“We’ve been rooting for them; they’ve been rooting for us,” Thibault said of the Nationals on WSBN-AM′s Carol Maloney Show on Friday, a day after the Mystics captured their first title in franchise history with a win over Connecticut in Game 5 of the WNBA Finals. “We’ve been getting shout-outs from the ownership group, and [Nationals] GM Mike Rizzo, to me personally, has been awesome."
The Mystics’ championship-clinching win came 24 hours after the Nationals advanced to the NLCS for the first time with a winner-take-all triumph in Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers. Rizzo gave a shout-out to D.C.'s newest champs during an interview with the Sports Junkies on 106.7 The Fan on Friday morning, and he said his team watched the Mystics beat the Sun on the flight from Los Angeles to St. Louis ahead of Game 1 of the NLCS.
“We got lucky and got to watch the game on the airplane,” Rizzo said. “The whole airplane was tuned to the game. Mike did a great job with his staff on that team, another championship for the D.C. area. I couldn’t be happier for those guys.”
Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner wrote a letter congratulating the Mystics on their title.
“The skill and grit shown by the players has been so inspiring,” he wrote. “Coach Mike Thibault is an impressive leader who deserves so much credit for what this team has been able to accomplish."
The District’s previous major professional championship team to be honored at Nationals Park was the Capitals. Three days after winning the Stanley Cup in June 2018, Alex Ovechkin threw the ceremonial first pitch — two, in fact — as his teammates looked on. Players drank approximately all of the beer in a suite during the game before heading for the fountains in Georgetown to continue the celebration.
The entire Capitals team wore Nationals T-shirts on its most recent road trip, and several players have attended games during the Nationals’ playoff run. Ovechkin threw the ceremonial first pitch before Game 4 of the NLDS, in which his friend Ryan Zimmerman delivered the key home run.
“The energy amongst the various teams in the city has been terrific,” said Thibault, who was a guest along with his players on “Good Morning America” on Monday.
Before the Nationals opened the NLCS with a pair of wins in St. Louis, Thibault offered a prediction.
“I think this is going to be a double championship,” he told Maloney on Friday. “I think the Nats are going to go to the World Series.”
Now there’s a chance the Mystics will be in attendance for the clincher.
The Nationals also announced that Parker Staples, a pediatric cancer patient, will throw the ceremonial first pitch before Monday’s Game 3. Staples threw the ceremonial first pitch before Washington’s win over the Marlins on May 24, which is when the team’s season began to turn around after a 19-31 start. Legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer will introduce the starting lineups before Game 3.
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