Eaton: Caps, Nats 'cut from the same mold'

Chris Lingebach
October 17, 2019 - 7:47 am

You're not alone if you've pondered the similarities between the Capitals' Stanley Cup run in 2018 and the Nationals' current run to the World Series.

But the connection goes even deeper than surface level. Both teams are genuinely interested in one another's success, a kinship that comes through on social media and in real life, like when the Caps' brought the Stanley Cup to Nats Park last summer.

Who could forget Max Scherzer and Ryan Zimmerman going along for the ride? While Bryce Harper was busy turning himself into a meme in support of the Vegas Golden Knights, Scherzer and Zimm were among the people, clad in full Caps unis during the Stanley Cup Final.

Alex Ovechkin lent the Nationals his championship presence at an opportune time, throwing out the first pitch ahead of Game 4 of the NLDS, with the Nats facing elimination against the Dodgers. The Nats came out swinging and beat LA 6-1, and then went on to mount an epic comeback in Game 5, winning the series in LA two nights later.

"It doesn't seem fake. It doesn't seem contrived," 106.7 The Fan's Chad Dukes told Nationals right fielder Adam Eaton on Wednesday. "It's not like, hey, this is a photo opp. Like, it just seems like you guys get along and you're cut from the same jib. What is it about these two franchises you think makes you guys get along so well?"

"I think you're right. I think we're kind of cut from the same mold," Eaton said. "Hockey guys are wired a certain way, and I think we're definitely not wired that way by any stretch of the imagination, but just the veteran presence that they have on their team and the veteran presence like Zim and Ovechkin being in the city the same duration or so."

"But just those two guys involving both teams, having a mutual respect that hockey is an unbelievable sport, the tenacity and the grind of their sport," he said. "You know, 82 games – I think it's the longest season in professional sports, and then their playoffs last two months. For us, to see what they've done and bringing a championship to D.C., like I said, they're just very inspirational."

"Again, we have a tremendous amount of respect for what they do and how they do it," he said. "They do it with class and professionalism, and like I said, we hope to do the same. So I think just those things in common have really allowed us to bond. And they brought the Stanley Cup to the stadium. I think that was huge for us too, first of all for them to allow us to enjoy that, and really see what hard work can bring.

"It was awesome to experience that. Hopefully we can do the same with them."

Eaton still marvels at the presence the Cup carries into a room, telling Dukes, "I'm a big hockey guy as you know. I've seen it three times – twice in Chicago and once here – and the stories that that thing comes with. I'm a romantic about baseball, and how can't you be? But I'm the same way about hockey. That thing's been found in a river, there's been so many different cereals eaten out of it, it goes to the best parties in the world."

"If I could be Lord Stanley, holy cow, what a trip that thing's been on," he said. "Anybody that comes in contact, you just feel the pride that that Stanley Cup holds. What a beautiful sport. The boys, to be able to bring that around and like I said, let everybody really enjoy it, when they really don't have to, is something special."

As for their own championship endeavor, the Nationals have bought themselves some downtime by steamrolling through the Cardinals so quickly in the NLCS. As they await their ALCS winner, Eaton's taken advantage of the built-in break, although he won't be filling the time watching the Yankees and Astros. 

"I'm not gonna watch any of it, I don't think, for the mere fact that I don't watch baseball during the year anyways, just for the fact that I overanalyze a lot of things in certain situations," Eaton said. "You know, Brett Gardner, him and I are somewhat relatable, so I'll watch his at-bats really closely and I'll overanalyze things, and then that will flash into my perspective when I'm in that type of scenario, and I don't want to do that."

"So I think I'm just gonna stick to the game plan, stick with the family," he said. "We've got some workouts this week. Do my normal video stuff, not try to overanalyze it, let the game kind of come as it comes and simplify things. I'll probably hopefully try to catch a couple of Caps games this week, support the team that's really inspired us through the years, and like I said, try to just enjoy this week."

While fans and media have made a great deal out of the Nats' turnaround, from 19-31 in May to playing in the World Series, Eaton says it's all been one big blur for the players themselves.

"I think everybody agrees with me," he said. "Where we've come from, where we've been, where we're going is pretty dag on crazy. And it's been a blur, realistically.

"I think if you ask most of our guys. You know, everyone's like, 'What was the turning point in May? How did it feel in May and now how does it feel now?' It's like, I don't even remember May. I feel like May was six years ago. Honest to God. Like I said, it's been a blur for all of us. It's been a heck of a ride, a quick ride, and it's not over yet."