The debate that invariably pops up when one of the "other" teams in Washington begins to show signs of life is upon us:
Can Washington be a Nats town/Caps town/Wiz town/Divas town? (Kevin's autographed Rachelle Pecovsky Divas jersey tells you where he stands.)
The answer to this question is a resounding "NO." Washington is and always will be a Redskins town. That said, if a team like the Nats was able to sustain success through the summer and into the fall, there could be a major payoff for the Redskins franchise and fanbase.
For decades, the psychological well-being of diehard Washington sports fans has depended almost solely on the success of the Washington Redskins. This explains the "Dark Age" of DC sports we find ourselves in currently. Though the Washington Capitals have given us all cause to celebrate in recent years, the lack of any championships has muted our euphoria. When Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler were packing the Verizon Center during playoff runs, we were all feeling the excitement. Perhaps partly because NBA playoff runs take place in the spring and early summer, and partly because of repeated exits at the hands of LeBron James, DC sports fans were unable to carry any of this energy into the fall/NFL season.
The Nationals have a very interesting opportunity, though. Should they be in the hunt for a postseason berth this fall, it would coincide with the first half of the NFL season. Let's be clear again--no amount of Nats success is going to cause Washington to transform into a baseball-first town. But what if their success was able to help us rely less on the Win/Loss column of the Redskins? What if this town was able to derive at least some of its "sports happiness" from a different source than the NFL?
I know, crazy talk.
My point isn't that we would all of a sudden care less about the Redskins. We wouldn't all of a sudden stop getting depressed on Mondays after losses. But if the Skins take a tough loss on Sunday and the Nats are in the midst of an exciting postseason romp, wouldn't that dull the pain a little? Isn't that good for everyone?
I doubt the Redskins front office is worried at all about any noise from the Navy Yards cutting into its area dominance. If I was Dan Snyder, I would be praying for a pennant run by the Nats. I would think it would ease the pressure on this young Redskins team to carry the weight of an entire city's happiness. I would think it would allow fans to maybe even see the Redskins a little more realistically in these formative years of a rather young nucleus of players.
Finally, I think only the Nats can do this, due to the timing of the other league's postseasons. By the time September rolls around, there is NOTHING drawing our attention away from the Redskins. Not the Wizards...not the Caps...not the Divas (except for Kevin). If the Nats can prove to be relevant in the MLB this September, it will raise the overall sanity level of the entire area. It would allow us to shift our focus--albeit slightly--to another team representing our town in a positive way.
It might even allow us to enjoy the ride the Redskins are about to take us on even more--win or lose.