With the Phillies World Series win, Washington is now tied with Minnesota’s Twin Cities for the longest title drought amongst 4-team major league markets (NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA). Coincidentally, both the Redskins and Twins won their titles in the Metrodome in Minneapolis after their 1991 seasons, though the Redskins came in January 1992. Technically, the Twin Cities have the longest drought, but I’ll still call it a tie.
There is an asterisk on this though — Washington has only been a 4-team major league market since 2005 when we got baseball back. There was not a hockey team in the Twin Cities for most of the 1990s for some reason either. D.C. United has won MLS Cups since 1996, but soccer is generally regarded as the fifth pro sport.
Of the four big league teams here now, my predictions for the most likely to end this streak.
CAPITALS: They are young, have the reigning league MVP in Alex Ovechkin and should just be entering their prime in the next season or so. On paper, the thing most likely to hold them back is goaltending while the most likely thing to move them ahead is their stable of goalscorers. Also, relying heavily on Russains could become problematic now that Russia is moving back to some Soviet-era behaviors.
Recent playoff appearances: 2008
Championships won: 0
Championship appearances: 1998
REDSKINS: After many years of mediocrity, the Redskins have made the playoffs two out of the last three years and are 6-2 this season. They have a strong nucleus, a young quarterback, Jason Campbell, who seems to have turned a corner and a fiery, intelligent coach, Jim Zorn. They have the potential to make a deep playoff run with the team they have right now and may for another couple of years. With some breaks, they could win it all. Working against them is their owner, Dan Snyder, who has historically been meddlesome. Snyder may have learned to back off from the Joe Gibbs experience though.
Recent playoff appearances: 2007, 2005
Championships won: 1991, 1988, 1982, 1942, 1937
Championship appearances: 1991, 1988, 1983, 1982, 1945, 1943, 1942, 1940, 1937
WIZARDS: The Wizards (nee Bullets) have become a periennel playoff team in the last few years, but after breaking through in 2005, they have not won another playoff series, being eliminated by Cleveland annually. When healthy, they have a strong core with Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler, but they have not played together too much lately. Even when these three are healthy, the Wizards are not much for defense though. It appears that the team will continue to make the playoffs for the foreseeable future, but a championship seems unlikely unless they have excellent health and good luck.
Recent playoff appearances: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
Championships won: 1978
Championship appearances: 1979, 1978, 1975
NATIONALS: They are young, lack power and get by with scrap heap pitchers exceeding expectations. After starting off well with the Lerner family ownership, the franchise seems to be spinning its wheels and backing off of “The Plan” to build a strong team through the farm system. 3B Ryan Zimmmerman, C Jesus Flores, OF Elijah Dukes, OF Lastings Milledge and P John Lannan provide a foundation, but not a spectacular one. Zimmerman could be a star with good health and perhaps some protection in the lineup. Dukes, who is the Nationals most exciting player, has to overcome some very strong character problems to meet his enormous potential and Milledge still has room to grow. Flores is a highly regarded young catcher, but he needs to improve his batting to become a cornerstone. Lannan has the makings of a solid middle of the rotation starter who could win 15 or more in a strong season. There is little hope of anything more mediocre for the foreseeable future, though if the system producers a few pitchers and a slugger in the next few years, they could contend.
Recent playoff appearances: 0
Championships won: 0
Championship appearances: 0
D.C. has another eight seasons to avoid matching Philadelphia’s recent title-less streak. Hopefully, it won’t come to that but at least we are better off than Cleveland, whose three teams have not brought home a title since 1964.
Washington Nationals, Nats, Washington Capitals, Caps, Washington Redskins, Washington Wizards