But for a Philadelphia fan, it is particularly tough on me.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m used to the not being there part. In 40-plus years of phandom, I can almost count World Series/Super Bowl/Stanley Cup/NBA Final appearances on one hand.
No, it’s the proximity.
Situated as I am between the Pittsburgh, Baltimore and D.C. markets, most of the time when the final game of the regular season has been put out of its misery, I can go on my way pretending everything is wrapped up for the year.
While others are planning Super Bowl parties, for example, I’m usually mildly surprised they are still playing football in February.
I really don’t have anything against the Nationals. Harkening back to the Montreal days, those glorious days of my youth, the Expos were a rival. Steve Rogers, Charlie Lea, Tim Raines, Andre Dawson — I always enjoyed those early 1980s throwdowns.
When they first came to D.C., and you could snag cheap tickets at cavernous RFK Stadium, it was a fun night of baseball you could take Metro (the subway) to, as opposed to having to drive to Baltimore to see the Orioles.
But, having worked for a decade in D.C., and having lived there for a sizable chunk of that time, I can’t help but be reminded every time I pick up a newspaper, turn on the television news, or check my social media feeds about each and every moment of the Nationals’ run.
Plus, since homegrown talent Bryce Harper jumped ship in free agency to join my beloved phightin’ Phils, it’s gotten personal. They’re still a little bitter. It’s almost like they have completely forgotten they did the same thing to us when they signed Jayson Werth... but I digress.
Look, I understand it isn’t easy being a Washington sports fan right now. Sure, the Caps won a Stanley Cup a couple of years ago, but the Wizards haven’t caused much excitement recently and the football team, once one of the crown jewels of the NFL, is a disappointing shadow of its former greatness. I don’t begrudge the excitement.
But it isn’t all cheesesteaks and soft pretzels being a Philadelphia sports fan, either. We don’t do dynasties. When we get our championships, we have to savor them, because never seeing another in our lifetime is a distinct possibility. We always seem to find ourselves in the giant shadow cast by New York, and all the while having to carry the stigma of being the “Philly” image. We boo. We’re haters. We threw snowballs at Santa, yada, yada...
All I’m saying is, when the expansion teams win the big ones, or when the Dodgers or Patriots put another notch on their belt, or even the Cubs and Red Sox put their curses to rest, I’m thankful for my ability to tune it out of my misery.
But on the heels of another year of disappointment, when spending “stupid money” still found the Phils playing golf in October, and with the Birds seemingly adrift after a thumping in Dallas, having to take a front row seat to a Nationals’ postseason hardly seems fair.
In fact, I’d call it downright foul.