By Ian Oland
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation’s capital hosted a championship parade on Constitution Avenue on Saturday – its second in two years. Hundreds of thousands of fans, many already wearing Nationals’ World Series championship gear, crammed against metal railings, stood on benches and metal trash cans, and lined the steps of the National Archives building to get a view of their favorite players.
The parade officially started at 2 PM after two jets flew over. Double-decker buses adorned with World Series champion logos and shark graphics slowly began making their way down the street.
Gerardo Parra was the first player to roll down Constitution Avenue. Wearing his famous pink shades, the reserve outfielder did a shark chomp as Baby Shark blasted from the loudspeakers. Parra is credited for turning the Nationals’ season around after changing his walkup song to Baby Shark, which became the team’s rallying cry down the stretch.
Parra was followed by Jeff Adams, a Nationals fan who opted to take a home run ball off the chest so he didn’t spill a drop of his two beers, in a Bud Light-sponsored bus. The moment went viral during the World Series and Bud Light created t-shirts commemorating the ridiculous moment. Adams held up two tall cans of beer. He appeared to enjoy every minute of his new celebrity.
Other players that followed included Max Scherzer, who dangerously ambled to the top of his double-decker bus with Aníbal Sánchez, and raised up a WWE championship belt that nine-time champion, Triple H, recently gifted the team. Eventually, the two star pitchers were asked to get down because while the celebrating was great for photos, officials probably worried that having two of the greatest pitchers in Nationals’ history falling two stories and injuring themselves would be a major buzzkill for the event.
Two-time All-Star Sean Doolittle rolled down the street with his wife Eireann Dolan while holding up his lightsaber, which was a gift from the team during the preseason. He received loud cheers of DOO from fans.
“I had to do some promo shoots in spring training…and I was so good with [the lightsaber] they let me keep it,” Doolittle told the Washington Post.
Doolittle celebrated with the lightsaber during the team’s locker room celebrations and even interrupted a postgame telecast while wielding it.
Superstar infielder Anthony Rendon, who is a free agent, was coyer, flashing a bright smile to fans, but opting to keep things more low key. World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg waved to fans and let out a surprising amount of grins. As Capitals fans know with Nicklas Backstrom, winning it all can be a transformative moment in a star player’s career – especially ones who are more introverted and private.
Ryan Zimmerman, manager Davey Martinez, and general manager Mike Rizzo, who was smoking a cigar, were given the honor of being on the final bus of the day. The three Nationals’ each shared time holding up the Commissioner’s Trophy to fans as confetti was shot high into the sky by a truck behind it.
Once all the buses made it to their final destination, Pennsylvania Avenue NW at 3rd Street NW, players made their way into a tent and waited for the rally to start. But not all of them chose to do that. Max Scherzer got back onto a double-decker bus and held up the Commissioner’s Trophy to a large throng of fans who were congregated behind the stage. Juan Soto and Anibal Sanchez joined Scherzer.
Brian Dozier arrived too and took off his shirt.
During the rally, Davey Martinez invited the entire team to join him on stage. He repeated that the players cured his heart – a nod to his recent heart procedure. Mike Rizzo pointed out that Martinez brought the team back from last place when many believed he should have been fired early in the season.
The most emotional moment of the day was when Ryan Zimmerman, the first player the team ever drafted, made a heartfelt speech. Zimmerman teared up multiple times.
If you want to have a good morning cry, watch WORLD SERIES CHAMPION Ryan Zimmerman talk about the city of Washington, DC.#CHAMPS // #FIGHTFINISHED pic.twitter.com/NApJw2BRnu
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) November 3, 2019
“These guys, we fought all year long to stay together. We came from a dark place in June,” Zimmerman added. “We played playoff games from June 1 on and I think that really helped us. There’s not a team I wouldn’t have wanted to do this more than these guys.”
“Thank you D.C., you guys have been great, you guys were behind us all the time,” he said. “I truly believe this is the greatest city to play sports in the world — thank you.”
“We’re 2019 World Series Champs and nobody can ever take that away from us,” Zimmerman concluded.
Sean Doolittle opted to go a more humorous route.
“Do you guys remember when we brought camels to spring training?” Doolittle asked the crowd. “And everybody laughed at us. Who’s laughing now?”
He added, “We won the World Series on a Wednesday.”
Sean Doolittle and the 2019 Washington Nationals are #WorldSeries champions.
That makes us happier than camels on a Wednesday.@GEICO // #FIGHTFINISHED pic.twitter.com/nF8ufOnDhw
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) November 2, 2019
When the Nationals played Calma, Brian Dozier took off his shirt again and danced on stage.
Brian Dozier's feeling pretty good. pic.twitter.com/efPUnSDAIe
— Cut4 (@Cut4) November 2, 2019
At the end of the rally, Nationals players went to the front of the stage to let fans take photos from the crowd. Parra grabbed his plush daddy shark toy and stuck it inside the Commissioner’s Trophy – the perfect end to an imperfect season which ended perfectly.
In comparison to the Capitals Championship Parade in 2018, Nationals players appeared to sleep the night before and were not drinking excessively during the day of. Some players sipped champagne out of an oversized bottle while others sipped beer from larger mugs that resembled baseball bats. The Capitals championship parade and rally were known for its unpredictable, sloppy moments, featuring cursing, dancing, drinking, and incoherent speeches. The Nationals stuck mostly to the script and kept a distance from fans. There were no Brooks Orpiks catching beers from the fans on the parade route and chugging them from the bus.
Before 2005, Washington DC did not have a baseball team for a span of 45 years. The last World Series played in the city was 86 years ago in 1933. The Washington Nationals changed all of that this year and in the process have created an even larger fanbase – converting some that were perhaps reluctant previously. The rebuilding Baltimore Orioles, who used to dominate the DC market before the Nationals arrived, have lost an average of 112 games over the last two seasons and are one of the worst teams in baseball.
“It was worth the wait…the fans, we grew up together,” Zimmerman said.”I came here when I was 20-years-old, right out of college. You guys hadn’t had baseball in a long time. You were learning how to be fans again.”
Saturday, Nats fans learned what it was like to be World Champions. And be the envy of the rest of the league.
nOt A rEaL sPoRtS tOwn#CHAMPS // #FIGHTFINISHED pic.twitter.com/cS6l55A6Ps
— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) November 3, 2019
Photos: Ian Oland
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