News & Politics

The Locked-Out Wizards Fan’s Guide to the Capitals

An unabashed Wizards fan takes a look at the other team that calls the Verizon Center home

First thing’s first, Wizards fans: If you’re going to turn to the Caps, you need to wear red. Photograph by Flickr user clydeorama.

It’s a tough time for Wizards fans. Granted, that’s been the case more often than not for a couple of decades, but this year is especially tough: We’re on the verge of losing regular season games for the first time since the 1998-99 season. If you’re like me, you’re going to have some free time during the evening hours when November rolls around. So maybe it’s time you finally jump on that bandwagon and head to Chinatown for something other than basketball and José Andrés restaurants. Here’s a handy primer on what to expect for those who haven’t “rocked the red” since the team was wearing those horrid black and bronze sweaters.

First things first, wear red. This isn’t a Wizards game, so lose the pink button down and grab a T-shirt. Don’t have proper attire? No problem, the team store has you covered.

The most important difference between the Capitals and Wizards is wins. The Caps win a lot. I know because I lived in Chinatown for two years. Based on my experiences walking the dogs at night, the Caps win about two thirds of the time. I could tell they when they won because fans would honk their horns to the tune of the “Let’s go Caps!” chant on their way out of their respective parking lots. The dogs were never all that pysched about a win over the Penguins.

Why does the team win? Because they were built the right way. The Capitals are built around Alex Ovechkin and a talented young core of players that have been acquired primarily through the draft. That’s the strategy owner Ted Leonsis has employed with the Caps, and it’s one of the reasons why we have high hopes for the future of the Wizards. Maybe if his blog gets enough traffic (and his Twitter account gets enough followers) he’ll be able to buy the Redskins!

Before the game can begin, there’s the National Anthem. It’s the same song you hear at Wizards games, only there are a few more jackasses screaming “O.” As always, blame Baltimore. Fans are also known to scream “red” when the song gets around to describing the glare of the rockets. If you’re not wearing red you’re going to feel pretty silly.

It’s common for fans to throw hats on the ice when a Capitals player scores three goals. This is a celebratory activity, as opposed to the urge some people may have to throw stuff at Andray Blatche when he does everything in his power to secure an elusive triple-double.

Just like at Wizards’ games, fans to hang out in their seats during a Caps’ halftime intermission to watch the occasional youth game. There’s always one kid at a Wizards youth game who towers over the rest, and, if you’re lucky, one tiny kid who takes it upon himself to attempt an NBA three pointer. However, the Caps definitely one-up their arena-mates in this regard. That’s because youth hockey is inherently funnier than youth basketball. Not only do they check each other, but there are also the goal celebrations to look forward to.

One of the highlights of attending a game is “unleashing the fury” in the third period. Scott Brooks (not the Oklahoma City Thunder coach) created the video that has the power to transform an otherwise docile crowd into 18,000 maniacs frothing at the mouth. If only they had something like this to energize the building at Wizards games we might have not been subjected to so many lackluster fourth quarters last winter.

So if you’ve been reluctant to join in on the fun, now might be the perfect time to take in a Caps game. The season gets underway this weekend, but be forewarned, tickets aren’t as easy to come by as you may be used to.