And that’s fine. But now you probably have noticed that our Nats have advanced to the World Series, which, perhaps, you understand is a very big deal: It’s the first time a D.C. team will host the Fall Classic since 1933. Now you’re all-in, wearing red and devouring Washington Post Nats content and doing choreographed claps to a song written for toddlers because, well, read on. This guide’s for you, Bandwagon Nats Fan.
So when is the World Series?
Excellent first question! The best-of-seven series gets going Tuesday night in Houston, as the Astros earned home-field advantage because they had the superior regular season record. (Houston had 107 wins, the most in baseball, while the Nationals had 93.) Game 2 is Wednesday in Houston, and the series comes to Washington on Friday for Game 3. All the games will be broadcast on Fox, and all are scheduled to start just after 8 p.m. Eastern. Here’s the full schedule.
Okay, I want to go to one of the games at Nats Park. How much are tickets?
Bless your heart, Bandwagon Nats Fan. With the Nationals reserving most of their allotted tickets for season ticket holders and fan club members and Major League Baseball taking the remaining 20 percent, your best bet will be to turn to the secondary market and perhaps get ready to sell one of your major organs. As of Tuesday morning, the cheapest ticket to Game 3 on StubHub was about $700, and that was for standing room only. The cheapest actual seat was going for more than $800. It was a similar story for Game 4 on Saturday. Should the Nats win just one of the first two games in Houston, expect prices to only go up.
Weren’t the Nats really bad this season?
They sure were. After a four-game sweep at the hands of the rival New York Mets in late May, the Nats were 19-31 and 10 games out of first place in the National League East. There was chatter that Manager Dave Martinez was going to get fired, or at least should get fired, and that the Nats would (or should) trade away franchise players Anthony Rendon and/or Max Scherzer, strip the place down to the studs and start rebuilding.
No. They got great. The Nats went 74-38 after that 19-31 start, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers and Astros for the most victories over the season’s final 112 games. Over that span, they either led the major leagues or tied for the lead in batting average (.275) and on-base percentage (.353). In the end, they became just the third team in major league history to go from 12 games below .500 to the World Series, joining the 2005 Astros and 1973 Mets.
Consider this: Both the Nats and the Detroit Tigers started the season 19-31. Washington is in the World Series. Detroit finished with the worst record in baseball.
How do these Nats compare with past versions?
Before this autumn, the Nationals had specialized in excruciating playoff heartbreak. They had qualified for the playoffs four of the past seven years, each time by winning at least 95 games and finishing first in the National League East. Each of those four seasons, the Nationals lost in the opening round of the playoffs, amassing a 7-12 record in postseason games before this season. So far this year, they’re 8-2.
What happened to that Bryce Harper fella?
Harper spent his first seven seasons with the Nats, becoming a six-time all-star and the team’s most popular and marketable player, but he became a free agent after last season. The Nationals made two significant contract offers, both of which would have spread out his salary over decades. Harper instead took a 13-year, $330 million offer to play for the division rival Philadelphia Phillies, with all of the money coming over the length of the contract and none of it deferred.
How did Bryce do this season?
He struck out a career-high 178 times. The Nats, meanwhile, increased their runs per game (4.8 in 2018 to 5.3 this season), on-base percentage (.335 to .342) and slugging percentage (.419 to .454) without him. They also clinched a playoff berth with a doubleheader sweep of Harper and the Phillies on Sept. 24. Funny how life works sometimes.
Did the Phillies make the playoffs?
Remember the Angels’ Rally Monkey? This is like that, except about 5 billion times better.
It all started June 19, when reserve outfielder Gerardo Parra — mired in a hitless skid that had reached 22 at-bats — decided to change his walk-up music to the preschool earworm as a nod to his 2-year-old daughter, Aaliyah, who naturally was a “Baby Shark” enthusiast. Parra went 2 for 4 with a home run and two RBI in the Nationals’ 6-2 win over the Phillies, and “Baby Shark” became a thing. Parra has continued to use the song as his walk-up music, to the delight of the home crowd, and Nats players now turn to give the appropriate “Baby Shark” clap back to the dugout whenever they record a hit.
There are T-shirts and instructions on how to properly clap along to “Baby Shark” posted to the Nats’ Reddit (please read them so you don’t look like a goober out there, Bandwagon Fan), and now a stuffed baby shark hanging from the railing of the Nationals’ dugout.
Why are the Nationals, who once used the marketing slogan “Get your red on,” wearing blue?
Their navy blue alternate jerseys have become good-luck charms, and the Nationals are 7-0 in the postseason while wearing blue. They’re 24-5 all-time in those navy jerseys with the white “Nationals” script since debuting them in April 2018. The Astros, for what it’s worth, also have a tremendous record this season while wearing blue.
Am I the only one who fondly remembers 2005 Nationals such as Brian Schneider, Jamey Carroll, Chad Cordero, Nick Johnson and Gary Bennett?
What about some of their current players?
Anthony Rendon: Led the majors in doubles for the second straight season. Hence the nickname “Tony Two Bags.”
Trea Turner: Bats leadoff. Quite fast. Led the National League in stolen bases last season and was second this year. Exceptional fake-beard game:
Stephen Strasburg: Has 33 strikeouts and one walk in 22 innings this postseason. Secret dancer.
Juan Soto: Game 1 will be his 277th big league game (playoffs included), even though he does not reach the legal U.S. drinking age until Friday. Extremely fast learner. Requested his bobblehead be more smiley.