In baseball, there's a benefit to having a roster composed of both young and veteran players. The younger group brings a high-intensity energy every moment as their careers have just begun, while veterans have the ability to mentor and call on past experiences in crucial moments.
The 2019 Washington Nationals had that perfect mix, something first baseman Ryan Zimmerman believes was instrumental during the team's journey to winning the World Series.
Zimmerman joined Maryland football head coach Mike Locksley on his Instagram Live show "Late Night with Locks" on Friday to recall moments from the championship season.
When reflecting on how the team reached the pinnacle of success, he explained that it all began with the makeup of the roster.
“It was a special collection of guys," Zimmerman said.
“We had a good group of veteran guys that had been there before and kind of been through everything you could possibly be through," he added. "Some young guys, we had a 20 and a 21-year-old. The veteran older guys kind of fed off those young guys energy.”
The first time the group displayed its special ability was at the infamous 19-31 point in the season. Facing the adversity of a rough start to the 2019 campaign, Zimmerman and the rest of the team had a choice. They could succumb to the early struggles and go through the motions for the remaining 112 games. Or, pick their heads up and continue to fight.
The team chose the latter, and would eventually finish that fight on top.
“We said, ‘Listen, guys, we’re just going to take it one day at a time, we got nothing to lose,’” Zimmerman said.
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That mentality of making each game the most important is another reason Zimmerman believes the Nationals were able to rebound. From the end of May and on, it was no longer the regular season for the Nats. Every time they stepped on the field, they were fighting for a chance to get to the playoffs.
So when September and October rolled around, it was nothing new for the team.
“Once we got to September and were really in the think of it then. We’ve been playing playoff baseball games since June 1st," Zimmerman said. "Once we got to the playoff grind and into the playoffs, honestly it was like regular season games. There was no added pressure. You’re almost playing with house money at that point.”
With the right group of players and the right attitude, Zimmerman and the Nationals took the house money at the 19-31 mark of the season and cashed in with a World Series trophy in late October.
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