Night Terrors and Day Drinking: The Self Inflicted Trauma of Being a DC Sports Fan Part 12
It takes a few things to make a loss truly heartbreaking and worthy of being mentioned as a typical DC sports loss. I’ve said before that it’s hard for the Wizards because there’s LeBron James and before him there was Michael Jordan and in between those two there was Shaq and Kobe. More than any other league the NBA is a league of stars. The team with the biggest star in the sport typically wins. There are occasional upsets like the 2005 Detroit Pistons who were simply the best put together team that might have ever existed. In theory the Wizards could achieve that with Wall, Beal, and Porter but they need two more players at about that same level. Which is really hard to do, and so as long as LeBron in the East and the Warriors in the West exist not much will be expected from the Wizards in the playoffs.
The Redskins are in much the same position and if they make the playoffs it is going to be a surprise. They are better managed and coached than they’ve been in a long time and have a legit quarterback for the first time in forever, but they aren’t going to put together a 14-2 or a 12-4 record and enter the playoffs as a favorite. They are somewhere around an 8-8 team that could finish either 10-6 or 6-10 depending on if the breaks go their way or not. The Nationals and the Capitals then get tied together in the creation of our recent DC sports misery because they consistently but together teams that are the favorites and should be winning in the playoffs but just can’t find a way to do it. If you were to try and make a movie about DC sports and playoff failures it would get rejected for being too redundant. The Nationals will play a game five at home, have a lead, and lose while the Capitals will jump out to a 3-1 series lead before giving away a couple games and facing a game seven on home ice and losing. It is the same story over and over and over again and it really is getting old.
2015 was my last year in the DC area. It is funny how sports play a sometimes overly critical role in your life. I’d like to say my decision to leave had nothing to do with the luck of the sports franchises but I can’t. If the Nationals had been what they were expected to be in 2015 and Max Scherzer had brought the Nationals the ring Bryce Harper promised I might not have left. It might have been the plus that joined Wegmans, my friends, and the ability to watch live major league sports. 2015 was the year I just couldn’t do it anymore. The traffic had always been bad and was getting worse and as I looked at our finances and the careers we’d chosen it became clear that the life we wanted to live didn’t exist in the Washington DC area and so we left and moved to Virginia Beach. As big of pluses as Wegmans, my friends, and the ability to watch major league sports were the minuses of the DC area of traffic, a toxic environment, and a terrible housing market along with the pluses of the ocean, better restaurants, and a lower cost of living outweighed them. In the end it was a tough decision and it is hard to believe it has already been two years but it was the right one for us to make and I’m still in contact with all my friends in that area and even saw most of them a month or so back. I haven’t been to a DC sporting event in two years but I’m sure I’ll go again and we have minor league baseball and hockey right up the road.
Another plus for Virginia Beach is it is still in the media market for all the DC teams so not much has changed. It is harder to listen to the games on the radio but there are streaming services that make that possible and so I was able to follow along with all the misery of the last two seasons. 2016 was really just one of those years. It happened and we move on. There were a few highlights like Max Scherzer throwing a 20 strikeout game and Randy Whittman getting fired and the Capitals losing to the Penguins once again in the playoffs. None of that really was that bad. Even the Nationals game five loss at home wasn’t that awful. Sometimes you just lose. Sometimes you’re facing a team that has Kenley Janson and Clayton Kershaw and completely sells out to beat you. The Nationals had a one run lead heading into the seventh inning but even that doesn’t feel that bad since you knew the bullpen before Melancon was bad and there were no right buttons to press. If it had happened in the ninth and the NLCS was that close at hand again it would have felt awful, but that isn’t how it happen and even in the sea of woe that is DC sports plain old normal loses happen.