Fear not, Washington Nationals fans: According to GM and President of Baseball Ops Mike Rizzo, you will not have to log on to Facebook (or some other platform) to watch streaming video of the club raising their World Series banner or handing out their championship rings.
Rizzo, talking to SiriusXM MLB Network Radio hosts Jim Bowden and Jim Duquette in an interview that aired this morning, said that the 2019 champs will wait until fans are back together with the team again to wrap up the celebrations of the club’s World Series win.
The focus at the beginning of Spring Training was on the Nationals’ trashcan-banging, sign-stealing neighbors in their shared facility in West Palm Beach, FL, and the final ceremonies acknowledging what the team accomplished last season have been delayed by a pandemic, but when it’s safe to all get back in Nationals Park and play baseball, then the banner will be raised and a ring ceremony will take place.
“I think as far as raising the banner and the distribution of rings, we’re going to wait for our fanbase to be involved to do those types of things,” Rizzo explained.
“Those are once in a lifetime things to do and our fanbase is such a big factor in helping us win that thing. They earned it, they deserve to be involved in it, and we’re going to wait for them to do it.”
The defending World Series champs didn’t rest on their laurels this Winter, of course, with Rizzo and Co. in the front office making a number of moves to bolster the roster for 2020 and beyond, and they aren’t sitting around waiting now as they self-distance and try to stay ready while continuing to prepare for the possibility that baseball will return this summer if it’s safe to do so.
What does that work look like now, with the baseball world shut down and the country as a whole doing all they can to stop the spread of COVID-19/coronavirus?
“You’re in constant contact with ... staff especially,” Rizzo said. “You contact a handful of players throughout the day and see how they’re doing, and try to get around to the team a couple times a week and that type of thing. You’re still managing our group here in the front office, and that goes to scouting and player development and that type of thing, and we’re preparing for an upcoming draft, whatever that’s going to look like and whenever that’s going to take place, we’ll be prepared for it. So we’re doing the ramifications which that brings, and working hard with our amateur guys and trying to get our arms around that. And so it’s fairly busy. There’s a lot of conference calling and there’s a lot of video chats and that type of thing that we’re employing. You have your executive staff meetings and your board meetings with the owners.
“It’s been challenging, communication has been challenging, but it’s certainly something that we have to adhere to and adapt to in these trying times, so we’re handling it well.”
And once/if there is word that baseball can return in some form or another this year? How long does the GM of the Nationals think it will take to ramp back up and start playing again?
“I’m not sure what the duration of Spring Training needs to be to have a healthy player breaking Spring Training camp,” Rizzo said. “I think Spring Training 2.0, if you will, will be dependent upon where the players are at at that time. Now we’ve gone through a couple of weeks of Spring Training prior, it will be a long shutdown, but what have the players done in that interim is going to be the key to when your particular pitchers — and most of this is about getting the pitchers stretched out and ready to pitch — I think that depends on what you’re doing in the interim to keep yourself stretched out and have as many reps as you can going into this second portion of Spring Training.
“I think that will determine what we’re going to do and how early we can start these camps up after we start with another workout period.”