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Nationals manager wants fans when team celebrates title

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Washington (AFP)

Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez, who guided his Major League Baseball team to the World Series title last October, doesn't want to celebrate the historic crown without supporters present.

The Nationals defeated the Houston Astros in last year's best-of-seven championship final, rallying to capture game seven then complete the first World Series in which road teams won every contest.

A celebration parade was staged through the streets of the US capital last November when thousands turned out to cheer for the club that brought Washington its first World Series title since 1924.

Supporters had bought thousands of tickets for the Nationals' home opener this year, when World Series winners typically stage a ceremony to give every team member a commemorative ring and raise a champion's banner.

The coronavirus pandemic forced MLB to delay the scheduled March start of the 2020 season and various ideas on staging a campaign have been floated, none involving playing in front of supporters in home ballparks.

But that's what Martinez wants, the Nationals playing at home before devoted fans, before the team conducts the usual hoopla around a championship.

So while the Nationals might have to defend their crown in empty stadiums far from Washington, Martinez wants any cherished moments acknowledging the 2019 title to be delayed.

"We want to hang the banner with fans," Martinez said Friday in a conference call. "We want to get our rings with the fans.

"When? We don't know. How? We don't know? But we want them to be involved.

"For me, this is a big deal, a big deal for everybody, so we want to include everybody."

In whatever fashion the Nationals finally pay tribute to their success, it will be unlike any prior such celebration, possibly a celebration of the sport resuming after the pandemic shutdown.

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