Nationals dance to a Latin beat on championship parade

By: A.J. Pérez

WASHINGTON –– Pitbull played moments before a double-decker bus that carried Anthony Rendon and Adrian Sanchez passed by near the end of Nationals’ victory parade Saturday.

“How many parades do you get to hear Latin music like this?” Josue Hernandez asked rhetorically. “That shows how much influence Latin American ballplayers and fans have had here.”

Hernandez, a Washington native, attended the parade with his son and a half-dozen other friends and family members to the National Mall where thousands clad in red celebrated the Nationals’ first World Series title. The clear skies were only obscured by red confetti that floated upward from a vehicle after the final bus – where Ryan Zimmerman hoisted the Commissioner’s Trophy  – passed the fans stacked up on Constitution Avenue.

“I would like to thank the extended family for all you’ve given us,” Nats manager Dave Martinez said as he pointed to the crowd gathered in front of the stage. “This championship isn’t just for us, but it’s for the city of Washington D.C. You guys deserve this as much as we do.”

Rendon, 29, was bombarded with “MVP” chants both along the parade route and when he spoke briefly from the dais at the rally portion of the celebration. Rendon, who hit 34 home runs and had 126 RBI in the regular season, went 8-for-29 with two home runs and eight RBI in the World Series.

“First off, I’d like to say I love baseball,” Rendon said. “You guys have been nothing short of amazing out here. You all showed up in the playoffs like you all did, you brought the energy, the noise. We fed off of it, even if we didn’t win (at home).”

Neither the Nats nor the Houston Astros won a home game during the World Series, the first time that’s happened in a seven-game series.

“Hey, it’s alright,” Rendon said with a smile. “We felt it. That’s going to go a long way. Don’t worry. I’m just happy we finished up (the series) in my hometown so I didn’t have to hear about it when I went back home to Houston.”

Rendon supplanted Bryce Harper – who signed with the rival Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent last offseason – as a fan favorite here this year. Rendon’s jersey was popular along the parade route as was Harper’s as fans mocked the slugger by altering their jerseys.

Rendon, however, could be the latest star to exit via free agency. The third basemen will become a free agent on Monday. The Nats offered Rendon a seven-year deal worth between $210-215 million, The Washington Post reported before the postseason began.

“I think they are going to sign him,” said Washington resident Carlos Alvarenga, who attended the parade with his family. “I think he wants to come back here, especially after winning it all.”

Nats outfielder Juan Soto turned 21 on Oct. 25 and Martinez called him one of the team’s “puppies” as he brought him to the stage before owner Ted Lerner closed out the festivities. Soto began working on his English after the Nats signed the Santo Domingo native in 2015 and sent him to the team’s Dominican Academy in Boca Chica.

The Childish Bambino’s short speech didn’t disappoint.

“Oh, (expletive),” Soto said. “DC, this is all for you guys. This group of guys has been amazing, all these veteran guys – all the viejos. I love you guys.”

Featured image: Nationals Twitter