Negativity is the Easy Way Out

Stop me if you have heard this one before, a goat walks into a ball game, a baseball drifts through Buckner's legs, Denkinger gets the call wrong, the Mayflower trucks pull away, and a the final image of Lebron in Cleveland is of a banner falling to the ground. These are all moments people lived through and suffered through, moments of heartbreak, and they are moments that define sports.

I am not going to try and argue that DC Sports aren't at an all-time low, but I will try and argue that it is harder to look at the state of sports in D.C. and be positive. Everyone knows that things are bad. The two lasting images of this past Redskins season are of Albert Haynesworth lying on the ground and of McNabb sulking on the sidelines. Lost in all that are the few positives that are buried under the rubble of the once proud franchise. They are hard to find, because they are almost non-existent, but the rag-tag offensive line did start to play better as the season progressed, and Ryan Torian has a chance to be a productive NFL running back.

The Wizards are 0-20 on the road, and people that were expecting too much from rookie John Wall aren't getting what they expected, but people that enjoy basketball are getting to watch a player with good potential grow. The problem is John Wall can't fix the Wizards on his own. Nick Young has started to develop, but Andray Blatche has regressed to the point of being the Nyjer Morgan of the NBA, but there are positives if one is willing to look for them. It isn't as hard to find as with the Redskins, but they are there with both franchises. A second lottery pick this season to be used on a scoring forward should help the Wizards get closer to .500 and to a point where they can start making a run at some free agents.

The Capitals are the least negatively received of the local sports teams, but they have their critics. A year after winning the President's Trophy and caring too much about the regular season the Capitals are trying to play a more defensive style of hockey and use the regular season as a warm up for the playoffs. This angers some people as they question the intelligence of the coach and the heart of the star players that may or may not buy into the system. Everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop and everything the Capitals have built to come unraveled.  

And now that I am done talking about sports I watch, but don't care as much about we enter my wheel house. The team that has lost nearly 300 games in three seasons. A team that is still working to fully exercise the demons of the past. Perceptions still linger that the owners only want to turn a buck and winning on the field matters little. Perceptions remain that the moment Strasburg grabbed his right elbow the next season and perhaps the season after that won't be worth watching. That one player doesn't make all the difference except when that player is a popular slugger that the front office had little interest in resigning. I know all too well about the perceptions. I know about the lingering doubt in the back of my mind. The idea of the Nationals is to improve the defense and prevent runs, but most run prevention flows through the pitching staff, and that has improved little.

It is easy to look at the problems and call them out. It is another thing entirely to propose solutions and create real discussion. Cynicism and sarcasm end discussions or start arguments. Healthy debate and discussion can only occur when two ideas are present. Focusing on the Nationals lack of pitching doesn't make it better (not like we have much control over that anyway), but looking at it and staring at the stats from last year or years gone by does nothing. It is easy to look and say the pitching is bad. It is much harder to dive into the numbers and the wealth of data present on fangraphs or baseball-reference and argue why Jordan Zimmermann's K/9 and K/BB ratio should lead to success in the major leagues, and how the added innings of Gorzelanny and a healthy Marquis will lead to more innings pitched and a more rested bullpen that can build off the accomplishments of last year.

It is easy to point out problems. It is easy to say this is broken, or this room is dirty, but it is another thing entirely to find a solution. Real intelligent discussion isn't about the problems that exist it is about the solutions that may exist. Sure the Redskins don't have a QB, the Wizards don't have much in the front court, the Capitals can't score power play goals, and the Nationals don't have a good starting rotation. Those are all facts, and they are all problems, but what real discussion can come from pointing out the problems? What discussion can come from looking at the problems and saying, "This organization never does anything right and why should we expect them to now." I made a joke a while ago to my friend that every message board on the internet was the same*. That it is all complaining about problems. Sure the state of D.C. Sports isn't good, but you know what fill in the blank, and everything sucks. It is easy to keep pointing it out. It is hard to think constructively about how it might get better.

*Internet ad-lib

How dare _______ (Vince/gm/coach/owner/video game company) act so _________(cheap/stupid) and not _________(do what I want and cater to my every need)_______ (player/feature/wrestler) should've been________(signed/included/pushed) I will never buy another ________(ticket/game/ppv) again.

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