Friday, July 04, 2008

1924... clap clap CLAP-CLAP-CLAP

I have a philosophical question to ask Washington National fans:

Do you belong in the conversation of long suffering baseball fans?

There was always a big three tortured fan bases of World Series futility.

The Cubs, the Red Sox and the White Sox.

Now you may have heard, the Red Sox took care of business in 2004. I think some of the major papers covered it. They threw in a second title in 2007 for good measure.

And the White Sox secretly won a World Series of their own in 2005. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone.

Now the Cubs, currently the best NL team will either be taking themselves off the list this year or will be continuing their search for a second century.

The next two suffering fan bases would be the Indians (who have been waiting since 1948 for a title) and the Giants (whose last title, 1954, came at Cleveland's expense but before the move to San Francisco.)

But I submit that Washington fans might belong in the conversation as well.

The very notion of a Washington pennant was so absurd they made a musical about it!
And it didn't involve farm development or shrewd trades but a deal with the devil.

If you are a die hard Washington baseball fan... here's the hardships you've dealt with.

1. The only World Series title was 1924

That's only 6 years better than 1918, and trust me I never heard the end of THAT date!

Annie Oakley was still alive.
Johnny Carson wasn't born.

It's been a while.

2. There hasn't been a World Series played in Washington since 1933.

To put that in perspective, that was the same year King Kong came out.
The original... with Fay Wray.

That movie was considered old when they remade it in 1976.

It was considered really old when they remade it in 2005.

It's old.

3. There was a lot of bad bad baseball played in Washington over the years.

The 1904 and the 1909 Senators both played sub .300 ball.

In the 15 years after World War II before the first team moved to Minnesota, the Senators had a whopping 1 winning season.

The 1952 Senators finished 78-76... and they needed to win a 1 run game against the Red Sox to finish the season, other wise they would have evened out at 77-77

4. When the team was developing into a winner, they were swapped out for an expansion team.

It's really one of the strangest wrinkles in baseball expansion history when you think about it.

A team called the Washington Senators finished the 1960 season.
Then at the start of the 1961 season there was a team called the Washington Senators... but it wasn't the same team.

Oh they had the same uniforms and the same team name, but the other team was now playing in Minnesota and called themselves the Twins.

It was as if Minnesota was awarded an expansion team, and then traded the entire team and front office to Washington.

By 1965, the Twins were in the World Series.
In 1965, the new Senators avoided 100 losses for the first time in their 5 year history... still lost 92.

5. New organization, same result
Ted Williams became the manager in 1969 and scared the team to a winning season.

After that, it was back to losing 90 some odd a year.

6. Abandoned twice!

The Senators leave for a parking lot in Arlington Texas.

Seriously, what other city has lost TWO teams?
The baseball fans of Washington became your woman friend who always claims that this time it will be different with her boyfriend... and then gets dumped again.

7. Suddenly you are all Baltimore fans?

The Senators leave just as the Orioles start their glory years.
Fans from Washington have to travel to Baltimore to experience big league baseball.

That's like saying "New York baseball fans have to travel to Bridgeport Connecticut to watch a live ball game."

8. The long dark age

For literally decades, no baseball in Washington.
I was born in 1972, after the Rangers started their season.

I never saw a team representing the Nation's Capital until 2005, when I was a 33 year old father of 2.

That's a gap.


Baseball had two expansions adding 4 teams total since 1992.
And despite the fact that they had a stadium ready and a fan base, the good folks who run baseball felt in their infinite wisdom that Miami, Denver, Phoenix and Tampa Bay were all better baseball markets.

10. Getting the scraps
Of course baseball expanded like crazy without addressing the fact that maybe some fledgling franchises should be MOVED instead of new ones being made.

And the result was the cluster f*ck known as the Montreal Expos... a team nobody wanted but couldn't be contracted. So Bud Selig, always one to make good long term decisions, made sure the team was owned by the league itself (no conflict of interest there).

The team played in Montreal in front of friends and family with no TV contract and no hope. Anyone with half a brain saw they had to move and the only place they COULD move was Washington. Instead of striking a deal with the Orioles and Peter Angelos before the 2002 season, they waited until before the 2005 season.

3 years of potential baseball (including the 2002 and 2003 seasons where the Expos had a winning record) denied.

So now Washington has a team again... a really bad team but a team nonetheless.

The city looks back to Walter Johnson, a ball hitting a pebble and Muddy Ruel lumbering home with their only Series win.

Old timers might remember Joe Cronin, Mickey Vernon and Frank Howard.
Most people will remember the bad times.

So let me ask you Nationals fans... how long suffering are you?

How about you, Miss Chatter? Do you belong in the same breath as Indians, Giants or God Forbid Cubs fans?

Do the folks at Nats 320 think that a long suffering label will give the team character?

Or maybe you are like Capitol Punishment and a tad masochistic

Hey folks at Federal Baseball... have you dropped the Orioles like a hot potato?

All I know is you better win soon and make this discussion moot.
I know the Nationals just got there, but 2024 isn't that far away!


  1. It depends on who you count as "long-suffering." I came to the Nats after the Expos moved to DC, so I've only been suffering for 3 years. I wasn't around for the Senators era, but I'm beginning to appreciate our legacy of futility. And, goodness, with all the injuries we've had this season, it's like the baseball gods don't even want us to make a run at .400! I find myself starting to think things like, "well, we've got a shot at #1 pick..." which I think is a sign of long-sufferingness, even if developed over a short period.

  2. Well, the Nationals' brass has made all the right moves these last few years. They are shaping up to be real contenders here in the next few years with big names like Strasburg and Harper. As a Giants fan, I can appreciate the development of good young talent, and I am excited to see what the upcoming years hold for the Nats (mostly because they aren't in our division).

  3. Anonymous6:32 AM

    Being a Washington baseball fan means being inherently fatalistic. In addition to the stats you mentioned, the last time the Senators contended was 1945, finishing 1 1/2 games behind the Tigers. Assuming the 2011 Nats don't wage a Lazarus-like revival and battle for a playoff berth, it will mean that Washington has gone two-thirds of a century without seeing significant September baseball (the hanging-on-gamely wild card bid in '05 doesn't count).

    To define it another way, Takoma Park native Goldie Hawn (mom of one-time ARod beau Kate Hudson) was in her mother's womb the last time D.C. had a contender (Goldie was born Nov. 21, 1945).