By Pat Malone
For most of the twentieth Century, Washington, D.C. was a barren wasteland when it came to professional sports.
When Bob Short loaded up a stream of Mayflower moving trucks on a snowy winter night, (Wait, what? Wrong city. Sorry. Short moved the Senators to Arlington, Texas in the fall of 1971), the Redskins were the sole professional sports team that played in the D.C. area for two years until the Capitals and Bullets planted their flag at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland in 1974.
Today Washington’s sports landscape is vastly enhanced from the past, with the Washington Nationals, Washington Redskins, Washington Capitals, and Washington Wizards each representing one the ‘big four’ major leagues.
D.C. United, our Major League Soccer franchise, has their ‘Screaming Eagles’ fan base rocking the seats at RFK Stadium, and they were recently given green light to build their new ‘Audi Field’, near Nationals Park.
Women’s professional sports are well represented in our area with the Washington Mystics, one of the inaugural franchises of Women’s National Basketball Association, who play at the Verizon Center; our National Women’s Soccer League’s Washington Spirit, which plays at the Maryland SoccerPlex, in Germantown; and our D.C. Divas, reigning back-to-back Women’s Football Alliance champions, who skillfully play some serious football at the Prince George’s Sports Complex, adjacent to FedEx Field, in Landover.
If you are a tennis fan, then you have probably seen our Washington Kastles of World Team Tennis, who play at the Smith Center, on the campus of George Washington University.
Our new Arena Football League franchise, the Washington Valor, begin their inaugural season, this year, at the Verizon Center. It is awesome indoor football that you do not want to miss.
Did you know that Washington has two professional Frisbee teams, the D.C. Current and the D.C. Breeze?
Lastly, if you love professional lacrosse, you have to go to Baltimore to see Major League Lacrosse’s Chesapeake Bayhawks, who consistently play some of the best lacrosse in the league.
If you are new to the D.C. area, welcome. Here is a list, below, of Washington area sports teams where you can relax and enjoy your favorite sport.
Washington Nationals – Major League Baseball (nationals.com) Washington Capitals – National Hockey League (washingtoncaps.com) Washington Wizards – National Basketball Association (washingtonwizards.com) Washington Redskins – National Football League (redskins.com) D.C. United – Major League Soccer (dcunited.com) Washington Mystics – Women’s National Basketball Association (mystics.wnba.com) Washington Spirit – National Women’s Soccer League (washingtonspirit.com) D.C. Divas – Women’s Football Alliance (dcdivas.com) Washington Kastles – World Team Tennis (washingtonkastles.com) D.C. Breeze – American Ultimate Disc League (thedcbreeze.com) D.C. Current – Major League Ultimate (washingtondc.current.mlultimate.com)
Chesapeake Bayhawks – Major League Lacrosse (thebayhawks.com)
The Nationals are currently playing in the Grapefruit League at their brand new Spring Training complex, the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, which they share with the Houston Astros. Can this be ‘their year’ to make it the World Series? Washington has not had a World Series championship parade since 1924 and I would say that we are long overdue. The Nationals minor league franchises are the Syracuse Chiefs (syracusechiefs.com), the Harrisburg Senators (senatorsbaseball.com), Potomac Nationals (potomacnationals.com), Hagerstown Suns (hagerstownsuns.com), Auburn Doubledays (auburndoubledays.com) and the Gulf Coast League (GCL) Nationals and the Dominican Summer League (DSL) Nationals. You can Google both of their GCL and DSL clubs to follow them during the season.
The Capitals are literally ‘en fuego’, this season, now playing as ‘the team to beat’ in the NHL, with odds makers picking them to go all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Seriously, if you are not following the Capitals, well, you just do not like hockey. Period. They have some of the best skilled players ever assembled for their franchise, with a wealth of talent waiting in the wings with their American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears (hersheybears.com), and their East Coast Hockey League affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays (stingrayshockey.com).
The Wizards are playing some of the best basketball that we have seen at Verizon Center in years, so much so that crowds are coming back and packing the house as they run ‘full tilt’ to getting into the Eastern Conference championship. The surprising play of the team under the leadership of new head coach Scott Brooks has people in both D.C. and around the country noticing that the Wizards have notched it up considerably, this season. Most NBA teams now have what is called a ‘D-League’ team, which is a part of their minor league system aptly called the NBA Developmental League (dleague.nba.com/franchise-map). The Wizards are one of a few NBA franchises without a D-League team.
The Redskins are in their ‘off season’, as you already know, and with free agency going full tilt as of early March, it will be interesting to see how the Redskins transform themselves for the next few seasons. By the way, the 2017 NFL Draft (nfl.com/draft/2017) will be held in Philadelphia on April 27 to 29.
Did I miss on anything? Please email me at [email protected] to let me know. Thanks, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and I look forward to seeing you at Frank Mann Field, this summer, for our Alexandria Aces’ (alexandriaaces.org) tenth season.