Washingtonians are now able to say something that they perhaps couldn’t before this October: DC is a sports town.
“I think DC has always been a sports town, and people in DC believe that,” Ben McLenaghan ‘20 said. “It really became apparent to people around the country when the Caps won the Stanley Cup.”
The Capitals hoisted the NHL’s top prize in June of 2018, ending Washington’s 26-year major sports championship drought in the process.
Then entered the Washington Mystics, the consensus powerhouse of the WNBA. The Mystics cruised through the entirety of the regular season, posting a league-best 26-8 record. Elena Delle Donne led the way, earning the WNBA MVP award with a tremendous season. Alongside Delle Donne, Emma Meesseman was a major presence on the court all year off the bench. The Belgian went off in the finals, helping the Mystics secure the franchise’s first-ever WNBA title over the Connecticut Sun in five games. Meesseman won the WNBA finals MVP award, making her the first European-born WNBA finals MVP.
The Nationals’ path to their championship was an entirely different story than the Mystics. The Nats were counted out as a legitimate contender before the season even started, as Bryce Harper left the team to sign a 13 year contract with the Phillies. To start the year they posted a record of 19-31, which was the second worst in the National League. Sloppy defense, poor hitting, and a hapless bullpen led analysts to doubt that they could even make the playoffs. According to Fangraphs, the Nats had a 22.2% chance to reach the postseason and a 1.5% chance to win the World Series when they were 19-31 on May 24th.
While the numbers counted them out, the team and their fans believed they could pull off the miracle they needed to make the playoffs.
“I hadn’t given up. [I] looked at it pretty realistically though,” said Academic Dean and Nats fan Nigel Hinshelwood “I knew there were every day players coming back, and over 100 games left.”
The Nats defied the odds and played top-tier baseball for the rest of the year. A 93-69 record earned a spot in the National League Wild Game, which they won in come-from-behind fashion. The Nats proceeded to upset the Dodgers and Cardinals, punching their ticket to the World Series against the heavily favored Houston Astros. After falling behind 3-2 in the series the Nats won back-to-back games in Houston, clinching the World Series title.