But I thought the D.C. Sports Troll was Colin Cowherd?
(I stole that joke from a reader.)
There’s been so much talk of curses around here lately, from the Arenas Era getting ruined by injuries and guns to the brilliant decade-long RGIII vision ending in like two weeks to the Nats going 0 for 3 in the playoffs to the entirety of the Capitals’ cursed existence. There are at least two D.C. sports curse Twitter accounts — and probably more — and I can’t tell you how much unsolicited curse feedback I’ve gotten in the last few years. And then two separate Post editors messaged me this spring, asking if I wanted to write an”Origins” piece about the D.C. Sports Curse.
I didn’t, of course, because curses are stupid, and I’m not stupid. I might as well write whether evil totems are to blame for this persistent cough that has me chugging Mucinex.
The Capitals have had a nearly unfathomable run of bad luck, and if you’ve rooted for that team for long enough, part of your heart already has shriveled up into a black lump of burnt organ meat. But the Wizards have mostly just been bad — if injury-plagued — for 40 years. That’s not really a curse. The Redskins have made poor decisions for most of the last 25 years. That’s not a curse. The Nationals have made the playoffs three times in their first 13 years of existence. That’s not a curse, either. If we could replace all mentions of “curses” in our section with actual curses, the section would be a helluva lot &$#*@ better, in my humble view.
But anyhow, some readers certainly are into the curse thing, and it’s true that we don’t have a good origins story: no stupid billy goat, no stupid Bambino, no burning lake. All we have is Tony Kornheiser’s Curse of Les Boulez, which started showing up in the paper in the mid-90s. Here was Wilbon, in 1996:
Who knew that Marvin Gaye, a Washingtonian, had the Bullets in mind when he wrote the lyrics, “Makes me wanna holler/throw up both my hands.” On one hand you get a team such as the Chicago Bulls that goes four, five seasons without a single player missing more than five games because of injury; then there’s the Bullets, who have a dozen different starting lineups in one season. And it has now gone from Jeff Ruland to John Williams to Pervis Ellison to Chris Webber. You know what Tony (AM/PM) Kornheiser calls this: “Curse of Les Boulez.” That’s as good an explanation as any. True Story: Last Sunday afternoon, immediately after painfully dislocating the ring finger on his right hand, Jim McIlvaine said, “You know what this is: Curse of Les Boulez. Where’s Tony?”
It’s a great phrase, but it’s team-specific, and you can’t really wrap your arms around it. You can’t bring a stuffed Curse of Les Boulez to a championship parade, and you wouldn’t mention Les Boulez on your sign at the Caps game.
So thankfully, out of nowhere, Thomas Boswell finally put a face to the name in Wednesday’s paper. He called it the D.C. Sports Troll, and sure, whatever. We have our fair share of bridges in this town. And we have more than our fair share of trolls, too, from Cowherd to [redacted name of colleague] to [redacted name of former colleague] to all the Pittsburgh and Dallas and Philly fans who slunk around in our midst. Anyhow, here’s Boz:
These are tough days for the Troll of Washington, who for many years has lurked under the bridges of the city, scaring sports fans with his ominous warnings, defeatist insults and screaming taunts about their luckless, or not-quite-good-enough, or downright choking-dog pro teams.
The Troll has had things his own way for a quarter of a century. Washington’s football, baseball, basketball and hockey teams are 1 for 86 in reaching the semifinal round in their sports since 1992. None has won a title. But now the ugly old soul is worried. Even trolls have nightmares, and his are coming true.
The Capitals and Wizards … let’s not say it. But this week may be the Troll’s last stand.
Look, whatever you believe, you can recognize that fairy tales and myths and origin stories are useful. There’s not a single part of my organism that thinks the Caps lose in the playoffs every year because of a curse. But like 73 percent of my cells believe the Caps are more likely to lose in the playoffs because they’ve lost in the playoffs before, regardless of whether there’s any logic to that, same way I think Michigan State’s basketball team will start playing better in March.
And maybe it’d be nice to have a face to put to that belief. So what the &$*&, let’s call it a Troll. Maybe five weeks from now we can pass out Washington Post branded D.C. Sports Trolls for people to burn along the parade route.
“Mythology I think of as the homeland of the Muses, the inspirers of poetry” the great mythologist Joseph Campbell once said. “And to see life as a poem, and yourself participating in a poem, is what the myth does for you. … [The poetry gets to] that which is beyond even the concept of reality. It’s that which transcends all thought. It’s putting you there all the time, and in some way giving you a line to connect with that mystery which you are. And the myths do it. By gosh, they do it.”
So let the D.C. Sports Troll connect you with the mystery which you are. Think of him when things go bad, which they inevitably will, if not this year than in the future. And please buy our Washington Post-branded D.C. Sports Troll merchandise.