The Washington Nationals secured their passage to the 2019 World Series on Tuesday night by knocking off the Cardinals 7-4 to ensure a four-game sweep. For the first time in franchise history, the team has made it to the Fall Classic. According to a report by The New York Times, this marks the first time in 86 years that a World Series team has played in the nation’s capital. Those decades of pain and disappointment saw the departure of two previous franchises and years of underachievement by the Nationals before they finally broke through in a year that they were far from the favorites in the National League.
The Washington Nationals are now the first D.C.-based team since the 1933 Senators to make it to the World Series. Unlike the former reputations of Boston and Chicago, Washington, D.C., has flown under the radar as a tortured baseball town, mostly in part by the absence of any team in the city for 33 years. But while the Nationals have only played in the city since 2005, it has been a long road of disappointment since they arrived from Montreal. It was fitting that Ryan Zimmerman played first base in that closeout game, as his career began when he was called up from the minors in that first season.
Speaking about the accomplishment, Zimmerman said, “I was 20-years-old when I got here, we were not very good… I feel like me, the fans, the community are kind of one, and they deserve this just as much as we do.”
Even this 2019 season wasn’t without hardship, as the team was forced to deal with the offseason departure of Bryce Harper during free agency and an early-season slump that saw the team 12 games under 0.500 on May 23. Even after they had steadied the ship and were making their way to the playoffs, they were forced to deal with Manager Dave Martinez being forced to undergo a cardiac catheterization procedure.
Still, the season ended with 93 victories and a place in the Wild Card game, coming from behind to defeat the Milwaukee Brewers and setting off an incredible run that saw them pull off a five-game upset to knock out the Los Angeles Dodgers before they steamrolled the Cardinals in the championship round.
The Nationals now wait until Game 1 of the World Series begins on Tuesday, as they face either the Astros or the Yankees as they hope to fare better than their 1933 counterparts. That 1933 Senators team fell to the New York Giants and then went on to only have four more winning seasons in D.C. before they moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1961. A new Senators team began to play that year, sharing the previous iteration’s inability to make it to the World Series and then moving to Arlington to become the Texas Rangers in 1972. If Washington’s team in 2019 can manage to win four more games, all of that pain will be erased and a new era in the city’s baseball history can begin.