From coming back from 0-2 against Columbus to defeating their arch rivals in Pittsburgh to beating the hottest team in hockey in the Golden Knights to more recently finding their homes/beds after a 24 hour bender across the DC area, these Capitals have shown they are up for every challenge that comes their way. And as the Hurricane Ovechkin party tour winds down and these players go their separate ways for the offseason, they leave behind a city that has now tasted victory and wants more of it. So the real question for this Capitals team is this: can they transform this city into the “District of Champions”?
To do so, they would have to have left some of that championship mojo back at Nats Park after celebrating with the Cup (and a few dozen beers) at Saturday’s game. The Caps Stanley Cup championship coupled with this iteration of a powerhouse roster for the Nats give this city its best chance at back to back titles in the 4 major professional sports. Could the Nationals do the unthinkable and hoist the World Series trophy only 6 months after DC hoists the Stanley Cup? It’s very possible but in order to do so, the Nats will have needed to learn a few things from their drunken compadres on the ice.
The first lesson from this Stanley Cup run is that stars need to play like stars when it counts most. For all the talk of Ovechkin disappearing in big games, he, along with Kuzy, Backstrom, and Wilson, were all over the stat sheet throughout the playoff run and specifically the series against the Golden Knights. The Nats will need their superstars to step up come playoff time, meaning Max Scherzer will need to make up for last year’s disastrous Game 5 showing against Chicago and Bryce will need to bat better than his current .231 average.
Secondly, coaches must coach to win and not just to not lose. No decision made more of an impact in this playoff run than Barry Trotz’s decision to bench goalie Philip Grubhauer for backup Braden Holtby. Holtby rewarded the coach’s gutsy decision with incredible performances, including back to back shutouts against Tampa Bay to save that series. In years past, Nats managers, riddled with crazy high expectations, have coached scared, not willing to shake things up when things seemed perilous. In order to win the big one, Davey Martinez and his staff will need to make tough calls and be wiling to shake things up when need be.
Finally, the greatest lesson from the Capitals playoff run is just how much this city will get behind a championship team. For all of the haters and naysayers (looking at you Wilbon) that call DC a “minor league sports town”, this Stanley Cup run showed just how hungry this city is for a winner and the lengths we are willing to go to root them on and carry them to victory. So the Nats would be wise to remember that come October, that if they can get over the proverbial hump (insert Camel joke here), then they will be showered with the most insane love and gratitude and loyalty that this city has to offer. And for a city not known for its loyalty, that ain’t nothing.
Juan Soto capped his first home run trout with a classic Bryce Harper hair flip – needless to say Soto does not have any hair endorsement deals. Nonetheless that moment may have signified the passing of the torch from one superstar to another potential superstar. Was Soto subtly announcing himself as the new Bryce Harper? The similarities don’t end with just hair flips. The rise of Soto may seal Bryce’s fate as a National.
Let’s first compare these two players. Harper and Soto both reached the minor leagues as teenagers – at the same ripe age of 19. While there, they also performed outstandingly and achieved similar numbers. Soto’s numbers in the minor leagues were .362/.434/.609 compared to Harper’s .397/.521/.917. In addition, although we’re working with a small sample size, Soto’s current slash line for the major leagues is just as impressive as Harper’s, with numbers like .286/.400/.571. Perhaps most significantly, however, they are also both outfielders.
With players like Soto, the reality is that the Nationals may not need Harper in the outfielder position any longer. In fact, Soto might not even be the Nationals best outfielder prospect – Victor Robles, for instance, is regarded as a top 5 prospect in all of baseball. The Nationals outfield has the potential to be made up of an impressive young group of players as early as soon as the start of next season, with players like Eaton, Taylor, Soto, Goodwin, and Robles all there. Since Soto and Robles are going to be cheap young talent for years to come, it’s hard to imagine the Nationals spending record money to keep a player in a position where the team is already pretty deep.
It’s also important to remember that Bryce is not the only big free agent that the Nationals will need to make a decision on during this offseason. Gio Gonzalez is also a free agent, and the Nationals will need to spend a large amount of money to resign or replace him with a comparable third line starter – all of which will take funds away from potentially resigning Bryce. In addition, the free agent Daniel Murphy may also need to be resigned or replaced if it’s decided that Wilmer Difo cannot adequately replace him.
Overall, the fast rise of Soto, the potential of Robles, and the need to replace other free agents are all factors that make it ever more likely that Bryce will leave the Nationals after this season. While his departure would mark the end of one chapter in the Nationals book, it would also symbolize the start of a new and exciting chapter led by Soto and Robles.
Welcome to the DTC week in review. Mat, Stevie, and Joe discuss Juan Soto and his debut with the Nationals as a lone brightspot for the team this week with a “must-have” weekend series against the Marlins coming up. At the 12 minute mark the #Nationals talk shifts to #Capitals talk with a recap of the viewing party at Cap1Arena for game 7, and a discussion of why this IS the team that can bring home a title. Tom Wilson, Great8, Holtby discussed in detail, plus, has any one GM ever been responsible for two teams facing each other in the championship round of any sport? George McPhee built both the Capitals and #Vegas #GoldenKnights and deserves credit. The final topic starting at minute 29 (after a discussion of old guys and boobs) is about the #NFL and why their new national anthem policy will only make things worse for the business. Listen, like, and share!
Hard to imagine that this little sports experiment is 100 episodes and 52 articles old but here we are. Many have asked “Why didn’t DTC celebrate their 100th episode?” and there are two reasons… the first is embarrassing but true, we lost track of what episode we were on and this isn’t a sitcom, so does it really matter? The second reason is the real reason… we don’t want to jinx (fake jinx) the DC Sports Curse… which may or may not be real… but could be… but we aren’t sure… but we’ll see.
The entire city will be watching tonight, we are lead to believe so at least, as the Capitals attempt to win a game seven… on the road… and lead a DC team to the the finals in one of the four major sports for the first time in 20 years. The premise of this entire project, podcast, articles, and all, was to find some mojo to defeat the sports curse which has crushed souls and spirits in the District spanning nearly an the age of an adult of drinking age. The image above is so perfect and is borrowed with love from RussianNeverBreaks and is so perfect D.C. wouldn’t you agree… the crying Jordan meme is all of us for the past two decades but win or lose tonight, the Capitals are to be received with nothing but praise.
If you are anywhere near D.C. tonight, or maybe attending the Nationals game this afternoon, make your way over to the Cap1Vault and watch the Capitals vs. Lightning LIVE with the DTC sports crew and join us for a live show afterwards… win or lose we will broadcast… but we want a win! We want June hockey in DC as bad as we want November baseball and maybe, one day, February football too.
If you have no idea what I am talking about or have recently arrived from outer space, get caught up on all things Caps by listening to and subscribing to our podcast.
Let’s go Caps! C-A-P-S CAPS CAPS CAPS! #AllCaps this is it! Defeat the Curse!
Off the bat of Mark Reynolds… the Nationals win all four in Arizona, improve to 13 wins in their last 15 games, and are outscoring opponents nearly two to one (69-35). The Nationals are rising, the pitching is outstanding, and the panic that was has no subsided to a gentle “May-Calmness” that everyone DC can appreciate! The Capitals seem to be on a heater of their own but what the Nationals are doing day in and day out is excellent and most on the panel today agree they could go 8-2 or 9-1 over their next ten to further pad their stats! Join Stevie, Reali, Mat the Met, Doc, and Joe on a full-house roundtable discussing all things Nationals! .. and go C-A-P-S CAPS CAPS CAPS!