'District of champions': Rizzo lauds fans, Nats

November 3rd, 2019

WASHINGTON -- No one was happier to be at the Nationals' World Series parade on Saturday than general manager Mike Rizzo. This is a guy who took over a team that went from the worst record in baseball in 2009 to a World Series title over the Astros.

Rizzo could be seen on the trophy bus -- with a big cigar in his mouth and his hat on backwards -- hoisting the World Series and National League Championship trophies for fans to see. There were times when Rizzo, manager Dave Martinez and first baseman went off the bus and sprinted toward the fans as they took selfies and had a closer look at the trophies.

After Rizzo went off the bus for the last time, the first thing he did was hand over a Nats cap and a rally towel to fans.

“The D.C. people should be proud that this is their team and their names are on there,” Rizzo said. “This championship is for them. This is the district of champions. The fanbase earned this for their support over the years. I couldn’t be more proud than be the president of this organization and this town.”

While he was in the moment, Rizzo couldn't help but think about his father and mentor, Phil Rizzo, who works for the Nationals as a senior advisor to his son. Mike learned the game of baseball through his father. No wonder the son is considered an old-school scout.

“He is at home watching this craziness and smiling,” Mike Rizzo said.

The Nationals are champions, in part, because of the moves Rizzo has made over the years. Rizzo selected third baseman and right-hander in the Draft, and signed international free agents like and . All four players were studs for the Nationals this season.

However, it seems hard to believe the Nationals finished 2019 as World Series champions. After all, this team got off to a 19-31 start. But once their regulars, such as Rendon, and , came back from injuries, the Nationals went on a memorable run, going 74-38 the rest of the regular season.

Washington went on to beat the Brewers, Dodgers and Cardinals in the postseason before advancing to the World Series against the Astros. Washington won it all in seven games.

“The Nationals are a scrappy bunch. They are fighters. They never gave up,” Rizzo said. “It would have been easy to mail it in and quit on the people of D.C. These guys have too much guts. They are too stubborn to give up.”

Although Rizzo has been celebrating, he has also been working in the office, trying to get Rendon signed to an extension. Rizzo also doesn’t want to lose Strasburg, who has reportedly opted out of his contract.

“We have been back to business for three days, but I’m going to soak this in, have a few cold ones and savor his this for a while,” he said.