Category Archives: Washington/Baltimore

Smallness Imminent: Seahawks vs. Redskins

The Redskins and Seahawks face off this weekend in a clash of ComingUpSmall mainstays.  One will come up small.

There are any number of ways to attempt to glean the outcome, including Las Vegas lines, past meetings (see: The Skins Love Losing to the Seahawks, below), road and home records, etc.  We present to you, reader, an alternative means of judging Sunday’s contest.

 

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The Skins Love Losing to the Seahawks

Worlds collide this weekend when the Washington Redskins host the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs.  One of those teams will come up small.  And the good money is on the Redskins again disappointing ComingUpSmall colleague Washdz. Combine the Seahawks’ recent scoring proficiency — 170 points in four games — with their maturing defense, and factor in Robert Griffin’s sore knee and one can expect some sad faces in Raljon, MD.

But there’s one other factor: the Redskins love losing to the Seahawks in the playoffs:

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Jan. 5, 2008: Seahawks 35, Redskins 14

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Jan. 14, 2006: Seahawks 20, Redskins 10


Mariners Face New Disgrace

With the Nationals backing into the NL East division title tonight, following a Braves loss, they are on a much clearer path to the World Series. Along with the Reds, they own the best record in baseball and spent much of the season atop the standings. Should Washington find a way to win at least seven postseason games, they’ll leave the Seattle Mariners as the last remaining Major League Baseball team never to have been to the World Series.

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Yet, back in 2001, when the Mariners appeared to be on the fast track to the big show, they had plenty of company among the World Series deficient: Houston, Colorado, Arizona, Anaheim, Washington, Tampa Bay and division-rival Texas. But as the Mariners sputtered in the playoffs against the Yankees, the Diamondbacks were on their way towards a Series win. Anaheim treated their fans to their first World Series (and World Series win) the next season, after a long 42-year wait. The Astros, 43 years overdue, found their way to the World Series in 2005. Colorado and Tampa Bay followed in 2007 and 2008, respectively, in their 15th and 11th seasons. Fans of the Rangers suffered longer, dating to their days as the second incarnation of the Washington Senators: 49-years. But Texas has been to the last two World Series.

Washington, combined with its time as the Montreal Expos, has been waiting a long time for such an opportunity, much longer than the Mariners who joined the league in a 1977 expansion. The 1981 Expos represent their only postseason entrant and the franchise has been around since 1969.  Meanwhile, Mariners’ expansion classmate Toronto is a two-time World Series winner.

And while it’s been longer than most Cubs fans have been alive (1945) since Wrigley Field saw a World Series, the favorite Chicago franchise has at least been.

Whether the Nationals deliver Seattle one more black eye, remains to be seen. But the 2012 Mariners are definitely coming up small.


Caps Crushing Fans’ Hopes in March Instead of April

I’ve been a Washington Capitals fan since 1986. As such, I’m ready, with the coming of every spring, to have my obssession rewarded with a soul-crushing exit from the playoffs. This after all is a team that in 21 postseasons has reached the Stanley Cup finals exactly once (it didn’t go well) but blown a two-game series lead seven times (five times to the Penguins, three times up three games to one). This year though (perhaps pushing back against Punxsutawney Phil’s call for more winter), the Caps seem determined make their fans an early gift of springtime disappointment. They might not make the playoffs at all. This with a roster that was supposed to be deeper and more talented than the one that finished first in the East two seasons in a row. (And won their first seven games this year.)

Yes, they were without puck-moving defenseman Mike Green for most of the season. And, they’ve been without top center Nick Backstrom since a little Canadian rat named Rene Bourque elbowed him in the head back in January. (It’s telling that Backstrom, the team leader in points when he was concussed, held that honor for several weeks hence.) But neither injury can fully account for this cavalcade of ineptitude. Caps hockey this season has featured, in different combinations and sometimes all at once, mediocre goaltending, porous defense, an inability to score, miserable special teams play, and severe mental fragility. Again, this is largely the same team that lead its conference twice in two years, was fourth in the league defensively last year and first in offense by miles the year before that. (If you follow hockey at all, you know there should be grapefruit-size asterisks next to those plaudits; but we’re not getting into that now.)

Still, for a few more games at least, these crappy Caps are on the playoff bubble. They’re two points from the eighth and last playoff spot and only four out of first in the horrific Southleast. So they could, theoretically wind up not only in the playoffs but as a No. 3 seed with home ice in the first round (spoils awarded to even the crappiest of division winners). Such are the fantasies that cloud the minds of fans.

To wit, the Caps began last week with a should-win contest against the lowly New York Islanders. A lackluster effort found the boys in red down 2-0 in the game’s waning minutes. Winning, and not dropping another two points to the Southeast-leading Panthers, required a spectacular, improbable effort. And that’s what the Caps gave, tying the game in the last 20 seconds and then finishing off the hapless Isles in OT with a scorching wrist shot from underachieving $9 mil/year captain Alex Ovechkin. How would the team respond? Would this minor miracle spark a dramatic return to form in the last month of the season, just in time for the playoffs? I allowed myself to consider that possibility for the three days until the next game, which the Caps lost 5-0 to New Jersey. Then they dropped two more, including Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the basement-dwelling Carolina Hurricanes. They’re back at it tonight, facing a surging Tampa Bay Lightning, who with a win, could relegate the Caps to fourth place in what is probably the NHL’s worst division. I’ll be watching, because I’m a masochist.