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Washington Nationals, 2016 NL East Champions banner

DC = Division Champions – Nats win third NL East title

There has been a lot of news in sports since Saturday night and aside from a DC bifecta and burgundy football pants on Sunday, it’s been really bad. Let’s cheer up a little and remember that the Washington Nationals have won the National League East for the third time in three seasons.

Kind of nice to clinch in Pittsburgh too, even though they didn’t take it well on Sunday. On Saturday night though, Nats fans who made the trip had a good time:

In happier times, Bryce Harper celebrated in Katie Ledecky’s swim cap (WTOP).

The Nats will face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and are 1.5 games up on home field advantage. Two more series, both at Nationals Park remain for the Nats, starting the Arizona Diamondbacks, followed by the grieving Miami Marlins. The Dodgers will be on the road, finishing in San Francisco in Vin Scully’s much-discussed final game.

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Frank Howard enters Nationals Park Ring of Honor

On Friday, Washington, D.C.’s all-time home run leader, Frank Howard was added to the Ring of Honor. He’s the only non-Hall of Famer in the ring which is no longer restricted to just that membership. Howard is also immortalized in a statue (that the D.C. Fine Arts Commission installed) and in the Hall of Stars (Events DC) all of which are around Nationals Park. It’s a bit confusing, particularly when Montreal Expos are included.Signing his rookie photo

I was hoping his #33 (worn 1969-1971, before that he wore #9 which he gave up for Ted Williams) would be retired as well. Back in 1992, his #33 was “retired” before an (rained out) exhibition game between the New York Yankees (he was hitting coach) and the New York Mets (whom he managed for a season). My wife and I met him in 2007 a Maker’s Mark event in Northwest.

There were tributes to Hondo in the D.C. media this week that are worth a read:

DAN STEINBERG: Senators legend Frank Howard is humbled and thrilled to enter the Nats’ Ring of HonorThe Post

THOM LOVERRO: Frank Howard was a gentle giant, but fearsome at the plateThe Wash. Times

Howard also appeared on nationals.com beat writer Bill Ladson’s podcast:

I’m glad to see that the Nats found a way to give Hondo a night, though they erred when they didn’t hire for a goodwill ambassador job when they arrived.

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Nats undefeated when Olympian Helen Maroulis throws out first pitch

Another night, another Olympian visiting the Washington Nationals.

On Wednesday night, Katie Ledecky threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Nationals Park for the third time. On Thursday, another Olympic gold medalist from Montgomery County, Md. performed – wrestler Helen Maroulis made her debut. I will add video of the pitch when it becomes available.

Maroulis proved to be a much needed stopper for the Nationals. Following her first pitch, the Nats shutout the Baltimore Orioles, 4-0, ending a four-game losing streak.

She also lifted a victorious Teddy up (Let Teddy Win) after he won the Presidents Race. He fittingly won on the centennial of National Park System.

Meanwhile, on the diamond, Max Scherzer threw eight shutout innings and played some impressive defense.

Max Scherzer makes an impressive no look, between the legs snag

Jayson Werth homered and Bryce Harper knocked in two with a double.

There aren’t any Olympians scheduled for tonight – Washington Senators great Frank Howard will be in attendance as his name is added to the Ring of Honor.

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For posterity, Katie Ledecky and the Nats

Swimmer Katie Ledecky visited Nationals Park last night for the Washington Nationals home game since she returned from her 5 medal (4 gold) performance at the Rio Olympics. The Bethesda-native threw out the ceremonial first pitch with Bryce Harper standing by her side, holding her medals.

Ledecky joined the TV booth in the third inning to talk about it as well.

This wasn’t her visit to Nationals Park. In 2014, she threw out the first pitch before NLDS Game 1.

Okay, so the results of those games haven’t been great, but that’s not on her. Last night, she do throw a strike (The Post) or at least close enough for Dave Jageler to have a strong opinion.

In 2012 though, she threw out the first pitch and the Nats went on to clinch the first winning season for D.C. baseball since 1969 with a win over the Chicago Cubs.

Ledecky also played in a celebrity vs. Wounded Warriors softball game in 2013 (DC Sports Bog, The Post)

Noted DC Sports sentimentalist @bogcommenter made another observation:

Someone pointed this out: she was 8 when team came here. A first generation Natskid. https://t.co/lYIrrCRxPt

— InternetContrarian(@bogcommenter) August 24, 2016

Ah, the passage of time. This is the 12th season since baseball returned to the District and we’re to the point where people old enough to vote don’t remember life before them.

Ledecky’s also known for her Capitals and Wizards fandom (NHL.com) , but she’s apparently got split allegiances now with her uncle owning the New York Islanders (NHL.com).

If you’d rather watch her swim than throw out ceremonial first pitches, go right ahead.

Further reading
Katie Ledecky’s First Pitch RuledThe Nats Blog

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