Which Washington Nationals player or season would be perfect for a Last Dance Style Documentary
By Max Rayman
Which Nationals player or season would you love to be the focus of a “The Last Dance” style documentary?
ESPN’s Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance” has taken the world by storm. It details the Chicago Bulls 1997-98 season, which ended with the team winning their sixth championship in eight years and the second three-peat. “The Last Dance” goes into depth on not just Michael Jordan but the whole team. From Scottie Pippen’s contract dispute, GM Jerry Krause’s absurd decision to start a rebuild, coach Phil Jackson’s handling of being told this was his last year with the team, and Dennis Rodman being Dennis Rodman. Filmographers were given permission to film the team’s season and recorded 500 hours of footage, and in 2016, MJ finally gave permission for the documentary to be made. With six episodes to go, the sports world is patiently waiting for Sunday to come so the next two episodes to air. With “The Last Dance” being so popular, it brings up the question, which Washington National player or individual season would be perfect for a “The Last Dance” style documentary?
The Nationals 2020 season: What better season to document for the Nationals then their title defense? The baseball world would get a glimpse of the mindsets of the team as they try to become the first team to repeat since the 1998-2000 New York Yankees. The filming of the season would give an inside scoop on the team’s banner and ring celebration. How would the team handle the departure of cornerstone Anthony Rendon? Covid 19 has run rampant and has led to the sudden halt of sports. If the season returns, how do the Nats handle the aftereffects of the pandemic while trying to stay on top? The league has mentioned switching the divisions around in an attempt to have baseball in set cities. This documentary would be an inside look at how the Nats adapt to their new opponents. If baseball does return for 2020, a dive into how the team handles the adversity while competing would be a thrilling experience.
Juan Soto and the 2024 season
Juan Soto has only been in the MLB for two years and is already one of the most feared hitters in the game. In his rookie season, he tied Bryce Harper for the second-most home runs by a teenager with 22 (Tony Conigliaro, holds the record with 24). In his two years in the league, he is hitting .287, with 56 homers, 180 RBIs, and an OPS of .937. He was named to the All-MLB second team in 2019 and was instrumental in his team winning their first-ever World Series title.
Soto is a Scott Boras client, and Boras is known for having his players reach free agency. Because of this, it is unlikely Soto will sign a long-term extension with the team before then. Soto will become a free agent after the 2024 season, will only be 25 and just entering his prime. If Soto continues on his current trajectory, he will be amongst the best offensive players in the league. The year before he reaches free agency would be perfect for a “The Last Dance” style documentary.
Soto will be trying to prove he is worth a big-money contract, and barring a setback in his progression, he should be battling for an MVP award. Thanks to his advanced plate discipline, and the ability to get on base be it through power or contact, Soto is very unlikely to struggle in his walk year. With the upwards of 300 million on the line, Soto will put on a show. And with Washington’s current core, they should still be battling for a title in 2024. Soto’s final year before free agency would be must-watch baseball.
Max Scherzer’s last season
Max Scherzer ‘s signing with the Washington Nationals is arguably the greatest D.C. free agent signing of all time. After agreeing to a seven-year deal with the club in 2015, Scherzer has gone 70-39, with a 2.74 ERA, and 1,371 strikeouts. He helped the team win two division titles in 2016 and 2017, as well as clinch a Wild Card berth in 2019. The ace of the team, Scherzer was a huge reason the Nats won the World Series in 2019.
In his career, Scherzer has been named to seven All-Star teams, won three Cy Youngs (2013, 2016, 2017), led the MLB in wins (2013, 2014, 2016, 2018), led the NL in strikeouts (2016-2018), thrown two No-Hitters (both in 2015), been named to the first team All-MLB team (2019), tied the record for most strikeouts in a nine-inning game (2016), and tied the record for five seasons in a row with 250+ strikeouts (2013-2018). Alongside Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander, Scherzer is the best pitcher of the 2010s. All that’s left for Scherzer is to be enshrined at Cooperstown.
He has two years left on his deal, and at his current pace, it seems unlikely he will retire anytime soon. However, the season before Scherzer decides to hang them up would be the perfect time to film a “The Last Dance” style documentary. He has already booked his ticket to the Hall of Fame, and filming his swan song is just what the baseball world needs. From his retirement tour to putting everything on the line during every pitch, Scherzer’s final season will be the talk of the baseball world. So having interviews with teammates, coaches, rivals, and family would allow the fans to see what just made playing alongside Scherzer so special.
Washington’s 2019 Season
Now unless last season was secretly recorded, it will be impossible for this to happen. But, the National’s 2019 season would be an excellent choice. From the team losing the face of the franchise Bryce Harper in the off-season, to starting off the season 19-31, the chips were stacked against the Nats. The media and fans were clambering for manager Dave Martinez to be fired. A fire sale of the team’s top talent, including Max Scherzer and Anthony Rendon was even mentioned.
Rendon, Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Juan Soto, and Matt Adams were all on the IL by the middle of May. That was the majority of the team’s offense. The bullpen was a liability, unable to hold any lead. Sean Doolittle was the only reliable reliever and he quickly burned out after being overused. Just when the situation looked the most bleak, the team’s offensive stars started to return from the IL. The front office made a shrewd move, signing veteran Gerardo Parra off of waivers. Parra instantly helped transform the team’s clubhouse, bringing the players closer together. After being 11 games under .500, Washington entered the All-Star break 47-42.
Washington then went on a tear, going 46-27 the rest of the way to finish the season 93-69 and clinch a playoff spot. Then the Nat’s went on one of the wildest playoff runs, that saw the Nationals come back to win five different elimination games after trailing in each. After falling short in the playoffs in 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2017, Washington finally overcame the odds and got over the hump. On the way to the World Series, they even vanquished past demons such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals. After beating the Milwaukee Brewers, Dodgers, and Cardinals, Washington faced off against the Houston Astros in the World series. The Nats entered as the biggest underdogs since 2007, but prevailed and won the Franchises first-ever World Series title in seven games.
A “The Last Dance” style documentary would be perfect for Washington’s 2019 season. It would allow the baseball world to see what went on in the clubhouse when the team was in a free fall. Did Mike Rizzo entertain any wild trade ideas? How did the players react to losing Bryce Harper? What kept the players from lashing out at each other? How did the team avoid falling back into old playoff habits when they were trailing in elimination games? An in-depth look would shine a light on if the Astros were cheating during the series.
Unfortunately, it is very unlikely the teams 2019 season was filmed and we won’t have the chance to see what went on behind the scenes.