what a ride. And of course it all happens after I went to bed! Bah. Sometimes I hate having to get up for work early, but it’s a necessary evil I suppose.
Kinda weird though, considering this isn’t even MY team. I haven’t followed the Nationals all year, but since my Boston Red Sox didn’t make it to the post-season (after winning it all in 2018), I needed a new ‘pony’ to root for. In steps the Washington Nationals, the relocated Montreal Expos, the first baseball team in Washington, DC since the Senators moved to Texas to become the Rangers in 1972.
Certainly someone to root for. They were perennial underdogs in the post-season, and as I understand it, they started out the season 19-31, so not exactly a suggestion that they were even going to be around at the end of the season, much less make the playoffs. But they were scrappy, and made the most of what they had, and to add insult to injury, it was a year removed from when Bryce Harper left for a big payday in Philadelphia. I bet he’s kicking his own ass over that boner. Nice job, Bryce.
A very weird World Series to be sure. Every game, the visiting team won. Not once did home field advantage come into play this year. It was almost as if someone thought, “hey, let’s make the visiting team win every game in the series” as if that was the best idea in the bag. Certainly no one expected the Nats to win the first two games in Houston. But as soon as they traveled back to DC for games 3-5, there was whispers of a sweep. Or a meltdown by the Astros, and it would be season over and a ‘World’ Championship for the Nationals at home. But, irony as they say, has a sense of humor.
So, every game was a barn burner in DC. Every game, one thought that this one was the one the Nationals were going to win, to put away the Astros, but no. EVERY win, was the Houston Astros. What? How was that even remotely possible. But it happened. And we all watched it happen. Boggled. At the end of Game 5, going back to Houston, the pundits were thinking the other way. It was going to be Houston’s Series. They were going to win their second Series in 3 years. But again, dun dun duuuuunnnnnnn…irony.
In a ‘must-win’ game, the Nationals beat the Astros in Game 6. Stephen Strasbourg pitched a gem, and their third baseman, Anthony Rendon exploded for 5 RBI’s during the course of the game. Justin Verlander, who the Astros had picked up from the Detroit Tigers, collapsed =again= in the post-season. Couldn’t manage to win for his team. He’s a great pitcher, but for whatever reason, put him into a post-season game and he can’t finish what he started. At the end of the night, the score was 7-2, Nationals. Another Game 7 was in the offing.
Max Scherzer, the ace of the Nat’s staff, had the ball for the game. He was supposed to start Game 5, but for whatever reason he had a neck spasm and was unable to start that one. Miraculously, over the course of several days he had a shot of something in his back and was able to recover in order to pitch last night. Certainly he wasn’t brilliant in his start, he gave up 2 runs, but he pitched actually pretty good. I would say all the starters on both teams pitched pretty well, for the most part the series was won and lost in the bullpens.
If one were to post the stats for both teams on a board and compare them, the Astros should have won the series hands down. But baseball, while now being a game that’s figured out on stats sheets, it’s still played on the field, where stats don’t really matter in the aggregate. Just because a certain right handed pitcher is great against right handed batters doesn’t mean he’s going to get every single one out. There’s always the element of surprise. The element of, who knows what’s going to happen. And that’s what makes the game watchable. The unknown factors. It’s why in Games 1 & 2, with Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander pitching for the Astros, the Nats shouldn’t have won either game. But they did. And in convincing fashion.
Bottom line, the Nationals won me over for now. I even went out and bought a Nationals cap and wore it out in public, despite being a die-hard Red Sox fan. Come next year, I’ll be rooting just as hard for the Red Sox as I did this past year. And I’m just pleased as punch the Yankees didn’t get to the series. The deserving team won in 2019. Congratulations to the Washington Nationals. Nice job, guys.