February 20, 2020 | Jessica Camerato, MLB.com
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- The sirens blared and the lights shined from a police motorcade as the Nationals began to make their way down Clematis Street in West Palm Beach.
It was round two of their World Series championship parades, this time held by its Spring Training host city. The celebration gave fans who live in their winter hometown, and those who traveled from Washington, D.C., another chance to relive the excitement of the Nats’ first title.
“In 2019, we were the best,” manager Dave Martinez said at the post-parade rally. “We were No. 1. We were world champs. And I want to thank all of you for sticking behind us. I appreciate you guys very much. Very much.”
Trolley cars transported players donning their jerseys who celebrated, danced and took photos with fans out the windows. Martinez followed behind in a convertible holding the trophy, creating a memorable selfie opportunity for those lining the street.
The parade concluded with a rally, during which the players, staff and front office members were seated on stage. A video recapping the 2019 championship run and Game 7 victory over the Astros played on a projection screen, drawing a loud applause from the onlookers gathered in a grassy area. West Palm Beach mayor Keith James took the mic, followed by Nationals' managing principal owner Mark Lerner. General manager Mike Rizzo followed, and began his address with an enthusiastic, “West Palm Beach! The champs are in the house.
“Bumpy roads led us here to a beautiful place,” Rizzo said. “We appreciate that you do to us, the way that you’ve embraced this ballclub from the last four seasons has been remarkable.”
Martinez spoke next, encouraging fans to get on their feet in celebration and hold up their fingers in a “No. 1” sign. He emphasized the acronym the Nationals follow, “HABIT,” which represents heart, attitude, belief, integrity and trust.
“Heart: These boys were 19-31. You talk about heart,” Martinez said. “Attitude: it took everything we had to stay together through those times, and they played with attitude every day. Belief: 1-0 every day. That was us going 1-0 every day. Integrity: I don’t think I have to talk about integrity. And trust: These guys behind me trusted one another throughout the whole year. They believed in one another the whole year. I’m so proud of this group of guys.”
Trea Turner was a guest of honor of sorts, as the only player to speak at the rally. The shortstop grew up 20 minutes from the complex and attended high school in nearby Lake Worth. With a championship belt draped over his shoulder, he spoke about the importance of the time spent in West Palm Beach during Spring Training and how it carried over into their run.
“Every year, we start our season here,” Turner said. “Last year, I think the theme was chemistry -- how much we loved one another, how much we played together and all those things Davey said that I don’t have an acronym for. Just how much fun we had. It starts here at this ballpark, each and every year.”
A scene of red was created by towels that displayed the message "One Pursuit." And that pursuit for the Nationals is, doing it all again.
"2019 is behind us. We're looking forward to 2020," Rizzo said. "But it’s always nice to reminisce. We’ll never forget the season that we had in 2019. It was a magical season. It shows what you can do when you believe in 'we' instead of 'me,' when the name of the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back of the jersey."