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Howie Kendrick takes shot at ‘cheatin’ Astros after Nationals’ World Series ring reveal

Howie Kendrick takes shot at ‘cheatin’ Astros after Nationals’ World Series ring reveal

Throughout the Nationals’ run to their first World Series title in franchise history, there were many points where it was easy to doubt them.

They stumbled out to a 19-31 start, putting them eight and a half games out of a playoff spot two months into the season. Even when they did make the playoffs, they trailed in five elimination games—including four against teams that won over 105 games in the regular season.

Yet the Nationals came back each time, surprising critics and oddsmakers alike with their ability to stay in the fight even with their backs against the wall. In one of the final pieces of their championship celebration, the Nationals unveiled their World Series ring design Sunday night to give both players and fans a glimpse of the championship jewelry.

After the presentation, several players joined MASN’s Dan Kolko for a Zoom “after party” to discuss their thoughts on the rings. Among them was Howie Kendrick, who made up for missing out on the Nationals’ Game 7 re-watch Zoom call by taking a dig at the scandal-ridden Houston Astros.

“Everybody expected us to get steamrolled by the Astros, but even with them cheatin’ they still couldn’t take us out,” Kendrick said.

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Less than two weeks after Houston lost to the Nationals in Game 7 of the World Series, news broke that the Astros had used hidden cameras to illegally steal opposing pitchers’ signs during the 2017 and 2018 seasons. The report set off an offseason full of embarrassment for the reigning American League pennant winners, resulting in a series of public apologies and the ire of most of their opponents.

Although MLB reported that it found no evidence the Astros continued employing their sign-stealing scheme into the 2019 season, the Nationals still heard rumors Houston wasn’t playing by the rules before the World Series.

So rather than take any chances, Washington devised a complicated set of signs based on laminated cards that pitchers and catchers kept in their pockets—allowing them to change signs from batter to batter or even pitch to pitch.

Cheating or not, Houston still fell victim to the Nationals’ relentlessness and Kendrick’s late-game heroics. Even with the Astros’ scandal and the coronavirus pandemic dampening Washington’s championship celebrations, Kendrick wasn’t going to let an opportunity to rub it in pass him by.

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Brian Dozier on World Series run with Nationals: ‘I’d do it again for anything’

Brian Dozier on World Series run with Nationals: ‘I’d do it again for anything’

Brian Dozier has played nine seasons in the major leagues for four different teams. He’s made the playoffs three times, made an All-Star team and won a Gold Glove. His career has been a respectable one and he’s formed particularly deep ties with the Minnesota area after playing his first six and a half seasons with the Twins.

And yet when he looks back on his playing days, it’ll be his one year with the Nationals that stands out the most. In an interview with MASN’s Dan Kolko aired Wednesday, Dozier talked about what he missed most about the team now that he’s playing against them as a member of the New York Mets.

“The team is what made it,” Dozier said. “Oldest team in baseball, all the veterans, we had fun, we knew how to have fun in the locker room, outside, all that kind of stuff and it was game on in between the lines. That was really important and it goes to show you that when you’re not playing baseball or whatever down the road, switching teams and all that, the relationships that you have and you build are off the charts and last year was probably the most fun I’ve had.”

Dozier struggled at the plate for most of the year, hitting .238 with 20 home runs and 105 strikeouts over 105 games. He lost his job as the team’s starting second baseman to midseason acquisition Asdrúbal Cabrera and had just seven plate appearances in the playoffs.

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But Dozier made his most important impact in the clubhouse. A fluent Spanish speaker, he helped a roster full of Latin Americans gel and feel comfortable letting their personalities flourish. With his own rendition of Pedro Capó’s song “Calma” and repeated shirtless playoff celebrations, he did plenty to endear himself to Nationals fans as well.

He may have only played one season in D.C., but it was a season that he won’t soon forget.

“That was fun times, man,” Dozier said. “I’d do it again for anything. For another ring.”

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Juan Soto welcomes cardboard cutouts of family to Nationals Park

Juan Soto welcomes cardboard cutouts of family to Nationals Park

As Juan Soto made his return to the Nationals lineup on Wednesday after dealing with a positive COVID-19 test to begin the season, his family was in the stands to cheer him on. Well, sort of.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, no fans are allowed at MLB games. Instead, teams have opted to place cardboard cutouts of supporters in seats throughout the ballpark to make the atmosphere feel a little more normal. So of course, Soto's family was "in attendance" for his first game back in left field as the Nationals star had custom cutouts made. 

In a perfect gesture, Soto greeted his cardboard relatives by slapping an RBI double to left field in his first trip to the plate. Though there was no applause from the seats, you can bet there was plenty of cheering going on wherever they are watching the game.

Soto's connection with his family runs deep, and it was on display throughout the Nationals 2019 World Series run. From getting tackled by his father after his clutch knock in the NL Wild Card Game to having a traveling fan club at the World Series, the Soto's are clearly his No. 1 supporters.

RELATED: AS SOTO RETURNS, BASEBALL IS REMINDED HOW MUCH IT MISSED HIM

So while the pandemic may be keeping them from being there in person, there was no chance Soto was going to return to action without a way to have his family cheer him on.

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