On Thursday, Major League Baseball presented “Opening Day at Home” -- a full slate of 30 games broadcast nationally across various platforms including networks, digital streaming and social media, creating a full-day event on what would have been Opening Day. The experience is intended to invite fans to feel a sense of community and unity on a day many were looking forward to while underscoring the importance of staying home to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Using #OpeningDayAtHome, fans connected with each other while watching their team’s selected game at a set time. Fans were able to relive the Nationals’ first World Series championship with a Game 7 win over the Astros last season.
“Opening Day at Home” was also an opportunity for MLB to raise awareness for several worthy charities that are helping provide relief to the most vulnerable communities impacted by the pandemic. Last week, MLB and the MLBPA made a $1 million joint donation to Feeding America and Meals on Wheels, in addition to a $30 million commitment made by MLB clubs to emergency relief for ballpark employees. If so willing and able, fans can contribute toward these charities, MLB official charity Boys & Girls Clubs of America and additional causes at MLB.com/give.
The Nationals had an improbable turnaround to still be playing baseball on Oct. 30, 2019. In a season that they started 19-31, they transformed from a struggling sub-.500 team to a National League Wild Card underdog to a World Series contender.
That night, the Nats entered a winner-take-all Game 7 against the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston. It was a battle of aces: Max Scherzer, who had been scratched from Game 5 because of neck spasms, against Zack Greinke on the biggest stage in baseball.
“I believe in these guys,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “They believe in each other. And the biggest thing for us is never quit. We know that. We were 19-31. We didn’t quit then. We weren’t going to quit now.”
Washington reached Game 7 of the Fall Classic by different players stepping up each night. In the final game, 36-year-old Howie Kendrick took over the role of postseason hero.
Trailing 2-1 with a runner on first in the top of the seventh, Kendrick sliced a cutter from reliever Will Harris down the right-field line. It hit the foul pole for a homer, and the Nationals claimed a 3-2 lead they never surrendered.
“When they took Greinke out, I said, 'It’s Howie time right here,'” Nats catcher Kurt Suzuki said. “This guy punched out Howie at home, screamed and stared in our dugout, and Howie never forgot that. You couldn’t have scripted it any better.”
The Nationals called upon Daniel Hudson in the ninth to close out the 6-2 victory. His perfect frame ended by striking out Michael Brantley, as he then threw off his glove and raised his arms in celebration.
"Everything that we’ve been through over this past month, you can’t describe a better team than what we have,” Scherzer said.
This week, MLB unlocked its expansive vault and is offering fans special access to the league’s most unforgettable moments. MLB has made the entire 2018 and '19 game archives free to all fans through MLB.TV. Fans can also access more than 200 full classic MLB games on YouTube including timeless World Series games, memorable postseason matchups, no-hitters and perfect games.