The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Nats season ends

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“Hope and optimism are stupid emotions,” I wrote, after the Caps lost to the Canadiens in 2010.

That’s what Friday/Saturday felt like. Just empty. Vacant. Dumb. In both senses of the word.

People invest an awful lot of emotion in their sports teams — too much, probably, but whatever — and sometimes they get a lot of joy in return, and sometimes the experience just hollows out your innards, and coats the leftovers with bleach, and leaves you feeling pale and confused and silent and sad.

But whatever. That goes away, eventually. I’ve already written too many depressing eulogies for D.C. sports teams. I don’t have it in me to do it again right now, not on a night when plenty of other people will make plenty of other biting comments about the whole Washington sporting experience.

And so, I thought about doing a summary of all the bad things that have happened since D.C. sports made the cover of Sports Illustrated, from John Wall’s injury to RGIII’s concussion to the end of two baseball seasons. I thought about trying to rank the Game 5 collapse within the past decade-plus of epic D.C. sports collapses, from Matt Turk to Gone in 60 Seconds to Jaroslav Halak to the Cleveland Cavaliers — a list which does a real disservice to the gallons of Caps misery spilled in the ’90s.

I thought about writing how some fans got mad at new Wizard Bradley Beal for tweeting his St. Louis joy, and I thought about writing how some fans tweeted vile things at Drew Storen for his ninth-inning meltdown. I thought about finding sad photos or sad videos or sad rants or sad dreams.

But I don’t see the point right now. I got enough stupid Web traffic this week. I don’t feel like reading any of that stuff, so I sure don’t feel like writing it. Maybe you feel like reading it, but probably not. Unless you enjoy pain.

Which brings me to the above image, which comes from The Post the day after the Senators lost the 1933 World Series to the Giants. That was, of course, the last postseason baseball series D.C. played, before this one. I’m not exactly a student of 1930s newspaper design, but it seems to me the message is, on to the next one.

Which is what we’re all going to do. I mean, unless you love St. Louis or hate Washington, watching that loss was deflating and agonizing and nonsensical and physically uncomfortable, in a tangible way. But I will watch sports on Saturday. I will definitely watch the Redskins on Sunday. And I will be more excited about Spring Training next year than I’ve been since the Nats returned, and yes, that includes 2005.

“10 grand on the game plus front row seats in the NLCS,” maybe the biggest D.C. sports fan I know texted me well after midnight. “Pretty sure I’m as mad as anyone. But I’m ok…We’ll live.”

So we go back to Shirley Povich’s column from the day after it ended in 1933, because he wrote a damn bit better than I do, plus it’s super atomospheric to quote old stuff.

“Thrills, indeed, were a dime a dozen at the Polo Grounds and Griffith Stadium,” he wrote. “And at $3.30, $5.50 and $6.60, the fans were saturated with sensations….Thus did victory and defeat hang by a slender thread. One pitched ball, one batted ball separated the winner from the loser in four of those five games….

“There is a measure of consolation for the Nats in the fact that they were beaten by a great ball club, making its own breaks and capitalizing on them to the fullest extent,” he later wrote.

“Personally, I took it on the chin,” he wrote, near the end of his piece. “After those first two defeats of the Nats I came back for more, in my own stubborn way — and got it.”

And then came the end of his column, which Povich wrote in 1933, or a Redskins fan wrote in the ’70s, or a Bullets fan wrote in the ’80s, or a Caps fan wrote in the ’90s, or you wrote on your fancy handheld space-age device on this particular night.

“So, I’m tucking my chin behind my shoulder the next time,” Povich wrote. “I can take it — but it hurts.”