Collectively, the five D.C.-based teams haven't won a championship since...six weeks ago. Alex Ovechkin captained the Capitals to their first Stanley Cup title.
I've discussed my 8 favorite Alex Ovechkin cards on this blog before, and if I spend too much time on Ovi here, this post would be longer than a senate filibuster.
When the Caps players got to lift the Cup Ovechkin handed it off to longtime linemate Nicklas Backstrom..but he didn't exactly hand it off.
As I watched the two of them skate together I thought Ovi doesn't want to let it go. But then I remembered Backstrom was playing with a broken hand. Maybe Alex thought Nicky couldn't lift it?
Braden Holtby was on the bench for the Caps' first two playoff games but played brilliantly in goal the rest of the way. The Certified Blue parallel is numbered to 50. If it wasn't for all those discounted blasters of 2015-16 OPC Platinum I wouldn't have any Evgeny Kuznetsov cards. Kuzy's 32 points led all scorers this past postseason, and his overtime goal in game six against Pittsburgh clinched the series.
Former Penguins great and all-around NHL legend Jaromir Jagr played three seasons for the Capitals -but D.C. might be the one place where Jagr isn't beloved. His tenure with the Caps was a disappointment considering he was 29 years old and coming off a league-leading 121-point season when he arrived in 2001.
Before Alex Ovechkin arrived, Peter Bondra was the greatest goal scorer in Caps history. My wife has a blue Bondra jersey in her closet-she was looking for a star player who wore #12 and I guess Jarome Iginla hadn't established himself yet. Bondra is a member of the 500-goal club, and had a few "Cy Young" seasons when his goal total far outnumbered his assists.
Franchise stalwart Olaf Kolzig backstopped the Capitals to the Stanley Cup Final in 1998 and won the Vezina Trophy in 2000 as the league's top goalie. The Pinnacle card with his name written in mustard is one of my all-time favorite base cards. My nephew - who doesn't follow hockey and isn't a sports fan - bought me Kolzig's McFarlane figure as a Christmas gift one year.. because the Russian rock singer in Kevin Smith's Clerks is named Olaf.
Now what kind of Devils collector would I be if I didn't have a Scott Stevens rookie card?
Or an O-Pee-Chee Anniversary Series reprint of his rookie card?
Stevens and Ovechkin aren't the only family favorites who have played for the Capitals. Two of D's all-time favorite players, Trevor Linden and Jason Arnott, were with the team for a minute. Linden stepped down as president of the Canucks a day after I published my Vancouver post. So if Alex Ovechkin is traded tomorrow, you can blame me.
The best of the rest of my Capitals cards. I picked up the Tom Wilson Young Guns RC on COMC during the playoffs - it was another one of those 'barely flawed' bargains. John Carlson is a Jersey guy-and likely a Capital for life after his new 8-year contract. The mask depicted in the Pinnacle card belongs to Don Beaupre. Jim Carey cards (remember him?) were red-hot after he won the Vezina in 1996. He was out of the league three years later.
When the Capitals won the Cup last month, some of the sports talk shows I watch/listen to asked if Alex Ovechkin is now the greatest athlete in D.C. sports history. If you ask me, there's only one other acceptable answer...and none of us have seem him play:
Walter Johnson was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history and practically willed the Senators to their only World Series win in 1924. The Frank Howard 1971 style card is part of a Topps Archives set..it's a short print, if I'm not mistaken.
I have some vintage Senators in my collection...no Walter Johnson cards though (perhaps I should add him to my collecting "Bucket List".)
Hall of Famer Joe Cronin played for and managed the Red Sox after the Senators sold him. He was also GM and Vice President of the Sox and later became president of the American League.
This Luke Swell card is one of two 1933 Play Ball issues I've purchased on COMC. The front looks fantastic but there is an indent of writing on the back, near the team name.
Seeing this collection of superstars from my 1956 Topps set reminds me of the old saying:
"Washington - First In War, First In Peace...And Last In The American League"
The original Senators/Nationals moved to Minnesota in 1961, and were replaced by the expansion Senators..who moved to Texas in 1972. The San Diego Padres nearly took their place two years later. Topps printed up variations of Padres cards in their 1974 set that listed the team as "Washington Nat'l Lea."
I don't have any of those cards. The only decent '74 in my collection is a Harmon Killebrew - who began his Hall of Fame career in Washington.
Washington went 33 years without a Major League baseball team (some would say they didn't have one before that) until the Montreal Expos relocated to RFK Stadium in 2005.
I'm fairly certain the Brian Schneider Topps card was the first National in my collection. Alfonso Soriano was the first star player the Nats acquired; he only played one season with the club. Adam Dunn was the first big-name free agent I can recall them signing- which is weird because nowadays the Nationals are pretty much the Scott Boras All-Stars.
Free agent-to-be Bryce Harper tops that list. Even though he's having his worst season yet, some big-market team will spend well over $300 million on him. I only had to spend about 60 cents on these eight Harper cards; they were all dime box finds at the Milford card show...
...but the seller only charged me $4 for 52 cards, which worked out to about 7 1/2 cents apiece for these.
Like Harper, Stephen Strasburg arrived in D.C. as a #1 overall pick with a ton of hype. Like Harper, Strasburg is represented by super-agent Scott Boras. Unlike Harper, Stras re-signed with the Nats before hitting the open market. Can you believe this guy is already 30 years old? Where does the time go?
When I think of current baseball stars who have only played for one franchise, I think of Joe Mauer, Joey Votto, Yadier Molina, Dustin Pedroia...and I forget about Ryan Zimmerman. I also forgot where I acquired his Topps Chrome RC - and I forgot to turn the A&G card sideways. Sorry about that!
Some more Nationals, including a pair of sparkle and a pair of Kieboom. Taylor Hill only pitched in 9 MLB games for the Nationals..and nearly fooled me into thinking his name was Taylor Hall.
Now that the Capitals have won the Stanley Cup (have I mentioned that enough?) the Nationals are the only beltway team that hasn't won a title (and one of only two MLB franchises who have yet to reach the World Series.)
The Washington Bullets won the NBA championship in 1978, lost the rematch to Seattle the next year..and haven't advanced beyond the second round of the playoffs since.
While researching this I learned that the franchise originated in 1961 as the Chicago Packers - which is like finding out there was once a football team called the Boston Yankees.
I picked up this 1987-88 Fleer Moses Malone card for $1 on COMC a year ago. Fleer basketball cards (or any basketball cards) from the '80s and earlier are rare finds for me. I'd like to add more of these to my collection, but it's hard to find a player I know, with a photo I like, at a price I can live with.
Hall of Famer Bernard King is the only other Bullet in my star box. I also have a King Knicks card from 2015-16 Panini Prizm.
Assorted Bullets base cards, including the great Gheorge Muresan. Score one for the kids! Billy (Cardboard History) sent me the Don Collins Topps card-along with two Topps singles from the early 1970s. I'd say more about these but I'm fighting the urge to embed a certain Smashing Pumpkins song...
Insert your favorite Wall-related quote here. "Tear down this wall!" "Build that wall!" "All in all you're just another brick in the wall." John Wall is the only Wizards player in my star box.
The first - and to date the only - basketball autographed card I've pulled was this Kelly Oubre scribble from a retail box of 2015-16 Donruss.
Assorted Wizards base cards including Christian Laettner and Gilbert Arenas-who was one of the best players in the game for a couple seasons. But he's no God.
I kept that God Shamgod card in my collection even when I traded or sold nearly all of my other basketball cards. Couldn't bring myself to turn my back on God. I'll stop with the God puns now (..thank God..)
The Washington Redskins have not changed their name (yet?) and while I don't disagree that it is offensive to Native Americans, I don't go out of my way to use it or not use it. It's their team name until it isn't, and so I'll type it out for this post.
Three different quarterbacks won Super Bowls for the Redskins-including Joe Theismann (rhymes with Heisman) who is not in the Hall of Fame but is in my star player box. I don't have any Doug Williams Washington cards, aside from my completed 1988 Topps set.
Before I was a Packer backer the Redskins were my favorite NFC team. Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien was one of my favorite players at the time-which is why I sent a TTM request for his autograph. (It's the only TTM auto left from my childhood.) Mike, is Mark Rypien the only Canadian-born player to win SB MVP hono(u)rs?
Art Monk was another one of my favorites as a kid. He held the NFL record for career receptions at one point-since broken by about a thousand other receivers. The 1990 Panini sticker is the only one that survived my childhood.
Monk was finally elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008....and I finally added his rookie card to my collection in 2017.
I was pretty psyched when the 'Skins were somehow able to draft Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard 4th overall. Howard won the Super Bowl MVP for the Packers two years later. Anyone who has seen Silver Linings Playbook knows that DeSean Jackson is the man.
Here are my most recent Redskins. I have to be honest..I don't know anything about these guys. Josh Doctson sounds vaguely familiar..but that could be because he appears twice. Can anyone fill me in?
One last thing about the Capitals and the Cup..this is actually more about Vegas since we weren't able to give them a post (I just bought my first Golden Knights card on COMC this month.)
The Capitals posted this note to the Knights a few days after the series ended. How classy is that?
Favorite Nationals player (current): Max Scherzer
Favorite Senators player (all-time): Walter Johnson
Favorite Redskins player (current): Again, I'm really not familiar with their roster
Favorite Redskins player (all-time): Art Monk
Favorite Wizards player (current): I want to see Dwight Howard do well and give the Wiz that third piece they've been missing
Favorite Wizards/Bullets player (all-time): God. Duh.
Favorite pro athlete (any sport): Alex Ovechkin
Next tour stop: We're back in Canada for the final stop in Winnipeg
Thanks for reading!