Let me preface this with a fact: I am no baseball savant or aficionado. I only ever really watch baseball in October, but have found a recent liking to the sport. Yet, what the Nationals just thrillingly accomplished was exactly what I hoped for heading into October baseball.
The Ewing Theory — popularized by Bill Simmons — is the idea that a team performs better after the departure of a franchise player. In this case, the Nationals lost Bryce Harper, their seemingly all-time great player, to free agency before the season. He left for the Philadelphia Phillies for an unbelievable contract: $330 million over 13 years.
Now to say that the Nationals were entirely Bryce Harper’s team beforehand would be negligent. They had stellar pitchers — headlined by Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer — and up-and-coming batters like Juan Soto. Similarly, the Nationals paid a high price even without Bryce Harper on the squad, a page out of the 2018 Red Sox’s playbook.
Yet, they fumbled the first third of the season barreling to a record of 19–31 before flipping things around and making headway to garner a wildcard spot.
The wildcard game would have been sufficient enough for the Nationals, who had not won a postseason series in D.C. They topped the Milwaukee Brewers in an electrifying bottom of the eighth where they surmounted the Brewers lead. Three outs later, the Nationals were up to face the L.A. Dodgers.
Talking heads shouted through Twitter that calling it the first postseason series victory was a far cry from reality. They argued — not entirely wrong, in my opinion — that one wildcard win didn’t suffice as a postseason series victory. Perhaps, the Nationals were listening.
During Game 5 of the NLDS, they tackled another late comeback. Then, they made sure to clean up the St. Louis Cardinals without much thought by enacting a steadfast sweep that my wife would’ve appreciated if I had…