By: Brianne Dempsey
As a lifetime DC area sports fan, I have known my fair share of heartbreak. High expectations, talks of Super Bowls, Stanley Cups, World Series (full disclosure though – I am not a Nationals fan, all about the Orioles!), big off season splashes (and in the case of the O’s, the lack thereof) – DC sports teams always seem to be “on the brink” of breaking through. I am fortunate enough to have witnessed a championship in DC in my lifetime, though the last time the Redskins won the Super Bowl I was 4 years old. Not a whole lot of memories there.
I survived the constant coaching changes, the rebuilding and destruction of rosters, promises of “this is OUR year”, only to be let down for the last 23 years. TWENTY THREE YEARS. Now, I understand that’s not near as bad as other cities (Cleveland is looking to break a 66 year stretch and Milwaukee is working on year 44, and poor San Diego has never won a thing).
This year, I was certain it would be no different. The Redskins began a new regime and the struggles of adjusting to a new coaching staff were more than apparent, the Wizards always seemed to do decently and then fall off into obscurity, and with the new division alignment in the NHL, I was worried about the Caps even making the playoffs. Baseball is just starting to pick up, so I’ll try to reserve judgment, but the Nats are playing under some very heavy expectations as league favorites to take it all, and they have been struggling to play to that reputation.
But as playoffs for the NBA and NHL are no longer heating up and about to be a full on blaze, a small piece of me keeps holding on to hope. The Wizards have looked incredible this post season, but with losing John Wall, can Pierce and company carry them through? Saturday’s showing against Atlanta still leaves a lot of questions. Yes Paul Pierce managed to put the team on his shoulders to hit a buzzer beater, but not until after the team blew a 20+ point lead. Championship teams don’t let teams come back on them like that. They put games like that away with little to no doubt.
Speaking of doubt, the cardiac kids of Washington are back at it again. Instead of putting their series against the Rangers away Friday night, they lost a tough (and some would argue controversial) Game 5 and then failed to put the nail in the coffin when the series came back to DC last night. In fact, they had arguably one of the worst defensive showings this post season. But to give credit where credit is due, they did not roll over and die and managed to come back from being down 4-1 to 4-3 with some nail biting chances towards the end of the 3rd period to send the game into over time. And with the Caps’ history over the last six season or so, Game 7 is not their friend.
As much as I would love for any one of these teams to prove me wrong, I just don’t think this is DC’s year. Each organization is making strides in the right direction, but the pieces aren’t together quite yet. So yes, DC is rising, but the mountain is tall and the road is long. But as DC diehards, if the last two decades have taught us anything, it’s patience. We just have to continue to believe our time will come.