December 28, 2012

Congrats — or something — to Chris Cillizza’s winners and losers of 2012. 

Worst year in Washington: The tea party

Bad year: Mitt Romney

Bad year: David Petraeus

Good year: The Clintons


Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III has single-handedly turned the Redskins into one of the most exciting teams in football. (Cliff Owen/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Good year: D.C. sports teams

Best year in Washington: Nate Silver

Take the paper bags off your heads, D.C. sports fans. Now is our time.

Consider the past year:

The Nationals won 98 games in the regular season, the most of any team in the big leagues. And were it not for a blown six-run lead in Game 5 of the divisional series against the St. Louis Cardinals, we might be talking about the Nats as World Series champs.

Robert Griffin III has single-handedly turned the Redskins into one of the most exciting teams in football and — brace yourself — a legitimate playoff contender.

Okay, the Wizards still stink — pretty badly. And the Capitals haven’t played a gamethis season as the league’s labor standoff continues.

But for a town long derided as filled with fans from other states, rooting for other teams, there’s real reason for optimism.

The Nationals, barring injury, will be a perennial contender for the National League pennant and the World Series. Stephen Strasburg, one of the five best pitchers in baseball, is 24 years old. Bryce Harper, who was the National League’s rookie of the year, is 20. Gio Gonzalez, who finished third in the NL Cy Young voting, is 27. Ryan Zimmerman, who hit 25 home runs and drove in 95 runs, is 28. Try to name a better young core of stars on any other team in baseball — you’ll be hard-pressed to do it.

When it comes to Griffin, it’s hard to imagine how high his ceiling is. His accuracy and poise are the sorts of things many quarterbacks need a decade to develop. His leadership skills are something that many quarterbacks never acquire.

Combine Harper, Strasburg and RGIII, and young sports fans growing up in Washington (and Maryland and Virginia) will have plenty of reasons to be die-hard supporters of the two teams going forward. That’s more than any of us could have hoped for even a few years ago.

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Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.