Your Washington Nationals: 2019 World Series Champions

by Alan J. Claffie

Part 5: The Celebration

I'd wondered for a long time how I would react to my team's winning a World Series. The only other time I experienced something like it was in 2004 when the Red Sox won their first since 1918. I had only left Massachusetts two years prior, and the Nationals were still the Montreal Expos. When the Sox won, I was listening to the game on the radio while driving in an online race on the computer, and there was no celebration on my part.

If and when the Nationals won it all, how would I react? I could almost see myself heading out the front door, running down the street waking the neighbors with my yelling. But that's not really me. Instead, I was pretty low-key. I was out of the recliner, up close to the TV, and when that guy struck out, I said, "neat," while the players started their on-field celebrations.

My night was not over despite the game having been finished well after eleven. Kate got an email from Modell's Sporting Goods saying they had Nationals championship gear, like right now, and they're going to be open all night. I laughed when she told me all this. What kind of loser goes to Modell's in the middle of the night to buy shirts and hats?

You are, she said. So I went to the local store, getting there at 12:45 a.m. Surprisingly, I was not alone. There was a steady trickle of people buying stuff as it was still being unboxed. I got a tee, a hat, and a hoodie that's probably a size too big. The lady working there said the bigger one was better: "You look comfortable," she said. Maybe it'll shrink some if I keep running it through the laundry.

On the ride home, I felt pretty OK with not going to the park to watch. The weather wasn't the only reason, but it was a big one with the conditions being chilly and rainy. The other reason was the people. Radio and TV were doing live reports from the area around Nationals Park and it seemed like there were a lot of people still there well after game was over, and a lot of those seemed to be stupid drunk. Those kinds of people are fun to watch from a distance, and I was glad I wasn't where they were.

Fast forward a couple days to Saturday. That's when the victory parade was scheduled for downtown DC, and of course we were going. After a morning of playing with cars in Fairfax, I met Kate at the Metro station and we ventured into the city.

Despite emerging from Metro a couple hours before the parade was going to start, there was already a huge crowd along the route. I blindly decided to find a place to watch near the end of the route, outside the Canadian embassy where Constitution Ave. met Pennsylvania Ave. We tucked ourselves into a spot between a couple planters on the sidewalk and waited.

There was a barricade to keep people off the road, and people were standing maybe six-deep along that. Then there was room for people walking back and forth, then folks like us along the planters, and another three or four deep behind us. By the time the parade started, that walkway had pretty much stopped, and the area behind us had filled up considerably.

Fortunately for those of us who were getting increasingly smushed together, the parade got going. It didn't have much fluff content-wise. Some people came by on foot or in convertibles, but we had no idea who they were since we couldn't see them. Players came by two or three at a time on the open tops of double-decker buses, but it was hit-or-miss identifying them if we couldn't catch their jersey numbers.

We saw some stupidity on display. I guess something that happens at these parades lately is people in the crowd generously offer players refreshing beers by chucking full cans in the general direction of their buses. The aim of these projectiles was not particularly good as cans either bounced off the side of the bus or sailed completely over to land on the street on the other side.

We could tell that the parade was winding down as we were having trouble naming players that we hadn't seen yet. But we hadn't seen Zimmerman, manager Martinez, or the commissioner's trophy itself. Naturally, those were saved for last, with Ryan holding the trophy as he came by in a bus shared with Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo.

Behind that last bus was a truck shooting an amazing amount of red confetti all over the assembled crowd. After it passed, I scooped up a handful and jammed it into my jacket pocket. I don't know what I was going to do with it, but I wanted to have that little memento of the parade regardless.

Once the parade was over, I had a wild idea to head to the stage area to catch some of the presentations there. This was a mistake. While the area where we were watching the parade from had thinned out some crowd-wise, it was still a slog trying to get through a sea of humanity heading in the general direction of the stage. I made the call to pull the plug on that mission and we retreated. I was getting pretty discouraged, and disgusted, trying to navigate the crowd while stepping on an untold amount of empty beer cans.

At this point I was getting pretty unhappy with my fellow Nationals fans. First off, where were all these people when I was in a half-full stadium in July? Secondly, is a fun little parade that good a reason to get a good drunk on in public while leaving your trash for the rest of us to deal with?

We retreated all the way back to Constitution & Pennsylvania, where there were thin crowds but plenty of speakers and big screens. We watched a little of the stage show, maybe the first couple of speakers, then I figured we could head back home and get ourselves some dinner. I was OK seeing highlights of what we'd miss later on TV.

So, we've recapped the season, the playoffs, the World Series, and the celebrations. Now what?

Players will come and go. Strasburg will be back; Rendon will not. As much as I'd have liked keeping the whole team intact, that's just not realistic these days. With the biggest bat no longer in the lineup, what can we expect from the Nationals? Given that the Braves will be strong again, and the Phillies can rebound from a disappointing 2019, our team's even making the playoffs is hardly a given.

Having said that, the Nationals should play 162 games of entertaining baseball with a reasonable expectation that they will, one way or another, still be relevant as the season winds down. And, despite the wild ride they took us on last season, that is all I'm asking for. Anything beyond that will be a nice bonus.

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