As the Washington Nationals improve on the field, what will it take for the city to become a baseball town? Lets take a closer look.
For future lists, it needs to change.
Yes, for generations, Washington ate, breathed and slept the Redskins. Three times in 10 seasons, the burgundy and gold brought championship glory to the city and region. Joe Gibbs and his different quarterbacks paraded around the Mall with Vince Lombardi Trophy’s and you ate it up.
As Toronto and Boston can tell you—two of the 13 mentioned on the list—it is possible to carry deep passions for over one sport.
The Blue Jays thrive at Rogers Centre blocks away from the 800-pound gorilla in the Toronto Maple Leafs. Fans tortured with chants of “1967!”—the last Stanley Cup for the Leafs—the Blue Jays to four million in attendance and earned back-to-back World Series titles.
The Boston Red Sox live in the large shadow of the dynastic New England Patriots down in Foxborough. Reversing an 86-year championship drought, then adding two more, may not give the Red Sox the advantage in television ratings, but interest with Boston baseball has never been higher.
Washington is similar. Although the Redskins draw parallels to the Maple Leafs of old rather than the Patriots, the Nats are one of the better teams in baseball. In this melting pot of a metro mixing natives who grew up with the Orioles and newcomers attached to old teams, the Nats are under appreciated.
Fine, the team under performs come October. The hockey Capitals have done so for years and remain a top draw for the NHL. Winning in the playoffs will change people’s perception of the Nats without question. Learning your heart can bleed both burgundy and red should not depend on October.
The Chicago Cubs turned losing into a cottage industry. Those who broiled in the sun at Wrigley Field gladly froze in November at Soldier Field rooting for the Chicago Bears. They might have shared a drink with a White Sox fan too.
It is tough to grow attached to the new team in town. Washington’s checkered baseball past saw the city abandoned by Major League Baseball for 37 years. The team adopting DC finally was virtually ignored their last decade in Montreal.
Either in the tri-colors of the Expos or the traditional red, white and blue of Washington, the team deserved better. In DC, the Nats can be embraced.
They play in a beautiful park in a rebuilt part of the district. Ownership will spend money on players—something that never happened in Montreal—ensuring a quality product on the field. The strong rivalries with the rest of the National League East ensuring great baseball all summer.
Whatever complaints most people have about baseball melt in the ballpark. The game is quicker than what you see on television.
As the team creates their own history, Washington will develop into a full-fledged baseball town. In five years, there is no good reason for the district to be excluded anymore.