Nats fans know the deal. Mention '19-31' or May 24 to one of them and you will likely get a smile. Conversely, say '19-31' to someone outside the Nationals fanbase bubble and they may look at you strange, just as they would if you started singing 'Baby Shark' and chomping your arms while wearing red-tinted sunglasses.
The numbers '19-31' carry deep meaning to Nationals fans, but not to many others. It is, of course, the record they had on May 24 of 2019, right before they turned their season around en route to a World Series championship.
The Nationals became just the second team in MLB history to win it all after being 12 games under .500 during the regular season. The other team is still affectionately known as the 'Miracle Braves,' all these years later after they accomplished the feat in 1914.
To Nationals fans, '19-31' is one of those numbers in sports that tells the story of a much larger picture. It's not unlike '3-1' to Cleveland Cavaliers fans or '28-3' to New England Patriots fans. Those who root for the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Falcons probably remember those numbers, too, though for much different reasons.
The '19-31' number, however, is much more esoteric. The significance didn't play out in front of the entire sports world as those other ones did. It was a regular season turning point, one that even Nats fans didn't understand the meaning of at the time. It wasn't until months later as the Nats closed in on a postseason berth and then went deep into October did it truly start to resonate.
It may mean a lot to Nationals fans, but consider what happens when you Google '19-31.' Of the 10 results that appear on the first page, only one is a reference to the Nationals. The other nine are mostly Bible verses.
Basically, though it's a uniquely meaningful number in Washington, D.C., it is completely random in the grand scheme of things. It does, however, have some coincidental symmetry.
The number 19 is also the year the Nats won the World Series, 2019. It is also the jersey number of pitcher Anibal Sanchez, whose own personal midseason turnaround was a central reason why the Nats righted the ship. He also played a significant role in their playoff success.
The number 31 is the jersey of Max Scherzer, who started Game 7 and made many contributions all season-long. The Nationals also won the World Series at 11:50 p.m. ET on Oct. 30, meaning they were presented the trophy and celebrated as Nats fans watched from afar... on the 31st.
Now both '19-31' and the date of May 24 are distinctive in Nationals lore. The day itself could be commemorated each year from now on when home games are played at Nationals Park. The '19-31' number could translate to ballpark promotions, maybe at concessions or with $19.31 sales on merchandise.
With the one-year anniversary coming up this Sunday, it may be time to start thinking in those terms. Because '19-31' and May 24 are going to live forever among Nationals fans, even if they mean little or absolutely nothing to everyone else.
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- Behind the scenes: 19-31 disaster
How the Nationals entered 19-31 into D.C. sports lore originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington