Keep Calm and Rend-on

Matthew Rago, Sports Editor

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I remember 14 years ago when Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that the Montreal Expos were relocating to Washington D.C., where they would be rebranded as the Washington Nationals. Though I had adopted the Expos as my second team–I was a childhood fan of former Expos’ slugger Vladimir Guerrero–I was excited for the move. Change was coming and I would be among those who embrace it.

My friends and I had played baseball within the Chicago Park District’s semi-travel baseball league, where our juvenile overcompetitiveness fueled us to place every game, rivalry and decision on a pedestal. Of particular importance was our team name. We wanted to represent winning teams, but also jealously guarded our desire to be unique. Seemingly every park district in the Chicagoland area had a Cubs or White Sox team. The Yankees and Red Sox were fairly common too. 

In seventh grade, my friends and I became the first team in the Chicagoland area to claim the Nationals moniker.  That’s when I fully embraced the Expos’ transition to the Nationals. 

Fast forward to 2019 and I was fortunate enough to witness the first World Series Parade in the 50-year history of the Expos-Nationals franchise. The parade began at the intersection of Constitution Avenue NW and 15th Street NW before embarking on a slow progression down Constitution Avenue NW. Manager Davey Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo postured for fans, holding the World Series trophy high above their heads while exchanges pleasantries with fans stationed near the beginning of the route. 

 Fans flooded the streets, waving signs emblazoned with the Nationals’ championship slogan, “fight finished.” We gleefully exclaimed for Nationals’ third baseman Anthony Rendon, starting pitcher Max Scherzer and manager Davey Martinez. We chanted in unison as World Series Most Valuable Player Stephen Strasburg floated by, bashfully waving at us with his trademark timidity.

Over the course of a single season, a roster that was left for dead following the departure of Bryce Harper has been transformed into a cast of heroes, persevering through adversity and ridicule to stand atop the proverbial mountaintop.

The entire ordeal was fittingly energetic for such a monumental occasion. Fans ascended trees and fences to get a glimpse at Scherzer posing with his WWE Championship belt. We serenaded Rendon and outfielder Trea Turners will declarations of adoration. Mayor Muriel Bowser categorized the occasion as “the culmination of a journey that began 14 years ago when our community brought baseball back to D.C. By staying in the fight and finishing the fight, the Nationals have brought a tremendous amount of joy to the District and, no doubt, inspired a new generation of baseball players and Nationals fans.”

The parade itself honored an accomplishment that wasn’t supposed to happen. Not after the Nationals’ superstar player left Washington high and dry for the Philadelphia Phillies. Not after the team began the season 19-31 and looked more like trade deadline sellers than World Series contenders. Not after sportsbooks offered the Nationals a 0.1% chance at winning the world series.

But regardless of perception, the Washington Nationals stand as your 2019 World Series champions. 

Here are some of the sights from the Nationals’ 2019 MLB Championship Parade:

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