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Nationals can look to Capitals, original Senators for comeback model

Nationals can look to Capitals, original Senators for comeback model

It is not over yet for the Nationals. 
 
The odds are certainly tilted against them in Game 6 of the World Series tonight against the Houston Astros. Winning both games on the road when down 3-2 in a best-of-seven playoff series has happened only 11 times in Major League Baseball history. 
 
But the Nationals don’t have to look far for inspiration. A team in their own city was down 3-2 in the postseason and came back to win a championship. You surely remember: It was the 2018 Washington Capitals less than 18 months ago. 
 
That Stanley Cup happened after the Capitals were down 3-2 in the Eastern Conference Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s not quite the same because the Caps got to play Game 6 at home in the NHL’s 2-2-1-1-1 format. 
 
But they did prove that momentum isn’t really a thing in these series. The Capitals – just like the Nationals this October – won the first two games on the road and fans got ahead of themselves thinking of a sweep. But Tampa Bay won the next two games at Capital One Arena and the home fans never really had anything to cheer about. Sound familiar? Pretty much an exact replica of the Nationals losing all three games at home this weekend.
 
The Capitals dropped those two home games and then lost Game 5 in Tampa. It looked like another crushing playoff defeat was imminent down 3-2 in the series. Except Washington won Game 6 at home 3-0 and Alex Ovechkin scored less than a minute into Game 7 en route to a 4-0 victory on the road.
 
That came in an earlier round and with a different format. But the Capitals don’t win a championship without that comeback. They beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1 in the Stanley Cup Final. 
 
The Nationals don’t have anything so complicated. There’s no other series to play like the Caps faced. Win two games in Houston and they are the champs. Easier said than done, but at least they have Stephen Strasburg on the mound tonight. 
 
Baseball’s playoff format has always been different than hockey with the 2-3-2 series. Fifty times in MLB playoff history, including the World Series and League Championship Series, a team has gone on the road down 3-2. But those 11 winners are some of the sport’s most iconic teams. 
 
The 2016 Chicago Cubs did it in the World Series against the Cleveland Indians to win their first title since 1906. The Cubs had it done to them in the 2003 NLCS. The then Florida Marlins used the infamous Bartman game to even the series 3-3 at Wrigley Field and then won Game 7 there, too, in front of stunned Chicago fans who’d been preparing for a wild celebration. The Marlins went on to win the World Series.   
 
The 2004 Boston Red Sox rallied from 3-0 down to beat the New York Yankees in the ALCS. But even when they got it to 3-2 they still had to go to Yankee Stadium and win the final two games. Didn’t hurt that Boston had Curt Schilling pitching Game 6. The Nationals can take heart in that scenario given that Strasburg, too, is a proven postseason pitcher. If they get a healthy Max Scherzer for Game 7 then the parallels are scary.
 
Once the Red Sox won Game 4, they had their pitching lined up perfectly with Pedro Martinez starting Game 5 and Schilling in Game 6. All they wanted was to force a Game 7 and have all the pressure swing to the Yankees at home. It worked. Nervous New York was down 6-0 by the end of the second inning and lost 10-3.  
 
Other teams that have rallied from 3-2 down on the road: The 1991 Atlanta Braves beat the Pittsburgh Pirates twice to advance to the World Series. The 1985 Kansas City Royals won two games against the Blue Jays in Toronto to do the same. 
 
The Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles twice on the road to win the 1979 World Series. The 1968 Detroit Tigers earned their championship with two wins in St. Louis. The Yankees got to stay in their own city in 1952 so it wasn’t much of a “road” game, but rallied to win two games at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn to beat the rival Dodgers. New York had to travel to Milwaukee to accomplish the feat again in 1958 when they beat the Braves. 
 
The Cardinals were the first team to pull off the two road wins for a title bit. They did it in 1926 against the Yankees and in 1934 in Detroit. 
 
And if the Nationals need one last bit of inspiration, the original Washington Senators were the first baseball team to rally from 3-2 down in a World Series and win it all. That came at home at old Griffith Stadium in 1924 when they won twice against the New York Giants, but in the first 20 World Series staged it had never happened at all. Maybe it’s in the Nationals’ DNA.  

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Report: Nationals among teams to release minor leaguers amid coronavirus pandemic

Report: Nationals among teams to release minor leaguers amid coronavirus pandemic

The Nationals are among many teams that cut a portion of its minor-league ranks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, TheScore’s Robert Murray reported Thursday.

According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, "hundreds" of minor leaguers lost their jobs Thursday as talks continue between MLB and its players union over the parameters for a salvaged 2020 season.

Although both sides maintain optimism that an MLB season will be played this summer, the fact that it would begin without fans in attendance is an indication that the minor-league season—of which teams rely almost entirely on ticket sales and concessions for revenue—is likely lost.

MLB teams agreed in March to pay their minor-league players $400 a week through May 31. However, as many teams have announced series of pay cuts, furloughs and lay offs for their employees over the past few weeks, it started to look inevitable that the minor leaguers would be a casualty of the virus’s economic ramifications once the agreement expired.

The last few weeks of spring training leading up to Opening Day typically see a significant number of minor-league players cut loose after failing to make team rosters. Since no team had the chance to narrow down its list of players before coronavirus forced the suspension of spring training, many of the players released may have already been candidates to get let go.

However, the sheer number of players that are now unemployed is unprecedented. While the released players are now free agents and free to sign with any club, it’s unlikely many teams bring on new players while the pandemic continues to grip the country.

At the very least until the league and MLBPA—which doesn't represent players in the minors—reach an agreement on how to proceed with the 2020 season, those minor-league players are going to have to find income through another job.

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New Jersey brewery takes shot at Astros' cheating scandal with new beer

New Jersey brewery takes shot at Astros' cheating scandal with new beer

Even with the baseball world on hold, the digs at the Houston Astros surrounding their sign-stealing scandal persist. The latest may be the most clever, as one New Jersey brewery created a custom beer just to take a shot at the Astros.

Departed Soles' newest drink is named "Trash Can Banger" and is a beer dedicated to slighting the Astros' 2017 World Series championship. The drink itself contains 2,017 grams of hops in each barrel, and the can design mimics Houston's well-recognized striped jerseys.

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Sometimes you need to bend the rules a little to Marwin the day, so we're up and at 'em a little earlier than we should be, getting a fresh new Hazy IPA in cans Justin time for a surprise Sunday release! Some of you may have already gotten the Signs that this was coming today, but beer releases are like a pitcher's arsenal, and you never really know what's coming and when... unless, of course, you cheat. When this pandemic first struck, much of our staff worked from home, while Brian rededicated himself to the Art of Brewing.. rewatching brewing school classes, reading new studies, and pouring over interviews, trying to Luhn(h)ow we could improve our efficiencies and processes. The result is a Fiers new approach to everything we do, from mashing in, to dry hopping, water treatments to canning, and everything in between. And, well, we don't mean to breg, man, but this new beer is Reddickulous, and you won't want to miss it! Brewed with Citra in our whirlpool, and given a touch of milk sugar for complexity, this juice bomb was twice dry hopped... first with more Citra, then with 2017 grams per barrel of Galaxy and Strata Hops... and just like an Asteroid, the flavor is out of this world! Like a craft beer Minute Made orange juice, to enjoy at a Park this fine day! Need some #TrashCanBanger in your life? Maybe Collin a favor with a friend if you're stuck in Correa, to have 'em pick you up some, or Cora ride share from Dallas to the brewery. If all else fails, throw a Belt & ran to the brewery, with a little Springer in your step, to be here at noon when we open up and release it to the world... Assuming our canning run goes off without a Hinch, 4 packs of this new #DefinitelyNotGlutenFree Banger will be available at noon for $17. Set your alarm to buzz, or tape an electrode to your chest to make sure you don't forget! The show Musgrove on! We're open from noon until 8pm, accepting same day delivery orders up until 4pm. Usual minimums, fees, etc. apply! Menu in story.

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Why exactly did Departed Soles decide to make this beer? It was a simple mentality that most would agree with.

“I’m not a fan of cheaters,” Departed Soles head brewer and owner Brian Kulbacki told NJ.com

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Kulbacki noted that the beverage has created some support among Yankees and Dodgers fans who were heavily impacted by the 2017 events, while people in Houston are not too fond of it. That's no surprise, though Kulbacki was taken back by how many Astros fans remain blind to what happened.

The creation of the beer stemmed from the brewery missing live sports; taking a shot at the Astros in the process was an added bonus. 

“We’re all very big sports fans, and we’re all desperate for sports to come back,” Kulbacki said. “We’re desperate for anything to talk about other than a pandemic right now. So we thought it was an opportune time to put out a beer.”

At ballparks or bars, it looks like the Astros won't be escaping the digs anytime soon. 

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