DC Endures Major Flop In Franchise History
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DC Endures Major Flop In Franchise History

DC Endures Major Flop In Franchise History

Washington, D.C. has a unique and painful history with baseball, marked by a long streak of poor performance. The city’s baseball teams have collectively endured the longest stretch of losing seasons in American sports history. Since 1901, Washington’s teams have accumulated a staggering 1,047 more losses than wins. Even after a recent season where they posted the best record in the sport, the city remains deeply in the red.

No other major sports team in the U.S. has experienced such prolonged frustration. Washington was known for being “first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League” long before the NFL, NBA, and NHL even existed. Among MLB’s long-standing cities, only Philadelphia comes close, but even the Phillies, with a .473 winning percentage since 1884, fare better than Washington’s .457 across three different franchises.

To grasp the depth of D.C.’s baseball misery, consider Tampa Bay. The Rays, who have only been around since 1998, have already hosted a World Series. If they maintain their current .454 winning percentage for another 97 years, they might rival Washington’s level of suffering. However, they would also need to lose their team for decades and then fight to get it back.

In 79 seasons, Washington has had 11 teams lose 100 games but never one that won 100. The city’s lone World Series win in 1924 feels like a distant, almost mocking memory. Washington has spent more seasons without a major league team (33) than it has had winning seasons (20). Defeat and disenfranchisement have defined D.C. baseball until now.

This tradition of losing is something Washingtonians know all too well. If the wheel of karma finally turns, they are unlikely to pity those who suffer as they have. The Nationals’ recent success might signal a shift, but the scars of past failures run deep.

Baseball has a way of producing franchises with long runs of success or failure. Some teams, like the Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers, have consistently been winners. Washington fans, however, reserve a special disdain for franchises that complain about their “misery” when their worst seasons would be considered a dream in D.C.

Cubs fans lament their lack of a World Series title since 1908, yet their franchise is 492 games over .500. Even in bad times, they’ve had 17 winning seasons since 1967. Washington, by contrast, has had just two. Watching baseball in Wrigley Field is far from the agony experienced by D.C. fans.

Red Sox fans and their “Curse” are another example. Their franchise is 580 games over .500 and has had 38 winning seasons out of 46 since 1967. Yet, Boston focuses on its worst moments. Washington, on the other hand, has had to adapt to its painful baseball history through selective forgetting.

Perhaps this is why the Nationals have been embraced so enthusiastically after just one excellent year following seven mediocre ones. Washingtonians have somehow avoided becoming bitter and cynical about the game. The ability to choose which memories to cherish and which to forget is crucial.

In the past, the Washington Post sports section often ran headlines like “Sievers Homers, But Nats Lose.” This was a “standing head,” always ready to go because it was used so frequently. For decades, variations of this headline defined Washington’s attitude toward baseball: finding the best in the worst.

Now, the era of “But-Nats-Lose” is over. However, being on the wrong side of history for over a century creates a deep ambivalence toward the newfound success of the Nationals. Many fans are cautiously optimistic, hoping that stars like Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper can have a few good years before the past catches up with the future.

There is also a deep curiosity to see if some big-time magic is at work, like Strasburg and Harper turning out to be the next Joe Hardy. For now, Washington’s past baseball memories and future possibilities create an odd blend. Over the next few years, this is likely to change.

Even longtime D.C. fans may not fully grasp how historically bad the city’s baseball has been. If the Nationals were 200 games over .500 in the next 20 years, they would still have a lower winning percentage than any other original major league city. The cosmic law of what-goes-around-comes-around would have to be repealed for this not to occur.

No other city has supported such bad baseball for so long. One year ago, Washington was 1,081 games under .500. After a 98-64 season, they are now 1,047 games under. This long-term deficit-trimming project could create a whole lot of new memories.

Washington’s baseball history is a tale of enduring failure, but the recent success of the Nationals offers a glimmer of hope. Whether this marks the beginning of a new era or just a brief respite remains to be seen. For now, D.C. endures, hoping that the worst is finally behind them.