Washington Nationals win; I care!

The Washington Senators won the World Series in 1924

Juan Soto
Juan Soto, the baby shark of the Nationals
The Washington Nationals won the 2019 World Series. An old friend of mine, who lives in the DC area, wrote, “I think I’m supposed to care.” It’s weird because I actually did.

This surprised me a bit because I barely followed the regular baseball season this year. I did note that the New York Yankees were going to win the American League East. Meanwhile the Boston Red Sox, who won the Series in 2018, weren’t even going to make the playoffs.

I could tell you who won every WS from 1949 to 1964, and most of the ones from 1965 to 2001. But my awareness this century is rather spotty. I knew when the Yankees won (2009), or when the Red Sox (2004) and Chicago Cubs (2016) ended 86- and 108-year WS victory droughts, respectively. Or the Houston Astros, who were formed in 1962 but had never won until 2017.

The DC history in Major League Baseball is complicated. The Washington Senators played in the National League, off and on, until 1899.

Then the city received an original franchise in the American League in 1901. It was called the Nationals by the new owners “so as not to have them confused with the old Senators. But fans kept calling them the Senators, while the team kept calling itself the Nationals.”

The team won the World Series in 1924, and lost the WS in 1925 and 1933, but generally had a dismal record. The team relocated and was renamed the Minnesota Twins at the start of the 1961 season.

Expansion teams

DC got a new team in the American League that, confusingly, was also called the Washington Senators. The one game I saw in the original Yankee Stadium was on July 21, 1962, when the Bronx Bombers beat the Senators 4-3. Then THAT DC franchise moved and became the Texas Rangers in for the 1972 season.

Meanwhile, the Montreal Expos became an expansion team in the National League in 1969 “and made the playoffs only once in 36 seasons. Montreal’s best team, the 1994 Expos, might have won a World Series, but there was no World Series that year due to a work stoppage.”

When the Expos became the Washington Nationals in 2005, they were nearly insolvent, quite literally owned by Major League Baseball. They never reached the playoffs before 2019. Going into the Memorial Day weekend this season, they were 19-31.

Yet they won the wild card game and three more playoff rounds to hoist the trophy to the only World Series in which the road team won every game. It was truly a Fall Classic.

With more concern over injuries from playing football, I have the romantic notion that fans will rediscover baseball. I will admit having watched every game in the Series on tape delay this year. I zapped through the commercials, usually watching half the game before going to bed, and the rest by getting up early and avoiding the computer.