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How the Nationals entered 19-31 into D.C. sports lore

How the Nationals entered 19-31 into D.C. sports lore

Nats fans know the deal. Mention '19-31' or May 24 to one of them and you will likely get a smile. Conversely, say '19-31' to someone outside the Nationals fanbase bubble and they may look at you strange, just as they would if you started singing 'Baby Shark' and chomping your arms while wearing red-tinted sunglasses.

The numbers '19-31' carry deep meaning to Nationals fans, but not to many others. It is, of course, the record they had on May 24 of 2019, right before they turned their season around en route to a World Series championship.

The Nationals became just the second team in MLB history to win it all after being 12 games under .500 during the regular season. The other team is still affectionately known as the 'Miracle Braves,' all these years later after they accomplished the feat in 1914.

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To Nationals fans, '19-31' is one of those numbers in sports that tells the story of a much larger picture. It's not unlike '3-1' to Cleveland Cavaliers fans or '28-3' to New England Patriots fans. Those who root for the Golden State Warriors and Atlanta Falcons probably remember those numbers, too, though for much different reasons.

The '19-31' number, however, is much more esoteric. The significance didn't play out in front of the entire sports world as those other ones did. It was a regular season turning point, one that even Nats fans didn't understand the meaning of at the time. It wasn't until months later as the Nats closed in on a postseason berth and then went deep into October did it truly start to resonate.

It may mean a lot to Nationals fans, but consider what happens when you Google '19-31.' Of the 10 results that appear on the first page, only one is a reference to the Nationals. The other nine are mostly Bible verses. 

Basically, though it's a uniquely meaningful number in Washington, D.C., it is completely random in the grand scheme of things. It does, however, have some coincidental symmetry.

The number 19 is also the year the Nats won the World Series, 2019. It is also the jersey number of pitcher Anibal Sanchez, whose own personal midseason turnaround was a central reason why the Nats righted the ship. He also played a significant role in their playoff success.

The number 31 is the jersey of Max Scherzer, who started Game 7 and made many contributions all season-long. The Nationals also won the World Series at 11:50 p.m. ET on Oct. 30, meaning they were presented the trophy and celebrated as Nats fans watched from afar... on the 31st.

Now both '19-31' and the date of May 24 are distinctive in Nationals lore. The day itself could be commemorated each year from now on when home games are played at Nationals Park. The '19-31' number could translate to ballpark promotions, maybe at concessions or with $19.31 sales on merchandise.

With the one-year anniversary coming up this Sunday, it may be time to start thinking in those terms. Because '19-31' and May 24 are going to live forever among Nationals fans, even if they mean little or absolutely nothing to everyone else.

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How will MLB's new extra inning with a runner on second rule work strategically?

How will MLB's new extra inning with a runner on second rule work strategically?

Major League Baseball is going to be bizarre in 2020. A 60-game schedule. The designated hitter in the National League. No fans.

But the change a lot of baseball fans might have the toughest getting used to is the tweak to extra innings. Each team will begin each extra inning with a man on second base. The crew from the Nationals Talk podcast had differing opinions on the new rule.

“I absolutely love it,” NBC Sports Washington's Nick Ashooh said.

Team reporter Todd Dybas did not agree.

“The rule is dumb. It goes against everything that baseball is about.”

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Chase Hughes broke the tie. “I’m a no on the rule too. I’m with Todd.”

What about the strategy of starting with a man on second base? Could team's exploit or alter the ending of the previous frame to set up a new inning? 

The rule states: “The runner placed on second base at the start of each half-inning shall be the player (or a substitute for such player) in the batting order immediately preceding that half-inning’s leadoff hitter.”

Dybas wondered if it would be wise to end the previous inning on purpose if a speedster is at the plate with two outs.

“Would it behoove [Giants'] Billy Hamilton to make the final out? So the next inning he would start at second base?” Hamilton is a career .242 hitting but has 299 stolen bases in 809 games played. 

RELATED: COULD MORE OPT-OUTS BE COMING? 

Frustration will also be inevitable. “I can’t wait to hear from the players on the first team to lose by that rule,” Hughes said. “What are they going to say?” 

2020 has already thrown us plenty of curveballs, the changes to baseball will just be a couple more the sports world will have to adjust to. 

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Report: 6 Nationals among players MLB didn't test for COVID-19 before flight from Dominican Republic

Report: 6 Nationals among players MLB didn't test for COVID-19 before flight from Dominican Republic

One of two flights chartered by Major League Baseball from the Dominican Republic to Miami carried multiple players that tested positive for the coronavirus after arriving in the U.S., The Washington Post reported Thursday evening. None of the more than 160 players and staff members were tested by MLB for the disease prior to flying.

Among the passengers on those flights—which flew out of Santo Domingo on July 1—were Nationals players Juan Soto, Victor Robles, Wander Suero and Fernando Abad as well as two of their prospects in Luis Garcia and Joan Adon. All six players are isolating in D.C. and one of them, The Post reported, tested positive for the coronavirus during intake screening July 2.

The Nationals announced Sunday that two players had tested positive upon arriving to D.C. and were in isolation. In addition to the six players who flew from the D.R., Howie Kendrick, Starlin Castro and Roenis Elías were absent from practice at Nationals Park this week. Although Castro returned to the field Thursday, Washington has yet to give any updates on the remaining players not cleared for play.

RELATED: MIKE RIZZO SAYS ‘I COULDN’T LIVE WITH MYSELF IF WE WENT ON HAPHAZARDLY’

“We’re still waiting to hear about those other guys,” manager Davey Martinez said in a Zoom press conference Thursday. “But they’re working diligently, MLB and our medical staff, to get those guys cleared. Hopefully, we’ll get them soon.”

The lack of testing prior to those flights was a result of insufficient resources in the D.R. to accommodate the number of people who were to board, The Post reported. The news comes three days after the Nationals opted to cancel practice due to test results taking over 72 hours to come in. General manager Mike Rizzo issued a strong statement that afternoon stressing the importance of quick testing.

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“We cannot have our players and staff work at risk,” Rizzo wrote. “We will not sacrifice the health and safety of our players, staff and their families.  Without accurate and timely testing it is simply not safe for us to continue with Summer Camp.  Major League Baseball needs to work quickly to resolve issues with their process and their lab.  Otherwise, Summer Camp and the 2020 Season are at risk.”

MLB’s 2020 season is scheduled to begin July 23, when the Nationals are set to host the New York Yankees on Opening Night.

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