It was a tough pill to swallow for Nationals fans. The team seemed to have things in hand early and appeared as if they would hold on late. Like many big games and series that have occurred in Washington it was not to be.
First, let’s get one thing straight. The Nationals could not hold on to a lead. They did not collapse. A collapse occurs during the course of a season or series not one game. What the Texas Rangers did in losing the AL West and being eliminated by the Baltimore Orioles in the play-in game is a collapse. The Nationals simply could not finish the job.
So where does this one fall with other D.C. sports disappointments? It’s up there, but I can think of a few more.
The 1975 Washington Bullets/Wizards made it to the NBA finals. There they faced the Golden State Warriors. The Bullets were thought a lock to win it all. Many predicted a sweep. The series did end in four games, but with Golden State winning it all.
The Bullets would come back to defeat the Seattle Supersonics and win it all in 1978. In a rematch the following season, Washington won game one then lost four straight and the title.
In 1979 the Washington Redskins only had to win their last game of the season to get into the playoffs. If they lost and the Chicago Bears won their game by more than 33 points the Redskins were out. The Bears beat the St. Louis Cardinals by 36. The Redskins lost to the Dallas Cowboys after leading by 13 points with less than four minutes to play.
The Redskins won a Super Bowl in 1982. They were even better the next season going 14-2 and setting a league record by scoring points 541. Washington returned to the Super Bowl and was soundly beaten by the Los Angeles Raiders 38-9.
The Georgetown Hoyas basketball team has lost two memorable NCAA championship games sandwiched around a title. In 1982 point guard Freddy Brown made an errant pass to North Carolina Tar Heels forward James Worthy as time ran out. In 1984 the Hoyas won it all. In 1985 the Villanova Wildcats shot 80 per cent from the field and shot down Georgetown’s hopes of repeating.
The Maryland Terrapins have lost so many big games that over there years it has come to be expected. Since this only covers playoffs and championships the only one that will be listed here is a 2001 Final Four loss to the Duke Blue Devils. In that one Maryland led by 22 points only to lose by 11. It is the biggest blown lead in NCAA Final Four history.
All of these rank above the Nationals, because each of the teams mentioned had been around for a while and experienced some success. This meant that each of them was thought to be good enough to win a championship.
The Nationals are only in their eighth year in Washington. They don’t have enough history of success to call their loss a collapse or list it with others in the cities past.
The Nationals were just blooded in this series. Next time, they will be judged like all of the other disappointments in D.C. sports history.