- - Tuesday, June 12, 2018

NEW YORK – It was a busy day in New York City on Tuesday for several members of the Washington Nationals, even before they took on the red-hot Yankees in the Bronx.

Infielder Daniel Murphy came off the disabled list, outfielder Bryce Harper again took questions from the New York media about his free agency and manager Dave Martinez stopped by Major League Baseball headquarters.

But that didn’t stop the Nationals from keeping tabs on the Washington Capitals victory parade back home.

“I watched bits and pieces of it,” Martinez said of the red-clad celebration down Constitution Avenue in the District.

“It definitely gives you goose bumps,” Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez said.

Martinez, a Brooklyn native, had just turned five years old when the New York Mets had a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan after beating the Baltimore Orioles in the 1969 World Series.

That celebration took place just a few blocks from where Martinez grew up near East 93rd Street and Lexington Avenue.

The first-year Washington manager told the Washington Times on Tuesday that he does not remember that parade, but there is one celebration he certainly can’t forget.

That would have been in 2016, after the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in more than a century. Martinez was a bench coach for the Cubs that year.

“That was pretty nice,” said Martinez, 53, with a smile, sitting behind his desk in the visitor’s clubhouse at Yankees Stadium.

Martinez and the Nationals would certainly like to bring another title to Washington.

And Gonzalez, who has been with the Nationals since 2012, feels the Capitals title should change the way Washington is viewed as a sports town.

“Now they can stop with that negative” storyline after 26 years without a major sports title, Gonzalez said. “These guys kind of broke the mold.”

Gonzalez said the win by the Capitals could help attract more high-caliber athletes – perhaps free agents – to the nation’s capital in various sports.

Gonzalez said he went to a Capitals playoff game in 2017, but since they lost that game, he didn’t want to attend a game this spring.

The Miami native said it was special to meet several of the Capitals on Saturday, including Tom Wilson, before captain and playoff MVP Alex Ovechkin threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park.

“You could tell a sign of weight lifted off their shoulders. It was not an easy road for them,” he said. “I was definitely happy for Ovi and the rest of them.”

Nationals lefty reliever Tim Collins wore a red T-shirt before Tuesday’s game that read: “Washington is a CAPITAL City,” in reference to the hockey team.

He was happy to be in the clubhouse Saturday at Nationals Park when members of the Capitals showed up with the Stanley Cup trophy.

“It was pretty cool,” Collins said of the parade. “It is not something everyone gets to do. I’m sure not going to win a Stanley Cup. It is nice they shared it with us.”

Harper, however, did not watch the parade. A Las Vegas native, he rooted for the Golden Knights in the NHL finals but was quick to congratulate the Capitals once the series was over.


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