Heartbreak. It is outlined as crushing grief, anguish or misery. Followers of Washington’s 4 main sports activities groups understand it higher than anybody. Think about:
The knee of the Washington Redskins‘ prized rookie quarterback is shredded in a playoff sport; he’s by no means the identical.
A crew as soon as often called the Bullets – the Washington Wizards — turns into identified for a gun incident.
Regardless of success within the common season, the Washington Capitals fail to get previous the second spherical of the Stanley Cup playoffs since their lone journey to the Closing in 1998.
The Washington Nationals win the Nationwide League East 4 occasions up to now six seasons however fail to win a playoff sequence.
It has been two lengthy many years for the reason that Washington Capitals misplaced within the 1998 Stanley Cup Closing. Since then, town has watched a mixed 70 seasons by its 4 professional sports activities groups go with out even an look in a convention championship. It’s the longest drought in North America.
In the meantime, Boston’s 4 skilled sports activities groups have mixed to win 10 titles since 2001:
The Boston Celtics, who’ve received 17 championships of their storied historical past, break a 22-year drought by profitable in 2008.
After which there’s the Boston Purple Sox. They not solely break the Curse of the Bambino, they blast it to items with three World Collection titles since 2003.
“It’s bad enough that we’re not good at winning s— here,” mentioned longtime Washington sports activities speak host Steve Czaban, 49. “To then compare it to Boston, with all they’ve got from the Patriots to the Red Sox to the Bruins and Celtics, it’s more humiliating. It’s the most championship-blessed city in the last 20 years, and we’re easily the worst. We’re the polar opposite.”
It has been 26 years since Washington celebrated a title. That ties it with Minneapolis for the longest drought amongst cities with not less than three professional groups.
Maybe Kirk Cousins, who’s the closest the Redskins have come to a franchise quarterback since Robert Griffin III tore his ACL, will do for Minnesota what he could not do for Washington. And that, after all, would solely improve the distress.
As would slugger Bryce Harper, who’s within the last 12 months of his cope with the Nationals, leaving for one more metropolis.
Or Alex Ovechkin ending his Corridor of Fame profession and not using a Stanley Cup (and even an look within the Closing).
It is value mentioning that from 1978 to ’98, Washington loved 5 titles, in comparison with three for Boston.
“When I got [to Boston in 1993], all the teams were struggling,” former Patriots broad receiver Troy Brown mentioned. “But soon enough, the sports in Boston took off, and I would say the Patriots — winning that first Super Bowl in 2001 — set the winning trend in this area. It’s been pretty unreal. It’s to the point now where the fans, and the expectations, are through the roof. Anything less than a championship for all four teams is now a disappointment.”
The Wizards and Capitals can finish the drought this spring within the NBA and NHL playoffs. The Wizards are down 1-Zero of their best-of-seven sequence in opposition to the Toronto Raptors with Sport 2 on Tuesday. In the meantime, the Caps path the Blue Jackets 2-Zero with Sport Three set for Tuesday night time in Columbus, Ohio.
Whereas the Washington groups are down of their sequence, Boston is off to a superb begin. The Celtics opened their seven-game sequence in opposition to the Bucks on Sunday with a dramatic 113-107 win in extra time. The Bruins additionally lead the Maple Leafs 2-1 with Sport Four on Thursday night time.
This is a snapshot of the previous twenty years for every of the 4 professional sports activities crew in Boston and Washington.
In every of the previous two seasons, the Boston Purple Sox received 93 video games and the American League East title. And it wasn’t deemed a hit.
For a franchise that after went 86 years with out profitable a World Collection and a metropolis that did not have a significant skilled sports activities championship between 1986 (Celtics) and 2002 (Patriots), expectations are impossibly excessive in Boston and for the Purple Sox.
That is what occurs if you win three World Collection in 14 years and town’s 4 skilled groups mix for 10 titles in 15 years. Round Boston, it is World Collection or bust. Making the playoffs is not almost adequate, particularly if you lose within the division sequence two years in a row, because the Purple Sox have achieved.
“You guys expect a lot,” Purple Sox pitcher David Value mentioned in reference to Boston followers. “You’ve had a lot of championship teams. The Patriots have won a lot, the Celtics in ’08, the Bruins. You guys expect a lot, and guys coming into Boston know that.” One of the best ways to cope with such a high-pressure surroundings? Easy, based on Value: “Go out there and win,” Value mentioned. “Winning cures everything.”
Lengthy-suffering Washington sports activities followers cannot actually blame the Nationals, contemplating they did not arrive right here till 2005. However since 2012, the Nats have contributed equal elements hope and distress.
They have been a mannequin franchise and a supply of playoff angst. This season can be no exception, particularly with Harper within the last season of his contract. Harper, a five-time All-Star and the 2015 Nationwide League MVP, will doubtless get the biggest deal in historical past. But it surely may not be with the Nationals.
“I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019 at all,” Harper advised ESPN in February. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year.”
The Nats have had a profitable report for the previous six seasons, profitable not less than 95 video games 4 occasions and ending 138 video games over .500. Since 2012, solely the Dodgers have received extra video games.
The Nats have been the upper seed in every of their 4 postseason journeys, however they have not received a playoff sequence. They usually’re Zero-Eight in postseason video games determined by one run; actually, their three defeats to the San Francisco Giants within the 2014 Nationwide League Division Collection had been by a complete of three runs.
Final fall, they led the Chicago Cubs Four-1 within the second inning of the deciding Sport 5 of final 12 months’s wild-card spherical at residence. They misplaced 9-Eight. They entered 2015 as a heavy favourite to win the World Collection and did not make the playoffs.
In 2012, they received on a walk-off homer in Sport Four to even their sequence in opposition to the St. Louis Cardinals and took a 6-Zero lead after three innings in Sport 5. After which took a 7-5 lead into the ninth. After which misplaced 9-7.
“They just seem to shrink in big moments, just like the Caps,” mentioned fan Brian Murphy, who goes by the Twitter deal with Homer McFanboy. “It’s amazing how similar those franchises are.”
With 17 championship banners hanging within the rafters at TD Backyard, it is easy to neglect the Boston Celtics endured a 22-year title drought earlier than bringing collectively Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen for the 2007-08 season.
Celtics followers weathered each the Rick Pitino period and a bunch of defiant ping-pong balls that prevented them from touchdown a franchise-altering expertise akin to Tim Duncan or Kevin Durant. However Garnett’s arrival in the summertime of 2007 nearly instantly restored title aspirations, only one season after the Celtics endured a franchise-worst, 18-game dropping streak.
“It was just such an unusual excitement. Paul was like a little kid [about adding Garnett and Allen]. It was like he was drafted again,” Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge mentioned. “Same thing with KG and Ray. There was just so much enthusiasm.”
Perhaps the one disappointment from that huge three period was that Boston did not emerge with a couple of title. Garnett’s knee harm deterred a title protection in 2009, and Boston fell to the Lakers in seven video games within the 2010 NBA Finals. LeBron James‘ heroics within the Japanese Convention finals in 2012 prevented one final title run for that group.
A decade later, the Celtics are toasting the 10-year anniversary of that 2008 squad (one that may’t keep out of the headlines, particularly as Allen tries to fix fences together with his former teammates) whereas additionally celebrating how Boston’s present squad, led by coach Brad Stevens, is ready up for a sustained run as a reliable title contender. With a wholesome Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, together with an intriguing and growing younger core headlined by Jayson Tatum, there’s hope in Boston that banner No. 18 is not too far down the highway.
Sometimes the Wizards trot out a crew worthy of what-ifs.
What if Gilbert Arenas continues to dominate? What if John Wall and Bradley Beal grow to be the very best backcourt within the NBA? The issue is these result in extra what-ifs. As in, What if Arenas hadn’t injured his knee? What if a gun battle hadn’t almost ensued within the locker room? What if Beal and Wall might truly co-exist to grow to be a dominant backcourt?
After the then-Bullets misplaced three shut video games to the Michael Jordan-led Bulls in 1997, they had been proclaimed a crew of the long run with Chris Webber and Juwan Howard. A 12 months later, they completed two video games over. 500. A 12 months after that, they began a streak of ending beneath .500 for six straight seasons.
The Wizards have had pockets of hope — they had been some of the thrilling groups to look at within the early 2000s. Then they turned some of the troublesome to look at earlier than an incident in 2010, wherein Arenas pulled a gun on teammate Javaris Crittenton within the locker room — who then displayed his personal firearm.
“It’s always someone else who gets the great situation,” mentioned Danny Rouhier, a co-host on 106.7 The Fan in Washington. “When the Wizards get the first pick, it’s Kwame Brown. When Cleveland gets it, it’s LeBron James. Sports isn’t fair, I get that. I was spoiled in the ’80s by the Redskins. I went from thinking it was a birthright, to where I just want them to get to a semifinal.”
The Wizards have been capable of reinvent themselves a handful of occasions however have been unable to construct on any success. They completed 16 video games over .500 final season and misplaced a Sport 7 — sure, to Boston — within the Japanese Convention semifinals. They constructed on that by ending 4 video games over .500 this season, good for the eighth playoff seed.
The franchise hasn’t received 50 video games since 1979, the final time it superior to the convention finals.
When the Patriots received the primary of their 5 Tremendous Bowl championships, they had been a lovable underdog to the remainder of the nation. The choice to forgo particular person introductions at Tremendous Bowl XXXVI and take the sector as a crew earlier than they surprised the St. Louis Rams with “The Greatest Show on Turf” on Feb. Three, 2002, endeared them to many.
As they went on to win two extra Tremendous Bowls over the following three years (2003, 2004), they morphed right into a perennial favourite and have maintained that lofty standing ever since, even throughout a 10-year Tremendous Bowl “drought” that was damaged with titles in 2014 and 2016.
In all, they have been to eight Tremendous Bowls and 12 AFC Championship Video games over that point. Additionally they posted a 16-Zero report within the 2007 common season.
“It’s been a remarkable run in Patriots history,” mentioned Troy Brown, who performed for the crew from 1993 to 2007 and now works as a soccer analyst for NBC Sports activities Boston. “You look back on a team like the 49ers of the ’80s doing something like that, but that was before free agency, when it was easier to keep teams together.”
To Brown, the Patriots’ sustained success has all the time been concerning the full crew, however there have clearly been three constants via all of it.
“They have been capable of retain Invoice Belichick for 19 years because the coach, have Tom Brady at quarterback for that stretch of time, and you’ve got secure possession with Robert Kraft,” Brown mentioned. “That’s a good place to start as you adapt over time.”
The excessive level and the low level might need occurred on the identical afternoon: Jan. 6, 2013. The Redskins held a 14-Zero lead within the first spherical of the playoffs over Seattle, thanks partly to their rookie quarterback, Robert Griffin III.
It was straightforward to think about a brilliant future: Griffin, the rookie of the 12 months, main the Redskins to a title in some unspecified time in the future within the subsequent decade. It was Griffin, not Seattle’s Russell Wilson, who was starring early within the sport with 68 yards passing and two touchdowns. However by the tip of the day, the Redskins had misplaced and Griffin had torn his ACL.
Inside a 12 months, coach Mike Shanahan was fired. Inside two years, Griffin was combating for his job. Inside three years, Griffin would by no means begin one other sport for Washington. For followers, Griffin represented the franchise’s greatest hope for a return to glory.
Since profitable the Tremendous Bowl after the 1991 season, capping a run wherein they received three titles in 10 seasons, the Redskins have been mediocre to dangerous. They’ve received the NFC East 3 times, completed with a dropping report 14 occasions and received double-digit video games solely 3 times. They’re Three-6 within the postseason, with no wins since 2005.
From 1970 to ’91, the Redskins performed in 5 Tremendous bowls and received three. They received double-digit video games 13 occasions and received six division titles, plus 17 playoff video games.
“The number that Redskins fans are constantly reminded of is that the team hasn’t won 11 games [in a season] in 26 years,” Czaban mentioned. “We haven’t won 11 games in 26 years. That’s unthinkable.”
Sarcastically, Griffin was drafted someday after the Capitals received a Sport 7 in Boston. Life, for a second, was good.
“All this hope and excitement around D.C. sports,” mentioned Jenni Ryon, a 27-year-old who says in her Twitter bio that she’s a D.C. sports activities masochist. “We all know how that story ends.” It is a vicious cycle.
“I live in a six-month cycle of sadness and happiness, as one sport’s ending and another is coming around to get me excited. I can’t say I’m completely disheartened — but I know how it’s going to end. When I see January or May or October on the calendar, I know what I’m getting myself into. Yet, I’m still glued to the TV.”
The early aughts had been one of many lowest factors in Bruins historical past. From 2000 to 2007, they missed the playoffs 3 times and misplaced within the quarterfinals three different occasions.
Beloved captain Ray Bourque requested a commerce after which received his solely Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001. Defenseman Marty McSorley was convicted for assault and suspended for a 12 months after a stick-swinging incident in opposition to Donald Brashear. Underappreciated famous person Joe Thornton was traded to San Jose in a lopsided deal. Attendance was down. It was dangerous. Then, it was nice.
Common supervisor Peter Chiarelli constructed a blue-collar (but very proficient) membership via shrewd signings (defenseman Zdeno Chara, goalie Tim Thomas), drafting (Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand) and hiring a terrific coach (Claude Julien).
They had been convention semifinalists in consecutive seasons earlier than defeating Vancouver in a brutal, seven-game 2011 Closing for his or her first Stanley Cup since 1972. They performed for the Cup once more in 2013, dropping to Chicago.
Mismanagement brought about a current downturn, however the future is brilliant. The Bruins, who’re presently locked in a first-round sequence in opposition to the Toronto Maple Leafs, recaptured the hearts of hockey trustworthy who had grow to be disillusioned a decade earlier. Boston is a fanatical hockey city once more.
“We have an unbelievable fan base. This city is so special when it comes to its sports teams,” mentioned Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who performed faculty hockey at Boston College. “We have games in the regular season where I’ve had to stop and look around and just marvel at how loud it is.”
The Capitals have offered Washington one thing the opposite franchises on the town have not: a decade of profitable. They usually’ve achieved it with one of many sport’s superstars, Ovechkin.
Meaning they have been essentially the most constant hope and brought about essentially the most heartbreak.
This season must be celebrated. They made a number of adjustments to their roster and had been greeted with dire predictions when camp opened. But they nonetheless managed to complete tied for third within the Japanese Convention with 105 factors.
“We had a lot more fun, to be honest with you,” Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik mentioned. “There were less expectations, and we had a lot of guys that relaxed and had a chip on their shoulder, too. Guys didn’t like hearing we were going to struggle to make the playoffs. They took it personally. … The last couple years, we let a lot of external expectations and pressure creep into our room, and it affected us.”
The Capitals have completed first within the division in eight of the previous 11 years. They’ve received the President’s Trophy for many factors 3 times since 2009-10.
The place they’ve failed? They have not superior past the second spherical since 1998. They usually hear about it. All. The. Time.
“At the media day at the beginning of the year, that’s all the questions you get,” Capitals defenseman John Carlson mentioned. “It’s never about, ‘What do you think of these young guys? What style of play is the NHL going to?’ It’s always, ‘Are you going to win this year? Do you have what it takes?'”
Fan Murphy, 41, has attended a lot of playoff video games. There is a completely different environment in Washington in spite of everything these years.
“You’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop,” he mentioned. “There’s 18,000 people in the building sucking the oxygen out of it. You’re holding your breath that something bad doesn’t happen.”
Earlier than a Sport 7 vs. Pittsburgh in 2009, Murphy remembered pondering on the time: At present is the day. They’re simply pretty much as good because the Penguins. It is time.
“There were seven of us [in our group], and we walked out of the building when it was 6-1,” Murphy mentioned of the eventual 6-2 loss. “That’s the one and only time I left a sporting event early, because everyone in the group was so furious, beaten down.”
Perhaps that is the 12 months?
“We feel confident,” Carlson mentioned. “We have just as good a chance this year as in years past. We’re ready for it. … It’s the guys in there that can change it.”
Chris Forsberg, Scott Lauber, Mike Reiss and Greg Wyshynski contributed to this report.