by Kate Billingsley
On Oct. 12, the Washington Nationals faced a season-ending playoff loss against the Chicago Cubs. This devastating loss made speculations about the curse on D.C. sports teams return.
The Nationals had a successful regular season, winning 97 games, which left many sports professionals listing them as potential World Series Champions. The Nats faced up against the Chicago Cubs in the first series of the National League Division Series.
After a tough loss of game one at home, and another in Chicago just days later, the Nats powered through and took the series to five games. However, a come from behind win by the Cubs left Nats fans feeling betrayed by their successful team.
This concept of a great regular season and failed playoffs is not new in D.C. Season after season, D.C. sports fans watch their team succeed with flying colors throughout the regular season, and fall flat on their faces in the postseason.
History and Social Studies teacher, Douglas Pielmeier says, “Being born and raised in the DC area, and having Redskins season tickets since I was five years old, meant always having a deep affinity for local teams. It was a weird transition when the Nats came to town given that I grew up an Orioles fan. I went to the Nats game 5, and I’m still a Nationals fan.”
This is a phenomenon that can be seen through the performance of the Nationals, the Capitals, and the Wizards. The Redskins and the Wizards are the only teams to have won National Championships, the last one was won by the Redskins in 1991.
Washington D.C. is a big four sports city, meaning that it has professional hockey, basketball, baseball, and football teams. This is a sign of large city that is populated enough to support four at least four professional sports teams.
It has been 26 years since a D.C. based team has won a major championship.
The Caps were a dominant force heading into the 2017 NHL Playoffs. The team, built to win the Stanley Cup, squeaked through the first round of playoffs, playing seven games against the fast, but young, Toronto Maple Leafs. Getting through the first round is not unheard of for the Caps, but this was still no small feat.
“I would argue regular and postseason are different sports. Success in one does not equal success in the other. With regards for the Caps, they usually lose teams that win Stanley Cup,” Pielmeier stated.
The second round of the NHL Playoffs brought forth new challenges for the Caps. They were to play the Pittsburgh Penguins, long time rival and reigning Stanley Cup champions. The Caps put up a good fight, taking the series to an energetic and strenuous seven games, but ended their season with a win at home against the notorious Penguins, who went on to win the Stanley Cup once again.
What can these teams do to turn around their teams and remain stable during the postseason? “I think the representation is spot on, Teams will be so good in the regular season and then make it to the postseason and crush millions of peoples dreams,” said Junior, Riley Richardson. “I think that D.C. sports can turn this [curse] around by getting people on their teams who have won in the postseason.”
The Washington Redskins are the only D.C. sports team with championship wins. However, they have not made it past the wildcard game in playoffs in the years since. In the year following their Super Bowl win, the Redskins have gone to the divisional game three times, and lost each time.
The Wizards had a successful 2017 season, winning 48 games and finishing fourth in the Eastern Conference. The basketball team were strong enough to make it past the first round of the playoffs, in which they beat the Atlanta Hawks in six games. The next series was against the Boston Celtics. It was a tough fought series, but the Celtics ended up on top, winning in seven games. This sheds light on the role of the cures of D.C. sports teams.
“Sometimes, being the best team doesn’t mean you always win in the postseason, you can’t call a losing trend a ‘curse,’” added Pielmeier.
D.C. sports teams are full of successful athletes, strong coaching staff, and winning regular season records. The curse on D.C. sports teams has been a topic of conversation for years now, given the underwhelming results of playoff performance in past years by all of the D.C. teams. Which team will be the one to break the curse and bring home a national championship to Washington?