MLB Network's Lauren Shehadi recalls Juan Soto’s ‘magical moment’ from 2019 Wild Card Game

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Bijan Todd
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Lauren Shehadi recalls Juan Soto’s ‘magical moment’ from 2019 Wild Card Game originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

For much of the Nationals' existence, Ryan Zimmerman has been the face of the Nationals. However, as he enters his 16th major league season, Zimmerman's time is limited.

Although Zimmerman doesn't think 2021 has to be his last season, it's unclear how much longer he'll be a Washington National. In recent seasons, it’s become obvious who will be the new face of the franchise: Juan Soto.

Despite only having three Major League seasons under his belt, the 22-year-old Dominican has already earned a Silver Slugger award, an NL batting title and an All-MLB First Team nod. But all those accolades pale in comparison to the big one: his contributions to the Nationals’ historic 2019 World Series run.

MLB Network’s Lauren Shehadi came on the Nationals Talk podcast this week and shared her admiration for Soto.

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“Whenever I talk to anyone, they say ‘Juan Soto is mature beyond years.’ Just talking to him, he has this sensibility—he realizes the platform and the gift he’s been given, and he doesn’t take it lightly,” Shehadi said. “I know that’s easy to say and so many people say it, but I mean look, if we were 21 and had all the talent and were gifted by the gods, I don’t think I’d be very nice.”

Shehadi went on to praise Soto for his on-field talent, referencing his constant ability to make opposing pitchers tremble. “He is just humble and a superstar. When he’s at the plate, he’s just a threat. I love how he challenges pitchers. I love everything about him because aside from his antics at the plate he’s a humble, kind kid.”

Shehadi also witnessed first-hand one of the biggest moments of Soto's career and interviewed him immediately afterward. In the bottom of the eighth inning of the 2019 Wild Card Game against the Brewers, Soto hit a bases-clearing single to right, bringing the Nats from down 3-1 to up 4-3. It’s possible Nationals Park might never eclipse the decibel level it experienced at that moment.

In the moments after the final out, Shehadi caught up with Soto on the field. “I was nervous because I’d never met him before, and he was with his dad, hysterically crying—and they fell to the floor together in tears. We were live! We were live on TBS and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to show this, like this is such a beautiful moment.’ So I just got on the floor, too. I got on the ground, and we just started talking. He was like, ‘I never forget where I came from,’ and this is just a magical moment for me.”

Soto will be a key figure in the 2021 season as the Nationals look to return to their winning ways thanks to several acquisitions this offseason, including a shored up bullpen and improved power hitting.

With Soto as a pillar of the Nationals' future, Shehadi (a D.C.-area native herself) will always be pulling for him to succeed. “He was just—he’s so darn easy to root for. I’m such a fan.”