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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Nationals’ World Series celebration continued Monday night with the premiere of the Major League Baseball-produced documentary of this year’s fall classic at The Anthem in the District.

“World Series 2019: Nationals vs. Astros” was a fine piece of work, a chance for fans to relive those magic moments again, with perhaps even more perspective to fully appreciate the historical accomplishment of this baseball team and its march to the title that ended with a dramatic Game 7 victory in Houston.


Seventh games generally make for dramatic finishes.


QUIZ: Can you pass this World Series trivia test?


Did someone say perspective? The best moment about how the city was changed by the Nationals’ championship success came when NBC’s Craig Melvin, the narrator of the documentary, blurted out a question to Nationals owner Mark Lerner in a question-and-answer session on stage that brought a roar from the crowd — “How about buying the Redskins?

The crowd of more than 3,000 responded as if Juan Soto had just hit the NL Wild Card Game-winning double.

“We tried that,” Lerner responded, laughing — and they did. The Lerners were among the potential buyers for the Redskins after Jack Kent Cooke passed away, but dropped out of the bidding. They also made a run at the Baltimore Orioles in 1979 but lost out.

Lerner followed up by saying owning the Nationals was his family’s “destiny” and that winning the World Series was a dream come true.

“It matched every dream I had over the years, except in those we won it at Nationals Park,” he said.

He also revealed the moment when he knew the Nationals were going to win the World Series.

“When Mr. Hinch (Astros manager A.J. Hinch) took out (starting pitcher Zack) Greinke in the seventh game, I was a real believer then,” Lerner said.

He wasn’t alone. In the documentary, postseason hero Howie Kendrick expressed relief when Greinke left as well — right before he hit the home run off Astros reliever Will Harris in the seventh inning to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead on their way to the series-clinching 6-2 victory.

Kendrick was one of the crowd favorites at The Anthem, with cheers going up every time he appeared on screen. So were Stephen Strasburg, the World Series Most Valuable Player, and Anthony Rendon — all Washington World Series heroes.

None were present Monday night — and none of them may be with the Nationals in 2020.

All are free agents and have reportedly been active in examining future homes other than Washington. Kendrick has been named as a prime target by the Tampa Bay Rays. Rendon has met with both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Texas Rangers, and Strasburg has reportedly met with several teams as well and is expected to meet with the New York Yankees.

The crowd at The Anthem was very aware of the possible departure of their heroes and let Mark Lerner and general manager Mike Rizzo, also on stage during the question-and-answer session, know that. Nearly every time Rendon appeared on screen, someone shouted out, “Sign him!”

The free agent who was there Monday night was Ryan Zimmerman, who walked out on stage holding the World Series trophy over his head. When he was introduced, it set off a long standing ovation from the crowd for the player who has been here with this franchise since he was their first round draft pick in their first season in 2005.

Zimmerman, 35, has been hampered by injuries late in his career and appeared in just 52 regular season games this year. But he became an important contributor in the postseason and started at first base the last 13 games.

Washington declined its $18 million option on Zimmerman for next season and paid him a $2 million buyout, making him a free agent. But Zimmerman made it clear he was not going to play baseball anyplace else but Washington next season.

“I think I’ve made my intentions pretty clear,” he said. “It’s either play some more here or play more golf.”

Nationals fans can continue the celebration with a visit to Cooperstown, New York., where the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced Monday the team’s display as part of the museum’s “Autumn Glory” exhibit.

The display will include the ball hit by Kendrick for the go-ahead home run in Game 7; the jersey worn by Strasburg in Game 6; a bat used by Rendon, and other Nationals artifacts.

Yes, there’s a “Baby Shark” plush toy as well.

The documentary ended with scenes of Nationals fans enjoying their Baby Shark moments. The originator of that celebratory theme — fan favorite Gerardo Parra — is already gone, signing with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.

Here or gone, Washington’s baseball heroes have a place captured in glorious fashion on film to live on.

⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesdays and Saturdays and on the Kevin Sheehan podcast.


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