The final bus turned the corner and came to a stop behind the stage on 3rd Street NW for the team rally during Saturday’s victory parade to celebrate the Nationals’ first World Series title.
General manager Mike Rizzo got off the double decker bus and met with the media with a cigar in his mouth and a smile from ear to ear.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in professional sports,” Rizzo said. “It’s just amazing. We talk about a lot of things: chemistry, performance and this and that, but that player group in there is good of people as it gets. The D.C. people should be proud that that’s their team and their name is on (their jerseys).
“I couldn’t be happier bringing that trophy home and show in front of all these people.”
The Nats fans lined the streets of D.C. from 15th Street down Constitution Avenue all the way to 3rd Street and Pennsylvania Avenue so they could cheer on their baseball heroes and thank them for the amazing seven-game series win over the favored Houston Astros.
“It was amazing, it was breathtaking,” Rizzo said with his voice cracking. “It was something that I’ve never experienced before, even in 2001 (when the Arizona Diamondbacks, for whom Rizzo was scouting director, won the World Series). This is an amazing show that this town put on. Good for them. They earned it and they deserved it and man, they came out in (numbers).”
“This championship is for you,” Rizzo said to the assembled fans. “This is a district of champions. D.C. is the district of champions. The fan base earned this for their support over the years and I couldn’t be more proud to be the president of this organization in this town.”
It is a special time for Rizzo personally, as he will get married before the end of the year. The GM said he thought about his family while riding in the parade.
“My Dad comes to mind. He’s my mentor and he’s at home watching this craziness and smiling. The month of May felt like a year, and now everything else went by really fast.”
The season got off to a slow start as the club lost 31 of its first 50 games. After that, the Nationals won 62 regular season games and another 12 games in the postseason to win it all. Rizzo pointed toward the unbreakable bond the players formed that helped them through those dark days of May.
“It’s such a great feeling,” Rizzo said. “Starting in the beginning of February, when we started this thing in Florida, to now, these people are our families. We are with them eight and a half months a year, every day. You go through the trials and tribulations, the tough times, the good times, the jubilation and the lows. It’s just a pleasure to be with a group of guys and a group of people that you can call family.
“They are a scrappy bunch. They are fighters. They never gave up, and it would have been easy to mail it in and quit on people of D.C., but these guys have too much guts and they are too stubborn to give up.”
“Well, we’ve been back to business for about three days now,” Rizzo said, smiling. “But I’m going to soak this in and have a few cold ones and savor this for awhile.”