Being a Nationals Fan is Painful and Requires Patience
57 years and 20 days. The number is my age the night the Washington Nationals won the World Series. It’s how long I waited for a championship team in any professional sport. My favorite college football program has many national titles. It’s just that when it comes to pro sports, I’m not very good at picking winners.
I’ve got two football teams I follow. Buffalo and Minnesota. You know the outcome there! The hockey team I grew up watching has never won a championship. My hometown basketball team packed up and moved away when I was in high school. It was an awful franchise. I gave up on the sport.
The club has the second best overall record this decade and, yet. The Nationals were cursed as a playoff team.
Growing up I was a fan of the Chicago Cubs. They were the sad sacks of baseball. The club always found a method of self-destruction. After a ballgame where a fan snared a fly ball and the team collapsed in the playoffs, I gave up on baseball. It was too stressful and depressing.
Then I moved to the Middle Atlantic area about the time the Nationals relocated from Montreal. I had liked the Expos, even though Montreal was never my favorite team. The pinwheel hats reminded me of clowns.
In D.C. the uniform was cleaned up.
I started moderating a radio sports talk program in 2007. One of my co-hosts was a Phillies fan. The other liked the Orioles. The Nationals were the third and worst team in the region. I started watching only so I could give the perspective of the new team.
A strange thing happens when you start watching the same guys every day. You develop empathy. Within a year I was hooked. Eventually Washington baseball also became very good. The club has the second best overall record this decade and, yet. The Nationals were cursed as a playoff team.
This year started bleakly. After 50 games, the Nat’s were dreadful and no longer had Bryce Harper on the team. Then things turned around. By August they were firmly in playoff contention. Late in the season there was a slump and the guys were forced into a one game playoff to qualify for a divisional series. A late rally sent them to Los Angeles. They had to rally before downing the Dodgers in 5 games. Had they met Atlanta in the next round it would’ve been curtains but the Braves were upset by St. Louis.
Washington swept the Cardinals and then faced Houston for all the marbles. The Astros are to baseball what the Death Star was to Luke Skywalker. After losing the series lead and suffering an injury to their best player, The Nationals somehow went back to Houston and won both games 6 and 7, the latter with a late rally.
This morning, I teared up at one point watching highlights from last night. I’ve mostly been numb. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel. It hasn’t yet fully sunk in. I’m so very, very happy. Sports teaches humility and tenacity. I should be the humblest fellow on earth!