Just a few years earlier, Washington Nationals fans would have known the script when they first took that lead over the Houston Astros in Game 7 of the World Series. The lead wasn’t going to last.
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The city had gone title-less in the major sports for decades despite having some decent teams. They just all fell flat on their face. The Nationals teams of 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2017. The Alex Ovechkin era of the Washington Capitals. The Gilbert Arenas and John Wall Washington Wizards teams. That one time the Washington Redskins had a healthy Robert Griffin III.
Until the Capitals finally got over their second-round hump in the NHL playoffs and hoisted the Stanley Cup, it was hard not to think of D.C. as one of the most tortured sports fanbases.
How the Nationals got here
As many now know, the team was 19-31 through 50 games. Months later, they were down 3-0 in the NL wild-card game against the Milwaukee Brewers, 2-1 in the NLDS against an NL-best Los Angeles Dodgers team and 3-2 to an AL-best Houston Astros team.
Every time, the team responded with an unlikely comeback. The team went 74-38 for the rest of the season, a 107-win pace to make the wild-card game. Juan Soto had a game-winning hit off Josh Hader. Anthony Rendon and Soto went back-to-back off Clayton Kershaw, and the Howie Kendrick hit a grand slam in extras. And the Nats prevailed in Game 7 thanks to yet another strong showing from their core hitters.
Few teams have ever come back from the brink as many times as the Nationals, a dynamic that can be chalked up to strong starting pitching, clutch hitting and a dugout/clubhouse vibe akin to a dance club that blasts “Baby Shark” and “Calma” in equal measure.
Seeing that kind of team win a championship, not just a perennially contending Capitals team and historically dominant Mystics team, should end the idea that D.C. sports fans are tortured these days. The Wizards and the Redskins still have work to do (so much work to do for the latter), but the good times are here.
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