|Welcome to D.C.|
|Written by Mark Grey|
by MARK GREY
Heartbreak, disappointment, and confusion are all emotions that every die hard sports fan is all too familiar with. We often wonder why the teams we love so much seem to let us down so often. When it comes to heartbreak, losing, and pointless moves, there is one city whose fan base hurts like no other. Sure, Red Sox nation had to deal with “the curse,” Cleveland had “the drive” and “The Decision,” and the Rangers had to wait 54 years to win the Stanley Cup, but one city's pain trumps all of that. If you are trying to find the city where high expectations meet big let downs, welcome to Washington D.C.
It is a well known fact that the nation's capital is full of crime and corruption, but any D.C. sports fan can tell you that some of the biggest thieves in the city don’t wear ski masks or suits and ties; they wear jerseys with their names on the backs. Welcome to Washington D.C., the home of some of the most puzzling contracts in sports history. For the last two decades, no city has seen the bizarre twist of sports stories that those living in the D.C. metropolitan area have.
Welcome to Washington D.C., the only place where the highest paid players on the team often don’t finish the season playing, despite being healthy. This is the only city where you can be benched, sign a 70 million dollar extension, and then be benched again all in the same month. Is there any other city in the world where you would hear the words “We want to see what Rex Grossman can do?”
Welcome to Washington D.C., where each 100 million dollar contract seems to be less productive than the one before (Juwan Howard, Gilbert Arenas, Albert Haynesworth). The nation’s capital is the only place where a 31-year-old one time All-Star outfielder who doesn’t have a single 100 RBI season on his resume can sign a 126 million dollar contract. It is the only place where trading the NBA’s worst contract based on off-the-court antics for the NBA's worst contract based on on- the-court play sounds like a good idea. D.C. is the only place you can not only hear rumors about teammates fighting on the plane, but you can also see them fight each other for yourself outside the local nightclub.
Washington D.C. is the only place where arguably the two biggest names in sports over the last 30 years can see their careers end in ways they could have never imagined. Who would have thought Michael Jordan would have been asking to come off the bench on a bad team, or even fired? Who would've thought Mike Tyson, aka “the baddest man on the planet,” wouldn’t answer the bell to fight some guy named Kevin McBride? But that’s D.C., where the unexpected happens everyday, where the “can't miss” players miss, and the once immortal turn into mere mortals. Welcome to D.C., where the greatest women’s basketball player of her time, the one destined to put the WNBA on the map, just gets depressed and walks away from the game in her prime. In D.C., one day you can be a pitching phenom gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated and being called the next Nolan Ryan, and the next day, you are having Tommy John surgery and being compared to Kerry Wood.
Welcome to Washington D.C., where you can sign a division rivals Pro Bowl linebacker to a large contract, watch him stink, get released, go back to his old team for pennies, and return to Pro Bowl form. Where else can you spend your hard earned money to watch your NBA team not only lose night in and night out, but go to the club hours after the game and watch them “make it rain?” Can you name another city where a shooting guard who can neither shoot nor guard can talk trash to and call LeBron James overrated (DeShawn Stevenson)? Where else can all three members of “The Big Three” get large contract extensions and all three be traded two years later?
Welcome to Washington D.C., where the most talked about 14-year-old soccer player in the world signed the largest contract in MLS history in hopes of sparking interest in the league, and the coach doesn’t even play him. Where else could the greatest player in NBA history draft maybe the biggest draft day bust ever? Where else can you sign the best player in the NHL to the highest contract in league history, watch him do nothing for two seasons while the team misses the playoffs, then trade him and watch him return to greatness as he leads the worst team in the NHL to the playoffs (Jaromir Jagr)?
Welcome to Washington D.C., where a player can tell you flat out he doesn’t wanted to be there, take 21 million, and then tell you what packages he will and will not be playing in. Where else can a local kid make millions off of Marketing, buy the hometown NFL team, turn it into one of the laughing stocks of the league, but nearly double the value of the team by simply selling the fans a dream? Name another city where Hall of Fame players rack up 85 percent of the stats while playing on other teams, but earn 70 percent of their career earnings right here. Where else will you see a city fight for years to get a baseball team, then not even care when they get it?
Welcome to Washington D.C., aka the chocolate city, where the only sports star that actually lives up to the hype is a 25- year-old white kid from Moscow named Alexander. Where else would an 8th seed come back from being down 3 games to 1 to the number 1 seed overall? D.C. of course. It had never been done before. The city of D.C. has seen it all. D.C. has seen Manute Bol and George Muresan, as well as Muggsy Bogues and Earl Boykins. It has seen cross dressing running backs, Allen Iverson in college, and Kwame Brown when he should have been in college. Washington signed Dana Stubblefield the year after he recorded 15 sacks and was named defensive player of the year, only to see him record 7 sacks in three years. Same year, different sport, and they traded away a young Ben Wallace who would go on to win an NBA record 4 defensive players of the year.
Sure, there are several cities that have seen a championship drought, or had their share of heartbreaks, but not like D.C. The problems that most losing teams experience don’t exist in Washington; it's not a small market, there are no cheap owners, and no trouble landing big name free agents. In fact, D.C. has had the first pick in the draft, Hall of Fame Coaches, the biggest free agent signings, and even Hall of Fame players, but still has nothing to show for it. While most D.C. fans love to bring up the city's three Super Bowl trophies, those winning ways seem like so long ago that you can wonder how long before the trophies are removed from Redskins Park and placed downtown in the History museum. So is it a curse? Is it bad luck? Is it poor money management? Is it the nightlife? Is it politics? It's Washington D.C. - the home of the sports unexplainable.