I was born in Washington D.C., I spent my childhood there, and there are many things to recommend about our nation’s capital. The monuments, the free museums, the cherry trees, and if there’s a sports game, in any form, running that day, you’ll be able to get tickets for twenty bucks, because the teams all blow.
Well, they did blow, anyway. Lately something strange has been happening.
The closest DC has gotten to sports glory recently was the Redskins; between 1982 and 1991, they not only got to a Super Bowl, they got to four, and won three of them. Since the Clinton administration, whenever they get to the playoffs, they get smacked down by the Seahawks or the Buccaneers. Seriously, it’s like the team should rename itself the DC Charlie Browns.
Don’t even get Washington fans started on the Bullets. Oh, excuse me, I meant the Wizards, aka the basketball team even the Clippers pity, because at least the Clippers have won a playoff game in the last twenty years. Seriously, the biggest achievement the Wizards have ever reached in the last decade is getting stomped by Cleveland (well, LeBron) in the first round of the playoffs three times in a row. Similarly, it’s hard to root for the Nationals, because they generally come in fifth in the NL East, and also, they used to be the Expos, a team that seems to have been created to see if Canadians would care about baseball and to make Red Sox fans feel a little better about watching their team choke year after year.
But something weird has happened lately. First of all the Capitals, which have slowly been improving, forced the Bruins, who are led by a man who once broke somebody’s jaw in one punch, to seven games in the NHL playoffs before eliminating them in the quarterfinals, and are currently forcing a seven-game series with the Rangers. Secondly, the Nationals currently lead the NL East, which are seven words nobody ever expected to see in print.
OK, so the Redskins still stink: they just got their salary cap lowered AND lost some draft picks because Dan Snyder is, well, Dan Snyder. And we’re pretty sure nothing can ever salvage the Wizards, because, seriously, have you seen their logo?
But the point is DC fans are facing something they haven’t in a long time: some of their teams are >GULP<….WINNING.
Ask any Boston fan, though: they’re either about to climb to the heights of sports fan d-baggery, or sink to a level of depression generally reserved for truly epic tank-outs.
I say this as a Boston resident: when the city’s sports teams really went on a streak, triggered by the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004, Boston fans rapidly became the most annoying people in sports. Granted, for about a year, it was allowed, because it was funny to watch obnoxious Yankees fans cry as their bloated team got absolutely murdered.
But it rapidly turned from justifiable celebration to incredibly obnoxious. And nothing seems to be able to stop it: not the Patriots’ 18-1 season, not the Celtics signing Shaq well after he should have retired to live off his Fu Schnickens royalties, not Tim Thomas of the Bruins turning out to be a huge dope who thinks anybody cares what a goalie thinks about politics, not the Sox spending pretty much every season since 2007 just barely not sucking enough to pull in a wild card berth before getting eliminated.
OK, so the Patriots keep winning the AFC East, but that’s not really an achievement when you consider it means they’re good at beating up the Dolphins, the Bills, and the Jets. We’re pretty sure a decent college team could take out the Dolphins at this point.
Anyway, the point is, everyone went from being happy to Boston to enjoy the Sox collapsing like a shoddy built house and the Celtics proving it really was two guys dragging the rest of the team around the court.
But Boston is also instructive because of the wave of suicides that went through the city in 1986, when Bill Buckner screwed up and made sure that he’d be remembered for the rest of baseball history as That Idiot Who Screwed Over the Sox, unless you’re a Mets fan.
It’s really hard to describe how depressed people were over it, because after what feels like a lifetime of your home team sucking, to have them come so close and faceplant so hard is just painful.
So, DC fans, if the Capitals win, and the Nationals keep it up, you’ll be faced with a choice: to celebrate happily, but accept that next year’s wins are no sure thing…or become hugely entitled and the second greatest embarrassment to professional sports (let’s face it, nobody’s beating Phillies fans on that one. It’s just not happening.) It’s up to you.