- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2019

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken sports the name of the enemy, but that irony aside, the G Street eatery is like every other person and business in the nation’s capital these days: decked out in support of the Washington Nationals.

Its special World Series doughnut, sold on game days, is vanilla with a raspberry glaze, a white chocolate baseball and curly W design — and a plastic “baby shark” figurine on top, naturally, to reference the Nationals’ unofficial theme song.

“Now it seems like a no-brainer, but when we were thinking about it, we thought, we’ve got to do something out of the box,” Astro owner and native Washingtonian Elliot Spaisman said. “What we put together was obviously ‘Baby Shark.’”

QUIZ: Can you pass this World Series trivia test?

At local restaurants, bars, a cathedral, the D.C. Council and elsewhere, fervor for the Nationals has taken hold as the city prepares to host a World Series game for the first time since 1933. What was a baseball desert until just 15 years ago will host the sport’s marquee event this weekend when the Nationals and Houston Astros continue their series in Washington.

Games 3, 4 and 5 are slated for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights at Nationals Park. The first pitch is scheduled for just after 8 p.m. With the Nationals leading Houston two games to none, there might not be a need for Game 5 in the best-of-seven series. World Series sweeps are rare — the last one was in 2012 — but Washington is halfway there.

The weather forecast calls for some rain Saturday evening and Sunday, but the extent to which that could delay the games is unknown. That is the only potential complication threatening to dampen a weekend of baseball festivities. The Metro will be open late after games for fans’ commute, the crack of the bat again will echo over the Anacostia River and tens of thousands of people will converge on Nationals Park to witness local history.

‘Common language’

The Nationals and their stadium are primed to be one of the most lasting pieces of Anthony A. Williams’ legacy as the District’s mayor from 1999 to 2007. Having led the city’s efforts to bring the Montreal Expos to town, and after overcoming council opposition to build Nationals Park, Mr. Williams became known as one of Washington’s biggest baseball fans.

Mr. Williams said he plans to attend each World Series game at Nationals Park this weekend.

“You walk down the street, and everybody is saying, ‘Go Nats,’” Mr. Williams told The Washington Times. “A lot of these folks, I’m sure, weren’t baseball fans two or three years ago, but they’re baseball fans now. That’s good for the city. It’s good for baseball. It’s good for overall civic life.”

Hosting a World Series would have seemed like a dream for the District in 2005, when the Nationals began play at RFK Stadium before the ballpark was built. Mr. Williams said a Series wasn’t initially on his mind.

But as he watched the Nationals invest in becoming a top-flight ballclub — one that soon competed for division titles year in and year out with players like Ryan Zimmerman and managers like Matt Williams and Dusty Baker — the mayor felt it was only a matter of time before the Nationals would make a World Series.

Mr. Williams’ successors on the D.C. Council have baseball on the brain, too. At a legislative meeting Tuesday, council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, twice asked the council to sing “Baby Shark” to wish the Nationals good luck for Game 1. Chairman Phil Mendelson denied the request, but someone played the children’s song over the hearing room’s loudspeaker after the meeting.

Council member Elissa Silverman, at-large independent, said she has fond memories of attending baseball games with her father and brother. She said they plan to attend Game 4 of the World Series together on Saturday.

“The reason I like sports is it’s a common language you can speak,” Ms. Silverman said. “It’s something I do think ties people together from different backgrounds, different ages, different incomes. It’s something we can all get behind and talk about.”

Time to party

D.C. sports fans are using words such as “inconceivable” and “electric” to describe what the Nationals are doing. But they also compare it to a recent benchmark of Washington sports fandom: the Capitals’ Stanley Cup victory in 2018, the city’s first major sports championship in 26 years.

“I would kind of equate it to the same joy that the city felt when the Caps did their Stanley Cup run,” said Laura Habberstad, a manager at Dacha Navy Yard, which sits between Nationals Park and the Anacostia. “For so many times, we were so close, but it was just outside of our grasp. So then to finally have whatever come together, just the right pieces fit so that we can just have this really great run where it’s just so exciting. You feel fans are coming out, the city’s coming together. … It’s just a unifying moment where we all get to be so proud.”

Christian Hunt, a bartender and manager at Blackfinn Ameripub DC and trivia host at Atlas Brew Works in the Ivy City neighborhood, is a lifelong Washingtonian and die-hard D.C. sports fan. He celebrated the local narrative of Ryan Zimmerman, a native Virginian and University of Virginia product who has played for the Nationals since they came to Washington.

“To watch [Zimmerman] finally break through, not only win past the wild card game but win two playoff series and get all the way to the big show, is something special,” Mr. Hunt said.

Mr. Hunt rattled off the important Nationals games that he made sure to attend: the first and last games they played at RFK, the first game at Nationals Park, their first home playoff game, even the MLB All-Star Game and Home Run Derby last year.

Did he have those coveted World Series tickets yet? “Not quite,” Mr. Hunt laughed. “I’m watching [the market] very closely.”

Last-minute tickets will be harder than ever to come by: At one point Thursday afternoon, the cheapest ticket for Game 3 available on StubHub was $1,100.

The inside of Nationals Park won’t be the only place for fans to cheer and celebrate. Watch parties have popped up around the Navy Yard neighborhood, including Yards Park.

“They’re blocking off the streets,” Ms. Habberstad said, “so it means it’s going to be really a big kind of a street party that’s going to happen over the next week.”

Sophie Kaplan contributed to this report.

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