Early Sunday morning, while reading the paper and enjoying a bagel with cream cheese, I realized that perhaps I grew up in the city with the most detestable, embarrassing and depressing sports teams — Washington, D.C.
But Monday morning, while reading the paper and enjoying a scrumptious bowl of Crunchy Corn Bran, I realized that my hometown had a rival in their chase for last place.
Washington is a one-sport town, a city which hails the Deadskins with their overpriced, underachieving superstars and tries to ignore the failing Capitals and Wizards.
Boston was once a thriving championship city, home of the Celtics, who tout themselves as “The Most Successful Franchise in Professional Sports,” but have been plagued in the past 15 years by the Curse of the Bambino and the Curse of the Big Tuna, not to mention the Curse of the Bad Seed (a.k.a. Carl Everett and Anson Carter).
The two cities share a recent history of shame and underachievement, and this fall has developed into a fight to the finish for the worst records and top draft picks.
Poor Drew Bledsoe.
Once the pride of New England, this pretty boy has been bearing the brunt of criticism while being the only consistent player the Pats have. His offensive line has allowed 88 sacks in the last 24 games dating back to last season, a span in which New England has gone 7-17. In a competitive AFC East Division, the Patriots have again pulled out their bulldozers and dug themselves way deep into a hole that’s halfway to China.
Meanwhile, as a great poet once said, “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.”
Redskins owner Daniel Snyder bought himself a truckload of big-named free agents, signed rookies LaVar Arrington and Chris Samuels, and moved his team’s training camp to new, plush practice facilities in Northern Virginia. The Danny, as cynical Skins fans call him, was well on his way to a Super Bowl ring — or so he thought.
More of a Grinch than a Santa Claus, the Danny bought himself a year-long, billion-dollar migraine. One of the league’s oldest teams has more injuries than touchdowns, and has had almost as many place-kickers (four) as they do losses (five). He’s got a coach who can’t motivate, a beaten-up team starting 30-somethings Irving Fryar and Bruce Smith and 40-somethings Darrell Green and Eddie Murray, and possibly a long shot of making the playoffs at 7-5 and sitting in third place in the NFC Least.
And then there’s the Wizards.
With such a great matchup at center (Vitaly Potapenko vs. Jahidi White), it’s surprising that more Celtics/Wizards games aren’t nationally televised. The two teams are in an all-out brawl for last place in the Atlantic Division.
Rick Pitino, who says he’ll fire himself if he doesn’t take the team to the playoffs (quit now while you still have an ounce of pride left), and his crew of donut-loving Antoine Walker, battered and unimpressive Kenny Anderson, only-glimpse-of-hope Paul Pierce and the rest of the Celtics have a 2.5-game lead ahead of Washington, which sits in last place.
Once the pride of Beantown, the Celts haven’t posted a winning season since 1993.
Meanwhile, Wizards fans are still scratching their heads in bewilderment trying to figure out why the team can’t win. Hmm… maybe it was trading All-Stars Rasheed Wallace and Chris Webber, or perhaps it’s because Juwan Howard, by far the biggest bust in NBA history, is hoarding all the money while averaging under 15 points per game. Or maybe it’s that Michael Jordan can’t jump down from his owner’s box, rip off his $1,000 suit, reveal that #23 on a Wizards jersey and lead Washington to its first NBA title in three decades.
Since my birth in 1979, the Bullets/Wizards have had just five winning seasons, all barely above .500, and as their record stands today (4-11), they are well on their way to another lottery pick this June.
On the frozen pond, the NHL is nice enough to let almost anyone into the playoffs, even teams with losing records. So these first weeks of season for the Bruins (7-11) and the Capitals (6-10) could be worse.
After finally shipping off disgruntled holdout Anson Carter in exchange for Bill Guerin, the Bruins organization can afford to be optimistic. Jason Allison ranks seventh in the NHL in scoring with 11-18-29, and coach “Iron” Mike Keenan has brought a new attitude to the team.
But don’t let all this fool you: the B’s are bound to disappoint.
Meanwhile, the Caps are fresh off a win against the tough New York Islanders (can you sense that sarcasm, because I am laying it on pretty thick), and will look again to Peter Bondra and Steve Konowalchuk as leaders. Netminder Olaf Kolzig, last season’s Vezina Trophy winner for best goalie, has gotten off to a dismal start, ranking 26th in goals-against average (2.56) with a 6-8-4 record to boot.
And when you thought it couldn’t get worse, you can wait a second and it can get worse. The Yankees have signed Mike Mussina, a pitcher the Red Sox were heavily pursuing. Besides that, the Sox can’t decide what to do with Carl Everett, and ticket prices were raised last week.
I guess I’ll have to root for the Senators this year. They haven’t lost a baseball game since 1971.