Sports are supposed to be fun, and in a year where it feels like the world is crumbling, the Nats have given the region a reason to cheer. Fans of all ages have danced and clapped along to “Baby Shark” during games. “Calma” by Puerto Rican artist Pedro Capó has become the team’s unofficial anthem. And on Friday, the city will host its first World Series game since 1933. For the second year in a row, a major D.C. sports team is in the championships.
So when Alexandra DeSanctis, a staff writer for National Review, tweeted on Oct. 16 that she does not “have respect for baseball fans who move to DC from other parts of the country and become Nationals fans,” Eireann Dolan had the perfect response.
“My husband and I moved to DC from Oakland in July 2017, are we allowed to be Nats fans?” she replied to DeSanctis. Dolan is married to Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle.
City Paper staffers and contributors who have watched World Series fever consume other municipalities understand the collective thrill that the event can bring a city. This is no time for bandwagon fan shaming. So crank up “Calma” and break out Gerardo Parra’s rose-colored glasses. The players don’t care how long you’ve been cheering for them. The applause sounds the same. —Kelyn Soong
Welcome aboard, new Nats fans
Don’t be afraid to jump on the Nats bandwagon! I say this as someone who moved from D.C. to Boston roughly six weeks before the Red Sox won the World Series in 2007 and soon found myself screaming about Big Papiand Daisuke Matsuzaka. (Oh, it was a simpler time.)
To avoid looking like a total rube, you have to do a little research before hopping on board. First, learn how to pronounce players’ names: Trea Turner’s first name is TRAY, not Tree-Uh. Respect the old guys: Ryan Zimmerman stuck around through a lot of garbage years, so don’t disparage him, even if he makes a mistake. Don’t wear orange until the series is over, unless you want to get mistaken for an Astros fan, and treat yourself to a piece of Nats gear if you really want to look the part. And if events prompt you to take to the streets, do so responsibly—don’t set things on fire, don’t push people, don’t flip cars. —Caroline Jones
A World Series is for everyone
I was, literally, a fair-weather fan when I went to Wrigleyville to watch the Cubs win the World Series. The skies were clear and the Cubs were up 5-1 when I hopped on the L from Evanston, and I’ve never regretted it. Sports are fun, but sports fandom is much better, and for a few weeks in 2016, I was truly part of something, even though Chicago wasn’t my hometown, and the Cubs weren’t my team. A World Series is for everyone—even newcomers and suburbanites.
When the Red Line rolled into Addison and let us off, hundreds of us took off running towards Wrigley Field, hoping to get there in time to witness history. The atmosphere was like nothing I’d experienced before or since. We found a spot in the crowd where we could peer through a bar window and catch a glimpse of the TV. Cops kept getting reprimanded by their higher-ups for turning around to watch the game instead of the crowd. Wrigleyville was on fire, and when the game ended, it exploded. That’s not an experience I’ll ever forget, and it’s one worth opening yourself up to, even if the Nats aren’t your team. I’ll be cheering them on with thousands of my closest friends and neighbors. —Emma Sarappo
No time for fatalism
Dance like nobody’s watching, sing like nobody’s listening, and love like you’ve never been hurt. This timeless Henry Kissinger quote [Note to the editor: This is a joke!] is particularly relevant for Washingtonians this week, as the Nationals play in their first-ever World Series. Sure, the Astros are heavily favored; sure, the Nats have made a habit of choking in October. Who cares? Now is not the time for history or probability. Now is the time to put your heart on the line for this team.
When my beloved Chicago Cubs went to the World Series in 2016 for the first time in 71 years, the entire city of Chicago was swept up into a sort of collective effervescence. Inside the ballpark, fans stood for every pitch and screamed for every line drive. Across the city, every head wore a cap, and every TV was tuned to the game. Sure, we all knew that the Cubs were the losingest bunch of losers in baseball history. It didn’t matter. We suppressed our fatalism and willed the Cubs to victory.
So take a tip from Chicago, D.C., and live and die with this team for the World Series. Don’t feel self-conscious if you aren’t a lifelong fan, because there is really no such thing. The only lifelong Nats fans around here are literal children, and who cares what children think? The night that the Cubs won the World Series was one of the most joyful nights of my life. Less than a week later, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, and I haven’t really cared as much about baseball ever since. So seize the moment, Nats fans, because you never know what will come along to ruin it after it happens. —Justin Peters
Hold on to your superstitions
Please excuse me if I’m not as excited as my colleagues. I grew up in St. Louis, where baseball is more religion than sport. So watching my hometown team whiff its way out of the playoffs—surrounded by Nationals “fans” no less—was hard to swallow.
But, as a Cardinals fan, I’ve been here before—twice in my lifetime, actually. I’m still mourning the Cards’ loss, and will be wearing muted colors throughout this series, but I’ll be passively rooting for the Nats in this one. In that spirit, here are a few pointers.
Wear red (or any Nats gear) to work, to the bar, to the gym, to bed. Don’t have enough to last the full series? Pick up an extra shirt or two, or get used to doing laundry every night. Hold on to those silly superstitions. They absolutely are the reason your team is winning. Although this “Baby Shark” thing could go down as the most embarrassing playoff baseball schtick in history, it seems to be working. Trust the tiny shark. (After all, the Cardinals relied on a freakin’ squirrel in 2011.) Wear layers to the game, bring a koozie (because beers are cold), bring whiskey, too. And next year, win or lose, show your team some love. —Mitch Ryals