SNIDER: Nats return signals Christmas in July

Rick Snider
July 23, 2020 - 1:38 pm

Our long national nightmare ends on Thursday thanks to a first pitch by the leading U.S. pandemic doctor that restores not just America's pastime, but our collective sanity. We've survived the longest sports silence since Abner Doubleday turned a diamond into a gem.
That is, if Mother Nature isn't a jerk and rains out the return of sports after four long months when the New York Yankees visit the Washington Nationals.
It seems like forever since the Nats won the World Series nine months ago. Sure, sports continued until March when a national shutdown to combat COVID-19 began. But aside a rare NASCAR race that turned even cyclists into fans and a made-for-TV golf challenge featuring two NFL quarterbacks in the rain was compelling, the lockdown has been pretty much a wasteland of Hallmark movies, Gomer Pyle reruns and replays of old games. My God – Mike Tyson is fighting a shark soon.
The virus remains among us, but America has opted to soldier on and sports joins the crusade. Baseball helps to restore our souls with a belated 60-game season. Basketball and hockey are on deck with the NFL determined to kickoff this fall even if already canceling the preseason.
Oh, to see Dr. Anthony Fauci throw a curve ball in the dirt before giving way to World Series savior Stephen Strasburg. For Howie Kendrick to bang one off the foul pole and Juan Soto make us forget Bryce Harper once more.
Sure, there's no "Baby Shark" music or even fans to sing it in an empty ballpark. But then, the Baby Shark himself is now playing in Japan. Meanwhile, Ryan Zimmerman opted out over fears of the deadly virus that has claimed more than 142,000 American lives in recent months. Tony "Two Bags" Rendon left for gold in California.
It's not the same team that rolled through the final two months of last season and claimed one shocking playoff victory after another. Who goes 0-3 at home and wins four road games in the World Series?
Maybe the Nats can win a short season. That would be great, but it's almost irrelevant. To simply have sports back is a win. To turn on the TV and see the Nats seems like a dream after four cruel months of nothing. For the Wizards and Capitals to be playing in August sounds nuts. And while most college and high school sports are sidelined this fall, Indian summer promises to be chock full of sports, from the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, to The Masters supplementing the NFL.
We haven't beaten COVID-19 yet, but we've defeated our chief nemesis – boredom. One day, a vaccine will overcome the virus and we'll look back on 2020 with a wince, but a smile too, knowing once again America has risen to its mightiest challenge since World War II . . . and won.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks