Five-year anniversary weekend features some, but not all, of 2019 roster

It’s been noted many times before the Nationals never got to enjoy the traditional “victory lap” that comes the season after a team wins a championship, because the 2020 season was delayed, condensed and played in empty ballparks due to COVID-19.

Nearly five years later, the club will attempt to make up for lost time with an anniversary weekend celebration of the 2019 World Series champs.

With the Astros in town for a three-game interleague series, it only made sense to revisit that epic series now, even if five full years have yet to pass and this is only the second homestand of the current season. So the weekend will feature a number of special events and giveaways, plus the return of several members of the championship roster and coaching staff.

Tonight’s series opener features a postgame fireworks show, with a distinct 2019 theme to it. The first 20,000 fans to attend Saturday’s game will receive a replica World Series ring and have the opportunity to listen to Q&A sessions with players and coaches. And Sunday’s finale, geared toward kids, includes a 2019 World Series viewing toy for the first 8,000 fans 12 and under, plus autograph sessions with several alumni.

The list of scheduled attendees includes the five members of the World Series roster who either still play or coach for the Nationals: Patrick Corbin, Sean Doolittle, Gerardo Parra, Tanner Rainey and Victor Robles. Seven retired players from the team are also scheduled to appear: Brian Dozier, Adam Eaton, Javy Guerra, Howie Kendrick, Anibal Sanchez, Kurt Suzuki and Ryan Zimmerman.

That still leaves more than half of the championship roster not scheduled to attend in person, though 10 of those players are still active with other organizations: Max Scherzer (Rangers), Juan Soto (Yankees), Anthony Rendon (Angels), Trea Turner (Phillies), Daniel Hudson (Dodgers), Michael A. Taylor (Pirates), Joe Ross (Brewers), Yan Gomes (Cubs), Wander Suero (Astros) and Matt Adams (Tijuana, Mexican League).

That leaves only three retired players who are not scheduled to attend: Asdrubal Cabrera, Fernando Rodney and Stephen Strasburg. Cabrera and Rodney, for what it’s worth, did play Winter Ball this offseason. Strasburg, of course, officially announced his retirement earlier this month and finalizing financial terms of his remaining contract with the Nationals following a long, at-times contentious period of negotiations.

Perhaps there will be some surprise appearances and/or taped messages from those not attending. But the abbreviated list of scheduled attendees does raise an obvious question: Would the Nats have been better off waiting to hold an event like this until the 10-year anniversary, when more members of the championship team would be retired and more likely to be able to attend in person?

The circumstances of the 2019 World Series and everything that occurred in 2020 obviously make this a unique situation. No other major league champion was denied the chance to celebrate with its fans the year after winning the title. So it’s completely understandable why the Nationals chose to hold a five-year anniversary, rather than waiting until 2029.

But it’s unfortunate this weekend’s celebration, deserving though it is, will be held without so many prominent names from the greatest team in franchise history.

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