When I was younger, I remember watching Mark Rypien and Art Monk pf the Washington Redskins win the Super Bowl in the 1991-1992 season. I was in second grade. They beat the Buffalo Bills, which a lot of teams seemed to do back in the early 90s. I was too young to go to a game, but I remember that my friends and I still had something to cheer about: a Washington, DC area professional sports team that was actually good.
But since 1991, the four major sports teams in the Washington area, including the Bullets/Wizards, Redskins, Capitals, and Nationals, have been failures, especially in the postseason, if not in the regular season. Let’s break it down.
I don’t particularly care for the NBA, but it’s important to know that from 1989 to 2003, the Wizards made the playoffs one time, in the 1996-1997 season, in which they lost to the Bulls in the first round. Sure, the Bulls had Michael Jordan and won the NBA championship, but the point remains. In their four postseason appearances from 2005-2008, the Wizards lost in the first round each year. Two of the last three seasons, the Wizards actually got out of the first round only to be beaten in the second round. The last championship the Wizards had was as the Bullets in the 1977-1978 season.
Years since a championship: 38
Since winning the Super Bowl in the 1991-1992 season, the Redskins have made the playoffs six times out of 24 years. It happens once every few years…they slip into the Wild Card game, perhaps even winning the NFC East, and then immediately lose, as they did in 2007, 2012, and 2015. The last time the Redskins made it out of the first round was 2005.
Years since a championship: 24
I grew up a hockey fan, going to Washington Capitals games at the old Capital Centre in Largo, Maryland, when they used to give away roller hockey sticks to kids on the January 1st home games. In the early and mid-90s, the Capitals always made the playoffs, sometimes winning a series, but never anything great. Then came the 1997-1998 season. The capitals were making it through each round fairly easily, winning the three series 4-2, 4-1, and 4-2. Then came the Stanley Cup Finals against the Detroit Red Wings. Since my birthday is in June, I asked my dad to buy us two tickets to Game 3 at the MCI Center (now the Verizon Center) for the finals. He called Ticketmaster, ordered the tickets, and we received them in the mail. I was so excited as we headed down to the game. When I gave the usher my ticket, he told me I had the wrong game. Our tickets were for game 6, not game 3. When we called Ticketmaster, they told us that we had indeed received the correct tickets, Game 3 at the MCI Center, or the third game at the MCI Center, which was actually game 6 of the series. The thing is, the Capitals never made it to game 6. They got swept in four and lost the Stanley Cup to the Red Wings. After qualifying for the playoffs a few seasons after that, nothing came of the Capitals until Alex Ovechkin showed up. They’ve made the playoffs regularly, especially since they seem to easily win the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference every year. But, they win one series, then blow it. They haven’t made it out of the second round since that dreaded beatdown by the Red Wings.
Years since a championship: infinity (it’s never happened)
Although I grew up a Baltimore Orioles fan (they were the closest team around), I instantly became a Nationals fan when the Expos moved to DC for the 2005 season. When I moved back to the area in 2007, I started going to games in RFK Stadium, until they built Nationals Park. The team stunk for its first seven seasons, two of which they lost more than 100 games. But in 2012, things changed. The Nationals got rookie phenom Bryce Harper, won 98 games, and won the NL East. They went to the playoffs and lost to the Cardinals in the first round. Two years later, they do it again, and lose to the Giants in the first round. Two years later, this evening, October 14th, 2016, they did it again, and lost to the Dodgers in five games. I was there, and it was miserable.
Years since a championship: 92 (Washington Senators won the World Series in 1924)
My advice for you fans of teams in the DC area: never underestimate the ability of a Washington sports team to disappoint you in the postseason.