WASHINGTON -- The Nationals know October heartbreak more than most teams in recent memory. Every first-round exit, unfortunate bounce and goal that fell short made their triumph this past October all the sweeter.
What it didn't do, as much, was make them more compassionate.
It took World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg longer than others, but he finally gave in and watched the 2019 World Series documentary a few days before Nationals Winterfest on Saturday. What he found, on top of what he thought was a bias toward a presumed Astros victory, was that seeing their heartbreak helped in relishing the moment after the fact.
“Clearly, the documentary thought Houston was going to win,” Strasburg said, sending the room into a laugh at Winterfest. “Seeing it from that angle made it that much better, seeing how heartbroken they were. Because, I mean, we’ve been there before, too.”
The Nationals’ postseason run was defined by the unexpected. Unexpected that they’d even be playing in October after a rough start to the season, but also unexpected by overcoming a deficit in the seventh inning or later in every elimination game in October.
Every bounce that went their way en route to the World Series felt like the same ones that went against them in years past.
“You have a great year and you kind of run into a buzzsaw,” Strasburg famously said during the postseason, “but maybe this year we’re the buzzsaw.”
Strasburg wasn’t the lone Nat with emotional reactions to watching the documentary. Juan Soto still gets goosebumps. Kurt Suzuki’s son always refers to it around the house. Others will keep a copy within reach to enjoy the good memories.
But Strasburg and the organization know the good feelings can’t last forever. But some things can help, like getting a different perspective to remembering the lessons of vaulting from 19-31 in May to the top of the baseball mountain.
“I’ve always liked playing the underdog,” Strasburg said. “That’s something that naturally fits with this club. … It’s pretty clear to me, at least, that [the documentary] expected Houston to win. I think that just further fuels the flame and [we're] ready to bring it back next year.”