October 30: Probably imprudently, I dashed — coffee in hand —to cross Pennsylvania Avenue as the walk sign faded. A man shouted after me, “Hold that light! Here comes a Nats fan!”
October 31: The kids burst through the front door, past midnight: Kasia in her pajamas, Jeremiah jumping up and down, Nate tackling me to the floor. The Nats won! The Nats won! THE WASHINGTON NATIONALS ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS!! No, it’s not possible. YES. We stayed in the fight; we finished the fight. Our miracle season.
Nate grabbed two screw-top bottles of beer, pushed us out the front door, and after shaking the bottles vigorously, handed one to me. We opened our Budweiser champaign and let the spray douse the air (and my six-run Game Seven pajamas). We whooped and danced. Then the kids told me to get changed. “We’re going to IHOP,” they said. For they knew: after the Nats’ final postseason games in 2016 (Dodgers) and 2017 (Cubs), I drowned my Game-Five NLDS sorrow in a 2 a.m. half-stack of blueberry pancakes, all alone and disconsolate. Tonight: again, our last postseason game, again an elimination game — but an unimaginable triumph. And the place was filled with red and high fives.
I write this now at 3:23 a.m., I’ve ordered a ton of World Series fan gear. (Coasters? Check. Championship highlights DVD? Check. Hoodie, shirts, caps? Check.) I’m watching the game again, tingling to the broadcasters’ praise and awe. Yeah, I need to floss my teeth again. And get up for yoga in two and a half hours. And go to work after that. AND THIS IS AWESOME.
Dad, I know you’re here with me, 50 years after our first World Series together, when the Amazin’ Mets stunned the powerhouse Baltimore Orioles and brought magic to a little girl’s life. The magic never left, and now it’s running around the room, pounding my shoulders with tears and screams. Love you, Dad. Love you, Nats.
November 1: Night fell as Kasia and I rolled into the charming 100-year old community of Shrine Mont, Virginia. We had defeated traffic and an exhausting week (a happy exhausting week) for a mountainside church retreat. Table conversation played with team nicknames (go Fighting Violets), startling job interviews, and the flashing discovery that we were all Jersey Girls. Then games. Imagine 65 people, ages 10 to 85, dashing across a room to profess their allegiance to chocolate, dogs and the Nationals (my suggestion). Imagine the same people teaming up to flip a 10 x 10 tarp with their feet — while standing on it. Imagine clapping games and hot-chocolate-river crossing games and birthday games. Imagine laughter and gratitude, together.
November 2: With a helmet brushing the wire and padded gloves ready to grip, I gazed down the mountainside and awaited my turn to zip down a slope scarier than a roller coaster. I inhaled, closed my eyes and …. went to today’s Nats victory parade instead!!
Yay! I rose early from my mountaintop cabin and drove back to DC to celebrate the last official day of an amazing season. Although frost sugared the mountain meadows and fog lined the valley, the parade route —and the people there — were sunny, warm and joyous. Five-year old baseball players broke away from their marching teams to high five the fence-line fans. The racing presidents cycled close for photos, and the Clydesdales officially declared this to be a National Sports Event. Red confetti showered us when the World Series trophy went by. And the players, oh my players, right there, so close, so happy, so responsive to the love beaming at them. What a day. What a season. A memory forever.
November 3: I was back on the mountain this morning. Elephants (their metaphor) square danced and dropped doorknobs at 6:30 a.m. in the bedroom above me. But that was really 7:30 a.m. (hooray for the time change!) and I felt rested for the first time in a month. Offseason at last.
November 4: Back to work. By happenstance I was dressed in offseason Nats attire. (Red really is my favorite color.) Demurely, though: no earrings, no lapel pins, no argyle Nats socks. But I could grab a white Curly W cap and a pennant from my office collection — because suddenly I was holding a ticket to see my 2019 Nats one more beautiful time. From the south portico of the White House, the Nats gazed down at us. The sun was bright, the grass green, the vast crowd celebrating. One after another, the players told the true story of what makes a team. “We stayed together and stayed in the fight.” “We love each other, we love the game.” “Each of us matters.” “We believe in each other.” We believe in each other. Each of us matters. I’ll carry championship joy forever; may I carry the Nats’ wisdom too.
November 5: Ok, one more Nats delight. Today is a Tuesday, and I aver that Tuesdays in October are very good days.
- One week ago today, we won Game Six of the World Series in an improbable late-inning comeback, staving off elimination and creating that miraculous possibility of a World Series Championship.
- Two weeks ago today, we shocked the baseball world by winning Game One of the World Series on the road against the 107-win and highly favored Houston Astros.
- Three weeks ago today, we swept the Cardinals and won the National League Pennant for the first time since 1933. That empty forlorn pennant flying over the scoreboard at Nats Park — that signifier of nearly a century of despair — will now read “2019.”
- Four weeks ago today, very early on Tuesday morning, we staved off elimination again, this time in the National League Division Series — a series we have never survived — and set the stage for Thursday’s extra-inning grand slam heroics.
- Five weeks ago today, we (ok, I’ll say it, because it’s true) staved off elimination yet again in what would be the first of many improbable late-inning comebacks.
That first win, our first victorious postseason series, launched a month of delights that none of us ever imagined and that none of us crazy Nats fans will ever forget. Fight finished. Miracle wrought.
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