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DC Sports: Disappointing Fans Since 1993

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As a Washington sports fan my entire life, I’ve seen some great and some not so great seasons for the Redskins, Nationals, Capitals, and Wizards. The one thing that I have never seen, however, is a championship.

Year after year, there is new hope for these four teams (the Washington representatives in the “Big 4” professional sports leagues). Each one of them have All-Stars and big name players on their rosters. There is no excuse for why none of these teams have won a championship in recent years.

John Wall and Bradley Beal look to break the trend of losing Washington sports teams. (Photo courtesy of Keith Allison)

John Wall and Bradley Beal look to break the trend of losing Washington sports teams. (Photo courtesy of Keith Allison)

This past season, the Washington Nationals were picked by a majority of sportswriters as the World Series champion. Jayson Stark, a senior writer for ESPN, justified his pick and said “They’ll have a potentially dominating starter on the mound every game of this postseason. They can score in all sorts of ways.”

The “all sorts of ways” to score was evident in the Nationals NLDS loss to the San Francisco Giants. Home runs, RBIs, errors; the Nats scored in almost every way possible. The problem was not how they scored however, it was how much they did.
The Nationals only scored an average of 2.25 runs per game in the postseason, almost two whole runs less than their regular season average of 4.23 runs per game.

A major cause of the decrease in runs was the lack of hitting throughout the four games against the Giants. After averaging 8.66 hits per game, fifth in the National League, the Nats only had 6.5 hits per game in the postseason.

The collapse of the Nationals could not have been predicted. Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche, both of whom were in the top five in hits on the Nationals, each only had one hit in the postseason.

This lack of production from two crucial players in the top half of the lineup could not happen if the Nats had any aspirations of advancing in the playoffs and ultimately winning the World Series. Now, the team (and more important, the fans) must wait until next season for another shot at a championship.

The Nationals are just the latest Washington sports team to disappoint fans following high expectations in the preseason. Sports Illustrated picked the Nats to win the World Series in their preseason MLB preview, and everyone knows how that turned out.

The Wizards actually surpassed most people’s expectations last season when they beat the Chicago Bulls in five games in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Although they eventually lost to the Indiana Pacers in the next round, it was more than anyone expected from the young team, leading to high expectations for this season.

Beware of these high expectations, though. As hopeful as DC sports fans are, it seems like it is all lining up to be another disappointing season in the nation’s capital.

With star Bradley Beal out with a broken wrist for six to eight weeks, according to ESPN, the Wizards are lacking one of their driving forces on the team. Last season, Beal averaged 17.1 points per game, second on the team.

John Wall, the team’s lone all-star, is still healthy and poised for another great season, but it would be only right for the predictions to fall short and lead to another Washington sports disappointment.

The Wizards also signed future Hall-of-Famer Paul Pierce in the offseason. While Pierce looks like he could be a good replacement for the loss of Trevor Ariza, he is close to retirement and his age brings questions about his playing ability.

Washington teams are no stranger to free agent busts. The Redskins are the king of paying high profile free agents max contracts, only to have them not perform at the level that they were paid to do. Albert Haynesworth, Jason Taylor and Adam Archuleta are examples of these busts.

The Redskins, just two years removed from a division title, are in the biggest mess I have seen in my life. I’ve watched the Redskins have some rough seasons and games–giving the Detroit Lions their first win after 19 straight losses is the game that particularly sticks out in my mind–but there has always been something to look forward to.

This season is quite the opposite. After a rough season last year, in which quarterback Robert Griffin III finished with a total quarterback rating of 40.1 (good enough for 24th in the league), there was hope for a comeback season with Griffin being predicted to win Comeback Player of the Year.

This bold prediction turned out to be a little too bold. Griffin dislocated his ankle in Week Two against the Jacksonville Jaguars and has been out ever since. Kirk Cousins became the starter and led the Redskins to four straight losses, throughout which Cousins led the league in interceptions.

The defense is also a mess, allowing the eighth most points per game in the NFL. There are a few bright spots on the defense, including linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who is eighth in the league in sacks.

Desean Jackson seems to be fitting in well with the Redskins offense, who ranks ninth in the league in receiving yards. Hopefully Jackson can break the mold of Washington free agent busts.

The Capitals also added a big name free agent this offseason, defenseman Brooks Orpik, and gave him a big contract. Orpik signed a five year, $27.5 million contract with the Caps in July, according to the Capitals website.

Orpik joins a team armed with their 2004 first overall pick Alex Ovechkin, making the playoffs for six straight seasons before last year and not once advancing past the conference semifinals.

Ovechkin, despite having won three MVP awards and being named an all-star six times, has not produced enough on both sides of the ice. Even though he led the NHL in goals last season, he was also -35 in the plus/minus category.

After being criticized for this horrible defensive statistic, Ovechkin said, according to the Washington Post, “I get paid to score goals.” With that simple statement, Ovechkin proved how undedicated he is to winning with the Caps.

As a hockey player, his job is to win games. Yes, he must score goals and that is primarily what he is paid to do, but he needs to play the whole game. That includes getting back on defense, blocking shots and hustling in general.

So why do Washington sports teams not win? There are many reasons, including trying to win quickly with big free agent signings, superstars not giving their all and not producing when it matters most. There is no single explanation.

One thing is for sure, however. DC sports fans must stay loyal to their teams and keep cheering them on even when the going gets tough. It is looking like it could still be a while until we see a championship brought back to the nation’s capital.

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DC Sports: Disappointing Fans Since 1993