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.
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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