Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy took the field pregame for batting practice sporting a Harry Kane England soccer jersey, representing a player on his favorite Premier League club, Tottenham Hotspur.
In the locker room, right-hander Erick Fedde was sprawled on the couch watching the final moments between Croatia and Argentina in the 2018 World Cup. When Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic struck the post in the 86th minute of his side’s 3-0 victory over Lionel Messi and Argentina, Nationals players in the cafeteria yelled out.
Before Washington’s series finale against the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday, the Nationals’ collective interest in the World Cup was on full display.
“I think everyone’s super into it,” Fedde said. “We have some team games going on with it where everyone, you know, has a team and, you know, I think that’s really got everyone really into it.”
Nationals players pulled countries randomly out of a hat to support during the month-long competition. Fedde got Sweden. He doesn’t think Murphy pulled England, but that’s not stopping the three-time All-Star from supporting the nation.
“Murph loves Tottenham, so that’s from England and Harry Kane plays there,” Fedde said. “He’s totally invested on England.”
With the time difference between Washington and Russia, most World Cup games are being televised in the U.S. in the mornings and afternoon, so bars are opening early to host watch parties for matches. Despite America missing out on qualification, interest is still high for the competition.
So, each morning, Fedde said he wakes up and watches whatever match is on that day. When he gets to the clubhouse, the early afternoon matchup is being played as he prepares for his own game.
“I’m having it on in the room, following it, just going about my business,” Fedde said. “I love it.”