The Nationals open tonight’s World Series as the biggest underdog since 2007, when the Rockies were roundly crushed by the Red Sox. I feel moved to insult by this, but then what am I going to do – get angry at the sports books? What has that ever benefited me in the past?
The roughly 2-1 odds against the Nats are not the only daunting numbers they face. Houston scores runs like a churning theme park turnstile and Gerrit Cole and Justin Verlander give them their very own version of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg. The Astros’ 107 wins and +280 run differential are league best and they’ve been here before, winning the title in 2017 with the same core. Even the Nats recent sweep of the Cardinals carries with it a certain foreboding- seven of the past eight teams to sweep an LCS lost in the Fall Classic. So other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?
I am not beyond rationalization. I have spent the past several days doing some internal bargaining. Regardless of the outcome of the World Series, the Nats have made great strides by bringing home the National League pennant. They’ve shaken off the reputation for post-season flame outs in the most exciting way possible – wheedling two runs off Josh Hader in the 8th inning of the one game wild card matchup with the Brewers, clubbing two late homers off Clayton Kershaw to tie the Dodgers in a deciding game five and then suffocating the Cardinals like an anaconda in four games that felt mainly like mismatches. This is tremendous, franchise-making stuff. Combined with the comically well-timed implosion of DC’s once cherished NFL team, it is conceivable that the transformation of the DMV into a baseball hotbed has been set inextricably into motion. Wouldn’t you call that a successful season? I would.
But here I am four paragraphs in and I haven’t even mentioned the x factor – the small print in the back of the program that maybe even the sharpies in Vegas haven’t taken note of: my chelada consumption. It’s weird, this power I have. It isn’t fail safe – what power is? – but it is palpable and measurable, like the subtle reverberations of the tides. For those who haven’t followed along – and I understand, there is a lot happening – I can alter the outcomes of playoff baseball involving the Nationals depending on when I elect to drink a chelada. At first it seemed like a coincidence but at this juncture it’s all quite scientific. It’s not known exactly how it works, but the efficacy is in the box scores, and you need only read them to see that this is so.
And so we stand at the precipice. The Astros looming monster lurks across the battle field, robust and menacing. And I, with my chelada, patiently await their pitiless advance. Chelada things are going to have to go right for the Nationals to bring home DC’s first World Series victory since 1924, sometime before I was on the Nats beat for LG&M. And so I say: once more into the breach old friend.