Howie Kendrick, center, and his Washington Nationals teammates celebrate during a parade for the World Series champions. Every member of the team was an important part of the Nationals’ success this year. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)

The Washington Nationals are World Series champions. Say it again, nice and slowly. It will make us happy through the long, cold winter.

The Nats’ playoff run — from the wild-card game through their seven games with the Houston Astros — was fun, exciting and loaded with unexpected twists and turns.

But Washington’s 17-game saga was also filled with lessons for kids who play sports and just about anyone else. So before the memories of the Nats’ championship season fade, let’s look at some of the lessons of 2019.

Never give up: Many times during the season and the playoffs it seemed the Nats’ hopes were gone. Finished. Done.

On May 23, their record was 19-31 (19 wins, 31 losses). Their chance of making the playoffs (according to people who figure out these things) was 3 percent. Over the next four months and more than 100 games, however, the Nats came back.

During the playoffs, the Nats played five elimination games. If they had lost any of those games, they were going home disappointed. In fact, the Nats trailed in all five of those games — two as late as in the eighth inning. Again they came back.

Parents and coaches often tell kids that if they keep trying, everything will turn out okay. That isn’t always true. One of the hardest lessons of sports is sometimes you try your hardest and things don’t turn out as you wanted them.

But one thing is absolutely true: If you give up, there is no way you can come out on top. The Nats didn’t give up even when it seemed the odds were stacked against them. Wonderfully, miraculously, they came out on top.


Matt Kucinich of Winchester, Virginia, dressed as Baby Shark for the World Series Game 1 watch party at Nationals Park. Early in the season, the Nationals’ Gerardo Parra chose the “Baby Shark” song to play before he batted. The fans liked it, and it became a sort of good luck charm for the team. (Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

Have fun: The Nats not only led the league in late-inning rallies, they looked like they led the league in having fun.

The team held dance parties in the dugout after each home run. Even super-serious Stephen Strasburg danced (well sort of danced) after a round-tripper.

Pitcher Aníbal Sánchez and outfielder Gerardo Parra wore silly sunglasses for good luck. And everyone got into the “Baby Shark” song and the shark signals after each hit.

The Nats seemed to remember what the umpire says before every baseball game: “Play ball.” It’s an invitation to have fun.

Everyone is important: It’s obvious on any team that the stars, such as pitchers Max Scherzer and Strasburg and sluggers Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto, are very important.

But the Nats had lots of part-time players, such as Parra, Howie Kendrick and Kurt Suzuki, who found ways to help the team with clutch hits, hustle and their always-positive attitudes.

Not everyone — whether a kid or a pro — can be the big star. But everyone can be a good teammate.

Another lesson courtesy of the World Series champion Washington Nationals.