The Catholic chaplain of the Washington Nationals, Monsignor Stephen Rossetti, reflects on the team’s historic…
My Washington Nationals are in the World Series, and it’s time to dance
My Washington Nationals are in the World Series. Do I need to type that again? The Washington Nationals — longtime basement dwellers turned postseason heartbreakers — have made it to the Fall Classic. As Nats radio play-by-play announcer Charlie Slowes likes to call on momentous occasions: “Remember where you are so you can remember where you were.”
As I am writing this, nearly a week has passed since the final glorious out that completed a heart-pounding sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park, and the Nationals are in Houston preparing to face the mighty Astros in Game 1. My lucky shirt has been laundered, my enormous Washington flag is flying next to my Midwestern stoop, and my toddler is running around the house wearing a backward Curly W hat. We are ready.
|Meet Msgr. Stephen J. Rossetti, chaplain of the Washington Nationals, in this interview by Brian Fraga.|
I was raised in a baseball family. Dad: Yankees. Mom: Mets. Both: Lifers. When they visit during baseball season, 7 p.m. means the start of a regular evening cacophony as games are streamed on various devices, sometimes in the same room. We are serious about the baseball, folks.
The same year that I moved to the Washington, D.C., area after graduating from college, the Nationals were born. I didn’t have a choice. They were my team from the very start. That first season saw an improbable group of baseball castoffs somehow, some way, soar to first place by the All-Star break before bottoming out to end the season at a still respectable .500. It would be seven more years before the Nats managed a winning season.
During the basement years, though, I couldn’t get enough. I had time, few responsibilities, disposable income and directions to the stadium. Tickets went for a song, and I lived and died with every out (and I have the scorecards to prove it).
I witnessed Ryan Zimmerman walk off on Father’s Day 2006 against the Yankees (sorry, Dad) and again on opening day at the brand new Nationals Park in 2008. I watched Stephen Strasburg, this week’s Game 2 starter, pitch for the first time in the Bigs in 2010. And I was in the crowd in October 2012: first during the euphoric, on-field celebration when the scrappy Nats clinched the NL East for the first time, then during the fateful NLDS Game 5 against the Cardinals that saw an early 6-0 lead turn slowly, excruciatingly, into a 9-7, season-ending loss.
Now, after an astonishingly improbable turnaround that saw a team with a 19-31 record in May stay in the fight through the end of October by winning one game at a time — including a white-knuckle, sudden-death wild-card game and come-from-behind NLDS wins against the Los Angeles Dodgers — they’re going to the World Series.
I don’t live and die by the outs as much anymore. Once-lazy baseball weekends have morphed into days filled with nonstop toddler-chasing and playdough trains, and once-empty baseball weeknights are consumed with toy-pick up, writing and baby bedtimes. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But it’s a reminder that, in the blink of an eye, life can change.
The same is true for baseball. One pitch can be friend or foe, the difference between strikeout or grand slam. It’s what makes it maddening, and it’s what makes it magical.
Don’t worry, though — I’m still cheering from my home several states away, albeit a little more quietly. And for another week and a half, win or lose, I’m going to celebrate this team that embodies all the promise that sport has to offer: the joy, the hope, the drama, the suspense. The dugout dances and the Baby Shark chomping. Because, in the blink of an eye, time will have moved on. It’s funny that way.
But for right now, my Washington Nationals are in the World Series, and it’s time to dance.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. This column is dedicated to Bob Lockwood.