The Washington Nationals, after a triumphant Game Four win, looked to finally advance to the National League Championship Series on Thursday. Despite a priest (!!!) blessing their bats, the Nats lost to the Cubs 9-8 early Friday morning.
After taking a 4-1 lead in the second, the Nationals suffered an epic, difficult-to-explain collapse, which included its former Cy Young winner giving up four runs during the fifth inning in relief and a Matt Wieters throwing error on a swinging third strike which led to a run (that may or may not have been a blown call). Despite clawing back and showing heart as a team, the Nats could not tie or win, making them no different than any other sports team in the DC area over the last 19 years.
None of Washington DC’s “big four” (hockey, baseball, football, and basketball) sports teams have won or advanced to a conference title since 1998.* According to ESPN, it’s the longest active postseason streak in sports. Today is Friday the 13th by the way.
Washington D.C.'s streak without a conference title goes back to 1998, the longest active streak in sports. pic.twitter.com/QNyvaQMcTi
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 13, 2017
69 seasons? Nice.
The last time a DC team reached the a league final was the Washington Capitals in 1997-98. The Capitals defeated the Buffalo Sabres to become Eastern Conference Champions.
The Capitals had cosmically good luck that year in the postseason. The fourth-seeded DC team opened the postseason against the fifth-seeded Boston Bruins. They won. Then the other three highest seeds — the Devils, Penguins, and Flyers — all lost in the first round.
That fortune gave the Capitals a path to the Final which included home ice against inferior Eastern Conference teams. The Caps would defeat the eighth-seeded Senators four games to one and the sixth-seeded Sabres four games to two.
In the Final against the Detroit Red Wings, the Capitals looked, at least at first, like they were the better team.
That ended when trade deadline pickup and clutch postseason performer, Esa Tikkanen, missed a wide open net on a breakaway. Tikkanen’s goal would have iced Game Two for the Capitals.
Instead he slid the puck wide right, which has been described historically (I can confirm since I lived through it) as the turning point of the series. Tikkanen had previously won five Stanley Cups. His miss was unexplainable.
The Capitals would be swept by the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings celebrated their second-straight Cup win at MCI Center.
At this point, I’m convinced something happened that year that has *potentially* cursed the the entire DC Sports landscape. I don’t believe in curses, but I’m open to this one.
My only suggestion to make the pain stop is that someone should give Alex Ovechkin one of those blue eagle Esa Tikkanen jerseys. And he should burn it.
It’s the only way.
Now here’s some more awful, no fun tweets from last night.
— Post Sports (@PostSports) October 14, 2017
— Dave Lozo (@davelozo) October 13, 2017
This is an evergreen D.C. sports quote.
— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) October 13, 2017
— #DCsportsCurse2018 (@coolmichael0000) October 13, 2017
DC trying to catch playoff success like… pic.twitter.com/7zKPZWvHY6
— Peter Hailey (@_PeterHailey) October 13, 2017
"The floor is a conference finals appearance"
DC Sports: pic.twitter.com/bhs9y9k9y2
— #DCsportsCurse2018 (@coolmichael0000) June 15, 2017
Every Nationals fan today pic.twitter.com/JoCUjinisk
— Matt Kremnitzer (@mattkremnitzer) October 13, 2017
*The DC United soccer team last won the MLS Cup in 2004. The Washington Mystics of the WNBA made it to the conference finals in 2002 and in 2017, losing both.
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