The Nationals fell to the Cubs on Thursday, extending the infamous D.C. sports championship drought (and the lesser known conference finals drought).
After the Nationals' Game 5 failure against the Cubs, the infamous Washington, D.C. championship drought is guaranteed to reach a full 26 years.
The last time one of Washington's four biggest professional sports teams won a championship was 1992, when the Redskins won the Super Bowl. Since that game was played on Jan. 26, 1992, and this season's Super Bowl—the next major championship for which a D.C. team is technically eligible—is set to be played on Feb. 4, 2018, the streak will surpass 26 years. And let's be serious: Dan Snyder's NFL team probably isn't breaking the streak this year, anyway.
The Nationals, of course, only debuted in 2005, so they're less culpable than Washington's other teams. But the Nats have contributed their fair share of playoff heartbreak already. D.C. fans would probably say Thursday night's 9–8 home defeat to the Cubs, certainly heartbreaking, didn't come close to matching the agony of Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS, when Washington blew a 6–0 home lead to the Cardinals.
The sheer number of distressing losses is staggering, especially in recent years, when the Nationals, Wizards and Capitals have all been contenders, at least within their conferences. The Caps and Nats in particular have a penchant for heartbreak, especially in deciding games. If you're a D.C. sports fan, you've probably argued, at least with your own conscience, about whether the Nats' Game 5 collapse in 2012 was more heartbreaking than the Capitals' home loss to the No. 8–seed Canadiens in Game 7 of the 2010 NHL playoffs opening round (or whether that failure was worse than any one of Washington's Game 7 defeats to Pittsburgh).
Even more shocking is that a D.C. major pro sports team hasn't reached the conference final since the Capitals in 1998. Those four teams have combined to lose their last 13 games with a chance to advance to the conference championship round, which might be the most bizarre streak of all.
For some reason, D.C. United is immune to the curse. The MLS side has won four MLS Cups, though not since 2004, and three U.S. Open Cups. And the NWSL's Washington Spirit reached the final in 2016. Start watching soccer, Washingtonians.
There is one reason for optimism: According to this esteemed publication, it's finally the Caps' year. For real this time.