Washington Nationals Fans: Should You Be Called 'Long Suffering'?

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer IMay 27, 2012

This is a challenging philosophical question. Should Washington Nationals fans join the ranks of Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians fans in terms of misery?

Searching for an answer to that question is murky and does not paint a clear picture.

For decades, there were three fanbases that set the standard for World Series futilityโ€”the Cubs, the Red Sox and the White Sox.

You may have heard that the Red Sox took care of business in 2004. A few major news outlets covered that series, and Boston fans were very subdued and gracious in victory. The Red Sox threw in a second title in 2007 just in case any Boston fan felt that 2004 was just a mirage.

The White Sox secretly won a World Series of their own in 2005. Shhhh. Don't tell anyone.

Now the Cubs are continuing their search for a title into a second century. And the Indians have been waiting since 1948 for a crown. The city of Cleveland has been without a title of any kind since the 1964 Browns won the NFL title.

The Cubs, waiting since 1908, and the Indians, ring-less since 1948, are the only pre-expansion teams to not win a World Series title since the divisions and more teams were added.

However, those following the Nats might belong in the tortured conversation as well.

The only World Series title won by a Washington team was in 1924, when the Senators beat the Giants.

For perspective on how long ago that was, Annie Oakley was still alive when the Senators won that series. Johnny Carson wasn't yet born then. It's been a while.

And no World Series has been played in the nation's capital since 1933.

That was the same year King Kong came out. That would be the original, with Fay Wray.

That movie was considered old when they remade it in 1976. It was considered really old when they remade it in 2005, the first year after the Nationals arrived from Montreal.

And Washington has seen some horrible baseball over the years.

The very notion of a Washington pennant was once so absurd they made a musical about it!
And Damn Yankees didn't involve farm development or shrewd trades but a deal with the devil.

The 1904 and the 1909 Senators both played sub-.300 ball.

In the final 26 years of Washington Senators baseball, they had a grand total of two winning seasons. The 1952 Senators finished 78-76, and they needed to win a one-run game against the Red Sox to finish the season, otherwise they would have evened out at 77-77. The other winning year was the 1969 season, when Ted Williams took over as manager and terrified his team.

And when the Senators were developing a winner, they were swapped out for an expansion team.

A team called the Washington Senators finished the 1960 season. Then at the start of the 1961 season there was a team called the Washington Senators, but it was not the same franchise.

The original Senators became the Twins and were a pennant winner by 1965. The new Senators were a hapless expansion team who eventually moved and became the Texas Rangers.

What other city has had two different teams leave them?

And as baseball expanded in 1977, 1992 and 1997, the nation's capital remained baseball-free. One-time Senators fans were expected to go to Baltimore and follow the Orioles, who invaded the Beltway area when the Browns left St. Louis for Maryland.

Meanwhile, the excessive expansion filled almost every viable market for a struggling franchise to move to. And the result was the Expos debacle, a team nobody wanted but couldn't be contracted.

The team played in Montreal in front of friends and family with no TV contract and no hope. They had to move, and the only city that had an MLB-ready stadium was Washington with crumbling RFK Stadium.

Instead of striking a deal with the Orioles and Peter Angelos before the 2002 season, MLB waited until before the 2005 season.

Three years of D.C. potential baseball were denied, including the 2002 and 2003 seasons, when the Expos had a winning record.

Finally, Washington fans got a team, although there has not been much to cheer about before this season. Now, in their eighth season, they look like a contender. Perhaps the city can see a postseason victory, which DC has not seen since the days of Walter Johnson and Muddy Ruel lumbering home with their only Series win.

Old-timers might remember Joe Cronin, Mickey Vernon and Frank Howard. Most young kids have no memory of Washington baseball, or of Baltimore having a good team, for that matter.

So, with that unhappy history, are Nationals fan long-suffering? Does the "Haven't had a World Series title since 1924" label put them in a position like Red and White Sox fans for joy if and when they finally win? Should they offer company to Cubs and Indians fans, as Washington's last title lies almost exactly at the midway point between theirs?

Or does the three-decade absence mixed with the Orioles championships in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s render any long-term suffering moot?

The Nationals winning a World Series would be a remarkable and fun surprise this year. If they do not, should other fanbases start chanting "19-24... clap clap clap-clap-clap"?


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