Something is up here.
Washington DC shouldn’t be this joyful. They shouldn’t be making all of Chinatown, and Farragut Square, and the entire Wharf, and the entire DMV this much red. They were supposed to be washed up as soon as they lost Game 7 to the Penguins last year. They were especially supposed to be washed up as soon as they lost Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson. And they were absolutely supposed to be washed as soon as Braden Holtby lost his starting goaltender job. They were supposed to welcome the Todd Reirden era.
They were supposed to lie down against a younger and fresher Columbus team. They were absolutely supposed to lie down against those Pittsburgh Penguins again. They were absolutely positively supposed to be swept by a Tampa team that was so good, they treated their next best rivals, Boston, like swatting a fly.
Now, they are one game away from a Stanley Cup title. Yes, a trophy, that is shiny and bright. A trophy that is the pinnacle of the sport. A trophy that will temporarily put this city on the map and make it feel new again. There’s a reason San Francisco and Oakland can thump their chest towards the always more fashionable Los Angeles these days. There’s a reason Philadelphia can laugh and blare the absolute tar out of “Dreams and Nightmares” at their more successful brother after so many years of hurt and sorrow. Oh, and what is their to do in the Steel City if it weren’t for that Steel Curtain and Sydney Crosby? There’s a reason why Houston Strong became a prophecy come true.
But even then, these Capitals shouldn’t have won after James Neal rang a shot off the post to start the game. They absolutely shouldn’t have won after they were out-shot 47-33 and out-attempted 71-41 and out-chanced in point blank areas 13-8 in all situations. These Capitals shouldn’t be beating a goaltender that has owned them so many times and knows way too many euphemisms like an ABSOLUTE drum. Here’s hoping they shouldn’t be one win away from destiny after “delivering one cheap shots on poor widdle Colin Miller”, while permanently ignoring what Ryan Reaves and James Neal have always done throughout their livelihoods. Sigh! At least the Caps scored three times in five tries on the power play for their comeuppance.
Throughout my lifetime, Washington DC was always the littlest of all the siblings. They were a minor league chain to all the other super power metropolises along the northeast of America. Add Chicago in the equation because the Midwest always wants their “small” voices to be heard and D.C. just gets shoved to the curve even more so. Even with Barack Obama and “Chocolate City“, you just struggle to ever think about the city getting behind something as a collective for generations.
You really do need to go back to those Redskins days of the 1980s. It’s so fitting that Joe Gibbs, the last great human being of that football team’s history, started the “Let’s Go Caps” chants in Game 3. His humbleness but detail-oriented approach turned a bunch of misfits and weird collection of personalities into one the greatest dynasties the NFL had seen. Three different quarterbacks, three different running backs, but the same offensive line, the same head coach and the same general manager that knew how to build a team correctly. One of those quarterbacks was the first black starting quarterback to call himself a Super Bowl champion. But as the present became the distant past, and an owner that showed Donald Trump how to make a country miserable in Washington beforehand and never look back took a further grasp in his power, all those memories faded from the complete public consciousness.
There’s just nothing for DC to latch on to. There’s just too many colleges to latch on to in this area for people to come together this close as a professional sports team. The Wizards just find the most unique ways to stay stale as long as Ernie Grunfeld is around. The Nationals are capturing people’s imaginations at the Navy Yard, but they have created too many forms of misery in their own right. Too many people still think that Freddy Adu plays for DC United, but Jose Andres keeps telling me to support them and he’s supposedly cool, and I guess Wayne Rooney is coming up soon?
To put things into greater perspective. Let’s take a look at playoff appearances and playoff series wins in four eras since I was born:
Fall 1987-Spring 1996: 27 seasons, 14 playoff appearances, 3 conference finals appearance, 2 title appearances, 2 championships
So at a time when my long term memory was non-existent, but when some cool dude named Cal Ripken was around, the Redskins won their last two titles for the city. Even the Capitals had some success with their first ever Conference Finals appearance. But man did what happen afterwards leave a scar that’s still too haunting for some.
Fall 1996-Spring 2005: 26 seasons, 7 playoff appearances, 1 conference finals appearance, 1 title appearance
Yeah, beyond that one Stanley Cup Finals run, nothing much happened during the rest of my childhood. Buy hey, Gus Frerotte was weird and the Bullets kinda competed with Michael Jordan’s Bulls, right? Baseball still only existed 45 minutes away from where I lived, and even that was poisoned by Jeffrey Maier and Peter Angelos.
Fall 2005-Spring 2010: 20 seasons, 8 playoff appearances
Yeah, my college years were pretty grim. Sean Taylor was just too sad. Gilbert was nothing short of an idiot. At least Nyjer Morgan was hilarious. If only the Cinnamon Challenge was just a bit more funny. And Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley and Chris Samuels were just collections of parts that weren’t enough to assemble the right team in the long run. But at least they stayed medium. So yeah, you keep having your fun Phillies, Steelers and Penguins fans!
Fall 2010-Spring 2018: 33 seasons, 17 playoff appearances, 1 conference finals appearance, 1 title appearance
As much as my post college years were a time where D.C. looked like it was ready to explode. The lack of conference finals appearances just so how many broken promises have come about. John Wall has no jump shot and is just too selfish in a jump shot and selfless era.
RG3. That is all.
Those Nats are only great as long as you don’t mess up the bullpen time and again.
So yeah, this city is beyond due for something magical. And with the streets being filled with pessimism and a metro rail system that needed some hockey players to get any form of positive publicity since that fateful night in November 2016, you would think there would be something to spread some joy and happiness across this swamp. As the saying always goes, “it might be a dump, but its our dump”.