Let’s play ball... or not? The Nationals were gearing up to face the New York Mets on Thursday evening in the most festive opening day since their World Series win — but the game was postponed after a player's positive COVID-19 test.
The Nationals announced a player tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday and said four players would be sidelined for Opening Day due to contact tracing, NBC Sports Washington reported.
On Thursday around noon, the team announced the postponement, citing "ongoing contact tracing involving members of the Nationals organization." They say the game will not be rescheduled to Friday "out of an abundance of caution."
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The game was set to begin at 7:09 p.m. and it would have been memorably cold, with wind chills below freezing.
Whenever the game is rescheduled, it's going to be a special opening day for up to 5,000 fans will be watching in Nationals Park.
It's the first time spectators have been allowed since the 2019 championships. Last year, Washington, D.C., didn’t allow fans to attend games during the pandemic-shortened season.
“I’m so stoked,” Judy Holmes said. “Just being able to go to a live game again after, what, a year and a half? I’ll never take it for granted again.”
Washington will finally get to honor their huge win with fans at Nats Park: Instead of a traditional first pitch, the Nationals will flaunt their 2019 World Series Champions signage and a new pennant, plus raise the championship flag in Center Field Plaza.
President Joe Biden was invited to throw the first pitch, but declined.
The Nats will take a moment of silence to remember and honor the lives lost due to COVID-19 in the past year.
The pregame ceremony will also include a recording of "America the Beautiful" by the United States Navy Band, the nation's colors presented by The United States Capitol Police Ceremonial Unit and the National Anthem performed by Sergeant Major (ret) Bob McDonald of the United States Army Chorus. Plus, watch for a flyover by the 113th Wing of the Capital Guardians and D.C. Air National Guard.
Juan Soto will be presented the 2020 National League Batting Title, Silver Slugger Award and Silver Bat Award, then manager Dave Martinez will shout, "play ball!"
The game is set to set to have some very exciting things to watch for, including the face-off between likely future Hall of Famers. The meeting of the Nats’ Max Scherzer and the Mets’ Jacob DeGrom — two of the greatest pitchers of their generation — is a matchup to watch.
Mr. National himself, Ryan Zimmerman, will also make a highly anticipated return for his 16th season, after opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. He had an incredible spring with six home runs in 10 games.
Nationals Park is making changes to promote health and safety during the pandemic — and they’ll be noticed right from the gate. Attendees can only use mobile tickets, fans must wear masks unless they’re eating or drinking and seats are affixed with “no standing signs.” Here's what's different at Nats Park to promote health and safety during the pandemic.
Some of the changes are fun, too, including new concession offerings inclulding Arepa Zone and chicken spot Fuku.