For one glorious moment, it all came together for Washington’s sports teams
By Tracee Hamilton,
Well, you had that one glorious day. Remember it. Years from now, you can tell your grandchildren about it, via whatever has replaced e-mail, Facebook and Twitter by then. First, they’ll show you how to use whatever has replaced e-mail, Facebook and Twitter, and then you’ll tell them about April 26, 2012, that one perfect day in the history of Washington’s pro sports teams.
The town was still buzzing over the Capitals’ Game 7 victory over the Bruins in overtime in the Stanley Cup playoffs the night before. The Nationals were atop the NL East. The Redskins drafted quarterback and uncredited “Avengers” cast member Robert Griffin III. (The Wizards? You don’t want to tell your grandchildren about the Wizards. They’re the 21st century equivalent of “I walked to school uphill six miles both ways” stories.)
Since that glorious day, the Nationals have lost four in a row. The Capitals lost a second-round game to the Rangers by two goals. Two! And the Redskins used the tattered remains of their draft picks to select . . . some guys you’ve never heard of.
That’s it. Game over. Season over. Happiness over. As the young daughter of a friend of mine once sighed, “Nothing is good, or ever will be again.” Well put, kid, well put.
Of course, this weltschmerz, too, shall pass. Probably. For instance, Caps fans were convinced not long ago that their team wouldn’t make the playoffs. The Caps instead played one of the most riveting seven-game series in recent memory, and the closest ever — every single game was decided by a goal. Saturday afternoon’s 3-1 loss to the Rangers in Game 1 of the conference semifinals constitutes a blowout, then, by their standards.
Braden Holtby was judged — on the basis of allowing three goals on 14 shots, which is admittedly not stellar — and found to be merely human, and a rookie human at that. If hockey teams were not largely comprised of polite Canadians, the song “Bad Day” — the one that “American Idol” beat to death — would have been playing on a loop in the locker room.
But it’s hardly cause for panic, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria! It’s one game, albeit against a very different team from the Bruins. The Capitals will need to adjust to that, and to take more than 18 shots, if they can manage it.
The wags — who are the wags, by the way, and why aren’t they more fun, with a name like wags? — will say the Nationals are coming down to earth because they finally faced a really good team in the Los Angeles Dodgers. Oh, and good hitting beats good pitching. Don’t want to forget that useful piece of wisdom.
Except that sometimes, good pitching beats good hitting, and that the Farmers’ Almanac has more useful pieces of wisdom in its table of contents than is contained in a whole book of baseball truisms. Baseball may have inspired more good books and movies than any other sport — that’s a fact; the Farmers’ Almanac says so — but it also has produced ballparks full of inane sayings and untrue truisms. It’s a long season, and it’s still April. Climb in off the ledge.
Then take a look at the Redskins’ draft, and climb back out. The baseball season is young, the Caps have six more games to get it done against the Rangers — but there is only one NFL draft a year. I’ve come around on Griffin, although the price was so very, very high. But he’s just got it all. My one hesitancy is that he’s bringing it all to the intransigent Shanahan system. I can’t imagine Griffin balking at anything asked. I hope the same can be said for the coaching staff.
However, the cost of Griffin hits home when you see the rest of the assembled picks — three offensive linemen, a linebacker, two cornerbacks, a running back and a quarterback.
Oh yes, the Redskins used a fourth-round pick — which doesn’t sound like much until you realize it was their third-best pick in the draft — to select Kirk Cousins of Michigan State. Now the Redskins have RGI (you know him as Rex Grossman), RGIII and Cousins. They might be better off with some of RGIII’s actual cousins, if they could, say, catch the ball.
For the Redskins drafted nary a wide receiver. Granted, with their low draft picks, a big playmaker was probably not available, but they might have taken a flyer on someone, anyone, who could catch the ball. If Griffin does end up starting right out of the gate, he can rely on his tight ends for high percentage throws, but eventually, he has to be able to throw downfield. He can get the ball there. But after a round of free agency and the draft, a big-play receiver is still on Mike Shanahan’s to-do list.
So maybe you’d better go ahead and make some notes about April 26, 2012. It shouldn’t be the apex of D.C. sports in your lifetime, but then again, history is not on your side.
For Tracee Hamilton’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.com/