The Nationals announced this evening they will hold a virtual ring ceremony and present players and staff members with their long-awaited World Series championship rings Sunday night, a concession to the reality of the world during the coronavirus pandemic.
With the 2020 Major League Baseball season on hold and fans unlikely to be in attendance if and when games do begin this summer, the Nationals decided to mail out their championship rings to be opened in unison Sunday night on a group Zoom chat.
The virtual ceremony will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. on MASN, MLB Network and nationals.com, and the decision to hold it May 24 was no coincidence. It falls on the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Nationals’ comeback from a 19-31 start to their first championship.
The ring ceremony is a time-honored tradition that was scheduled to take place April 4 before the team’s second home game, two days after the World Series banner was to be raised prior to the home opener. Club officials were adamant at the outset of the pandemic they wouldn’t raise the banner or hand out rings without fans in attendance, but that mindset appears to have changed as it became clear any games played in 2020 won’t have fans in attendance.
Faced with the unpopular prospect of waiting until 2021 - when more players from the championship roster could be employed elsewhere - the Nationals decided instead to hold their ring ceremony virtually this weekend and make it available to fans to watch from a distance.
“This virtual ring ceremony allows us to gather together remotely to share a moment of joy in these uncertain times,” managing principal owner Mark Lerner told MASN’s Dan Kolko during an interview that aired this evening. “We’ll be bringing fans up close and personal with the team in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a typical ring ceremony.”
The virtual ring ceremony will close out a weekend that also includes the premiere of the Nationals’ team-produced World Series documentary: “Improbable.” Part 1, chronicling the National League wild card game, NL Division Series and NL Championship Series, debuts Saturday at 7 p.m. on MASN and nationals.com. Part 2, which documents the World Series, is set to air Sunday at 5:30 p.m. in advance of the virtual ring ceremony.