Teamwork. Perseverance. Commitment to excellence. Pulling together to accomplish a shared goal.
These ideas don’t seem to be put into effect very often by those overseeing our federal government. What usually comes from Capitol Hill and the White House is incessant partisan bickering merely to appease political supporters and satisfy personal ambitions.
Fortunately, there is a group of individuals in D.C. who recently applied these principles and achieved a historic victory. On Oct. 30, the Washington Nationals won the first World Series in the team’s history.
Securing this victory was not a sure thing during the 2019 season — or even in the playoffs. The Nationals were 12 games under .500 on May 24 with a record of 19-31.
But they didn’t give up and made it to the postseason as a wild card team. They defeated the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals to make it to the championship series against the Houston Astros.
Oddly enough, Houston’s home field advantage in the series served to its detriment. Each team’s wins came solely on the road. The Nationals won the sixth and seventh games in the Astros’ stadium.
Such baseball honors have been rare in Washington. First of all, there was no team in D.C. between 1972 and 2004. The Washington Senators moved south to become the Texas Rangers following the 1971 season, and the Montreal Expos took up residence in D.C. prior to the 2005 season.
The Washington Senators last World Series championship occurred in 1924. They defeated the New York Giants that year four games to three.
Then the D.C.-based Homestead Grays beat the Birmingham Black Barons four games to one to win the Negro League championship in 1948. According to an Oct. 25 story in the Washington Post, this team proved very dominant.
“The Grays, who called both Western Pennsylvania and the District home, won nine straight Negro National League pennants from 1937 to 1945 and 10 pennants in 12 seasons from 1937 to 1948, considered a greater feat than winning a World Series because the championship matchups were not always an annual event,” the article reported. “The 1948 series was the last one played. And while the circuit was waning, the talent remained imposing. The Grays started Hall of Famer Buck Leonard at first base. The Barons started a 17-year-old Willie Mays in center field.”
The baseball title drought in the nation’s capital began the following season. But the 2019 Nationals restored the faith of fans who believed this team was special.
Washington has become known as a city rife with gridlock and acrimony. We used to look to our leaders in D.C. to work toward consensus and unify the country. Now, they are the ones leading the calls for perpetual division.
Leave it to America’s pastime to bring the people of Washington — and many of us throughout rest of the nation — back together.
“In these times of constructing walls and redefining our immigration policy, the game of baseball instructs us to record errors, check the lineup and know when to make the correct pitching change. When the Washington Nationals won the World Series last week, they showed everyone how victory can be won with an international cast of players, a band of brothers dancing away a city’s blues and failures,” according to a Nov. 4 column in the Washington Post by E. Ethelbert Miller, the author of “If God Invented Baseball” and an activist in D.C. “We should remind our children that a love for the game of baseball is also a love for one’s teammates and fellow human beings. And we should also recognize that a team can respect an individual player’s personal viewpoints when they depart from the ballpark.”