October 24, 2016
Sports Insider Weekly
Washington baseball ended in heartbreak on October 13th, when the Nationals fell to the Dodgers 4-3 in Game 5 of the NLDS at home. The loss extended the conference championship round drought to 18 years. Not since the Capitals advanced to the 1998 Stanley Cup Final has a team in one of the four major professional sports leagues in the District advanced past the preliminary rounds. While first year Nationals manager Dusty Baker acknowledged that it was a tough loss, he remained positive for the future.
“But you know, you have to persevere. That’s the story of life,” the Washington skipper, who took the team to the playoffs for the first time since 2014, said. “You know, it’s how you deal with the downtimes and how you deal with the pain. And if you just keep persevering, then something will happen, something good will happen. You can’t stop trying. You can’t stop trying to reach your goal. Like I said, the key word is perseverance.”
Washington’s loss led to a Dodgers-Cubs NLCS match-up. Chicago won Game 1, before falling behind in the series 2-1. But the “cursed” Cubs won back-to-back games at Dodger Stadium, including a 10-2 rout in Game 4. The series shifted back to the Chicago for Game 6, which was a win-or-go home situation for the Dodgers.
The Cubs’ magical season continued, with a 5-0 shout out win over the Dodgers. Even L.A.’s secret weapon Clayton Kershaw–who captured his first major league career when he eliminated the Nationals in the NLDS Game 5–couldn’t save them this time. Kershaw gave up five runs on seven hits, including two home runs.
The victory propelled the Cubs to the World Series for the first time since 1945. It also sets up an epic cinderella story, as Chicago famously has not won a championship title since 1908. If they win, it will be a historic moment for the team, as well as a city that is currently struggling with violence and crime.
They will face the Cleveland Indians, who easily beat the Blue Jays in five games in the ALCS. The Indians haven’t been to the World Series since 1997, when they lost to the Florida Marlins, 3-4. They haven’t won it since 1948.
Cleveland had been without a championship title for 52 years, but the drought ended earlier this year when LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Championship title.
Both teams are familiar with heartbreak and disappointing, as are their fans. They are both hungry to bring the titles to their cities, and have up to seven games to prove who wants it more. The matchup begins Tuesday night in Cleveland.
The Washington Redskins’ win streak came to end on Sunday, when they lost in the final seconds to the Detroit Lions, 20-17. After trailing most of the game, Washington rallied late, pulling within three midway through the fourth quarter. Kirk Cousins quickly led his team down the field on their next possession. The drive ended with Cousins scoring a 19-yard rushing touchdown which put Washington ahead by four with just 1:05 left in the game.
With 65 seconds and starting from their own 20 yard line, Matthew Stafford led the Lions down field even quicker than Cousins had. The Detroit QB through two incomplete passes from Washington’s 18-yard line before finally connecting with former-Redskins Anquan Boldin in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Redskins got the ball back with 16 seconds left but were unable to get within field goal range before time expired.
The loss snapped the Skins’ four-game win streak and dropped their record to 4-3, in a tie for last place with the New York Giants. Two of Washington’s top players also exited Sunday’s game with injuries–cornerback Josh Norman and offensive tackle Trent Williams.
Williams, a four-time Pro-Bowler, was injured during a tackle on the second to last play of the game. Thankfully, an MRI revealed that there was no structural damage to Williams’ knee which means a return for next week’s showdown in London with the Cincinnati Bengals–coach Jay Gruden’s former team–is possible.
Norman suffered a concussion in the third quarter of the game and remains in concussion protocol. It is unclear how severe it is and how much time he will miss.
If the Redskins have to face the Bengals (3-4) without Norman or Williams, it may be a tough game. However, as always, the Redskins remain optimistic.
“Got to get this taste out of our mouth,” Gruden said.