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From 2005 to champs: Rewind with the Nats

@JamalCollier
November 7, 2019

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals’ first World Series championship had been years in the making -- not just from the start of the 2019 season, but actually dating back to April 2005, when baseball returned to D.C. after a long absence. And from there began the Nats' ascension to the top

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals’ first World Series championship had been years in the making -- not just from the start of the 2019 season, but actually dating back to April 2005, when baseball returned to D.C. after a long absence.

And from there began the Nats' ascension to the top -- a ride that, although bumpy along the way, provided highs and lows still worth reliving.

Take a trip down memory lane with Ryan Zimmerman’s walk-off homer to christen Nationals Park to Stephen Strasburg’s electric debut and first season, cut short by Tommy John surgery. Bryce Harper arrived on the scene with a hard, sweet swing and long flowing hair that made him a star from the beginning. In 2012, the Nationals made the postseason for the first time, transforming from the new team in town to a perennial contender. But the success during the regular season never carried over to October as Washington fell short in four dramatic National League Division Series in 2012, ’14, ’16 and ’17.

“In '12 we made the playoffs a year or two earlier than people kind of thought we would, and then from there we've kind of been expected to make the playoffs every year,” Zimmerman said before Game 7 of the World Series.

“And then all of a sudden, if you don't get past the first round of the playoffs, you're a huge disappointment. So it all happened kind of fast. Which, if you play at this level, that's kind of the expectations you want. You want your fans to be disappointed if you don't make the playoffs. But it all happened very fast.”

The 2019 team always represented a new era in Washington. Harper, long the cornerstone for the franchise, was gone to the rival Phillies and the Nationals limped out of the gates to one of their worst starts in years.

But the Nats did not go quietly, with a season full of dramatic moments, plenty of dancing and comebacks all leading up to an improbable postseason run to culminate in the World Series championship.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.