by Brian Tinsman

WASHINGTON — It’s nothing fans of the Redskins, Capitals, Wizards and Nationals haven’t already considered, but there is a curse on sports in the nation’s capital. What has long rumored and assumed to be true has been confirmed by stats geeks at The New York Times.

In a pair of articles over the last two days, Times writers at The Upshot have looked at the relative charm or curse of cities with teams from the big four sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA). While one article looks strictly at the ratio of championships to seasons played over the last 50 years, the other takes into account the brutality of squandered opportunities via coaching or officiating mistakes.

Naturally, Washington, D.C. has fodder for each category.

Looking strictly at the numbers, Washington, D.C. has four championships (sorry D.C. United) over the last 50 years, three by the Redskins and one by the Bullets. However, because of the number of mediocre seasons played by the Redskins, Nationals, Capitals, Wizards, Bullets and Senators, these four titles are heavily watered down.

By the numbers, Washington, D.C. is only the 10th most cursed sports metropolis in the United States, ahead of  Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Seattle, New Orleans, Minn.-St. Paul, Buffalo, Atlanta, Cleveland and San Diego.

That makes D.C. the most cursed city, by the numbers, in the greater Mid-Atlantic region. Factor in the gut-wrenching fashion in which the nation’s capital has missed out on championships (failure once reaching the final four), and Washington, D.C. lands at No. 5 of the most cursed cities.

According to the Times, D.C. has had 79 sports seasons since the Redskins won the Super Bowl in 1991, have had just 2.7 percent of championship seasons since 1965 and have had close calls (final four) seasons in just 4 percent of those seasons.

Lowlights via The Upshot editorial staff:

Within a single hour on May 13 this year, the Capitals were eliminated in a Game 7 overtime, and the Wizards lost an important Game 5 at the buzzer.

The Capitals have come to be known as some of hockey’s most famous chokers, having blown three-games-to-one series leads five times. (Combined, the rest of the league has done so only 23 times.)

The Nats have broken hearts by being upset in the playoffs in two of the last three seasons — and in brutal fashion in 2012 — yet they also have a real chance to win Washington a championship in the near future.

Consider the post-game reaction from 106.7 The Fan’s beat reporter Brian McNally following the Wizards’ final playoff defeat to the Atlanta Hawks on May 15:

And while some of these losses don’t even qualify for consideration in this study (playoff losses before the semifinal round), this is an astute observation by Washington Post columnist/blogger Dan Steinberg:

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Washington sports fans have had a front row seat to watch the charmed sports life in Charm City.

As far as sports curses go, Baltimore is one of the most fortunate in the U.S., tallying the fourth best ratio of championships (five, three for the Orioles and two for the Ravens) to seasons played.

The saving grace in all of this, is that is actually could be worse, as there are four cities (subjectively) more cursed than Washington, and there are championships for D.C. that didn’t qualify (greater than 50 years ago or not big four leagues).

San Diego does not have a championship and has had close calls in 6 percent of their seasons over the last 50 years.

Buffalo has had 101 sports seasons since its last championship, including four consecutive Super Bowl losses. The most painful of the quartet was a game-ending, 47-yard, wide right field goal miss by Scott Norwood against the Giants in 1990.

Atlanta has had only 70 sports seasons since its last title, but has had 9 percent near miss opportunities over the last 50 years. In what has become known as the Olympic Curse, the various venues used for the Games have never been home to a championship team.

And then there is Cleveland, with 147 sports seasons since its last title, and near misses in a full 10 percent of those. LeBron James and the Cavaliers have a chance to either end that drought or add to the misery, depending on the outcome of the NBA Finals.

As for Washington, the Nationals may be best poised to break the streak, based on both talent and upcoming opportunity. Much like the Cavs, only time will tell if they are able to reverse the sports curse or become another footnote.



Follow Brian Tinsman and 106.7 The Fan.


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