Wednesday, August 12, 2020 saw a rare “doubleheader” — DC’s red, white and blue vs. Long Island’s blue, orange and white in two separate sports. In the afternoon, the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders faced off in game 1 of their first round NHL playoffs series in the Toronto bubble.
The nightcap was the Nationals at the Mets.
Washingtonians had a bad sports day
Caps lost to the ice Mets; Nats losing to the grass isles. Everything is awful— Washington Warthogs Fan (@ouij) August 13, 2020
Washington Nationals (6) @ New York Mets (11) Boxscore
New York Islanders (4) @ Washington Capitals (2) Boxscore
Divisional rivals in two sports
I got curious and wondered how often we get Nats-Mets and Caps-Isles in the same day. A cursory review of Baseball Reference and Hockey Reference had the answer: infrequently.
The only previous day where there was a Nats-Mets and Caps-Isles matchup was April 6, 2019. On that occasion, Washington lost both games.
April 6, 2019
Washington Nationals (5) @ New York Mets (6) Boxscore
New York Islanders (3) @ Washington Capitals (0) Boxscore
The lack of overlapping games isn’t that surprising since the MLB and NHL seasons occur as almost direct opposites. In normal years, the only overlap is usually only the last week of March and first week of April. The NHL playoffs carry over into June with divisional rivals facing off in April and sometimes into May. The typical MLB postseason is mostly confined to October and has fewer series and teams than the NHL. A Nats – Mets playoffs hasn’t happened yet and if it does in 2020, it’s not expected to overlap with NHL regular season as that will likely be delayed.
Red, white and blue vs. Blue, white and orange and white
Part of the noteworthiness for me is that the each city is represented by a color palette. Red white and blue have historically been D.C. baseball’s colors, regardless of franchise. The Caps started as red, white and blue but switched to black, copper and a lighter blue for about 10 years. They reverted to more traditional colors in 2007.
The Islanders choosing blue, orange and white is not as clear as they were founded in Nassau County, not the city. The Isles eventually moved into Brooklyn which, like the Mets home of Queens, is technically Long Island, if not culturally. A new arena under construction, in Belmont Park, will return the Islanders “back to the Island.”
The New York Knickerbockers of the NBA also wear blue, orange and white, but they have always played in Manhattan. The Mets first two seasons were also on that island, at the Polo Grounds, but they moved to the borough of Queens in 1964 and have remained ever since. It’s been suggested that they were “Long Island’s team.”
The Brooklyn Nets technically play on Long Island again as well, but only in the last decade. Most of that franchise’s history was in New Jersey.
When DC swept other New York teams
DC had better luck in 2009 as the Nats, Caps and DC United beat the Mets, Rangers and Red Bulls, respectively. That represented a broader geographic understanding of “New York” though. That also lacked the color symmetry.
DC had better luck against black and gold in 2018
Pittsburgh has embraced the same color palette (also based on the city flag) across teams more conspicuously than anywhere else. In 2018, the Nats & Caps met the Pirates & Penguins on the same day twice.
Pittsburgh Pirates (4) @ Washington Nationals (12) Boxscore
Washington Capitals (4) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (3) Boxscore
May 3 was a split, but the Caps won that series and eventually the Stanley Cup. The Pens have never been the same.
Pittsburgh Pirates (1) @ Washington Nationals (3) Boxscore
Washington Capitals (1) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (3) Boxscore
Back in the present
As for the Caps – Isles series, it’s just getting started.
Uniforms from sportslogos.net | Boxscores from Sports Reference