So it’s come to this: A Washington Nationals-New York Yankees World Series is not impossible. Such an event would unleash a nightmare upon journalism. By which I mean think piece after think piece, and hot take after hot take, about which metropolitan area is “better.”
Washingtonians rightly fear such a deluge. It was only last January that the New York Times decided our odd little cowtown has finally become a “great American city.” We’re self-conscious about our bagels, the height of our buildings, the fact that seeing David Brooks hail a taxi counts as a celebrity spotting (true story, it was me, I saw that happen). Surely even a generous reading of the differences between the two cities will view us as a plucky up-and-comer in comparison to the Greatest City in the World.
New York journalists have reason to worry, as well. The Trump administration’s chaos has glued the nation’s attention 240 miles to the south of the city at which we once stared in awe when it produced the Cronut. The rest of the US has become morbidly fascinated by Washington’s social scene, the cost of living, and the fact that some people even believe we have restaurants worth paying for. Amazon chose both the DC and New York regions for its second headquarters, but it turns out greater Washington’s vast experience at being a company town means we’re the only half of HQ2 still standing. We look forward to throwing ourselves at Amazon in many other ways in the future. In your face, New York.
Other insecurities will come into play. Remember, journalism is a field in which fealty to some long-since-abandoned hometown is as much a prerequisite for credibility as a Twitter photo that shows you appearing on TV or a shoutout in your bio to some college football team. Look! We’re real Americans! Please stop fantasizing about killing us! Also, catch us on CNN in a couple minutes! You can find journalists almost anywhere in the US, but the New York and DC regions have the highest employment levels for this profession in the country. It’s only natural that we’ll begin to tear one another apart the first chance we get.
The early skirmishes have already begun. And while the reasonable move would be to avoid comparing two wildly different metropolitan areas, journalism’s collapsing business model and deep cultural affinity for pointless debates will require an oppressive stream of NYC-vs-DC content. The only thing we can hope for, really, is that the Nationals will somehow blow their 3-0 lead in the National Lead Championship Series, or, better yet, that the Astros will destroy the Yankees. Because no sane person would argue that Houston is better than DC.