From Kent Barnes. Follow him on Twitter @KentBarnes, email him at kent[AT]borderstan.com.
2012 was a landmark year for Districts sports teams. Rookie stars Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris carried the Redskins to an unexpected (but much celebrated) division title. Bryce Harper did the same with the Nationals. DC United returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and fell just short of hosting the MLS Cup.
And, while none of our beloved teams were able to bring a championship back to the District, 2012 was still a very welcome change from recent years of futility.
So how is 2013 shaping up? Well, it’s a mixed bag so far. Here’s where we stand going into May.
The Wizards stumbled out of the gate in 2012, largely because superstar John Wall watched from the bench with a knee injury. When he returned in early January, they sat at the bottom of the league with a record of 5-28. Wall’s return provided the spark the team needed as they won almost half of their remaining games. When the 2013-2014 season picks up later this year the Wizards won’t be championship contenders, but a return to the playoffs is a reasonable goal.
I won’t spend much time on the 2013 Redskins as memories of watching RG3 tear ligaments in his knee might drive many of you to tears. The good news is that by all accounts his recovery is going smoothly and he intends to be in the week 1 starting lineup. Regardless of RG3’s knee, the biggest Redskins 2013 storyline might end up being when we start calling them the Redtails.
After their surprise run to the division title last year, sportswriters and fans alike have high expectations for the 2013 Nationals. So far, not much has changed from the 2012 version. They shipped Michael Morse off to Seattle but he left A-ha behind, Brycer Harper is still swinging a big bat, and Stephen Strasburg is rounding into form after a couple of rough starts. They’ll need to pick up the pace if they want to match last year’s win total and catch the division leading Braves, but they still have the look of a team that could bring World Series baseball to the District this fall.
Oh, where to begin? Unable to build off of last year’s magical postseason run, my beloved black and red are off to the worst start in the league. If I focus on the bad I’m going to get depressed, so instead I’ll point out some positives. Attendance is already up 5% over last year (and we haven’t gotten to the warm weather games yet), rumors abound about a possible deal for a new stadium, and you can still find the Bada Bing and Doug the Food Dude trucks in Lot 8 before just about every game.
After a lengthy lockout threatened cancellation of the entire season, hockey finally returned to the Verizon Center in January. The extra time off didn’t do the team any favors as they won only 2 of their first 11 games. But unlike the Wizards, the Caps shook off the rust and edged out Winnipeg for the division title. They current hold a 2-1 lead in the opening round best of 7 series against the New York Rangers. Game 4 will be played tonight at 7:30 pm at Madison Square Garden in New York.
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