For the first time in the 50 year history of the Washington Nationals franchise (which spent most of that 50 years as the Montreal Expos), the Nationals are World Series Champions.
Battling back from multiple elimination games, taking on more heavily favored teams like the L.A. Dodgers and the Houston Astros, the Nats proved they had the guts, the determination, the skill and the discipline to be the best team in baseball. I enjoyed the playoffs and the series in particular. It’s uncommon for the World Series to go seven games, and even more rare for Game 7 to feature pitchers with the talent of Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer.
If you’re not a baseball fan, you’re probably ready to skip to the next story, so don’t worry: this isn’t a sports column. There are some observations I have from the World Series that I think are worth discussing:
• Addition by subtraction: Bryce Harper is very good at baseball. He’s going to be paid more than $318 million over the next 12 years to play baseball by the Philadelphia Phillies, and they were happy to sign him. But he’s also a mercurial talent who often drew the wrong kind attention. Chemistry, whether on a baseball team, in an office or in a group of friends is incredibly important. Often, subtracting whomever is detracting from the group goal will result in more success, even if that individual brings a lot to the table. Toxic people (I’m not saying Harper was toxic, but his departure illustrates the point) just aren’t worth it.
• Who runs the world?: As several people in the Twitterverse pointed out, it’s important to remember that while only men play in the MLB, there was a female imprint on the playoffs. Nationals closer Daniel Hudson skipped a playoff game for the birth of his daughter; Nats outfielder Gerardo Parra changed his walk-up song to “Baby Shark” to please his daughter, and it became a rallying cry of sorts for Washington; and when ace pitcher Stephen Strasburg accepted the World Series MVP trophy, he did so with his daughters and his wife by his side.
Baseball has dedicated, passionate baseball fans, women and men. I’m reminded of Camden’s Jane Green, who passed away on Sept. 2 of this year. Here is an excerpt from her obituary, which ran in the News-Times: “Jane loved the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. She kept record books of every game with detailed statistics. Jane and her friend, O’Dell Bartlett, would call each other during the games and discuss the players, the outs, the pitching and the score. She was such an avid fan that you really did not want to call or visit her while the ‘Cards’ were on TV or the radio.”
Mrs. Green lived to be 100 years old. What a cool person.
• On the radio: The note about Mrs. Green reminds me of my grandfather, James Slinkard, who was good enough to be recruited as a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league system. But you couldn’t raise a family on a minor leaguer’s salary back then, so Papa (as I called him) went on to one of the number of varied vocations he learned and mastered during his life. This year, I listened the the World Series mostly on the radio (well, on an app on my iPhone), and it reminded me of Mrs. Green and Papa; he would listen to Cardinals games like that on his back porch, my dad tells me. Papa died 18 years ago, so experiencing those kinds of connections is important to me.
Last week, I wrote about returning to Texas for my alma mater’s homecoming. It was a wonderful time, with a surprise birthday party full of family and friends and retracing steps from my college days and seeing smiles on familiar faces.
Sunday morning, however, I awoke, checked my phone and realized there had been a shooting at a homecoming party across town. Two men — Kevin Berry Jr. and Byron Craven, both 23 from Dallas-Fort Worth — were killed, and six more were injured. Sunday evening at a memorial for Berry, shots were fired into cars as attendees and media members ran for cover. While I didn’t know the victims or anyone injured in the shooting personally, it was heartbreaking to see people in my hometown suffering from such a senseless tragedy. If you feel so inclined, I hope you’ll say a prayer today for their families and friends.
Caleb Slinkard is the managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. He previously served as editor of two dailies and four weeklies in Oklahoma and Texas. To contact him, email [email protected]