This calendar year, Washington’s professional sports teams accomplished exactly what we’ve grown used to: mediocrity (Wizards) or flashes of brilliance followed by getting depressingly humbled early in the postseason (basically everyone else).
To be fair, maybe 2016 was a notch above ordinary. The Redskins, Capitals, and Nationals all won their respective divisions, with the hockey and baseball teams favored to make deep runs into the playoffs. But then, of course, DC sports happened.
And even though we didn’t break our miserably long championship drought, there was still a lot to be proud of. Here are the some of DC’s most exhilarating sports moments on the year.
Max Scherzer’s 20 strikeouts
Sure, the Nats’ ace threw two no-hitters in 2015, but this past May, Scherzer did something only five MLB pitchers (and no one since 1998) have ever managed to do–strike out a record-tying 20 batters in one game.
Alex Ovechkin’s 500th career goal
The Capitals’ star left winger made history in early January, when he became the fifth fastest player in league history to notch his 500th score, en route to a 7-1 rout of the Ottawa Senators. He may be a Russian spy, but it’s impossible for Washington not to love him.
Jayson Werth’s walk-off single against the Cubs
Back in June, after 37-year-old Werth hit the go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the 12th inning to beat the Chicago Cubs–the eventual World Series champs–it looked like the Nats had the chops to bring a baseball title to DC for the first time since 1924. It didn’t work out that way, but at least we have this Werth play, along with his hilarious, profane post-game interview.
Kirk Cousins’ “How You Like Me Now?!” to his general manager after a win over Green Bay
Each stage of quarterback Kirk Cousins‘ evolution yields a new catchphrase. In 2015, after leading a huge comeback win, he famously yelled, “You like that?!” After another comeback win against the Vikings last month it was “Ouuuuweee!”
The latest installment came on Sunday night when the Redskins blew out the Packers, avenging their playoff loss last season. After throwing for 375 yards and three touchdowns, Cousins let loose on Redskins GM Scot McCloughan. It was one-half “Look what I did” and another half “So I’m getting a raise, right?” (though Cousins denies the latter).
Bradley Beal’s 41 points against the LA Clippers
There wasn’t a ton to love about the hapless Wizards in 2016. Yes, John Wall was brilliant–one of the best point guards in the league. But even when he excelled, the Wiz often had a hard time winning (he put up 52 points in a loss earlier this month). That’s why Beal’s game against the venerable Los Angeles Clippers felt so promising; he might even be worth the $128 million contract he signed this summer. And as Beal’s game improves, the Wizards are starting to right ship. A 2017 playoff run is not out of reach.
Capitals beat Flyers in six games, advance to second round of playoffs
After winning the NHL’s Presidents’ Trophy for posting the league’s best record in the regular season, the Capitals took Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs. After winning the first three games and dropping the next two, Niklas Backstrom broke the team’s long goal drought with a nifty score to help clinch the series. The Caps went on to lose to the Penguins (again) in the next round, but we don’t need to talk about that.
Scherzer wins Cy Young Award
After another stellar season, Scherzer walked away with pitching’s highest honor, becoming the first National to ever win the Cy Young (Scherzer won it once previously in the American League with the Detroit Tigers). After the Nationals narrowly lost to the Dodgers in the NLDS, the honor helped fans stomach the bitter end to such a promising season. But we don’t talk about that either.
Alhaji Kamara’s game-winning goal 33 seconds into MLS debut
Soccer players can go months, years, entire careers without scoring a goal. Kamara got his first just 33 seconds into taking an MLS pitch. The 22-year-old forward from Sierra Leone set the league record for the quickest goal scored by a sub in his first MLS game, and led DC United to a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City.
The Wizards firing this guy
Here’s to a victory parade in 2017!