A New Dawn in the District

Arial view of Washington D.C.

Photo: Architect of the Capitol’s Office (via Wikimedia Commons)

It’s been a tumultuous few weeks in our Nation’s Capital, and, no, I am not talking about politics. I’m talking about something equally stressful but far more enjoyable: sports.

You see a long dark era in the District is drawing to a close. We’re not quite there yet, but we can see the light dawning. And like the dawn, this brightening future is inevitable.

Washington Nationals

Photo: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

The Nationals racked up the best record in baseball this year. First in war, first in peace, and FIRST in all of baseball. But that alone doesn’t win you a World Series. The Nats teetered on the brink of elimination against the St. Louis Cardinals, evened up the series at two games a piece, and then had the defending champions one out away from elimination, before a heartbreaking ninth inning brought their season to an end. No amount of success, however unexpected in April, would take away that sting.

“Wait until next year.” Often the siren song of the perennial loser, but not in this case. The Nats are for real. They’re young, loaded, and have tasted success. This season, the goal was just to win and to make the post-season. Anything past that was a bonus. But the sting of that loss to St. Louis doesn’t feel like a bonus, does it? This team wants to go all the way next year, and they have the talent to do it.

Robert Griffin III

Photo: Jim McIssac/Getty Images

The Redskins have ridden a fourth-quarter roller coaster this season. Their thrilling win over Tampa Bay got them back to .500, but then Robert Griffin III was knocked out of the game against unbeaten Atlanta with a concussion. The team followed the NFL protocol, making RGIII’s availability the following Sunday questionable through most of the week. But he bounced back, beating the then 4-1 Minnesota Vikings at FedEx Field to snap an eight-game home losing streak. The capper? A 76 yard TD run on third and long to ice the lead. That win set up a showdown with the defending Super Bowl champions for first place in the NFC East.

Well, RGIII showed he belonged on the same field as Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning, and when he made that impossible scramble and throw on 4th and 10 and followed it up three plays later with a beautiful 30 yd strike to Santana Moss in the end zone I thought we had it won. But as great as Griffin is already, Eli’s become his generation’s Joe Montana. A 77 yd bomb against (shaky) double coverage put the G Men back on top for good. Griffin had one more shot, but the Giant defense was just a bit too gigantic. Final: NYG 27, WAS 23.

Heartbreaking, but again the promise outweighs the heartbreak. We’ll be seeing a lot more wins than losses in the future from both of these teams. The Nationals will be a preseason favorite to win the NL Pennant next year, and the Redskins are at most a year away from regular playoff contention—and potential Super Bowl contention as well—for many years to come.

These are two young teams with bright futures. It is a great time to be a fan in the District, or—like me—a relocated fan, and it helps us all to forget the other frustrations associated with our Nation’s Capital.

Like the Wizards.

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