“It is now the Nationals who rule the town and bring the city together.” — Fred Wertheimer, one of the nation’s leading campaign finance and ethics reformers. And, a Nationals fan. via The Wall Street Journal.
Dear Washington Nationals Fans,
This one is for you.Embed from Getty Images
All of you.
You, the lifelong Nationals fan who is just 15 years old (or younger) so “lifelong fan” is not some throw-away term, but really, truly what you have been since your – and the Nationals’ – embryonic days.
You, the Canadian who saw the Montreal Expos, before they were the Nationals, play in Olympic Stadium and were lucky enough not to be killed when the stadium roof and concrete support beams started to give way in small and not-so-small chunks.
You, the Washingtonian who truly is “long-suffering” as you knew and loved those other Washington teams. The Senators who became the Minnesota Twins. And, the other Senators, who became the Texas Rangers.
You, my friend Colleen – who is the very best kind of Nationals fan, the one who enjoys the moment without making me feel bad about the Baltimore Orioles 108-loss season.
You, who danced with “Mad Max” Scherzer, when he, for once, didn’t seem mad at all.
And, the rest of you, too, who rooted for the Washington Nationals in October because a) the culture of the Houston Astros front office is toxic and there was no way in hell you were going to root for them, b) you always root for the underdog and there was no one more underdogged than the Nationals, or c) everyone else was doing it, so you thought you ought to do it, too.
All of you.
Washington can be an ugly place and you’ve been through a lot of ugly lately.
You deserve a little World Series joy.
(Many of you have told me how wonderful life has become with the victory, how indescribable the joy. Then you go on to describe it to me. Which, now that you think about it, doesn’t make much sense, does it?)
Am I jealous? Of course, I am.
It’s like looking through a bakery store window … and right there is one warm and delicious apple fritter. The last one. Still there. And, you’re so hungry. But, you go to pull the door, to get that last apple fritter, and it’s 5:00 p.m. and the door is locked and the sign is jiggling from where it was flipped to “Closed” just two seconds ago.
That. That is what it feels like. I am consumed by apple-fritterless envy.
But, I’m going high today.
Congratulations, Washington Nationals fans.
I’m glad for you. I really am.
And, not just because the Houston Astros … and their toxic front office … are dead to me. Although that’s part of it. But, that’s not all of it.
I’m glad for you because you persevered through a horrendous start, through a challenging season, and you showed that you were better than 29 other baseball teams. And, more fun, too.
Before the post-season began, MLB Network analyst Bill “Call Me Crazy” Ripken (brother of another player of some note) said the Nationals would win the World Series.
Good enough for Bill Ripken? Good enough for me.
No need to recap the seven games. You watched ‘em all, right? (Oh, to have been born in the days before stadium lights when games would start in the afternoon and be done by dinnertime, not after midnight.)
So, my observations today are about you guys. You Nats Fans …
That Baby Shark Thing.
Yes, Baby Shark is cute. Adorable cute.
I was especially pleased to hear that, on occasion, manager Davey Martinez would put utility guy Gerardo Parra in as a pinch hitter in the hopes that his “Baby Shark” walk-up song would re-energize the fans when Nats Park was growing too quiet and sad.
To make fan participation part of a manager’s strategy is kind of cool.
Fun Fact: Sharks can have up to 100 babies – aka pups – in a single birth. Shark moms do not care for their pups. Once they’re born, baby sharks are motherless and on their own. Many baby sharks will kill their siblings.
Gerardo’s “Baby Shark”? Adorable.
Actual baby sharks? A horror show.
But, here’s the thing … there seems to be this belief among some Nats fans that Baby Shark is something extraordinary and new.
Good lord, people … it was the Nationals – YOUR Nationals – that sang along to A-Ha’s “Take On Me” whenever Michael Morse came to bat just a few seasons ago.
Have you forgotten already?
And, while baby sharks are nice and all (except for that “they kill each other” thing), I’m thinking the Angels’ Rally Monkey out-cutes a Baby Shark.
(I am not saying Rally Monkeys will get you to the World Series. Clearly, they won’t. But, you gotta admit, they’re cute.)
Look, as long as you’re not singing “Sweet Caroline” and pretending it has something profound to do with baseball, I’m good.
That Booing Thing.
Baseball reflects us. It is our game and it is a mirror to who we are as a culture, as a nation, as a people. The evolution of baseball is an evolution of us.
In a generation or two, someone somewhere will note that Nationals fans booed President Trump during Game 5. That someone somewhere won’t be able to tell you who won the game, but that won’t matter. The important thing will be that a stadium filled with boos when they saw the President.
(I don’t care what you think of this … good or bad. Really, I don’t. And, I doubt that you care what I think of this. I am merely saying here, history will remember.)
I do need to clear one thing up though.
Nationals fans seem to think they dreamed up booing the President. That no baseball fans had ever thought of that before.
President Herbert Hoover
This is where I get to – appropriately – use a stupid and tired cliché.
Hold my beer.
President Herbert Hoover was booed while attending a World Series game in Philadelphia in October 1930.
And, again in Philadelphia at a World Series game in October 1931.
(I know. Leave it to Philly fans.)Embed from Getty Images
(President Hoover at the non-booing 1929 World Series.)
The boos, some reporters noted, were part of a greater chant of “We want beer” directed at the President.
Some reporters thought it inappropriate to include political news – and boos (and booze) – in their stories. Some tried the wink-wink approach:
One Philadelphia reporter explained in 1931: “Baseball fans are prone to boo anyone and anybody on the least provocation. In this case I do not think they meant any disrespect to the president but were merely shouting disapproval at some suggestion that was being made to them.”
Another sportswriter, noting that Babe Ruth was at the 1931 game – as a spectator – wrote that the Babe remarked: “They shouldn’t boo when President Hoover leaves the park; they should cheer.”
That “Root-Root-Root For The Home Team” Thing.
You’ve already heard this, but the Washington Nationals became the first team to win a World Series by winning all of its series games on the road.
Not only has this made me question everything about home-field advantage and the lyrics to “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” it has sort of made me question you.
Maybe you Nats fans aren’t helping all that much after all.
Nah, I’m sure that’s not it.
You Nats fans are all right. A little annoying at times – not Yankees-fan annoying – but you know, a little “stop with all the drama people, you need to calm down” annoying.
Enjoy the afterglow.
In just 135 days we get to start all over again.
BabySharkfully Yours, The Baseball BloggessEmbed from Getty Images