Earlier this month, ESPN analyst and famous sports writer Michael Wilbon went on a rant citing Washington, D.C. as being a poor sports town. And despite the flak that Wilbon took for his comments, attendance at Wizards, Nationals, Capitals and even Redskin games over recent past seasons haven’t exactly highlighted the ideal sports mentality. However, helped by a pair of lackluster teams in the Wizards and Redskins and the mind boggling inability for the Capitals to win in the postseason, District locals haven’t exactly been given much on which to build team spirit.
Things just never really seem to work out for sports teams in D.C. and coming off a week where blossoming Redskins superstar Robert Griffin III sustained a concussion and the city’s most promising team (the Washington Nationals) bungled a 6-0 Game Five lead at home to the St. Louis Cardinals, maybe the question should be asked? Is Washington, D.C. doomed as a sports town? Perry Green and Stephen D. Riley debate.
Green: That’s an emphatic Yes! Football, baseball and basketball are normally your three top sports in any major city. And in this city, you have your best basketball players (John Wall and Nene) sidelined with injuries. Your best baseball player (pitcher Stephen Strasburg) didn’t even play in the postseason and the city’s best football player (RGIII) takes way too many hits and even his career longevity is in question. D.C. keeps on getting close with the promising players but for some reason or another they never seem to pan out.
Riley: D.C. is actually in a very envious position right now. Sure, the Nats bombed and that’s fine but when you look at the young talent on each of the major three teams in the city, led by all three of aforementioned names, Mr. Green, what city has a better trio of tri-sport talent? I’m sure Wall (22-years-old) and Strasburg (24) will be back at least some time to finish their careers and Griffin’s set to play in the Redskins’ upcoming game. The Nationals were actually a season ahead of where many projected them to be this season so their collapse against the Cardinals doesn’t bother me as bad as many locals are apparently taking it. Both Griffin and the Redskins have been better than advertised and the Wizards should be much improved. Jump aboard the ship now before it departs Green.
Green: Fans, me included, are tired of waiting on the “next year” speech from optimists like you. We all want action and we want it now! I remember when we heard that speech about former Wizards star Gilbert Arenas and how his team was always just one more season or one more player away from title status and look how that ended; Gil brought pistols into the Verizon Center and the entire team fell apart. Curse???
I’m more than willing to give Griffin all the time he needs because I admit, he’s been spectacular. But his team has simply been putrid. It’s going to take a while to get the proper pieces around him for Griffin to really succeed and since Washington gave away a boat load of draft picks to acquire RGIII they’re going to have some work to do. Both the Nats team nor Strasburg is anything special to me and I expect the Caps to bow out early in next year’s playoffs like they always do. That leaves the Wizards and if you’re banking on them, well good luck.
Riley: The speech isn’t about next year, it’s about perspective. They only thing most fans can ask for is improvement and it’s clear that all three major area teams have made that over the past few months. These teams have been miserable for years and it’s not like superstars are on wagon trains headed east to the Potomac River. It’s going to take a while for these teams to be consistent competitors and while the immediate results over the past few years have been hair-pulling to take, the steady improvement is more than obvious. Washington’s four teams have four players in their 20s in Wall, Strasburg, Griffin (22 years-old) and Alex Ovechin (27) who could walk into any team in their respective leagues and demand starting time and a high salary. I see four budding superstars who are still growing into leaders and all stars. Yes, the Nationals game may have stung the hearts out of District die-hards but the city has never been in more talented hands.