For the fifth time in six weeks, Nationals players poured beer over one another and sprayed champagne to toast a victory, with Wednesday’s raucous celebration in the visitor’s clubhouse at Houston’s Minute Maid the largest and loudest of them all. The win that preceded it, a 6-2 triumph over the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the World Series, clinched Washington’s first Major League Baseball championship since 1924.
During the immediate postgame celebration, Ryan Zimmerman, the longtime face of the franchise and the Nationals’ first draft pick, promised an even bigger party when he and his teammates get back to D.C. The parade is set for Saturday. The revelry might continue until pitchers and catchers report.
“I hope you’re ready for us to come home,” Zimmerman said, “because it’s going to be absolutely bananas.”
“Absolutely bananas” is an apt description for the Nationals’ season, which saw Dave Martinez’s squad fight back from 12 games under .500 in late May to a wild-card berth and then go 5-0 in elimination games during the playoffs.
The World Series trophy, a laughable goal for much of the year, was rolled into the soon-to-be-soaked Nationals clubhouse during the bottom of the eighth inning, with Washington leading 4-2 and Patrick Corbin still throwing his third scoreless inning of relief. There would be no jinx. After the Nationals added a couple insurance runs in the top of the ninth, Daniel Hudson retired the Astros in order, striking out Michael Brantley for the final out to officially kick off the celebration.
“These guys, they battled, it didn’t matter,” an ecstatic and emotional Max Scherzer, who got the start for the Nationals and allowed two runs in five innings, told Fox’s Ken Rosenthal shortly after the celebration began. “It was stay in the fight. That was our motto. It was the next guy up. Everybody gave it their all. … We took it all the way and we won the whole thing.”
“We stuck together, I know that,” third baseman Anthony Rendon told Fox’s Tom Verducci. “When we had nothing left to lose, when people had written us off and we were facing elimination games where people thought we shouldn’t have even been there in the first place, we just kept on fighting and happened to come out on top.”
Bud Light and champagne awaited in the Nationals clubhouse, but Rendon was interested in something a little stronger.
“I want bourbon,” he shouted on the field between hugs and high-fives.
“The dream came true, and we did it for the fans of Washington,” Ted Lerner, the Nationals’ founding principal owner, said at the start of the on-field trophy presentation. “It feels great and we look forward to continued success in the future.”
“They’re a bunch of relentless, resilient bunch of guys,” Martinez said. “They love to play the game. They play the game every day. Today they were down, but they never thought they were out. It’s just a testament to these guys. They fought all years long. Guess what? We stayed in the fight. We won the fight. I believe in these guys and they believe in each other.”
Zimmerman was unusually emotional in a postgame interview.
“What a story. What a fun year,” he said. “Baseball, gosh, it’s the greatest sport in the world. I can’t even explain what I’m feeling right now. What a great thing for this city. For the fans, thank you guys so much.”
Early Thursday morning, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser announced the team’s championship parade would be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, starting at 15th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, proceeding east along Constitution and ending with a rally at 3rd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
But the team wasn’t waiting to celebrate.
“I couldn’t be happier about this group of guys,” said Stephen Strasburg, who was named World Series MVP. “We all love each other. That’s the most important thing.”
Juan Soto had some fun on Fox’s postgame set as his teammates continued to celebrate with family members on the field.
“Where’s your girlfriend?” David Ortiz asked the Nationals’ young slugger, who turned 21 last Friday.
“My girlfriend is my mom,” Soto replied.
The party eventually moved into the clubhouse, where the interviews eventually ceased, the bubbly and beer flowed and the real fun began. But first, Martinez, who underwent a heart procedure in September, delivered a short speech.
“Before we get started with anything, this right here,” the manager said, pointing at the World Series trophy, “and you guys cured my heart. I’m good. And tonight, I will celebrate with my boys because we are the world champions!”
Trea Turner sported the N.C. State football helmet he’s worn after previous series-clinching wins this postseason. Sean Doolittle wielded his trusty lightsaber, which somehow survived four alcohol-soaked celebrations en route to the World Series.
Martinez said Soto “had his first beer tonight, which was kind of nice.” It appeared to be a Budweiser.
As Scherzer hoisted the trophy above his head, the Nationals joined in a team-wide rendition of Queen’s “We Are the Champions,” and if the Capitals’ song-filled summer after winning the Stanley Cup last year was any indication, it won’t be the last time.
It was only a matter of time before they played “Calma” and Gerardo Parra performed a championship remix of “Baby Shark.”
“See you soon, D.C.,” Parra said. “See you soon. Prepare ‘Baby Shark.’ Coming soon.”
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